Home' The Southern Cross : July 2015 Contents Page 26 July 2015
Southern Cross | feature
Adelaide Fraternity Choir chairman Papi
Mulimanya was not home the night his
parents were brutally murdered by militia
Papi was 17 at the time and should have
been studying at the family’s home in the
lake-port city of Uvira.
But that night he was caring for his sister
and her children after her husband was
forced to flee to Tanzania after being
arrested. He was alerted to their murder by
neighbours who had witnessed the killing.
“Even today, when I remember, it still
shocks me a lot,” he says from the
Hackney unit he now shares with his wife
and baby daughter.
Papi found his parents shot dead on April
15, 2002. His mum Maria was 40 and his
father Joseph was 45.
“I was in shock,” he says. “I couldn’t
believe I was seeing both my parents
killed. I became very cold. I lost
Three days after burying his parents, Papi
and his sister and brother fled to Tanzania
fearing for their own lives. “We had to
leave because we knew we were being
They remained in the Lugufu refugee
camps (there are two) for five years,
arriving in Adelaide in September 2007.
“Life in the refugee camp was not good,”
says Papi. “It is a place of suffering –
food was not enough, many people are
stressed and young people get married
and pregnant very young.”
While at the camp, Papi completed a
diploma in teaching and helped build St
Joseph’s Church within the camp walls.
He also visited the camp’s elderly, cleaning
their homes and running errands.
“I remained connected to my faith,” he
Papi’s parents, particularly his mother, were
“great believers in the Catholic faith”. Papi
was part of a prayer group at St Paul’s
Cathedral in Uvira. “I couldn’t miss any
Sunday Mass – it was a rule in our house.”
He says it is his faith which guided him
through extraordinary times of suffering
“My faith to God...teaches me to
differentiate good and bad choices,” he
“It helps me understand how to create
peace of mind and peace in the places
where I am living.
“Faith has led me to think of others, and
that is why I am committed to work for
“Serving God and other people gives me
self-satisfaction and that is where my
Papi is an extraordinary minister of Holy
Communion in the Adelaide Cathedral
Parish and a member of the Parish
He is an African catechist, visiting
newly arrived African refugees, the sick,
bereaved, and those in difficulty and
prepares people for the sacraments.
He is the founder and chairman of the
Fraternity Choir (formerly the Catholic
Congolese Fraternity Choir), which sings
regularly at Masses in the Cathedral and
He set up the choir in 2008 to help the
growing number of Congolese youth
migrating to Australia not yet connected to
their faith during an often difficult cultural
transition period into Australian culture.
Attending Mass at the Cathedral, Papi
noticed there were youth from other
African nations there but no Congolese.
“So I thought maybe I should do
something to bring more young people to
the church because they are here but not
being connected to their faith,” says Papi.
“Living here without your faith can get you
He chose a choir as a unifying activity
around which to base catechesis,
remembering the joy of hearing his owns
sisters singing around the house in Congo.
The choir started with three people,
peaked at 40 and today has 20 active
members aged from 10 to 30 from Congo
and other African nations.
The choir meets each week for bible
studies and rehearsals, singing in five
different languages. They have sung at
Migrant Sunday Masses, the Cathedral’s
African Mass, weddings and cultural
events, including Australia Day. In 2013,
the choir recorded its first CD, with almost
all of the 600 CDs sold.
In 2012, Papi was also commissioned
by Archbishop Philip Wilson as an
Ambassador for the Year of Grace.
Last year he received the Adelaide
Archbishop’s Award to Young People
for contribution to the life and mission
of the Church. Earlier in that same year
he married Arlene at St Francis Xavier’s
Cathedral. The pair met in the refugee
camp two months before Papi migrated to
Adelaide. In March, they welcomed their
daughter Nicole, who was baptised on
Pentecost (May 24).
“There is a reason I am alive,” says Papi.
“I see what I have already achieved and
I couldn’t have done that without my faith.”
The Second Congo War (1998-2003) is
known as the deadliest war in Modern
African history, claiming the lives of more
than five million people, mainly through
disease and starvation. Millions more were
displaced from their homes, forced to seek
asylum in neighbouring countries.
Singing Papi’s praises
Papi Mulimanya shares his
migration story of deep tragedy
from the Democratic Republic
of Congo to one of hope and
new beginnings in Adelaide with
REBECCA DIGIROLAMO as part
of a series commemorating the
100th anniversary of Migrant and
NEW SONG: Congolese migrants Arlene and Papi Mulimanya, Fraternity Choir
chairman, with daughter Nicole in their Adelaide home.
Adelaide business and community leaders gathered in
Victoria Square on a cold winter’s night last month to learn
about the plight of the homeless in Adelaide and to do their
bit to raise money for support services.
“There are simple comforts that I take for granted, things
that even living in Australia many don’t have, such as being
able to have a hot shower and wash your hair, and sitting
inside at a table to eat a meal,” said Dr Anne Spencer
(pictured), language consultant to Catholic Education
Last month’s St Vincent De Paul Society (SA) CEO
Sleepout was Dr Spencer’s fifth, bringing her total
fundraising tally since 2011 to more than $15,000.
“We chose to sleep out and it was one night, but for
so many there is no choice and no end in sight to their
hardship,” she said.
More than 80 sleepout participants had raised more than
half a million dollars at the time of print, with donations still
Participating in his second CEO Sleepout, Deputy Police
Commissioner Grant Stevens said: “It is shocking to think
that 105,000 Australians are homeless every night....I can
only imagine what it is like to have to face the challenges
that go along with not having stable accommodation. It
must be extremely frightening.”
The annual fundraiser, in its sixth year in Adelaide, last
year raised more than $600,000 for SVDP (SA), which
helps more than 50,000 families and individuals annually.
Services include home visits, crisis accommodation,
support for about 3300 migrants and refugees and serving
around 26,000 meals annually through Fred’s Van services.
David Wark, chief executive officer of SVDP (SA), said
there was an increasing number of children requiring
“Last winter we saw an increase of more than 16 percent in
the amount of children we were assisting compared to the
winter before,” he said. “We expect that the need will be
even greater this year.”
Mr Wark said demand for services in general increased
9.5 percent in the winter of 2014 compared to 2013.
Anne rugs up for Vinnies homeless cause
Links Archive June 2015 August 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page