The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa. It borders Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast and Mozambique to the south. The third largest lake in Africa, Lake Malawi, lies between Malawi and Tanzania and Mozambique. In colonial times it was a British protectorate, known as the British Central Africa Protectorate until 1907 and thereafter as Nyasaland. The country won independence from Britain on 6 July 1964.
Malawi is affectionately known as the ‘warm heart of Africa.’ Its population is about 16 million.
St. Patrick's Missionaries in Malawi
In December 1969, Fr Dinnie Newman, then Apostolic Administrator of Nakuru and Fr Alfie Byrne, who had worked previously in Nigeria, visited a number of dioceses in Central Africa which had made requests for Society priests.
The Diocese of Mzuzu in Malawi was chosen for the inauguration of a Society Mission to Central Africa. The first priests arrived on 16 March 1970 and they were Fathers Alfie Byrne, Frank Morris, Pádraig Ó Máille and Pat McGivern. The first Catholic Mission in the area had been established by the White Fathers (later known as Missionaries of Africa) in 1938. St Patrick's Missionaries worked alongside the White Fathers for a number of years.
With the retirement of Bishop Jean-Louis Jobidon, a Canadian White Father who was the first Bishop of Mzuzu, St Patrick's Missionary, Monsignor John Roche was appointed as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese in 1987.
In 1973, the first Society members moved into the south of Malawi to Chikwawa Diocese, an area that had been evangelized by Dutch de Montfort Fathers. The first Society members to work in the diocese were Patsy Foley, Donal Keane and David Walsh, joined shortly afterwards by Peter Gillooly.
In 1980, the newly established Society Region of Central Africa procured a house in Lilongwe with some parish responsibilities attached. The Regional Superior took up residence there. Several priests now became involved in third level education - Pádraig Ó Máille in the University of Malawi and Pat Kelly, Frank McAuliffe. Benny Bohan, Paddy Hagan, Tony Sheerin and Pat O'Sullivan in various senior seminaries, both in Malawi and Zambia.