A feast with a difference

by Bishop José Luis IMC

Sunday was the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. In our diocese it is an important feast as two parishes are called: “Mater Dolorosa” (Mbabane) and “Our Lady of Sorrows” (Hluthi). It is also an important feast for our “founding fathers” the Servants of Mary and the Sisters of the Servite family: Mantellate and Swazi Servite Sisters. The invitation came from St Joseph’s parish outside Manzini. They wanted to celebrate this feast bringing together the widows and widowers of the parish.

Arriving at the parish I asked Fr Wandile Dlamini OSM who is the parish administrator how many of them were expected to attend. He said: “we were giving a list with 100 names”. It was completely unexpected to me to hear of such a big number and, as he shared with me, also to him. No one guessed there were so many and, I believe, most of them – if not all – were there.

At the end of the intercessions I prayed for them and then one by one was given a white rose to be placed at the feet of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was a beautiful and very intense moment as one wonder what each one of them carry in his or her heart.

During the homily I mentioned how many stories I have heard about their sufferings. Not only they have to face the death of a loved one but also their families: mourning periods, issues with the inheritance. Many times I felt that some families just lack a heart. Many times challenging times bring out the best or the worst of ourselves. It does not end there. It goes beyond the families to the whole community who seem to suddenly have a right to comment… They seemed to agree it is still so.

I was very happy about the initiative. Hope and pray that this initiative towards widows and widowers spread to other parishes. Choosing to do it on this feast was an excellent idea. As we see Mary by the cross of Jesus, we too are called to be close to those who today carry a cross put on their shoulders and be, for them, a sign of hope, support and care.

All of them were then welcomed at the hall for a very special meal and, as expected, we also had a long session of photos.

Looking back, I can only imagine how many people gave their time and energies to prepare everything for the feast. It was indeed at feast of the whole community who made a clear choice to be close to them and celebrate their lives.