Welcoming the Consolata Missionaries to the Diocese of Manzini

"What we are announcing today, started 102 years' ago". This is how I started, on Sunday after communion, what I wanted to say. It must have been strange to go so much back in time for something that will be happening next January 2017.

"It was January 27, 1914 when the first four Catholic Missionaries came to Swaziland. They were three priests and a brother belonging to the Order of the Servants of Mary. They arrived at Mbabane and looked for a place where to start the first parish. 

Just four months' later... they started the second one at Mzimpofu. It was May 1914. Others followed in time... some of them are now 90 years' old.

Some 20 years' ago, the bishop decided it was time for Holy Rosary (Mankayane) to be a parish and not anymore an outstation of St John Bosco (Malkerns). A new parish was then born"

It was good to remember part of our history and, especially, to see that our journey continues, the Church grows and we see the need to find ways to serve better the people of this diocese and country.

Earlier this year, the diocesan priests approached me to share with me the need to create three new parishes in our diocese. One at St Peter & Paul (Kwaluseni), one at St Ignatius of Loyola (Siphofaneni) and a third one which... we have not revealed yet!

I fully agreed with their proposal and started working towards it. The first thing that would be needed was... more priests. Our diocese has been this blessed this year with the arrival of two new religious communities. First, the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales. They were entrusted with St Phillip's - St Ignatius of Loyola a few weeks' ago.

Now... the Consolata Missionaries. Three missionaries were appointed to our country: Fr Francis Onyango IMC (ordained two years' ago), Fr Peterson Muriithi IMC (ordained two months' ago) and Fr Rocco Marra IMC (ordained... twenty eight years' ago!).  Both Fr Francis and Fr Peterson come from Kenya and did part of their studies in South Africa. Fr Rocco (from Italy) and myself were appointed to South Africa in 1993 and he had served there all these years. 

The three of them came to Swaziland at different times to become familiar with the language, diocese and country. On Sunday 23 October, they were introduced to the people of St Peter and Paul. They will be in charge of serving and developing a new parish that will be officially created next January 2017 

They could not have received a better welcome. There was great joy in everyone and great awareness, in people and priests, of the challenge they were all being entrusted with: the creation of a new parish. 

From left: Fr Francis Onyango IMC, Fr Peterson Muriithi IMC, Fr Rocco Marra IMC
We "innocently" thought it had been "us" choosing the day to introduce the priests to the people. We could not have been more wrong. It had not been us but... God! 

Sunday was "Mission Sunday", a day particularly treasured by the Consolata Missionaries as it speaks of our identity having been called to proclaim the good news of Jesus all over the world. 

We could not have chosen a better day as it marked not only the service at new parish but also the presence of the Consolata Missionaries in a new country: Swaziland

Welcome home!
Fr Francis Onyango will be appointed parish priests
while Frs Peterson and Rocco will be assistant priests

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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