Few weeks' ago, Fr Ncamiso Vilakati, the priest in charge of coordinating the catechetical journey in our diocese asked me if it would be possible to gather all the catechists of the diocese at the Cathedral at the beginning of the year. The idea was to have some time of ongoing formation and renew their commitment to serve in our communities in the new year. We chose to do it last Saturday, January 23.
Apparently it was never done before and this would be the very first experience. We have 15 parishes in the diocese. Some are not far from Manzini but others need around two hours to reach our place. Would the catechists come?
I would not be able to join them at the beginning of the meeting as we had plan a meeting of the executive of the Diocesan Pastoral Council where the outgoing team would do a handover to the newly elected one last November.
Still, before going into the meeting I was surprised at the number of vehicles arriving. The last one I saw was the one coming from "Our Lady of Sorrows" (Hluthi) which is the furthest one from Manzini.
When I arrived at the Cathedral for the Mass, I discovered the place was practically full. I was amazed at the number of catechists we have in the diocese and their wish to be together on that morning.
From 9 am, Fr Ncamiso Vilakati, Fr Dumisani Mazibuko and Dabulamanzi Ntshangase (one of our seminarians doing his internship this year at St Mary's) dealt with different topics on the life and service of the catechist.
Just after 12 pm, we started the celebration of the Mass. A good number of priests was present giving a clear sign of the unity between the bishop, the priests and our catechists. Our catechists have such an important place in our communities that it is only with them that we do this celebration at the beginning of the year. We plan, from now on, to do it every year in January.
After the homily the catechetical coordinator of each parish presented the list of the local catechists. Each name was read and this obviously took a long time but gave us a feeling that the number is even higher than what we saw on Saturday.
They then lit their candles from the Easter candle and share the light with the rest of the catechists: it was the moment of the renewal of their commitment to serve our communities and their profession of faith. I then prayed over them and bless them together with our priests.
It was a long day without even a break... From 9 am until 2.30 pm. Lunch had not even been planned for this year... (but we promise to prepare something next year!) but there was a great joy of being together and in us, bishop and priests, a grateful heart to the God who had called them and continues to send them to help others know Jesus and follow Him.