Centenary Celebration: Our call to be "missionary disciples"


Homily at the Centenary Celebration
of the arrival of the first Catholic Missionaries in Swaziland

Many many many years' ago (I was a seminarian) a priest said in his homily: “Only fools believe in coincidence”. We do not believe in “concidences”. We believe in God's hand in our lives at work.
The readings we read today were not chosen by any of us. These are the readings that every single Catholic is reading today all over the world.
I like to follow the readings of the day as much as possible and today's... no, there is no coincidence! Today's readings show God's hand and love among among us.
Think about it:
  • We see Jesus in Matthew's Gospel starting his ministry of preaching the good news, teaching and healing
and we are here to remember and celebrating the beginning of this same ministry in the Kingdom of Swaziland by the first Catholic priests who arrived one hundred years' ago;
  • We see Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, James and John, to follow him and to be made fishers of men and women
we too remember by name those who following Jesus were made fishers of men and women: Fr Gratl and Fr Mayer, Fr Bellezze and Br Obeleitner
  • We see Jesus going around the whole of Galilee touching everyone's lives and we remember and celebrate that those missionaries and those who followed them went from Mbabane to Mzimpofu, from Bulandzeni to Hluthi, Piggs Peak, Siteki...
  • Remembering the first ones, we want to thank God for all those who followed: more Servites, Benedictine Sisters, Mantellate Sisters, Dominican of Oakford, Cabra, Montebello, Salesians, Cabrini Sisters, the Swazi Servite Sisters Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help... with all the diocesan priests who, since 1964 have been serving our communities.
Mission is not just about priests and sisters. Like Jesus in the Gospel, the first missionaries called some to walk with them, to be prepared, to be sent... It was lovely to visit last year St Amedeus, an outstation in Piggs Peak and see there the photo of one of the catechists, a pillar of that community. The few priests and sisters that served the country at the beginning could not have achieved so much without them!

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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