Good Samaritan Church (a first in our diocese)

On Sunday 14 June we gathered at Nkambeni to celebrate the dedication of their church. It was built some years' ago but it had never been "officially opened" as we normally say. 

Just the day before the celebration, Fr Zweli Ngwenya who is the priest-in-charge of St Peregrine's Parish (under which this community falls) came and said: "the name of the church will be 'Good Samaritan'".  I loved the name but I had never ever come across a church with that name. Google then let me know there are a number of parishes with that name in different parts of the world.

On Sunday the church was packed to capacity as, together with the members of the community, many others had come from the rest of our diocese. 

Arriving, the first thing I saw was that, behind the altar, there was a painting reminding us of the name of the church and the biblical passage. "Finally!" I thought. It is difficult to find churches with paintings recalling their names or a certain biblical text. I always wonder why. We love taking photos and carrying some of the people we love but when we come to paintings or images in church... we suddenly become shy. I wish every church would have one. It is an excellent catechetical tool. It has always been so.

Our "Salesian band" joined us a couple of hundred meters away from the church and led the procession. They also delighted the people with some music at the end of our celebration. 

As it is always done on this occasions, someone told us the story of this church and how the Catholic community in the area came to be born.

This was recalled once again at the end of the celebration when, just before the final blessing, the community called a member of "the very first seven families" and gave a gift to each one of them: a candle and a framed photograph of the church. It was the first time I came across a community that is able to record so well its history. There was great joy as each family name was called and a short explanation about their presence and service in the 1960s was presented. 

All in all it was a four hour well prepared celebration and the choir excelled bringing all the people on board. A very prayerful time!

The name of a church always presents a specific mission to the community. A number of times the community is not really familiar with the life of the saint that gives a name to the church. This is not certainly the case for the people of Nkambeni called now to be a reminder of the Good Samaritan to the people of the area and our diocese.


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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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