In our diocese of Manzini, confirmations are normally celebrated in the parishes or outstations... with one exception: "Waterford Kamhlaba College". Not far from Mbabane, it is part of a network of 14 colleges around the world.
Like last year, I was invited to preside the celebration of confirmations. After accepting I suddenly discovered I had booked myself twice on the same day, at the same time in two different places! I could not ask them to change the date because it is an international group and their relatives from other parts of the world would be joining them for the celebration (in other words... tickets had already been bought!).
At the beginning of the celebration and looking at those present I asked: "how many nations are present here?". The answer was: "maybe 10" (and that is probably without counting me, born in Argentina!). That gave me a particular sense of our being "Catholic" (universal, diverse) and a feeling of being grateful to God for the opportunity of serving young people from different parts of the world who have come to Swaziland for their studies.
Everything had been very well prepared with an entrance procession and another one during the offertory, bringing:
- a crucifix, a sign of their commitment to follow in Christ's footsteps
- the book that guided their journey for the last two years
- seeds as a symbol of the growth in faith which they are experiencing
- a compass as a reminder that their faith leads us always towards God and the truth
- food as an offering to those less fortunate
By the end of the homily (based on John 6: 1 - 15) I told them it was now their turn to decide what they were ready to put in Jesus' hands so that the lives of other people could experience the good news Jesus brought us. It was supposed to be just an invitation to think about. I forgot they too had joined all the communities in our diocese in asking those being confirmed to take a commitment to serve others.
So, at that point, they all stood and read their commitment which was not just "said" but written down and handed over to me. It starts with St Theresa's prayer. Being aware that “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours..." one by one continued announcing to all what they promised to do through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
"In 1963, Waterford was one of the first schools in Southern Africa to welcome students irrespective of racial, faith or socio-economic background. Waterford Kamhlaba joined the United World Colleges (UWC) movement in 1981, having been the first associate member of UWC since 1978" (from their webpage)