Diocesan Altar Servers’ retreat

By Siyabonga Kwanda Ndwandwe

Although the announcement for the altar servers retreat was dispersed a few weeks back to all the parishes in the diocese, the young men did not disappoint, they came in large numbers. To show their devotion to their work, altar servers gathered at the Sisema building in Manzini on the 13th to the 15th of December 2018.

The organizing team which included Fr Theodomir Sibomana and seminarians: Khonzumenzi Dlamini, Thokozani Mkhonta and Kwanda S. Ndwandwe tried their best to do a good job.

On the first day I observed how our priests in the Diocese took responsibility to such invitations. The first group came as early as an hour before the stated arrival time. The largest group consisted of fourteen altar servers and the other groups consisted of around five or six altar servers. Then registering started.

We faced the challenge of giving each a comfortable space to sleep but as they are brothers of the same father, the altar servers willingly welcomed a fellow brother from another parish. Each room was occupied by six people. The program started by supper then progressed to the first meeting where they set their own rules. They were then freed to rest after night prayer.

On the second day, at 0730hrs a morning prayer session was conducted by Khonzumenzi Dlamini as well as the program for the whole retreat. Breakfast followed and everyone seemed satisfied, then the first session began at the cathedral by Thokozani Mkhonta. It was about the equipments and the dress code of an altar server of the Diocese of Manzini. Khonzumenzi then practically showed them how to serve for the whole Mass. Altar servers were given a chance to ask questions and then freed to recreate. Two hours before lunch, Thabo Mkhonta, a seminarian, arrived all the way from Good Shepherd parish to remind the servers about the liturgical seasons of the church, the proper vestments for the proper season including feast days.

After lunch, one of the longest serving altar servers Majaha Fakudze shared with the altar servers what qualifications they need to serve in the altar. This include the sacrament of Baptism, good behavior and other things. Few minutes of recreation time followed then we attended Mass at 1730hrs with Fr Theo and altar servers from different parishes were selected randomly to apply what they learnt earlier. Supper then followed after Mass. At 1900hrs we began the next part of the program which was elections.

Surprisingly, even the newest parish in the Diocese came out with two members of the altars servers committee. The members are as follows:

  • President: Majaha Fakudze from Mater Dolorosa
  • Vice President: Nkosephayo Dlamini from St Mary’s
  • Secretary: Simphiwe Nkambule from St Ignatius of Loyola
  • Vice secretary : Joseph Groening from Good Shepherd
  • Treasurer: Anele Dlamini from Mater Dolorosa
  • Liturgy Officer: Raphael Dlamini from St Ignatius of Loyola
  • Vice Liturgy Officer: Thembumenzi Dlamini from St Mary’s

Evaluations followed, whereby everyone laid out what went wrong and what was a success. They were then freed to enjoy their last night at Sisema. The next morning was Mass with the Bishop of Manzini, Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon, Fr Mabuza and Fr Theo, then breakfast. Departure was immediately after breakfast.

Thanks to the organizing team, our mothers in the kitchen, parents at home as well as the Parish Priests that allowed this work to be successful.