Arrival in Buhemba (I)

Fr. Jim Donohue.
After stopping for lunch at Butiama to visit with Fr. Philip, Br. Mosses, and our seminarians Audax and Jerome, we drove to St. John Paul II Parish in Buhemba. Present for our first dinner was Fr. Yohana, Mario, Gervas, Br. Michael, Joseph, Selestine, and Fr. Andrzej. It was great to finally arrive at the end of our safari!
I brought a gift of socks for each member of the Tanzanian mission. I remembered that the socks were not of very good quality and were quite thin. The socks I chose were the kind with “extra cushion!”
I was also able to present Fr. Yohana with a present from the Ontario-Kentucky Province on the occasion of his ordination. The gift is a chalice and paten that was used by Fr. Frank Reitzel, C.R. (d. 2019) during his many decades of priesthood. Br. John Cline, C.R. (superior of the Manor House) helped me to select this particular chalice for Yohana. Last year we provided Fr. Philip with the chalice and paten used by Fr. Joseph Scollard, C.R. (d. 2016). I wrapped it in Crown Royal cloth bags so that it would not get damaged in my suitcase…those bags really do come in handy!!!!

At dinner, we made a plan for three teams to each visit an outstation, leaving at 6:30 a.m. for services at 7:00 a.m. The teams were not in order of importance! Team 1: Fr. Yohana, Mario and me; Team 2: Fr. Andrzej, Joseph and Gervas; and Team 3: Br. Michael and Selestine. My team went to the outstation in Tarani.

People began to arrive at the Tarani outstation. Fr. Yohana presided and preached. He is a very dynamic homilist and he had people laughing and nodding their heads throughout his homily. The music and singing and overall participation are just incredible.

Fr. Yohana had brought some balls and an air pump from Poland for the young people at the Tarani outstation. One of the things that is different at the Eucharist in Tanzania is that people bring their offering individually to a place where they deposit it into a container before the altar table. You could imagine that this adds to the length of the liturgy as each person—many of whom are dancing—move in procession to make their offering. Then the money is taken to the back of the church, and it is presented with other gifts of offering: eggs, soda, cabbages and other vegetables, papaya and other fruits, bread, water, etc. It really embodies the “fruit of the earth” and the offerings from their daily lives. They have a second “Thanksgiving Offering” after communion. 

After Mass, we got back into the pickup truck and drove back to the parish church in Buhemba for the 11:00 a.m. Mass. One of the interesting aspects of the trip to the outstation is that Fr. Yohana would stop along the way to pick up the altar servers who were walking to the outstation. I think we had three or four of them in the back by the time we got to Tarani. Then we gave a lift to several more people back to the main church. With the rough roads and long distances, people are accustomed to travel in this way. I was hoping that I would be able to keep my seat in the truck and not have to stand in the back! 

We were running late, but all three teams were able to gather for the Mass at the main church in Buhemba, called Biatika. Fr. Andrzej was the presider and preacher. We were ready!

Br. Michael, Joseph, Selestine, Fr. Yohana, Fr. Andzrej, Gervas, Mario, lectors and servers.
More to come on

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