By Bishop Jose Luis IMC
Last December I wrote to the priests, religious sisters and parish pastoral councils letting them know the idea of launching the “Sodality of St Cecilia” in the diocese of Manzini. I knew them from the time I served in Daveyton in the (now) archdiocese of Johannesburg. The decision was part of the steps we are taking to improve our liturgies.
“The sodality of St Cecilia commended by the church is an association of choristers, men and women, who ensure the proper performance in the celebration of the sacraments and encourage the active participation of the faithful in the singing of sacred music in the liturgy” (from their constitution)
The first step then was to invite them to our diocese to explain to us in detail who they are and their spirituality. They immediately agreed. In my mind, I thought they would send their “executive committee” (maybe 6 people) to do so.
They were much more generous than that. Just over 20 members arrived on Friday evening and … another 60 on Saturday morning!
Those who arrived on Friday led a workshop on Saturday morning with delegates from all our parishes, members of the parish pastoral councils and their choirs. It was the first time we called for a diocesan meeting in order to present to everyone a new sodality. For over three hours we heard about their beginnings in 1982, the first diocesan structure in 1989 and their journey since then.
“We have been given the talent to praise God with our voices… We then make sure our liturgies are attractive and beautiful and they take people to God.” (Mr O. Molapho)
They insisted that this is for them a ministry which requires serious commitment as it is their path to sanctify themselves but also to bring people closer to God. Not only they promote sacred music in the celebrations but also promote compositions of sacred hymns in line with traditions and customs of the local faithful.
Their explanations were so clear and detailed that there were very few questions at the end and they basically related to practical issues like their relationship with other parish choirs, if any of their members belong also to another sodality and how they manage to be in both…
In my final remarks I pointed that someone commented during the singing that “people were on fire” and it should not be confused with the “Bush fire” happening in the country but this one was brought by the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the meeting they agreed to join both the 9.00 and 10.30 Masses at the Cathedral. It was very impressive to have a second choir and the congregation were deeply grateful for their presence.
They did not need to explain “who” they were or “what the goal” of their sodality is. They sang and led the community in prayer making sure everyone was involved.
We now look forward to those who the Lord will call to take up this ministry in our Diocese.
Click on the photo below
for Flickr photos of the event