Celebrating the "Year of Faith" in the Vicariate of Ingwavuma

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The "Year of faith" started in the Vicariate before the date indicated by Pope Benedict XVI... We were celebrating our pilgrimage to Ingwavuma in September 2012 and we felt it was a good opportunity to do it together. Later on, once officially opened by the Pope, it was also done in each community. Some did it last year. Some... this year!

The sodality of the Sacred Heart approached me last year to find out if I'd be available on Saturday 19 October. They wanted to gather their members at the "Good Shepherd" Cathedral (Hlabisa) and have a special day of prayer together as part of the "year of faith".

The weather could not have been worse. It was cold and rainy (which in Hlabisa means "mud"). It seemed it wanted to challenge the faith of the members of the Sodality. They did not fail. The Cathedral was packed and some people faced the cold and rain outside.

The first part of the gathering was a catechesis on the symbols of the Cathedral, led by Fr Wilbert Mkhwanazi who in a very simple and clear way presented some of them starting from... the Cathedral. "Some people think that the Cathedral is in Durban... they do not know we have a Cathedral in the Vicariate". Everyone enjoyed it and many were taking notes. 

This was followed by a penitential moment led by Fr Sfiso Mchunu OSM (ordained priest last May) and the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation. While the priests and bishop made themselves available outside the Cathedral, the people remained inside praying the rosary. They had decided to pray all the mysteries: joyful, sorrowful, glorious, luminous and also the seven sorrows of Mary. Each one was led by one of the parishes and the final one by the bishop, priests and sisters. A text had been prepared so that each mystery was introduced by a biblical text, a short reflection and a prayer. It could not have been better prepared!

We concluded the gathering with the celebration of the Mass presided and preached by the Bishop. I chose to use again the gospel of the previous Sunday (The ten lepers - Luke 17:11-19) and present three images of faith: 
- their prayer: "Jesus, have mercy on us"
- trusting in His Word (as they were sent to the priests before being healed)
- acknowledging Jesus as the one from whom every blessing comes to us

A "take-away" meal had been prepared for everyone. Aware of the distances they still had to travel, priority was given to those coming from KwaNgwanase (the furthest parish from Hlabisa).

We all enjoyed it so much that we hope the idea will be followed by the sodalities of St Anne, St John and the youth. 

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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