JAMAICA, N.Y. - Pope Francis has appointed Passionist Father
Emery Kibal Mansong'loo, who currently resides in the
Brooklyn Diocese, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Kole in
Congo in central Africa.
Bishop-designate Kibal, named the fourth bishop of Kole, is a
former provincial superior of the Passionist Fathers in
Congo. He has been on sabbatical at the Immaculate Conception
Passionist Monastery in the New York borough of Queens and
serving as chaplain at Mercy Medical Center, in the Diocese
of Rockville Centre, since the spring of 2014.
He will succeed Bishop Stanislas Lukumwena Lumbala, who
resigned in 2008.
Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, is
expected to ordain him Aug. 9.
Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre has already
presented Bishop-designate Kibal with a zucchetto, and a
friend gave him a simple pectoral cross.
Becoming a bishop "was something I never expected," the
bishop-designate said on a recent afternoon inside the
Jamaica monastery where he's been staying.
"When we are in training to become a priest, we know that we
are going to become a priest. But becoming a bishop? No one
is prepared for that."
He told The Tablet, newspaper of the Brooklyn Diocese, that
he had received word of his appointment in late April after
saying morning prayers in the chapel of Mercy Medical Center.
His cellphone rang and the apostolic delegate to Congo
announced the pope's intentions for him.
Bishop-designate Kibal, who turns 46 June 28, said he was
shocked and asked the delegate if he could have some time to
reflect on the news.
"He said, 'No, my brother, you cannot. You have to behave
like the Blessed Mary when she received the message of the
angel.' I didn't have any other alternative than to say
'yes,'" he said, laughing as he recalled the conversation.
Not only was it a joyful moment for the young priest, but
also a troubling one, he said, because it meant realizing
that the plans he had for the future were not God's plans.
"I had to figure out how things were going to change," he
Established as an apostolic prefecture in 1951 and elevated
to a diocese in 1967, the Diocese of Kole covers 25,492
square miles and has a population of over 477,000. More than
150,000 residents - about 30 percent - are Catholic, and they
worship in 15 parishes.
A remote area in the jungle, Kole has "no roads, no
transportation, no electricity, no running water. ... You
have to go 40 miles away to reach a telephone," the
bishop-designate said. "Enormous challenges are waiting for
Families survive by subsistence farming and basic education
available is mainly for young men, as young women are
prepared to become only wives and mothers.
His episcopacy will be dedicated to overcoming material,
cultural and spiritual obstacles. He expects to face
opposition from traditional peoples, including Pygmies, who
he said resist modern methods of education and medicine.
Bishop-designate Kibal said he hopes to build proper schools
and "promote the education of young people, especially the
girls," address the lack of health care structures and
medical care and find a way to improve the economic situation
to raise people out of poverty.