Pope Francis appointed Passionist Father Emery Kibal Mansong’loo, who currently resides in the Brooklyn Diocese, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Kole in the Democratic Republic of Congo, central Africa, May 6.
Father Kibal, who will turn 46 next month, is a former provincial superior of the Passionist Fathers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He has been on sabbatical at the Immaculate Conception Passionist Monastery in Queens and serving as chaplain at Mercy Medical Center, Rockville Centre, L.I., since the spring of 2014.
He will be succeeding Bishop Stanislas Lukumwena Lumbala, O.F.M., who resigned in 2008.
The Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya is expected to ordain him the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Kole on Aug. 9.
Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre has already presented Father Kibal with a zucchetto, and a friend gave him a simple pectoral cross.
Becoming a bishop “was something I never expected,” the bishop-elect shared 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 received word of his appointment in late April after saying morning prayers in the chapel of Mercy Medical Center. His cell phone rang and the apostolic delegate to the Democratic Republic of Congo announced the Holy Father’s intentions for him.
Father Kibal 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 now 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 said.
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-elect said. “Enormous challenges are waiting for me there.”
Families survive by subsistence farming and basic education is available is mainly for young men, as young women are prepared only to become 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 resist modern methods of education and medicine.
Father Kibal said he hopes to build proper schools and “promote the education of young people, especially the girls,” address the lack of healthcare structures and medical care and find a way to improve the economic situation to raise people out of poverty.
“They are my new destiny. They are my new home. So I am now trying to adjust myself accordingly. I have to behave like the Blessed Mary and ask for her help,” he said.
For his episcopal motto, the bishop-elect has chosen: “Non Mea Voluntas Sed Tua Fiat,” “Not My Will, But Yours Be Done” (Luke 22:42).
His coat of arms features the Passionist insignia, Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and a palm tree, a symbol of perseverance and resilience.
The Congolese priest was born June 28, 1969 to Ambrose and Jeanne Kibal of Kimputu in the Idiofa Diocese. After completing primary and secondary school, he entered the Passionist Fathers in Kinshasa in 1988.
Of the 35 men who sought entrance to the congregation that year, the bishop-elect said he is the only one who was ordained to the priesthood.
He studied philosophy at the St. Augustin Institute in Kinshasa, 1988-91, and theology in Tangaza College in Nairobi, Kenya, 1992-97.
He made his perpetual vows as a Passionist on July 31, 1998, and was ordained a priest in the parish of St. Thérèse, Kinshasa, Aug. 2, 1998.
His first assignments were as assistant priest of the Holy Family of Ototo, Diocese of Tshumbe, 1998-99, and pastor of the Catholic Mission of Lumbi, Diocese of Kikwit, 1999-2002.
He studied liturgy at the Pontifical University of St. Anselm, Rome, 2002-05, before becoming provincial superior of the Passionists for two successive terms, 2005-2013. He also taught in Kinshasa at St. Augustin University, the St. Eugene de Mazenod Institute and the Inter-Novitiate of Women’s Congregations.
He served as president of dell’ASUMA (Assembly of Major Superiors), 2008-13, and was a member of the board of directors of the Catholic University of Congo, 2011-13. He resided at the Scholasticate of the Institute in Kinshasa until he arrived in Queens last year.