The General Council

The 34th General Chapter of the Augustinians of the Assumption (Assumptionists), meeting at the convent of the Passionist Fathers (Rome) from Thursday June 01 to Sunday June 25, 2023, has named its new General Curia:

The new 11th Superior General is Father Baudouin Ngoa Ya Tshihemba (Democratic Republic of Congo).

His General Assistants:
- Father Benoît Bigard (France), Vicar and Assistant General.
- Father João Gomes da Silva (Brazil),
- Father Thierry Kambale Kahongya (Democratic Republic of Congo), re-elected General Assistant.
- Father Joseph Etienne Ratalata Rafanambinantsoa (Madagascar).

The capitulants elected the following as General Officers:
- Father Alex Castro (Philippines), General Treasurer.
- Father Michel Kubler (France), re-elected Secretary and Procurator General.

T.R.P. Baudouin NOA YA TSHIHEMBA, Superior General

Father Ngoa Ya Tshihemba was born on October 16, 1970 in Mbau (North Kivu), DR Congo. Born into a family of farmers and the eldest of 8 children, he attended primary and secondary school in Mbau.

He did his postulancy at Collège Kambali and his novitiate (1995-1996) at Maison Charles Lwanga in Butembo (North Kivu). He made his first vows on August 28, 1996. He was then appointed to Kinshasa (1996-2001), where he obtained a degree in philosophy.

From 2003 to 2007, he studied theology at the Institut de Formation Inter-Congrégations in Mexico City, where he obtained a canonical bachelor’s degree in theology.

He was ordained a priest in Butembo (North Kivu) on January 24, 2008. He returned to Mexico for four years of pedagogical studies (2009-2013), graduating with a degree in Pedagogy. He took on the responsibility of formator, replacing the parish priest of the «Maria, Maria, Emperatriz de América» parish for a year.

In 2013, he was appointed to Manila (Philippines), where he was until now novice master as well as responsible for formation in the Philippines and superior of a formation house.

A polyglot (in addition to Kinande, his mother tongue, he speaks Swahili, Lingala, French, Spanish and English), he is well acquainted with Africa, Central America and Asia.

R.P. Benoît BIGARD, Vicar and Assistant General

Father Benoît Bigard was born on November 30, 1966 in Chaumont, Haute-Marne, in the Champagne region, into a farming family. He has two brothers and a sister. He attended primary and secondary school in Haute-Marne.

Between 1986 and 1987, he studied at the École normale supérieure d’ingénierie civile (ENSET Cachan), where he graduated as a construction engineer.

In 1988 and 1989, he joined the Assumptionist community in Cachan as a student. He began studying theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris. From 1989 to 1999, he worked for two years in Côte d’Ivoire. As a postulant, he taught mathematics, physics and music at the minor seminary-college in Aboisso (Cooperante). He made his novitiate in Sceaux and took his first vows on September 19, 1992.

He was assigned to the student host community in Strasbourg, where he continued his theological studies at the Catholic Faculty of Theology (1992-1996). He obtained a licentiate and a master’s degree. He then joined the student community in Lille, where he made his perpetual profession on September 15, 1996. He is assistant student chaplain at the Catholic University of Lille.

In 1998, he was assigned to Strasbourg, where he was ordained a priest on November 12, 2000. He is a member of the welcoming student community and also works in the parish. From 2001 to 2010, he directed the “Centre Culture et Foi” and the shrine of the Canadian Montmartre in Quebec, and lived in a student host community. In 2010, he returned to France to train as a religious educator (FFR) in Lyon and Paris, while living at the Sceaux novitiate.

In 2011, he was appointed novice master in Sokodé, Togo. He will hold this position until 2017. During these years (2013-2017), he was delegate of the Provincial of France for the communities of West Africa.

In 2017, he was appointed Provincial of Europe.

R.P. Thierry KAMBALE KAHONGYA, Assistant General (re-elected)

Father Thierry Kambale Kahongya was born on February 25, 1970 in Butuhe in the diocese of Butembo-Beni (DR Congo) into a farming family. He has 4 brothers and 5 sisters. After completing his secondary education (veterinary option), he entered the novitiate of Saint Charles Lwanga in Butembo in September 1990, and took his first vows on September 10, 1991.

He then studied philosophy in Bulengera (1991-1994) before moving to Kinshasa to study theology (1995-1999). It was in Kinshasa that he made his perpetual profession on March 29, 1998. He was ordained deacon on May 18, 2000 and priest on April 5, 2001 in Butembo by Mgr M.P. Sikuli. He was then bursar of the Bulengera scholasticate (1999-2001).

He then joined the Kambali community as Provincial Treasurer (2001-2005). During these years, he was chaplain to youth and adult movements.

After his term as Provincial Treasurer, he returned to Bulengera (2005-2007), then was appointed to the Kindugu community (2007- 2012), becoming its superior from 2010 to 2012. During these years, he studied Law at the “Université Catholique du Graben” (Butembo) and taught Law and Civil Education at the “Université Assomptionniste du Congo” (UAC) in Butembo (2011-2017). He was superior of the Provincial House (2012-2014). On the appointment of Fr. Protais Kabila as Provincial in March 2012, he was chosen as the first Provincial Assistant.

The 2017 General Chapter elected him Assistant General. In particular, he is in charge the North American Province, the Oriental Mission, the Lay-Religious Alliance and the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Persons. He was moderator of the Preparatory Commission for the 34th General Chapter.

R.P. João GOMES DA SILVA, Assistant General

Father Joao Gomes da Silva was born on July 9, 1981 in Eugénopolis, Brazil, in the Queirozes district, into a farming family. He has 4 brothers and 3 sisters. He attended school and college in Eugénopolis.

In 1999, he joined the Assumptionist community in Eugénopolis as an aspirant. He did his postulancy in Campinas. He then studied philosophy. He made his novitiate in Pomaire, Chile. He took his first vows on January 4, 2004. From 2004 to 2008, he studied theology at the Sao Paolo Institute of Theology (ITESP), graduating with a licentiate in theology.

He was ordained priest on August 1, 2009 at the former Notre Dame de Lourdes Seminary in Eugenópolis. He was then appointed to the formation house in Campinas, where he remained for 4 years, responsible for postulants and also curate of the São Judas Tadeu parish, entrusted to the Assumptionists since its foundation in 1982.

He is responsible for vocation promotion and youth ministry at provincial level.

In 2013, he was sent to Rome for a licentiate in spiritual theology with a specialization in vocational accompaniment at the Gregorian University’s Favre Center. During his studies, he stayed at the general house community.

On completion of his studies in Rome, he was appointed to the Pinhal novitiate, where he remains novice master to this day. The novitiate welcomes novices from Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico. He was administrator at Sao Joao Batista parish (2018-2021/2023) in the same city where the beatification process of Father Matheus, a former Dutch Assumptionist missionary who died in 1973, is underway.

In 2020, he was appointed first Assistant Provincial. Joao speaks Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.

R.P. Joseph Etienne Ratalata RAFANAMBINANTSOA, Assistant General

Father Etienne Ratalata Rafanambinantsoa was born on October 18, 1970 in Fandrandava near Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, into a family of nine children (five sisters and four brothers). His father was a primary school teacher.

From 1978 to 1983, he attended primary school at the Catholic school in Besihara, 60 km from Fianarantsoa, and secondary school at the Jesuits’ Collège Saint François Xavier in Fianarantsoa. In 1987, he joined the “Notre Dame” diocesan minor seminar in Kianjasoa. In 1993, he made his novitiate from Belemboka to Toliara. He took his first vows on September 29, 1994.

He then went to the Saint John the Baptist of Vohitsoa inter-diocesan major seminary in Fianarantsoa. There he studied philosophy and theology. He took his final vows on September 29, 1999 in Belemboka Toliara. He was ordained priest on August 15, 2001 at the “Notre Dame de l’Assomption” parish of Sanfily in Toliara. From 2001 to 2004, he studied Theology at the “Institut Catholique de Lyon” (France), graduating with a master’s degree in theology and a canonical license.

Back in Madagascar, for six years he taught Christology at the major seminary of Saint John the Baptist in Vohitsoa. He also is superior of the Manirsoa scholasticate in Fianarantsoa.

From 2010 to 2013, he was chaplain at the “Aumônerie Catholique Universitaire” in Toliara. In 2013, he was appointed Vice-Provincial Superior and then Provincial of the Augustinians of the Assumption in Madagascar. He served a three-year term. He then accepted responsibility for pastoral animation in a rural sector in Andranohinaly in the diocese of Toliara. At the time of his appointment, he was in our community of Saint Pierre en Gallicante in Jerusalem for one year.

R.P. Alex Castro, General Treasurer

Father Alex Castro was born in Manila (Philippines) on August 26, 1971. He was a student of the Religious of the Assumption at the San Simon Technical School in Pampanga. He went on to study languages, history and religious education at Ateneo de Manila University.

He made his novitiate at Saint Anne and Saint Patrick parish in Sturbridge (USA) and took his first vows on August 28, 2004.

Brother Alex Castro was one of the founders of the first Assumptionist community in the Philippines in January 2006. In 2009, he completed his theology studies at the University of Saint Thomas (UST) in Manila. He was ordained a priest on November 12, 2011 by Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle at Our Lady of Pentecost parish in Manila (Philippines). Following his ordination, he was appointed to the United States.

From 2012 to 2014, he was assistant novice master at Augustine House in Worcester. In 2014, he transferred to the Assumptionist Center in Brighton. There, he held various positions as Bursar of the US Delegation and Director of the Resident Program, as well as Chaplain of the Filipino Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Boston.

In 2017, he was appointed Provincial Treasurer and, in 2018, pastor and director of the Shrine of Saint Anne and Saint Patrick Parish in Fiskdale.

R.P. Michel KUBLER, Secretary and Procurator General (re-elected)

Father Michel Kubler was born on January 21, 1955 in Villé (Bas-Rhin, France).

He completed his secondary education at the Alumnat Sainte-Odile in Scherwiller and the Collège épiscopal Saint-Étienne in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin). After completing an undergraduate degree in Mathematics-Physics at the Université Louis-Pasteur, he entered the Assumptionist novitiate in Strasbourg (1975). At the same time, he began studying theology, first in Strasbourg and then in Lyon, culminating in a doctoral thesis in theology, defended in 1988 at the Catholic University of Lyon, on the theme of «Christology and communication».

He was ordained priest on June 3, 1989 in Écully (Rhône) by Cardinal Albert Decourtray.

As his religious training progressed, Michel Kubler took on a variety of ministries: social work with Turkish families in Strasbourg (1974-1977), teaching mathematics at the Sibut minor seminary in the Central African Republic (1977-1979), and leading the national youth pilgrimage to Lourdes. From 1985 to 1988, he directed the Valpré welcome center in Écully (Rhône).

In September 1989, Father Michel Kubler was appointed to Bayard Presse. He joined the daily «La Croix» in November 1989, as a journalist in the Religion Department. From July 1997 to December 2009, he was the newspaper’s religious editor-in-chief, succeeding Father Bruno Chenu.

In September 2010, he was appointed to Bucharest. Until June 2017, he is the director of the «Saint Pierre - Saint André» Center. Since 2010, he has been a member of the Groupe de Dombes. During the 33rd General Chapter of 2017, he was elected Secretary General and Procurator General of the Congregation.