AN ANGLICAN bishop from the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo is spending a week in Fermanagh as a guest of a local Church of Ireland Minister.
Bishop Sylvestre Bahati is the Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Bukuvu, DR Congo is a guest of Reverend Brian Harper, Church of Ireland Minister in Ballinamallard.
Bishop Bahati is in Ireland for a conference of Global Mission Partners, which is taking place in the Armagh City Hotel tomorrow and Friday. Countries presented at this conference include Kenya, Rwanda, Congo, Uganda and Barundi.
Reverend Harper will be going with the bishop to this conference, and explaining how a bishop from Congo ended up in Ballinamallard, Brian said he was asked if he would like to host one of the visiting bishops, to which he agreed.
Reverend Harper said Bishop Bahati has been in the UK before – visiting England and Wales – but this is his first time to visit Ireland, and so far he has greatly been enjoying the experience.
So far he has travelled around the county and on Monday morning, in between the showers, Brian took him on a trip to Devenish Island and then onto the Manor House Hotel for lunch.
Reverend Harper said after the conference on Friday the bishop is returning to Ballinamallard where he will be officiate at confirmation on Sunday alongside Bishop John McDowell.
“This will be a wonderful and unique experience for the children who will have two bishops present at their confirmation, and it will certainly be the first time an African bishop has confirmed children in Fermanagh.
The bishop’s diocese has been shattered by the recent and ongoing conflicts in that part of Africa, as well as the usual poverty and although things are relatively peaceful in the city where he is based there is still a lot of fighting in villages outside of the cities – and his ministry covers both city and the rural areas.
The bishop has good English but not great on the telephone so when speaking to the Herald he was asked if he was enjoying his time here.
“Very much,” the bishop replied as he thanked his host Reverend Brian Harper for his hospitality and for showing him around the county.
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