By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
The Bishop Elect of Gokwe, Monsignor Eusebius Jelous Nyathi has called all Christians, especially priests and religious to live a life worthy of their vocation. Monsignor Nyathi said Synodality should help those called to minister as priests and consecrated persons to co-exist and give a good example of Christian life.
Speaking to Catholic Church News, Msgr Nyathi emphasised that the Church belongs to everyone and not to one particular group. He was responding to the question concerning his understanding of synodality and areas that need improvement in the implementation of this important initiative.
He stressed that being church means joining together and opening up to different worldviews that contribute to the growth of the Church.
“Synodality is something that has been there since the beginning of the Church. As the local Church, I think we have done our best. However, we need to continue to enhance platforms of engagement with everyone. Platforms that allow for listening and participation of all so that no one is left behind. We need to bring an experience of unity and help people to understand that it is not only the task of certain people or the ordained but everyone has a role to play,” said Msgr Nyathi.
He discouraged all forms of competition in the Church highlighting the need for inclusive participation that facilitates growth and spiritual maturity.
“The Church is big enough to accommodate everyone and there is no need to waste time concentrating on unnecessary competition,” he said.
The Bishop elect of Gokwe also reflected on the importance of self-reliance which he said is necessary to carry the Church forward. Msgr Nyathi said the local Church can only develop through empowerment of its own people, its institutions and through the use of local resources. While he acknowledged the support from external donors, he called on the local Church to encourage a self-reliant, self-supporting and a self-ministering church.
He said: “We really need to emphasise being a true local church which is self-supporting, self-sustaining and self-propagating in nature. We need to continue growing and reaching out to others becoming missionaries to our own people and to others. Self-reliance is key to the growth of the local Church.”
Msgr Nyathi said inclusive participation, coupled with self-reliance will be the backbone of Gokwe Diocese. He said the vision of the diocese would be crafted and implemented by the people of Gokwe, priests, religious and the faithful, who are privy to their context and situation.
“I would not want to give false hope. I need to understand the context first so as to understand who we are. The vision of the diocese has to come from the people of Gokwe; priests, religious and the faithful and together we will find our way forward,” he said.
Msgr Nyathi mentioned that he was going to Gokwe to advance the mission of Jesus Christ and to compliment what his predecessors have started and that he will work to sustain unity and peace in the diocese, respecting all people despite their cultural and tribal backgrounds.
“It is the mission of the Church to make Christ present there. We have to find ways of how we can be a living Church in Gokwe. My commitment there is to continue with the mission of Christ,” stated Msgr Nyathi.
He said his concern is to bring people together under the umbrella of Christianity where all are brothers and sisters regardless of one’s tribe or cultural background.
“The issue of tribes or cultural background should not arise at all. Our task is to go and plant the Gospel among all cultures. Everyone is invited to the Church and nobody should be left out,”he said.
Msgr Nhaythi also challenged political leaders to create an environment of tolerance and peace and urged them to desist from violence. He encouraged Christians to take part in politics and stand for Christian values.
The Bishop elect spoke on the issue of drugs and substance abuse which he said needs a holistic approach that involves the youth. He highlighted that the issue of drugs and substance abuse has become a concern for society. However, he discouraged the mentality of judging the youth without understanding the reasons behind the whole debacle. He called on the Church, civil society and the government to create opportunities that empower the youth so that they do not occupy themselves with drugs.
“We need to engage the youth in dialogue and understand their problems. There is no solution without involving the youth. We have to listen to them and come up with a solution together,” said Msgr Nyathi.
Msgr Nyathi, who expressed that his appointment to lead the Diocese of Gokwe came to him as a surprise, said he enjoyed his stay at Chishawasha National Major Seminary where he served as lecturer and rector. His job as a rector only lasted a very short stint since he was appointed to the post in 2022.
“I have enjoyed the experience at the seminary with other formators in trying to show the seminarians the correct picture of priesthood. It is not an easy task but we tried our best as a team of formators,” Msgr Nyathi said.
Msgr Nyathi said he is convinced that local formation of priests and religious is of good standard regardless of the challenges that arise in the dioceses. He attributed some of the problems to sustainability challenges due to lack of self-reliance projects and support.
He noted: “Certainly, I have no doubt in our formation system although we need to improve here and there. Generally, our formation is of high quality. When looking at challenges faced in dioceses we should not only blame them on places of formation as these might also emanate from places where priests maybe working. The problems may arise due to lack of enough resources, the environment and situation in which they work. Issues of self-reliance and the support they get from the local Church contribute a lot to the livelihood of priests. Some may face challenges as they try to make ends meet.”
Msgr Nyathi was born to Thomas and Betty Nyathi Munkombwe on 02 August 1974 in Hwange. He attended Makwika Primary School in Hwange and later Mashala Primary School in his rural home. He sarted form 1 in 1989 at the Minor Seminary in Dete. In 1995, then Eusebius Nyathi, went to Mazowe Seminary. Between 1996-1998 he did his philosophy studies and he proceeded to do theology in 2000 at Chishawasha National Major Seminary until August 2004. He was ordained the same year by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu.
After his ordination Msgr Nyathi held many posts in the Diocese of Hwange including being Vice-Rector and Rector of Hwange Minor Seminary and being Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Parish. In 2011, he went to study Dogmatic Theology in Tenerife, Spain, where he obtained a licentiate.
Upon his return from further studies Msgr Nyathi was assigned to Chishawasha National Major Seminary as formator and lecturer in 2015 and was appointed Vice-Rector in 2016 before he landed the post of Rector in 2022. He was appointed to lead the Diocese of Gokwe as Bishop on 23 June 2023 by Pope Francis.