Archbishop Emery Kabongo Kanundowi was born in Bena-Kazadi-Tshikula on July 22, 1940. After his seminary training, he was elevated to the Order of the Presbyterium on August 15, 1969 at the age of 29. And was secretary of the Holy Pope John Paul II. He is also a canon of the chapter at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
Archbishop Kabongo worked in the Vatican Secretariat of State until one day he received a call from the Pope, as he recalls in the book Accanto Giovanni Paola II ("Side by Side with John Paul II "); to help the First Secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz, as the duo needed to work closely with the Pope. In the words of Bishop Kabongo, “I did not write a letter or ask for a meeting. This is why I thank the Pope for his Catholic mentality and for having thought that an African would be a good secretary.
On December 10th, 1987 Pope John Paul gave him the personal title of Archbishop of Luebo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He received his Episcopal Order on the 6th January 1988 at the age of 47 years. The installation of the Archbishop Bishop Emery Kabongo Kanundowi of Luebo took place on the 28th February, 1988. He was consecrated as Bishop at (San Pietro, Basilica Diocese of Roma Italy). The Principal Consecrator was Pope John Paul II (St Karol Jozef Wojtyla †). Worthy of note during the ordination are the Principal Co-consecrators: Archbishop Eduardo Martines Somalo (Titular Archbishop of Thagora), Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re (Titular Archbishop of Forum Novum), Bishop Gerard Mulumba Kalemba † (1989), Bishop Valentin Masengo Mkinda † (1996).
As the Canon in the Vatican, (that is, one who is part of the ecclesial body responsible for a Cathedral) of St Peter’s Basilica, Archbishop Emery Kabongo continues to lead pilgrims through the Vatican. It is evident however, that he is loved by all the workers there as well.
ARCHBISHOP EMERY KABONGO AS FOUNDER
On the 5th of November, 1991, Archbishop Emery Kabongo Kanundowi founded the Missionary Institute of the Friends of Christ (IMAC), a Catholic male religious congregation of priests whose Charism is the revelation of Christ’s family in prayer and commitment for perfection of charity; the evangelization of the unfortunates; concern for the marginalized; and education of those who are abandoned; as well as Eucharistic adoration.
Four years after, on the 5th November, 1995, the first text of the constitution of the Friends was presented by Kabongo having the status, the form of life, the formation and the administration of the institute. The text was sent to the Congregation for the Evangelization of People in Rome and was approved, ad “experimentum”. Thus, on the 5th of October 2000, after a meticulous and long examination, the Friends were enjoined to make certain correction on the constitution. By the virtue of his Episcopal powers as the Archbishop-bishop of the Diocese of Luebo, Kabongo canonically formed the institute of clerical religious with Diocesan right called: “INSTITUT MISSIONNAIRE DES AMIS DU CHRIST” (IMAC).
After a period of growth, the institute was faced with some challenges that forced its members to be incardinated into different other dioceses outside the canonical diocese of her erection, which is Luebo. One of the dioceses that welcomed and incardinated some of the priests in the name of IMAC is the Archdiocese of Mbeya, Tanzania, East Africa.
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