Rev Felicien I. Mbala is a priest from the Diocese of Mbujimayi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was born in 1958 and raised in Ngandajika, a town situated 60 miles from Mbujimayi, the capital of the province of East-Kasayi.
Fr Felicien comes from a large family of four brothers and four sisters. He is the third in his family, after two beautiful sisters he loves much. He is fluent in several languages including French, German, Spanish and English. After having finished the elementary and the middle school in his native town, he entered the Junior Seminary, St Thomas Aquinas of Lukelenge in the city of Mbujimayi, at the age of 14 years. At the end of Junior Seminary, Fr Felicien entered the major seminary in the region, where he obtained two bachelor degrees, one in philosophy and another in theology, before being ordained to priesthood at the age of 26 years on June 30, 1984.
Before his ordination and during the diaconate, Fr Felicien spent his year of training as a professor at the Junior Seminary St Thomas, where in earlier years he was a seminarian. This assignment has been always seen by him as a big honor to give back what he had received in his own education in contributing thereby to the formation of future priests.
After ordination, he continued to teach in Junior Seminary before becoming in 1986 Assistant and Principal of St Francis Catholic School in Kabeya Kamuanga with an enrollment of 600 children. In addition to his administrative role at the school, he also chose to teach different subjects in order to enhance the education of his young students and to contribute to their formation.
In 1989, he was appointed the assistant, and subsequently became the pastor at St. John Berchmans parish, founded in 1894. St. John Berchmans was the first church established in the Mbujimayi Diocese and is a large parish with two schools – one for girls and one for boys. Besides being pastor, he also taught French in the school for girls. Then, in 1991, he was assigned to the village of Mukeba to organize a parish and build a church. After five years in that assignment, he returned to the seminary to teach theology before being sent to Belgium to further his education at the request of his bishop.
In Belgium, Fr. Mbala enrolled in 1995 at the International School of Pastoral and Catechesis, Lumen Vitae, an institute devoted to the research, publication, and teaching of theology. After earning an M.A. degree in Catechetical and Pastoral Studies, he entered the Catholic University of Louvain where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in theology.
As a result of a partnership between the Diocese of Mbujimayi, his native place, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Archdiocese of Denver, Fr. Felicien works in the Denver area as a Missionary. He enjoys deeply his duties because it is for him a way of giving back what he has received in his life as gifts from God. Working in a foreign land is for him a way of witnessing to the universality of the Gospel and the Church. As a priest, he feels that he is a living witness and a product of the missionary work done by European Missionaries who evangelized in Africa.
Fr. Felicien has a big admiration for the Catholic Church in the United States. He likes its dynamism, its organization and its commitment in promoting the Gospel in the public place. He thinks that, at the example of the apostolic Church of the beginning, the present Church should defend the truth of Jesus Christ at all times, whether be it convenient or inconvenient.
On his day off, Fr. Felicien relaxes by playing soccer, jogging, and riding his bicycle. Occasionally he goes to Denver where he is lucky to have a friend from minor seminary, Fr. Simon, assigned there.
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