Palm / Passion Sunday in Tanzania - Part 1

Fr. Jim Donohue.

From Musoma, I traveled to Butiama to fill in for Fr. Phillip and Br. Mosses. I was filled with trepidation because it was Palm/Passion Sunday and I knew that there would be “extra” things to prepare.

The first thing I did the next day was to go with Lameck Juma to Bunda to buy a Paschal Candle at the Precious Blood Sisters’ Monastery. It is about a 30-minute drive. Mission accomplished!

Palm Sunday 1

On Saturday, there was a great deal of activity outside my window. Upon investigation, I saw that people were getting the palms ready. Question: Where do the palms come from? Answer: From the trees in our yard!

Part of the process for getting the palms ready is to clean the branches. They used soapy water and brushes to get them in shape for distribution on Sunday.

I admired this little guy. He seems to understand that every project needs a good supervisor!

Just as in Buhemba, the altar servers come every Saturday to the church in Butiama and help with cleaning, sweeping, weeding, and other tasks so that everything looks great for Sunday. There were about 30 or 40 altar servers at work most of the day! Then they had a meeting that finished at about 5:00 p.m. Altogether, they were there for about 6 hours.

A Phillies Fan in Butiama! They are everywhere. Of course, he had no idea who the Phillies are…or even what baseball is!

Palm Sunday 11

The next morning, I saw the results of all the work on Saturday. The church looked beautiful for the Palm/Passion Sunday celebration.

The Palm Sunday procession is very important here in Tanzania. In fact, during the time I was in Butiama, Fr. Maciej, Fr. Yohana, and Br. Michael walked 8 kilometers from the outstation in Magunga to the church in Biatika.

I did not have to walk that far for our procession! The altar boys were getting everything ready, and we would soon walk to the starting point of the procession.

I had practiced many times. There is an opening greeting and introduction about the beginning of Holy Week. Then there is the blessing of the palms with holy water and incense. Finally, there is a gospel reading about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

Finally, we were ready to set out to the starting point of our procession.

More to come on

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