Centenary Celebrations: how it all started

It has taken me a week to write something on our centenary celebration and my installation as bishop of Manzini. It was not easy. There's so much to share about it...

It all started a year ago when I happened to read that the first Catholic missionaries, members of the Order of the Servants of Mary, arrived in Swaziland on 27th January 1914. I felt it would be a great occasion for the diocese to renew once again her missionary commitment. 

The journey towards the centenary celebration was most of all about us called to be missionary disciples. It included a number of meetings and initiatives: a publication where each parish would give her contribution sharing on her own history, a census that will give us a better picture of the number of Catholics in Swaziland, a report from parishes on their local missionary activities... and, certainly, the preparation of the centenary Mass.

In that process, the bishops of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC)  confirmed that they would attend the Mass. Later on they decided the plenary session would be held in Swaziland for the first time in history.

By the end of last year I was appointed bishop of the diocese of Manzini. The celebration in January would then gather both the centenary and my installation. 

Together with the bishops, his Majesty King Mswati III accepted our invitation together with His Excellency the Prime Minister and a number of members of cabinet. 

The media helped us share the good news with everyone in the country. Swazi TV confirmed the celebration would be broadcasted life.

The event was becoming bigger and bigger, more and more important.

Still... we never thought the venue would not be big enough. Until October it was clear that everything would be done at the Cathedral but we then decided to move it to the “Bosco Youth Centre” so that we would not have some people inside and others outside as it happened in other occasions. Being so much bigger we never expected to fill it. We just wanted to be all of us inside, celebrating together.

The truth is that before the beginning of the Mass, the place was already packed Though a thousand chairs had been added and people crowded the corridors, many people could not find a way of getting in. 

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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