A Baptism in Magunga

Fr. Jim Donohue.

Late Friday afternoon in early February, Fr. Maciej came to my room and asked me if I thought I could manage to do a Baptism at the Sunday Mass in Magunga.

I was scheduled to have Mass at 7:00 a.m. in Mirwa and then at 9:30 a.m. in Magunga. I said, “Sure!” I had all day Saturday to practice my Swahili, so I thought that I could manage.

The baby’s name is Venanty. Venanty’s father plays the organ and is the music director for the outstation in Magunga.

After the baptism, I anointed the baby’s head with the chrism oil.

In Tanzania, we place a white cloth over the person’s head to signify that they have been “clothed in Christ.”

On the whole, it went well. However, there were a few words that I found very difficult to pronounce. One word was the Swahili word for “godparents,” which, of course, comes up many times in the baptismal rite! The parents were happy and said that everything was great. This is another sign about how wonderful the Buhemba parishioners are! It is very humbling to struggle along with something that it in your own language is quite easy to do. But I think it was a good experience for me to do this. I hope that it was okay for the family as well!

Congratulations were in order! Everyone at Mass clapped and shouted, welcoming our new member!

After the Baptism, we went to the family’s home for a meal. I was accompanied by my altar servers. They were a big help during the baptism.

As an aside, you would not believe how much these servers can eat when we go to someone’s home. They pile up the food on their plate in such a way that you can hardly imagine that they can eat it all! But they do!

This is actually one of the “perks” to be selected to accompany us to the outstations. The altar boys get to ride in the vehicle, see another part of the parish, and get a good meal.

Having said this, I find it to be quite incredible how much time and what service they provide. They usually walk to the church at some distance in order to be there at 6:15 a.m. when we get ready to leave for the outstations!

One last note…one of my servers wore this shirt on the day of the Baptism. I asked him if he knew what “RED SOX” meant. He had no idea but thought that the shirt was cool. In any case, the Boston Red Sox may not be making the “inroads” that they thought were taking place in Tanzania!

More to come on www.resurrectionists.ca

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