On Wednesday, October 26, 2022, Friar Phillip Chola MULENGA of the Province of the Franciscan Protomartyrs in Zambia defended his doctoral thesis. This academic event took place at the Pontifical Pastoral Institute “Redemptor Hominis” of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
Friar Phillip defended his thesis at noon in the University’s Paul IV Hall. The thesis was entitled, “A History of the Evangelization Encounter between the Conventual Franciscans and the Ethnic Bemba People of Zambia (1930–2020).”
His thesis was developed in five chapters and presented the history of Conventual Franciscan evangelization efforts in Zambia with the Bemba people. It began with a narrative analysis of the life of St. Francis, his spirituality and his charism, showing his particular way of evangelization, which is still active today. Then Friar Phillip explained the first European Franciscan presence in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and showed the inculturation and expansion of the Conventual Franciscan presence, especially in very distant and inaccessible places.
Finally, his doctoral thesis indicated a change in the spirituality and mentality of the Bemba people, as Friar Phillip pointed out when he said, “Zambia has become vibrant.” There is no doubt that the work and commitment lavished on this thesis reflected the great evangelization effort carried out by the Conventual Franciscan presence in Zambia, an effort which must continue.
The community at the General House of St. Anthony at the Baths (“Vigna”) in Rome is proud of Friar Phillip and this additional step he has taken in his formation. He is the fourth friar to complete his doctoral studies in 2022. The friars at the Vigna wish him well in his continued service to the Church and the Order.
Friar Cesar ORTÍZ GONZÁLEZ