Easter Vigil in Tanzania

Fr. Jim Donohue.

In the last blog, Fr. Yohana was processing with the Blessed Sacrament to the chapel of reservation on Good Friday.

Holy Saturday was a busy day for me. I needed to practice reading the gospel for the evening, as well as reviewing my role in the baptism of children and adults at the Easter Vigil in the Magunga Outstation.

Fr. Yohana and I arrived at about 8:00 p.m., which was the time that the service was about to start. However, there were many people who wanted to go to confession. I have much sympathy for this, as the distances for people to travel to do this earlier in the week is unreasonable. So, Fr. Yohana and I heard confessions for about 40 minutes. That made our starting time at 8:45 p.m.

We began outside with a roaring fire. Then we processed into the Magunga outstation church with the Paschal Candle. Everyone had a lighted candle as Fr. Yohana sang the Exultate. He has a wonderful voice, and he did an amazing job!

In this photo you can see the number of people on the right who would be baptized at this liturgy. There are some adults, but most our young people about 6-13 years of age. I am not as sure about the adults, but the young people go to a catechetical class five days a week for over a year to prepare for baptism. The choir is seated on the left side.

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After the Liturgy of the Word, Fr. Yohana and I began to initiate people into the Church. Before the celebration of Baptism, there is a prayer of Exorcism and Anointing before Baptism.

This proud father had three sons who were to be baptized. This young teenager and two other sons who are twins.

Fr. Yohana and I each baptized people, who lined up in two lines. We use a good deal of water that is poured over their foreheads into a basin.

The server that was assisting me was very helpful. The godparent would tell me the name of the person being baptized, but at times I could not understand what was said. He would listen and then say the name in a “more Anglicized manner.”

Fr. Yohana and I each baptized about 25 people. We now anointed with the Chrism Oil.

There are some things that are different here. I know it depends on the diocese, but in most places in North America, if an adult or adolescent is baptized at the Easter Vigil, they receive the other sacraments of initiation: Confirmation and Eucharist.

But here in Tanzania, Confirmation will happen later when the local bishop visits the parish, and Eucharist will take place on the Feast of Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

One of the most amazing things that happens in the Tanzanian liturgy is that people come forward to bring their offering during the “collection” part of the Preparation of the Gifts.

After the money is collected, three people take the money boxes—one for men, one for women, and one for children—to the back of the church, where they are joined by other people with gifts of offering. This weekend people brought sugar cane, beans, soap, water, matches, eggs, passion fruit, oranges, and papaya.

My all-star server, Zachariah! He is part of the Magunga Outstation and a student in Standard Six (Sixth Grade) at Resurrection Primary School.

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We now began the last part of the Easter Vigil: the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We finished everything by about 11:30 p.m. and arrived back at the parish house at midnight to find that Fr. Maciej and Br. Michael had already gone to sleep. Everything was locked up and quiet. How did they finish so much faster than we did?

More to come on www.resurrectionists.ca

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