VATICAN CITY (October 9, 2016) With great joy, the Generalate of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit received the news, announced by Pope Francis during Sunday’s Angelus on October 9, 2016, of the creation of 17 new cardinals, among whom are two Spiritans:
Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga C.S.Sp., Archbishop of Bangui (Central African Republic)
He was born on March 14, 1967, in Mbomou, in the Diocese of Bangassou, Central African Republic. After primary school, he entered the junior seminary of St Louis of Bangassou and, afterwards the senior seminary, the Holy Apostles of Otélé, Cameroon, to study philosophy. He then continued his theological studies at Daniel Brottier Senior Seminary, in Libreville, Gabon.
He took his first vows with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit on September 8, 1993, and his final vows on September 6, 1997. He was ordained to the priesthood on August 9, 1998. Following ordination, he completed a licence in theology from the Jesuit college, Sèvres Centre, France. He then returned to the Central African Republic to become the regional superior of the Spiritans there.
When he was in France, from 1998-2005, he was chaplain to the orphans in the Auteuil Foundation as well as a curate in St. Jeronimo’s parish, Marseille. After returning to the Central African Republic, as well as becoming regional superior of the Spiritans, he was also parish priest in Bangui from 2005-2009. During his final year, 2008-2009, he was president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Central Africa.
In 2009, he was appointed as apostolic administrator of Bangui, and on May 14, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him metropolitan archbishop of Bangui. He received his episcopal consecration on July 22 of the same year.
In July, 2013, he became the president of the Episcopal Conference of the Central African Republic, and as such, in October, 2014, attended the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
In November, 2015, he received Pope Francis in his diocese, who, in Bangui, opened the first holy door of the Holy Year of Mercy.
In 2013, being personally committed to the peace process in his country, together with the president of the Islamic Council and the president of the Evangelical Alliance, he participated in the foundation of an inter-religious platform in Bangui for peace in the Central African Republic.
Archbishop Dieudonné is the first cardinal from the Central African Republic, and currently the youngest among the College of Cardinals.
Bishop Maurice Piat C.S.Sp., Bishop of Port-Louis, Mauritius.
Bishop Maurice Piat was born in Moka, in the Diocese of Port-Louis, on July 19, 1941. After secondary studies in Holy Spirit College, in Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius, he entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in Ireland, where he made his first religious profession on September 8, 1962. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from University College-Dublin, he was sent to the Pontifical French College in Rome and completed a licence in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian College in 1972.
He was ordained to the priesthood on August 2, 1970.
On the completion of his theology studies in 1972, he spent three months in pastoral ministry in Bangalore, India. Returning to Mauritius, he was appointed as professor and catechist at the Holy Spirit College in Quatre-Bornes. Up to 1982, he was responsible for the Spiritan aspirants at Foyer Mons. Murphy, Vacoas. From 1977-1979, he spent two years in Paris pursuing a course at the Institut pour la Formation des Educateurs du Clerg. Returning to Mauritius, in 1979, he also participated in Sunday ministry in the parish of Saint-François-d’Assise in Pamplemousses until 1985 after which, in 1986, he was appointed parish priest of the Coeur-Immaculé-de-Marie parish in Rivière-du-Rempart.
From 1981, he was also responsible for the diocesan pastoral project for the care of basic Christian communities as well as episcopal vicar for the formation and coordination of diocesan pastoral ministry. During those year, he contributed towards the creation of a formation center in Thabor, Beau-Bassin.
On January 21, 1991, he was appointed as coadjutor to the then Bishop of Port-Louis, Cardinal Jean Margéot, and was ordained a bishop on May 19 of the same year. On March 15, 1993, he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Port-Louis. He was president of the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean (C.E.D.O.I) from 1996-2002, and again from 2013 until September of this year (2016). Since 2000, he was a member of the Permanent Committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (S.C.E.A.M.)
When he heard the news of his elevation, Bishop Piat said he “was certainly not expecting it. I am very touched by the confidence shown to me by Pope Francis. I ask you to pray for me, you my brother and sister Mauritians, both Christian and those of other religions.
“My nomination as cardinal appears to me also to be an encouragement that Pope Francis has shown to our Mauritian Church in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, an encouragement to continue to welcome this mercy which does so much good for us and above all to act as humble witnesses to mercy.”
In October, 2015, he participated in the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
Pope Francis has, as in previous years, stuck close to his vision of having a broader, more universal representation of the Church in the College of Cardinals, elevating many bishops who come from small countries or islands that have never before had a cardinal, as well as from countries which present particular challenges in terms of pastoral outreach, such as those stricken with violence or persecution.
Out of the Pope’s new nominations, six come from countries that have previously never had a cardinal, including: the Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Lesotho and Albania.
With the 17 new cardinal-elects included, the number of voting cardinals comes to 121, and the number of non-voters to 107, for a grand total of 228.