How a Woman in Tears Changed a Seminarian’s Perspective

Brother Musonda Chota, OMI, was taken aback when a woman he was meeting with broke down in tears while sharing her story.

After all, displays of strong emotion in public are outside the cultural norm in Bro. Musonda’s native Zambia in south-central Africa. He is from the small town of Mufulira, which is in the diocese of Ndola near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Brother Musonda is a third-year seminarian with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He is currently studying at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. At the time of his encounter with the woman in tears, he was working there with a class on the Order (previously, Rite) of Christian Initiation of Adults.

“I went back and sat in reflection and thought about what was going on,” Bro. Musonda said of the experience. “What came to mind was the story of Jesus, Mary and Martha after Lazarus died and how Jesus wept. That was in public, too, and I thought about how Jesus shares in our sorrows and has such empathy.”

That encounter served as a pivotal experience for Bro. Musonda and helped solidify a style of pastoring he hopes to take with him into his future as a Missionary Oblate. Brother Musonda talked about how he strives to consistently be in the current moment, regardless of whom he is talking to or what he is doing.

“It’s something I’m learning as a seminarian,” he said. “I want to live in the moment because once it goes, you can’t bring it back.”

Brother Musonda was 15 years old when he felt the call of God. It came through the best friend of his brother, Kelvin. That friend, Macario Mumba, returned to the small town of Mufulira with a silver and black cross—an Oblate Cross that is part of First Vows ceremony.

Silver and black crosses are given to Missionary Oblates when they take their First Vows. Gold and black crosses are given to them when they take their Final Perpetual Vows.

The cross served as a starting point for the journey Bro. Musonda is on today. He took his First Vows in 2020 and had plans to go to Rome to continue his education. COVID made the trip impossible. He spent the next year in Mongu in the Western Province of Zambia at Oblate Radio Liseli before coming to San Antonio in August 2021.

For the past two and a half years, Bro. Musonda has advanced through seminary while gaining pastoral experience at various places in San Antonio. During his time there, he has ministered at Catholic Charities, San Juan de los Lagos Parish and Shrine, and now at Our Lady of the Lake University with the campus ministry.

Bro. Musonda said he is unsure where his future will take him but that he is open to going where the need is.

As he prepares for that future, he thinks back to the lady who broke down in tears in his OCIA class.

“It taught be something about myself that I needed to learn,” he said. “It taught me to see beyond my experience to the experiences of others and about God’s presence through everything.”