Bishop Gérard Mulumba Kalemba an 82 year old retired bishop of Mweka in the Kasai Province has passed on after contracting the Coronavirus.

He died on April 15, 2020 and was buried at the Saint Kaggwa Seminary cemetery, Kinshasa the following day.

Considering the circumstances, his funeral was barred to the public but family members—his nephew, Congolese President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi—were in attendance and the liturgy was presided by the archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo.

Bishop Mulumba was born in Kananga, Mulumba Kalemba on 8 July, 1937, ordained a Catholic Priest in 1967 and became a Bishop of Mweka in 1989. He is the first African prelate to die of Coronavirus and an uncle to the Congolese president.

In May 2019, he was appointed Chief of Civil House by his nephew, a role which required him to manage the official residences and private presidential sites. Regardless of this appointment, the Bishop remained committed to the Church

In a statement by the Secretary General of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), Father Donatien Nshole, the clergy recounted the Bishop’s friendliness and close contact with orphans and children.

“I knew him as a priest and bishop. My first contact with him as priest was in 1985. I was a seminarian on internship at Inongo and he came to preach a retreat to our sisters. He was rector of the major seminary.

I discovered in him a very friendly and very sensitive man and a pastor,” Nshole said.

“I later found out that Bishop Mulumba lived with the orphans and the children in his bishopric. It was really a family atmosphere,” he continued.

The former director of Caritas DRC, Bruno Miteyo Nyenge also described the Bishop as unifying, attentive and a lover of the poor.

In his words he said:

“In his diocese, Bishop Gérard Mulumba Kalemba embodied in his person the simplicity of the great and the wisdom of the master. His life offered to the services of others did not prevent him from remaining very attentive and close to his family. He was a unifying bishop, quick to listen and always concerned for the poor,” Miteyo Nyenge said.

He continued,

“Like all human beings, he also experienced moments of grief and great affliction. He even sometimes shut himself up in prayers and lamentations, all in a burst of faith and abandonment to the One who had called him to give his whole life to his service, God Our Father.”

The Democratic Republic of the Congo currently have 332 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, with 25 deaths and are dealing with the Ebola Virus and Measles epidemic at the same time.

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