Former Papal Nuncio to El Salvador and to Belize, Most Reverend Archbishop Leon Kalenga Badikebele, Titular Archbishop of Magnetum, died on Wednesday, June 13 in the City of Rome after a long illness. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, appointed Archbishop Kalenga as Apostolic Nuncio in El Salvador on February 22, 2013 and later as Apostolic Nuncio in Belize on April 13, 2013 with residence in El Salvador. A Nuncio is the representative of the Holy Father and therefore the link between the Universal Church and our Local Church.

Archbishop Kalenga was born in Kamina, Democratic Republic of Congo on July 17, 1956. He obtained a Doctorate in Canon Law and entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on February 27, 1990 where he held assignments in the Pontifical Representations in Haiti, Guatemala, Zambia, Brazil, Egypt, Zimbabwe and Japan.

On March 17, 2018, Pope Francis named Archbishop Leon Kalenga as the new Apostolic Nuncio to Argentina where he last served. He was 62-years-old. Pope Francis delivered the homily at the funeral Mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, June 15. He began by reflecting on the word “valedictio” or the “farewell” which concludes every funeral Mass. He said, “It is like saying we let you go to God, into God’s hands, which are the most beautiful hands. It is the farewell of the shepherd. The shepherd says goodbye to his people, to his flock.” Pope Francis concluded his homily by recalling the spirituality he was taught in the novitiate: “that all life is a way of learning to die…life teaches us to leave…to say goodbye. May the Lord give us all this grace to learn to leave.” May he rest in peace.