Dedication of St. Raphael Church

Fr. Jim Donohue.

Fr. Yohana and I attended the dedication of a new church, St. Raphael, in the Diocese of Musoma. The church is in the gold mining area in the north, close to the border of Kenya.

St. Raphael Church

It took us about 3 hours to drive to the new church. We arrived just as things were getting underway.

Fr. Yohana was ready. As usual, the Bishop asked him to carry out a special role in the liturgy. So, we were separated for most of the liturgy.

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Here the Bishop is cutting the ceremonial ribbon before leading the procession into the new church.

I was amazed at how beautiful the church was. I was informed that it is a “rich” parish because of the gold mining operations. It is not common to see all the interior with painted walls, tiled floors, good lightning, ceiling fans, and art. I also noticed that there were arches throughout the church. You can imagine that this takes more engineering and construction than the regular rectangular windows and doors that you usually see.

One thing that surprised me is that all the paintings—and there were many large beautiful paintings—were all of “white European looking people.” I have been in many other churches in Tanzania where biblical figures are artistically rendered as Africans, rather than as Europeans. I wondered if I was the only one who was thinking about this!

As an example of what I usually see, I would point to the chapel at Jordan University College, where our seminarians study Philosophy and Theology.

After Mass, there was a huge feast outside. Different tents were set up with various groups under each tent. There were serving lines for each tent, which meant that no one had to wait very long for food. Oh, my goodness, there was plenty of food. I guess I am on the frugal side of things, and I kept wondering how much this would all cost!

There were many parishioners present, but also visitors from almost every parish in the diocese, as well as clergy and religious and catechists from different parts of the diocese.

I could not count all the people who were involved in welcoming people to the various tents, and who were preparing and serving the food and drinks.

I had lost track of Yohana and was looking for a place to sit. I decided to join these sisters because it looked like they had a good supply of beer to drink!

After I sat down, I met one of the diocesan seminarians from the Musoma Diocese. He had no idea about the golf shirt he was wearing…but everyone in Canada does!

One of our catechists, Joseph, and one of outstation leaders, Esther, were with us.

Bishop Michael cut the cake for the celebration and then started to distribute it.

There was plenty of entertainment and people stayed for hours to participate.

There were some poor children who managed to find their way into the celebration, basically to get some food. I could see some older people chasing them away, but they kept finding a way back. I think their persistence was rewarded! (I found a way to get them some food.)

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