Sunday, 28 June 2015

Interview with Fr. Arsène Kapya

Etigu Kenneth, one of our editors, had an interview with Fr. Arsène Kapya. The interview aims at having a good knowledge of him.

Etigu: Fr. Arsène would you introduce yourself to our readers?

Fr. Arsène: At times it can seem easier to speak of others than of oneself… But I will try to say something about myself.

I was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. I come from a Christian (Catholic) family. I am a twin, and my twin brother (Rigobert) is a Jesuit priest.  I started my missionary formation at La Ruzizi, (our formation house in Bukavu, in the Eastern part of the DRC), where I spent 3 years. I went to Kasama (Zambia) for my spiritual year. Then I was sent to Nyakato parish, Mwanza Archdiocese (Tanzania) for my two year pastoral experience. After my stage, I went to Toulouse for Theology. It is there that I took my missionary oath on the 9th of December 1995 and became a missionary of Africa. I was ordained priest in my home parish, Saint Martin, in Lubumbashi on the 17th of August 1996. After my ordination I went to Birni N’konni in Niger where I spent 4 years in a Muslim context. From there I was sent to Konadougou, in Banfora Diocese (Burkina Faso) where our missionary activity is mainly primary evangelization. I spent three years there, and then went to Dublin (Ireland) for one year formation.  After Dublin I was sent to our first phase formation house La Ruzizi as a staff member. While being there, I was also in charge of the diocesan monthly newspaper called “Karivu”. From la Ruzizi, I was sent to Rome to study a bit of philosophy and spent 3 years there before I came to Jinja last August.

Etigu: What attracts you in the Society of the Missionaries of Africa?

Fr. Arsène: What attracts me most in the Society of Missionaries of Africa is firstly the international and intercultural community life. To see people from different parts of the world living together as brothers is really beautiful. “How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together” (Ps 133). I experienced this in a special way when I was in Burkina Faso in 2001-2002: while Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda were in DRC at war with the DRC, I (a Congolese) was living in the same community with a confrere from Rwanda and another one from Burundi. People outside could not believe that we could live in peace together while at home our countries were fighting. Our community life was a living testimony that in Christ, we can transcend our human conflicts and enjoy our brotherhood in Jesus.

A part from this community aspect, I like the various missionary dimensions of our Society: to go out to other countries in order to share our faith with others, to meet people of other faith and cultures, to work in a primary evangelization apostolate, to be with the poor… In brief, to be a sign of hope for the people we meet and that through our presence they might experience the love of God for them.

Fr. Arsene during the Eucharistic celebration 
Etigu: You arrived here at Lavigerie House, Jinja. How would you evaluate the few months you’ve spent here?

Fr. Arsène: Being here at Lavigerie House is quite a new experience for me. It is the first time I am living in Uganda. Jinja is a beautiful place: nice weather, small town, we have the lake and the Nile River, etc.

In the house, we have young people full of life with the desire to become missionaries of Africa. The community spirit seems to be good. On the staff we are a beautiful team living in harmony.

Lavigerie House is a nice place to be. It has got its own challenges, but there is no life without challenge!

It is the first time I am teaching in English. I must confess that the beginning is demanding for someone approaching his fifties to adjust from French to English, especially in teaching! It would have been a different story were I approaching my forties… But, as we say in French: “Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire”, which means that once you have opened a bottle of wine, you have to drink it… This “Jinja wine” is a very good one…

I don’t regret being here and I hope I will enjoy my stay all the more here as time goes on. It is nice to live with young people full of missionary zeal. With them, at times I even forget that I am getting old…

Etigu: What can you tell our young readers of this magazine?

Fr. Arsène: Let me tell each one of them this: follow your dream.

Etigu: Thank you Fr. Arsène for sharing with our readers your experience. We wish you a very beautiful time in Jinja and may Almighty God bless you.

Fr. Arsène: It is my pleasure.    

(This interview was done in April 2014)