Arrival in Buhemba (II)

Fr. Jim Donohue.
The main church in St. John Paul II parish was full. The choir provided great music and singing, with the full participation of everyone. Fr. Andrzej was the presider and preacher. I had part of the Eucharistic Prayer in Swahili.

After Mass in the main church, Fr. Yohana, Joseph, Selestine, and I returned to the
pickup truck and drove to another outstation, called Magunga. I was amazed at the
enthusiasm and participation of the people in this outstation. The choir was excellent! 

At each of the three Masses, Fr. Yohana introduced me and then he translated some words for me. I started with the traditional greeting of “Tumsifu Yesu Kristu” (“May Jesus Christ be praised”) and waited for the traditional response of “Milele amina” (“Forever and ever, Amen”).

Then I pointed to each member of the community and indicated that we were Resurrectionists. People responded: “Nidyo” (“Yes”). Then, I said that people might be thinking that the Resurrectionists were a bit crazy. I pointed to Yohana and said, “First they send a young priest, and now they send an old priest.” People were smiling. Then I tapped him on the head and said, “First they send a priest with hair, and now they send a priest with no hair.” Now people started laughing. Then, pointing at Fr. Yohana, I said, “First they send someone with GREAT Swahili, and now they send someone with TERRIBLE Swahili.”

I assured them that I would try my best to improve my Swahili and that I was happy to be of service to them with all my heart. People were very welcoming and accepting of this old, bald, terrible Swahili speaking priest!

Fr. Yohana, helped by Joseph and Selestine, got everything ready for Mass in the Magunga outstation. This was the last day of summer pastoral work for Joseph and Selestine. At each of the three Masses in which they participated, parishioners showed their appreciation by lining up and thanking them. You could see from the handshakes, bows and embraces that these two seminarians made a huge impact in one month. Afterwards we talked about how the warm good-byes reminded them of what it is that they are working to accomplish as they prepare for priesthood.
Joseph, Michael, Selestine, Gervas, and me in the rectory Sunday afternoon.
The day after our busy Sunday, September 19th, was Fr. Yohana’s thirty-second birthday, so the members from the Butiama parish came to celebrate with us. There were nine Resurrectionists at the gathering. It was really good to be able to spend this time together to catch up and to relax.
Mario, Jerome, Br. Michael, Fr. Philip, Gervas, Audax, and Fr. Yohana.

It was especially great to see Fr. Philip because we had lived together for a year in
Morogoro, and then I was able to participate in his ordination to priesthood in
August 2021. He has his hands full looking after the parish in Butiama because Fr.
Daniel (the pastor) is on vacation, and Br. Mosses just left for vacation the day
before. Peter and Audax had just completed their summer pastoral time in the
parish, while Jerome and Francis were just beginning their summer pastoral
placement. Fr. Philip will have to “break in” the new help!

Mario, Jerome, Br. Michael, Fr. Philip, Gervas, Audax, and Fr. Yohana.

Since Audax was finished his pastoral assignment, he was about to go on vacation. But his home is in Morogoro, so he was going to travel with Fr. Andrzej to get home. We were teasing him that Fr. Andrzej would take advantage of this time to have several spiritual conferences with him over the two-day ride back to Morogoro. Ever the diplomat, Audax just smiled. 

We had time to chat, with refreshments, before dinner, and then sat down to eat and, of course, to sing Happy Birthday, complete with ice cream! You can see from the photo that we had three different flavors! It is funny listening to Tanzanians singing the Polish “Sto Lat” for a birthday. This is followed by “Happy Birthday,” and then “How old are you now?”

Audax, Jerome and Gervas led us in the singing and ice cream delivery!
The next day, Fr. Andrzej left with Joseph and Selestine to drive to Bunda (which is the home of both Selestine and Peter). He planned to spend a few days in Butiama before driving back to Morogoro with Audax.
Fr. Andrzej drove Joseph and Selestine to Butiama so that, from there, they could go home for their summer vacation.
Fr. Andrzej has been (once again) so kind and generous in helping me. Hopefully, I will see him in Morogoro around December 8 th when we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the perpetual vows of Joseph Juma Chacha and Vitalis Masika, and the 20 th anniversary of our Tanzanian Mission. To add to the festivities, our Superior General, Fr. Paul Voisin, C.R., will be present to receive the vows and to visit with us in Tanzania for about a month.
More to come on

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