Christmas in Buhemba: Celebrations Part 1

Fr. Jim Donohue.

Fr. Maciej left on Thursday to have some necessary surgery in Germany. That meant that Fr. Yohana, Br. Michael and I were “on deck.” We had an 8:00 p.m. Mass in the main church—called Biatika—at which Fr. Yohana presided and preached. I proclaimed the gospel and baptized some children…but more on that later! We began with the lights off!

When we started the Gloria, I processed in with the Baby Jesus, led by two servers with candles. When I put the Baby Jesus in the manger, all the lights came on. People sang, clapped and cheered. It was really amazing!

There were over twenty children to baptize, most of whom were babies. This is an important occasion to have your child baptized on Christmas in Tanzania. There were four adults who joined the Church, so they made their Profession of Faith.

Yohana had told me that there might be a good number of children, and if so, I could baptize half of them so that it would not take as long. I only had to remember one sentence: “Christian, ninakubaptiza kwa jina la Baba, na la Mwana, na la Roho Mtakatifu.”  I baptized about ten infants. These were my first baptisms in Tanzania, so it was very exciting. I did not see anyone shift lines from me to Fr. Yohana! A few of the babies I baptized were sound asleep and did not wake up when I poured the water on their heads. By the way, they use a great deal of water here! After the adults made their Profession of Faith, people were lined up for the infant baptisms.

Fr. Yohana and I both traced the sign of the cross on the forehead of each person to be baptized. After the baptism, each person was given a lighted candle.

Mass continued with the offering, where each person processes to make their contribution. Then Fr. Yohana incensed the altar.

The next day, Fr. Yohana had three Masses and I had two Masses. Fr. Yohana and Br. Michael went to Nyaburundu Outstation for 7:00 a.m. Mass, then returned to the main church for 9:30 a.m. Mass, and then went to the Kizaro-Matongo Outstation. I went to the Mirwa Outstation for 7:00 a.m. Mass and then at the Magunga Outstation for the 9:30 a.m. Mass. This means that we all have to leave at 6:30 at the latest.

I had two altar servers with me: David and Felix. David is in secondary school and Felix will start Standard 6 (grade 6) in a few weeks.

We have had a good deal of rain in the last few days, but the roads were okay—at least when we set out. However, while in Magunga, it started to pour rain for over an hour, and we were stuck there. The narrow roads in the small town of Magunga were now mud, with streams of fast running water on both sides of the road. It was worse for Fr. Yohana and Br. Michael because their roads are worse! They almost got stuck but managed to negotiate the mud.

The church in Mirwa was packed. We had to move many of the children into the sanctuary so that people could fit in the church.

Everyone participates by singing and clapping in rhythm with the songs. The Mirwa choir is amazing.

There was no more room for the children! The church was packed with kids!

After Mass, I had a treat for the children…each child received three candies.

After tea at the catechist’s house, we drove to Magunga. But before we went to the church, we stopped at a store in town to buy more candy. I thought we had enough. However, the combination of so many kids and kids going from one line to another left us short. I also knew that there would be more children in Magunga!


To be continued…Christmas in Magunga!

More to come on

Share This Post

More To Explore