Last Saturday the diocese of Manzini gathered at "Mater Dolorosa" (Mbabane) to celebrate the ordination of two new deacons: Zweli Ngwenya and Ncamiso Vilakati.
At the beginning of the celebration I invited the people to remember Bp Ndlovu OSM (+2012) who welcomed them and "brought them up" most of these years.
Before my appointment as bishop and vicar apostolic of Ingwavuma, Bp Ndlovu OSM helped the Vicariate of Ingwavuma with the celebration of ordinations as there was no resident bishop. Years' later the Vicariate was somehow asked to help the diocese of Manzini in the same way.
The church was packed and by the time I arrived, hymns led by the choir helped the congregation to prepare for the celebration.
It was the first time for me to celebrate ordinations outside the Vicariate. We met the day before to practice and to make sure everything was ready and each one of us knew what to do. We do not celebrate ordinations every day and we wanted to be able to enjoy the celebration without being worried about last minute problems.
I must say everything worked as planned. The choir was excellent, the readers, the processions... every detail seemed to have been practiced for a long time.
Most of the priests of the diocese were present. Even Fr Dumisani Vilakati (brother of one of the new deacons) had come back from Rome where he is studying to join the celebration.
The homily was a time to underline a couple of elements:
- being called to be "servants" implies to be available all the time and the need to be aware of the temptation to choose "when" and "who" to serve;
- sometimes people think that with this ordination they are being "promoted". It happens many times. Even when announcing new bishops! The truth is that they are not being promoted but... "demoted" and this is only the first step. The next one will be the day they will be ordained priests and it could even happen again if they will be one day called to be bishops. One sometimes hear people saying: "but in our culture...". The fact is that this call does not come from culture but from Jesus and he presents himself as the image we are called to show in our own lives. At least that is what we heard in the Gospel chosen by the new deacons: "just as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)
The deacons had prepared a procession with the Word that showed that God's Word is to be eaten. I therefore invited them to make sure it becomes their daily food and led by the Spirit they allow it to become flesh in them.
The new deacons will continue their service in the communities where they have been appointed when they came back from St John Vianney (International Seminary in Pretoria, South Africa): Deacon Ngwenya at Hlatikhulu and Deacon Vilakati at Tshaneni.