2013-09-04 / Living

Kumanda leaving St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church

Pascal Ngboloma Kumanda will be missed by parishioners at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church. 
IRMA SANCHEZ | COURTESY PHOTO Pascal Ngboloma Kumanda will be missed by parishioners at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church. IRMA SANCHEZ | COURTESY PHOTO The parish of St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Poteet participated in an event unseen since its establishment in 1896, when it witnessed the ordination of intern Pascal Ngboloma Kumanda.

It all began more than two years ago when Father Albert Lelo, who himself had only recently become pastor of St. Philip’s Benizi, received a call asking if he would consider mentoring an intern in training for the priesthood. He accepted, and in the next two years guided by Father Albert and intern committee of eight, Pascal began his training.

For Pascal the journey had begun much earlier in his native Africa. In fact, Pascal, the son of Joseph Wembulu and Christine Astianda, had often expressed his desire to become a priest to his mother while he was growing up. Influenced by the priest of his local parish, Pascal remained patient, and in 2000 entered the seminary in Gemena in the Congo.

For the next ten years, he became immersed in the studies required by the Catholic Church earning a bachelor’s degree in Philosopy and a Master’s degree in Theology and learning six languages along the way. He was to learn yet another while in South Texas, Spanish. In 2011 he was sent to Washington DC, and by May had arrived at the little parish in Poteet, a long way from home.

Earlier this year, after more than two years of living in the parish and learning the nuances of a culture very different from his own, the internship committee was asked if they felt that Pascal was ready to enter the priesthood.

The answer was a resounding, “Yes.”

On April 31, 2013, Pascal, along with fellow intern Bernard Kayimbw, saw his childhood dreams come true when he was ordained a Catholic priest in the CICM order at Sacred Heart Church in San Antonio. It was also at this time that he received his new assignment as assistant pastor of not one, but two parishes in North Carolina.

“It is bittersweet to see him leave,” said one parishioner. “We have come to see him as a family member, but we know this is what he was meant to do.”

Father Pascal can rest assured that no matter where the Lord may send him, he will remain forever in the hearts and prayers of the parishioners of St. Philip Benezi Catholic Church in Poteet.

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