Diocesan authorities in Monze said Bishop Moses Hamungole, died late afternoon on Wednesday 13 January.
On 2 January, Bishop Moses tested positive to COVID-19 at Monze Mission Hospital. He was then evacuated to the Zambian capital, Lusaka, where he was admitted to Levy Mwanawasa Hospital. The hospital is said to have a dedicated unit for COVID-19 patients.
On 4 January, Bishop Moses wrote to the faithful of his diocese informing them of his hospitalisation.
“I have personally decided to write to you about my health condition since last Saturday (2 January). Before that I had what, I thought was an ordinary Flu which on Saturday was confirmed as COVID-19, at Monze Mission Hospital,” he said. In the same message, Bishop Moses stated that he was in a stable condition. He thanked the faithful for their prayers and was looking forward to a quick recovery.
Bishop of Monze Diocese
Pope Francis on 10 February 2014 appointed Bishop Moses to lead the Diocese of Monze as its Ordinary. He took over from Bishop Emeritus, Emilio Patriarca.
At his episcopal ordination, on 3 May 2014, Bishop Moses appealed to all in the diocese to work closely with him. He made a statement, half in jest, that with his passing now takes on new meaning and echoes his short stay as Chief Shepherd of the Diocese of Monze.
“Today, I join you in the journey of faith which started in 1962 when the diocese was created. I have come so that we journey together and work together as children of one family. In our own ways, we are all responding to the call of God and vocation of following Jesus Christ. The new phase of our journey, which we begin today is not for me alone. It is for all of us. My namesake Moses (found in the Bible) wanted to lead his people to the Promised Land. It was not to be. Bishop Emilio has done his part, and we can all see, and we appreciate what he has done. I have come to do my part. After me, someone will come and do their part,” Bishop Moses told the congregation gathered for his episcopal ordination.
Just before Christmas, a few weeks ago, Bishop Moses led the Diocese in a low-key groundbreaking ceremony for a mammoth project, the building of the new Monze Diocese Cathedral.
Within the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), Bishop Moses was the Chairperson of the Social Communications Commission.
A native of Kafue town
He was born on 1 May 1967 in Kafue, about half an hour’s drive from Lusaka. He started his junior secondary school at Kafue Boys. He completed his senior secondary school education, in 1986, at Mukasa Minor Seminary in Choma. In 1987, he was accepted to study Philosophy and start his priestly studies at St. Augustine’s Major Seminary in Mpima, Kabwe. Later, in 1990, he proceeded to St. Dominic’s Major Seminary in Lusaka for Pastoral and Theological studies. He graduated with a degree in Theology in 1994.
He was ordained as a diocesan priest of Lusaka Archdiocese on 6 August 1994 at Holy Saviour Parish, Kafue Estate.
At the time of his appointment as Bishop, he was Head of the English Africa and the Kiswahili Service at the Vatican Radio in Rome, Italy.
Priestly assignments and studies
Following his priestly ordination, Bishop Moses worked as an assistant parish priest in Lusaka and Kabwe before being appointed to Yatsani TV Production Studios (now Lumen TV) as studio manager, in 1997. Two years later, he proceeded to study at the Gregorian University in Rome where, in 2002, he graduated with a Masters’ Degree in Social Communications.
Between 2002 and 2009, Bishop Moses worked at the AMECEA Secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya as Secretary for Social Communications. AMECEA is an acronym for the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa. It is a regional association for Catholic Bishops in eastern and parts of southern Africa. During his time at AMECEA, he was elected President of SIGNIS Africa. (SIGNIS is the world association of Catholic communicators). From AMECEA, Bishop Moses went to Belgium to start his PhD studies. He successfully defended his doctoral thesis on 6 November 2015.
Several Zambians and friends elsewhere have taken to social media to express their shock and sense of loss at the passing of Bishop Moses. Similarly, colleagues at Vatican Radio expressed disbelief at the passing on of Bishop Moses.
For some in Monze Diocese, this feels like déjà vu. They spoke of having lived through a similar experience when another much-loved Bishop of Monze suddenly died. The Jesuit Bishop, Paul Lungu, was killed in a horrible car accident on 29 April 1998. He was 51 years old.