Sunday morning (March 12) I was able to continue my visit to the communities of the diocese. As always, two important elements had to be met. First, that I had not been there before. Second, that the priest would not tell the people I would be going.
I must confess, all these year I never thought of making the list of all the communities we have in the diocese of Manzini. I only did it a few weeks' ago. I was convinced we had around 100 places churches and that, having visited 80 of them, I would be able to visit them all very soon.
I was wrong. It seems there are still nearly 40 I have not visited. That is why it becomes so important for me not to go to the same place again until I finished a first round of visits.
This Sunday it was the time for St Joseph's (Mzimpofu).
The first Mass was at St Charles. Slowly the church was full. Everyone, of course, surprised to see me. At the end of Mass they told me about their plans to extend the church (which they have already started to do), the struggle for funds to finish the project and their hope that during this year I could be back to bless the extended building.
"Today we are happy because we see the bishop... live! Not on TV. He is here among us, small as we are as a community". I enjoyed it. I had not heard that before.
Everyone was waiting for the leader of the celebration who had been with us at St Charles and were therefore ready to start.
In none of the two places Mass had been planned but just the Liturgy of the Word. It all changed with the arrival of the bishop! But it was great to see them gathering on a Sunday even when they know the priest will not be there.
I was told on the way that "Immaculate Conception" church was built by Fr Ciccone OSM with the help of his family after the death of his mother. The name of the church was chosen after his mother too. I believe the picture I found in the church might be the one of his parents.