The spread of COVID-19 on the African continent continues with the death of Congolese Anglican Bishop Désiré Mukanirwa, who fell ill two weeks ago.
As well as the shocking loss for his wife Claudaline, their four children and his Diocese of Goma, Bishop Mukanirwa is being mourned as far away as Australia.
“He was in late high school and already passionate about serving Jesus when I encountered him in the Goma Anglican youth group,” said Sydney’s Bishop for International Relations, Malcolm Richards, a long-time friend of Bishop Mukanirwa.
“Bishop Désiré was a godly, Jesus-loving man.”
“With degrees in theology and development studies, Désiré combined his love for evangelism with a concern for the marginalised in Congolese society – the poorest of the poor: widows, orphans and victims of rape in war,” Bishop Richards added.
“I have visited his home many times over the years, and his house is always full of people. He has four children of his own but he and Claudaline also gave space to many other children and adults who needed a home... Bishop Désiré was a godly, Jesus-loving man.”
The Primate of the Anglican Church in the DRC, Archbishop Masimango Katanda acknowledged the 'deep pain' of the Congo church.
“The Anglican Church of the Congo expresses its sincere condolences to his wife, Mama Claudaline Muhindo, and her family, as well as to the Diocese of Goma”, the Archbishop said.
The loss symbolises the reality of the struggle against COVID-19 in the African continent, according to the Rev Canon Tim Swan, the CEO of Anglican Aid.
“We are deeply grieved to learn of Bishop Désiré Mukanirwa’s sickness and death from Coronavirus,” Canon Swan said. “This virus has brought to a sudden end the life of a beloved and vital church leader in the Congo, alongside many other precious lives.”
Bishop Mukanirwa was a partner of Anglican Aid in projects in the Anglican Diocese of Goma, which has 224 congregations, 45 clergy and 43 schools. Anglican Aid supports the Bible college in Goma by sponsoring 30 students to receive Bible training. Like Sydney bishops and hundreds of other leaders around the world, Bishop Mukanirwa was also a member of GAFCON, the Global Anglican Future Conference.
Anglican AID had already established a COVID-19 appeal for areas around the world suffering further because of the pandemic and Canon Swan has announced it will now provide further funds to Bishop Mukanirwa’s family during this time.
“Anglican Aid is gravely concerned about the impacts of Coronavirus and associated lockdowns on our brothers and sisters in poverty,” he said. “We are working to strengthen and equip churches in these communities as they respond to needs with the love of Jesus.”
For more information on the above appeal and DRC projects, see https://anglicanaid.org.au/covid-19-relief-appeal and https://anglicanaid.org.au/projects/holistic_ministry_in_drc