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Pope Francis Names Two Spiritans Among 17 New Cardinals

Two members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) are among the 17 new cardinals named by Pope Francis on Oct. 9.

Monsignor Dieudonné Nzapalainga C.S.Sp., archbishop of Bangui, Central African Republic and Monsignor Maurice Piat C.S.Sp., archbishop of Port-Louis, Mauritius, both represent areas that have never before had a cardinal, according to the National Catholic Reporter. 

Nzapalainga, 49, was born in Mbomou in the Diocese of Bangassou in the Central African Republic. He entered the junior seminary of St. Louis Bangassou followed by the senior seminary at the Holy Apostles of Otélé, in Cameroon, to study philosophy. Nzapalainga then continued his theological studies at Daniel Brottier Senior Seminary, in Libreville, Gabon. He took his first vows in the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in 1993 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1998.

After earning a licence in theology from the Jesuit College at the Sèvres Centre, in France, Nzapalainga returned to the Central African Republic to become the regional superior of the Spiritans. He also served as a parish priest in Bangui, and later was president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Central Africa. Nzapalainga became apostolic administrator of Bangui in 2009 before being appointed the metropolitan archbishop there in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Nzapalainga became president of the Episcopal Conference of the Central Africa Republic in 2013. That same year-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. Nzapalainga received Pope Francis in his diocese in 2015, during which the pope opened the first holy door of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Piat, 75, was born in Moka in the Diocese of Port-Louis. He entered the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in Ireland after attending Holy Spirit College, in Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius. He made his first religious profession in 1962 when he was in Ireland and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. After earning a bachelor's degree from University College Dublin, Piat was sent to the Pontifical French College in Rome, and he later completed a licence in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian College in 1972.

After spending three months in pastoral ministry in Bangalore, India, Piat returned to Mauritius and was appointed professor and catechist at the Holy Spirit College in Quatre-Bornes, where he was responsible for the Spiritan candidates. In 1986, he was appointed parish priest of the Coeur-Immaculé-de-Marie parish in Rivière-du-Rempart. Piat was also responsible for the diocesan pastoral project for the care of basic Christian communities and was episcopal vicar for the formation and coordination of diocesan pastoral ministry.

In 1991, Piat was appointed as coadjutor to then-Archbishop of Port-Louis Jean Margéot and was later ordained bishop in May of the same year. He was appointed archbishop of the Diocese of Port-Louis in 1993, and served as president of the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean from 1996-2002 and again from 2013 until September 2016.

Pope Francis will elevate the new cardinals at a consistory on Nov. 19 at the Vatican.

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