Father (Fr.) Denis Mandamuna’s calling is to serve his community and inspire change in his surroundings. The Carlos Rosario School has helped him branch off to new experiences and has influenced him to change the world around him.

As a young boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fr. Denis suffered the loss of his father at the age of eight. Following his death, a church in his neighborhood helped him to grow and taught him how to live a prosperous life, he explains.

“Education is the key for the future,” said Fr. Denis. Influenced by the church, he decided to take the route of education. He completed his bachelor’s degree, and studied theology.

Fr. Denis arrived in the United States in 2007 for an operation on his leg due to a lack of proper medical resources in his home country. In 2010, he decided to move to the District of Columbia in order to pursue his Clinical Pastoral Education training and to also join the U.S. Army. Today, Fr. Denis serves as the chaplain and spiritual advisor for veterans and patients at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, giving spiritual guidance to the patients when they are dealing with trauma.

Since Fr. Denis started his spiritual advising, he was encouraged to improve his English language skills. Enrolling at the Carlos Rosario School in 2016, Fr. Denis started taking ESL classes to improve his English skills, and has been flourishing ever since.

“As a missionary, I have to be everywhere. Language is the key to learning how to love and respect one another,” says Fr. Denis. The classes at the Carlos Rosario School, he explained, enhance not only his speaking skills, but also his knowledge of the United States itself. He wants to learn how this country is run, and what rights he has as an American Citizen.

Although Fr. Denis lives and works in the U.S. now, he continues to keep close ties with the Democratic Republic of Congo. He spoke of the richness of his country, but pointed out some of the issues the country has.

“Our political situation is very hard and bad,” explained Fr. Denis.  He expressed that his country suffers from many wars, leaving children without parents to raise them. “Children are on the streets,” said Fr. Denis. He wanted to change the state of his country, so he decided to fully build and fund a school in the neighborhood of Kinshasa. In 2016, his dreams came to life. Fr. Denis used his U.S. income tax refund to fund the school, from the school building, to the desks and materials to teach the children. He also encouraged the people and friends in the community to volunteer as teachers.

Education has always been key to Fr. Denis, so he decided to make change for the better. His school is named after him for his efforts and support of the community. Enrollment is completely free for students, and he has support systems in Congo to keep the school running. He wants his school to continue to grow and he plans to partner with different organizations to help improve the school’s funding.