After yesterday’s regularly scheduled post from Fr. Charlie, we continue with our posts this week highlighting our Holy Cross mission in East Africa. On Monday, we looked at Holy Cross Lakeview to look at education in the mission. Today, we take a look Kitete and Kambi ya Simba Parishes in Tanzania to get a glimpse of parish life there. Fr. David Eliaona, C.S.C., one of the parochial vicars, invites us into the real adventure of life in this African parish.
From 2006, I have been blessed to be a Holy Cross priest working in two of our Holy Cross parishes in Tanzania. The range of ministries would be more or less the same like any other parish where Holy Cross priests and brothers are working – from sacramental ministries to parish schools; from visiting the sick and the elderly at home to talks and counseling in the office; from sick calls and rushing sick people to the hospital to giving seminars for different lay groups in the parish; from baptizing infants and adults to burying their loved ones; … AND for Kitete and Kambi ya Simba Parishes, from dusty and rough terrain to getting stuck in the mud and spending the night in the vehicle; from an ever-green environment and farms full of wheat and beans to chasing elephants and buffaloes that are ravaging the farms from time to time!
All these can be a circle of a full day for a Holy Cross priest ministering in East Africa, but especially for us in Kitete and Kambi ya Simba Parishes, in the Diocese of Mbulu, Tanzania.
While all these may seem like a great adventure, the best is yet to come. That is what I want to share with you today. One of the things we managed to create as Holy Cross men in Kitete is a HOME. We usually say that while others may be making community houses or formation and religious houses, we make a “home” where all values are lived – seen and shared by the people we serve. It is here that we draw all our strength to move around and do all our ministry demands of us. From here, we learn, teach and preach to each other the gospel and its values as well as draw strength to go and teach to others. And because of this, the faithful have grown to be more faithful to the values of the gospel. The society is being transformed and more and more people are getting back to being faithful to the sacramental life.
To give you an idea, we were wondering recently: Why are the churches getting so full at the beginning and right after the homily you see a number of people leaving the church? Well, as I said, the best is yet to come: There are many Christians of other denominations who try to make it early for the first mass, listen to the liturgy of the word and the homily, and then leave to attend service to their respective churches. It was a little shocking to us, but it caused us to thank the Lord and ask for more strength from the Spirit, so His work may continue to grow. Our hearts are home, and home to us is the Gospel and its values … and they can be lived!
And so, again, the story goes, ”Father, we were very blessed … Father, my Mother is doing much better now … Mwalimu (teacher), don’t forget we have a computer class tomorrow … Father, don’t worry, we are going to wake up all the neighbors and get you out of this mud … we’ll bring soap to wash your clothes, just do your work, Father … please start the car and we will go chase the elephants …” AND around all these joyful moments, we realize a home indeed!