The Catholic Priesthood is characterized by hard work, dedication, caring for the children of God and all the good things that go with a man of God. To make the priesthood viable and enviable, they are separated into different groups otherwise known as congregations. These groups have their charisms and all put their trust in God for the same propagation. One of such groups is the Order of Friar Minors or Franciscan Missionaries. Rev. Fr. Domingos Ihala Imbunde OFM hails from Guinea Bissau and in the quest for learning English to be added to the French, Portuguese and Italian he speaks well. He arrived in The Gambia in July and lived with Fr. Louis T. Mendy at the Stella Maris Parish in Bakau. Let us learn about this exemplary fine priest and see what we can learn from his experience and what he thinks of The Gambia.
Rev. Fr. Domingos Ihala IMBUNDE (OFM), was born on 9th January 1961 - Lumoora in Guinea Bissau. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ihala Imbunde.
In 1974, Fr. Domingos entered the Franciscan Junior Seminary. He finished his secondary education in 1981 in Bissau. He became a Franciscan Postulant in 1982 at NHOMA. In 1983 he left for Lome in Togo for his Novitiate and moved to Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire to study Philosophy and Theology and returned to Guinea Bissau in August 1991. He made his solemn vows on 31st December 1991. Fr. Domingos was ordained deacon on 9th February 1992 and was ordained to the Holy priesthood on 31st May 1993.
In his quest for education Fr. Domingos left for Italy to study and specialize in Church History from 1996 to 1999. After some time he obtained his PhD in Church History. From the year 2000 to present he is in Guinea Bissau. 2002 to 2004 he headed the junior professed Franciscan students and also serves as a temporal contemporary Professor of Church History at the Inter Diocesan Franciscan Senior Seminary of Bissau.
Since 3rd May 2009 he became the Director of the Franciscan Junior Seminary at Bra and also serving as Professor of Church History at the Susmentionne Senior Seminary.
The Presence of Franciscans in Guinea Bissau: The Portuguese Franciscans, Fr. Domingos said came since 1932 to date. The Italian Franciscans arrived in 1955 to date and the Guinea Bissau Franciscans were formed since 1985. "Actually, the Order of Franciscans in Guinea Bissau is the defendant custodian of the Province of Franciscans of Venice, comprising of 35 Brothers and priests with 30 priests and 5 Brothers.
Fr. Domingos arrived in The Gambia on July 1, 2009 and he leaves on September 30, 2009 to polish his English Language. During his stay he has been very thankful to Rev. Fr. Louis T. Mendy CSSp for his openness, love and care.
Talking about his activities in The Gambia, he said he had no pastoral activities since he came and mentioned some reasons for this. He says, "There was a holiday where many people went for holiday, it interrupted. The other handicap was language barrier as many people would only speak Wolof," he said.
"When I stay at the other house at Star of the Sea, I stayed practically alone. It is when Fr. JB came from Basse that helped my English and company and the place helped me to do my work," he said. Fr. Peter Jammeh's presence is a plus. He further tendered his appreciation to Gambians for the affection shown to him. "They are appreciative of others." He said. He acknowledged that he was handicapped in language, thus limitation to his visitations.
"I want to thank Fr. Louis T. Mendy CSSp. I am impressed by him. He was readily available for me. He provided anything for me to eat and if I say I wanted fish, he makes sure it is available. So I am really thankful to him for being a brother. He is also very appreciative of others as well." He said.
Fr. Domingos said he had two official teachers in English, Mr. Joseph Fomolo and Mr. Kwame Nkruma. Fomolo he praised as an excellent teacher that motivates students to learn, he is professional. His teaching skills are superb and knows the real areas to touch on. He praised the later in similar fashion and said he is accurate. He thanked all his teachers for making him gain confidence in English Language. "I am going back well prepared and I can now read the Gospels in English and do more." He said.
He said English Language could be critical. He tells a true story: "One day I saw Fr. Michael with a dog in his car going to Soma on transfer. I then said to Fr. Michael Gomez, what a nice dog you are!" This was instead of what a nice dog you have. Just like the use of "ont" and "sont" for French learners.
Fr. Domingos said he will remember the people he came in contact with, he will remember the Parish House where he lived because it is a souvenir. "The scenery is fantastic as I sit out to look at the sea. I will remember everything and I thank every body especially Bishop Robert Ellison CSSp and Fr. Louis T. Mendy CSSp" he said.