From St Ignatius to St Amedeus

St Ignatius of Loyola
While there are times when Sunday after Sunday I move from one community to another for the celebration of the sacrament of confirmation, this time it has been something very different. In the last few weeks I was called to consecrate some of our churches. Two in the last two weeks.

The first one was St Ignatius of Loyola in Siphofaneni under St Phillip's Parish. It has just been built. It replaces a much smaller one built many years' ago. 

The second one, St Amedeus, by the Komati River, is an outstation of Regina Mundi Parish in Piggs Peak. It was built in 2009 but never consecrated.

These are very special celebrations with a full church and more. They normally have to prepare a tent to accommodate the people that are not able to get into the church. It gathers not only the local Catholics but also non-Catholics living in the area and representatives from other parishes.

The Salesian Brass Band seems to have become part of the "official ritual". They are always invited to lead the procession to the church. Sometimes from a place nearby and sometimes... from far! Everyone enjoys their music and walk (or dance) behind them to the church. 

When the new church at Siphofaneni was nearly ready, the priest-in-charge came to see me with a member of the parish council and asked me two things: one was a date for the consecration and the other was... how would the church be called. I asked them to sit down together as a community and choose three possible names. I would then choose one. A week before the celebration, the three names were on my desk.

At the end of Mass and just before the final blessing I stood up to thank everyone and said: "This church is going to be called St Ignatius of Loyola". The "news" was received with great excitement as if that was exactly the one they wanted.

As the founder of "The Company of Jesus" whose members are spread all over the world, his intercession will always be a reminder of our mission to share Jesus, the Good News, with everyone and that we gather in church to be sent to all.

At St Amedeus, instead, I was asked to plant, water and bless a fruit tree outside the church. It would not only be a reminder of the consecration day but much more than that, a reminder that the gift of that church is given to us so that we can then go and bear fruit, fruit that will last!

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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