Vermont Ibutwa Initiative is thrilled to announce its newest staff member with our team in the Congo, Father Philemon Mutware. Father Philemon started his journey to priesthood in the Congo, but when violence broke out, he was forced to flee and ended up in France. There, he completed seminary and served for fifteen years as the Diocese of Paris. Although he was in Paris, his heart was back with his people suffering in the Congo. As he repeated in his presentations to students in class, "I don't have the right to be happy alone." For Father Philemon, if his people are not happy, then he cannot be happy. It is through doing good for his country, his brothers and sisters in the Congo, and the world that he finds happiness. Father Philemon is currently the assistant to the Bishop of Uvira in the DRC, living and working with the people and country he loves. In his own words, he is committed to “replace the culture of violence in Congo with a culture of peace.”
The week of October 6th, Father Philemon visited Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and was hosted by the Edmundites on campus. He was nice enough to give mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Burlington. Father Philemon also had a very busy week, meeting with faculty of St. Mike’s and sharing his story in two classes here on campus. He was warmly welcomed and was able to powerfully engage students. Students that heard him speak found themselves having a grown commitment to supporting peace in the Congo. Father Philemon also met with the VIBI Board and our director and founder Cleophace Mukeba and was welcomed on as our newest staff member.
In his new role, Father Philemon will be Director of Programs for Ibutwa in the Kamanyola and Uvira in the eastern province of South Kivu in the Congo. He is a strong asset to our team and will help us grow as an organization. Next year, he is hoping to return to St. Mike’s and pursue a semester in Peace and Justice studies, a passion of his.