Father Kolinzo is a remarkable person with many talents, who quickly wins your friendship with his smile and his lively interest in who you are and what you are doing. He is never lost for words and will quickly engage you in conversation, but his main interest will be in you.
He is presently the vice-regional superior of the Crosier Fathers and Brothers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the pastor of Saint Theresa the Little Flower Parish in Mulo, North Kivu, and spiritual counselor for the seminarians of the Crosier Order who are either novices or students at Holy Cross College in Mulo.
Father Kolinzo has been to the United States on two successful mission preaching tours, during the summers of 2005 and 2006, trying to raise money for the works of the Crosier Fathers and Brothers in the Congo. He preached in several dioceses and parishes with Father Ernest Martello, O.S.C., in the Mission Co-op Program, which is a program set up by the American Bishops to help the missions.
Before being named to his present assignment at Mulo this September, he had been the pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Musienene, North Kivu, a very large parish of some 60,000 people. He was serving in this parish as a deacon in his pastoral in-service year prior to becoming a priest. He was ordained in September and then assigned as assistant priest in the same parish. The pastor, a Belgian priest, had to flee for his life in January of that following year, 1997, and Father Kolinzo was named the pastor. Everyone wondered what this young priest, who is very short of stature, would be able to do in this very large parish. It didn't take long to find out that he would do very well.
He became known as someone who was very approachable so that people began to come to him with their problems. He always had a ready ear for them. He also became known for his ability to work together with the parish council, the teachers and the academic council for the Catholic Schools of Mulo, and the local hospital board. Many were the trips he made into "the bush" with motorcycle or on foot, sometimes for days or even two or three weeks, to visit his parishioners in the other 11 sectors of this large parish. Starting early in the morning he would be hearing confessions sometimes for an hour or two. Then Mass would begin about 8:00 or so. Mass would frequently include Baptisms and Marriages. After Mass and a meal, would come visits to the sick, which sometimes necessitated other little trips. In the evenings, sitting around the fire in someone's kitchen, or in the house provided for the priest, he would hold council with the "wise men" and cathechists-animators of the sector.
Because he had seen that the educated people in his parish needed special opportunities to deepen their faith and to work together for the betterment of the parish, he initiated a group of "intellectuals" who meet several times a year for days of recollection. He organized youth programs, and alphabetization classes for the unschooled. He has especially tried to help people traumatized by war experiences, especially women.
During the battles of the various incursions of foreign troops and the movements of various militia through his parish, Father Kolinzo himself was once held prisoner for 24 hours and very badly treated. He was the victim of the rage and anger of a military commander whose troops were under fire from local militia groups. Father Kolinzo tried to free one of his parishioners who was mistakenly taken for a rebel, and for this he himself became the victim. He was thrown into a latrine, stamped on, threatened with death for hours, and finally released when the bishop of the Diocese of Butembo-Beni, in whose diocese the parish is located, made an appeal to the commander to release him.
Father Kolinzo remains in close contact with his former parish since it is only 18 miles away from his new one. The roads are all unpaved, but even so he can arrive there in about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. One of his special projects for this parish has been that of a vehicle to serve as an ambulance, since many people look to the parish to provide help in a medical emergency. Friends of his in the Cleveland, Ohio area are now engaged in special projects to raise money for this vehicle. Father Kolinzo remains ever grateful for their zeal and generosity to help him and the people of the Congo.