Back in the Vicariate of Ingwavuma for a few days.
Fr Wilbert Mkhwanazi had asked me to find one Sunday when I could go to the Good Shepherd Cathedral (Hlabisa) and celebrate confirmations. I suggested this last Sunday of August as I would be on my way to Durban for the Metropolitan meeting. I serve in two "dioceses" which are in two different Metropolitan areas. The diocese of Manzini is under Johannesburg and the Vicariate of Ingwavuma under Durban.
Since I became bishop I asked the priests to celebrate confirmations in each community even if it was for two or three people. I felt it was important to be celebrated in their own communities and allow everyone to be part of it. When they are gathered in the main parish centre, many people are not able to participate. I still do that in the diocese of Manzini but it is no longer possible in Ingwavuma as I can only come once a month.
Today's confirmations gathered nine outstations. It was probably the highest number ever. There were more than 50. Most of them young people.
The Cathedral was packed. It was difficult to stay outside because of the strong wind so we tried our best to keep everyone inside.
Considering the distances and to help them prepare themselves for the big celebration, Fr Mkhwanazi asked all of them to arrive to the parish the day before. That gave him time to celebrate with them the sacrament of reconciliation in the afternoon and Mass in the evening. Today, of course, everyone was ready on time.
It was a joyful celebration.
It was quite a challenge to find space for those to be confirmed and their sponsors when, after lightning their candles, they remain around the altar while we lay hands on each one of them. The choir had to find three different hymns to be sung while that took place.
At the end of Mass one of them stood up to thank the Bishop for being there with them even though he now lives in another diocese and promised to be active members of our Church.