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    Honoré Kapuku Tshimanga

    Honoré Kapuku Tshimanga

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    Frederic Vital Mees smallHonoré Kapuku Tshimanga (1958-2020)

     

    Born in Luandanda (RDC) on December 30, 1958
    First vows on September 8, 1981
    Ordained priest on August 19, 1990
    Missionary in Guatemala and in Congo (AFA)
    Died in Montréal (CN), on January 17, 2020 at the age of 61 

     

    Father Honoré Kapuku, "ka souris," "little mouse," as we called him, was fatherless in his tender youth. He had another favorable family environment, which was that of his paternal uncle Mukulu Kande. Death regularly visited this family because and Honoré was the only boy with only one little sister. The early loss of his father had become a leitmotiv, giving him a great capacity for creativity and self-help.  He was a talented man, sometimes aggressive, handling all kinds of devices, and creating new ones in his future professional life as a missionary, the engineer-missionary.

    After his theological training in Ngoya, Cameroon, followed by his ordination to the priesthood in the DRC, Honoré went as a missionary to Guatemala, where he was appointed to serve in parish ministry.  He had a good heart and lived very close to his parishioners, both young and old, in his pastoral approach. These stable relations were observed during his hospitalization with some Guatemalan families preparing to visit him in Montreal, Canada. 

    After his experience in Guatemala, Honoré accepted another missionary challenge in his home Province of West Kasayi (at the time). He got along very well with the confreres of the Provincial house where he had assumed the duties of Rector. He was later appointed responsible for missionary works. He knew how to tease and tell stories that were sometimes unbelievable, jokes that sometimes bordered on cynicism. This way of doing revealed the real "ka mouse" he had always been. But often, some of his initiatives were also misunderstood. Let us not forget that at the time of his appointment as head of missionary works, the diocesan clergy had ambitions to recover many of these works that belonged to the Congregation. The position was therefore strategic for the Congregation, which saw a decrease of Belgian confreres and an increase of confreres from Grand Kasayi with a growing need to keep some works for the continuation of the mission. During this period, the Province asked him to help out in the missionary animation of youth in Katoka. There was a need for an enthusiastic Congolese animator. Afterward, he was responsible for projects in the area of bridges. It was here that Honoré showed his intelligence, his ability to be a missionary full of initiative, always lucid and full of enthusiasm.

    The appointment of Father Leonard Kasanda as Provincial Superior was a historic blessing for Honoré Kapuku. Father Leonard Kasanda had been more supportive of him and encouraged him to make complimentary use of all the talents that were in him. This time was indeed the golden age of his mission in Kasayi. During the difficult period when Laurent Désiré Kabila's AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo) conquered power, he was the confrere on whom everyone could count for the security of the provincial house. Indeed he had good relations with the young people of the Kapanda neighborhood for whom the Scheut fathers were also "their common heritage."

    Under the impetus of the Provincial Father Jef Laevens, Honoré accepted a new missionary challenge: to repair the roof of the holy family church. Honoré found himself in the domain of his dreams. We can only say thank you for this gem in the history of our mission in Kasayi. Kapuku wetu tuasakidila (thank you, our Kapuku), the works will speak about you. Tshiela's garage and the various bridges that you have built over several rivers are photocopies of your mechanical intelligence; Tshiela's conference room confirms today your concern to make some spaces units of our self-financing.

    After this exciting and joyful period, Honoré has experienced painful moments like any human being. He often said: "Life is already difficult. It is better not to disturb others too much". This saying is what pushed him to retire to the farm in Luandanda to devote himself actively to farm work after receiving specialized training at the Songhai Center in Porto Novo, Republic of Benin. His creative genius was revealed through the manufacture of agricultural tools by upgrading a tower formerly used in Tshilomba by former confreres, the various plantations, the multiform breeding, the development of fish farming, the generation of electric by the construction of small dam units, etc. Honoré was the prototype of the CICM missionary, who could easily be said to have a “brick in his belly”. And in his case, he also had a hammer and iron in the same belly. His zeal for this work had led him to the extreme of becoming almost a "separate person" with sometimes unfortunate consequences in his interpersonal relations.  This situation led the Religious Superiors to appoint him parish priest of the Holy Family Parish.

    Sent to Canada for a specific program before having a new pastoral appointment, Honoré was diagnosed with blood cancer (leukemia) from which he never recovered. A witness of the universal brotherhood, Honoré was buried in the middle of a cold winter in Montreal on January 24, 2020, far from his native Kananga. On the eve of this day, the parishioners of Holy Family and friends, both diocesan and religious priests, and their parish priest Jean Claude Kanku organized a vigil worthy of one who loved life "Honorius." On the day of your burial, the Holy Family Parish Community and the confreres thanked you, "Ka Souris," for all that you have been. Rest now in the joy of your Master. ■ 


    by Jean-Patrice Ngoyi


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