Filling in at Butiama

Fr. Jim Donohue.

Fr. Phillip and Br. Mosses were invited to visit the Galilee Ministry Project in Poland. The host family is covering the cost of their flight, room, and board for their six weeks in Poland. Fr. Andrzej is also in Poland for his vacation, so they are planning on meeting at some time and doing some touring together. They looked very “chipper” in the airport in Dar es Salaam, but Fr. Phillip looks a bit tired by the time they arrived in Warsaw, Poland.

Fr. Maciej, Fr. Yohana and I planned to take turns ministering at the Butiama Parish while they are away. The plan is for each of us, in turn, to leave Thursday afternoon and have Adoration and Mass in the evening. Then we plan to have Mass each morning on Friday, Saturday and Monday, returning to Buhemba after Mass on Monday morning. We also will cover the four Sunday Masses on the weekend.

The name of the parish is Mother Mary of the Precious Blood of Jesus

I arrived on Thursday afternoon, unpacked a few things and then led Adoration at 5:00 p.m. and celebrated the Eucharist at 6:00 p.m. There is an elementary school (which is a boarding school) run by the Carmelite Sisters, so there are always plenty of children at Mass. I would estimate that there were about 50-60 people at the services on Thursday night. All the children were at Mass on Friday morning. The Saturday congregation was smaller because weekends are busy times for people in these parts. Lameck Juma is a brother candidate who has been staying in Butiama until he goes to Morogoro to prepare for an application for novitiate. He was my “go-to-guy” for answering questions and helping me to know what was expected of me.

The interior of the main parish church.

Sunday was a real challenge for me. I had four Masses. The first was in the parish church in Butiama at 6:30 a.m. Then Lameck and I drove to an outstation in Muriaza for the 8:30 a.m. Mass. This outstation was not too far from the church and the road to the outstation is good. It turns out that this is where Lameck grew up. He introduced me to his grandmother and showed me his home as we departed. This outstation building is new and the interior is quite beautiful with good lighting and a good sound system. People wanted to go to confession, but we were running late and I could not hear the confessions of everyone.

The old church building for the Muriaza outstation and the surrounding view.
The church is on elevated ground and overlooks the valley below.

In addition to being in a new place and traveling to different outstations, this was the 3rd Sunday of Lent in Year A. That means that we have—for this Sunday and the next three Sundays—the longest gospels in the Sunday Lectionary: The Woman at the Well (3rd Sunday), The Man Born Blind (4th Sunday), The Raising of Lazarus (5th Sunday), and the Passion on Palm/Passion Sunday (6th Sunday).

On Saturday, I practiced reading the gospel more times than I can count. What I have learned to do is to have the English version with me as I practice reading the Swahili version. The more I understand the Swahili text, the better I can proclaim it at the Eucharist. Otherwise, the Swahili text is “just words,” and if it does not make sense to me, it probably will not make sense to those who are listening.

One additional difficulty is that the Tanzanian Swahili Lectionary—the book with the readings—does not contain any quotation marks for dialogue. I don’t know who made that decision, but it makes things even more difficult for someone like me! Everything turned out well, but I was very preoccupied with the length and the pronunciation of some of the words.

This is a photo of me when I realized what the gospels looked like for the rest of the Sundays in Lent! It is a mixture of contemplation, fear, and resolve!

The new church building at the Muriaza outstation is quite beautiful.

The interior of the church building is bright. Many of the outstations have poor lighting, so this made things easier for me to see in order to read better! Old eyes now!

After Mass, people are counting the collection and putting things away. They will have Mass here again in two weeks…every second Sunday.

This is Lameck talking with a parishioner. Lameck graduated first in his class in a two-year program at the Musoma diocesan catechetical school.

Now we were off to return to Butiama for the 10:00 a.m. Mass in the main church. The church was crowded as people continued their Lenten journey. I told everyone at each Mass that I had spent about 34 years of my life in Canada and about 34 years of my life in the U.S.A.

I also said that it might be a bit of a “reach” to think that I will spend the next 34 years in Tanzania! That got a good laugh, but after Mass one altar boy told me that if I prayed for this, God would surely grant this prayer because I was doing such good work. I did not catch his name, but he is my new best friend…ha ha!

After Mass, I ran to the rectory to take a good swig of diet Pepsi and then we were off to the last outstation for the day in Rwamkama. Again the road was good and the drive was not too long—about 30 minutes. This outstation is old and poor, but they have Mass every Sunday because they are willing to have Mass at 12:30 p.m.

Lameck prepared things as I heard confessions outside before Mass.

Rwamkama Outstation 3
More to come on

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