“Baptised and sent” (Bishop included!)

by the Bishop

Earlier this year, the team organizing the “Extraordinary Mission Year” (EMY) proposed to have a diocesan launching with an all night vigil and a parish one on Mission Sunday.

All our parishes came together to our Cathedral on Friday evening where they received the Diocesan EMY candle and committed themselves to “go out” sharing the joy of the Gospel we have received.

Going out applies to the bishop too and having presided the diocesan Mass at the Cathedral there was no need for me to be there again on Sunday.

During the week I agreed with Fr Mbongiseni Shabangu SDB about visiting one of the outstations of St John Bosco Parish where I have not yet been. As usual, he would not let the people know the bishop would be there.

In the best “Google Maps” way, he explained to me how to reach the place: how many km I would be driving, where and when to turn, which indications I would find on the road. Not a mistake I must say.

The Mass, though, was not in a chapel but at the Catholic school in the area. Reaching the place I did not find any sign with the name of the school but as soon as I stopped the first person I saw smiled at me surprised to see the bishop arriving. I was not lost!

I have been in over 90 communities in our diocese. A couple of times I did not find anyone as some choose to gather only when the priest is with them. Other times I had to wait for people to slowly arrive for the celebration. Not today. Everyone was there practicing the hymns.

Following Fr Shabangu’s “instructions” I would make myself available for confessions before Mass. A couple of chairs outside in the shade was the chosen place. Good memories of my first years of service in South Africa in a very similar area.

Mass had been well prepared: readings clearly read, special hymns photocopied for everyone to sing and, as I told them, they even sang the Responsorial Psalm! Not many times have I seen that.

It was a great gift to celebrate “Mission Sunday” and the first one of our EMY together. I guess it was very appropriate at the beginning of this Extraordinary Mission Year “to go and visit Elizabeth” like Mary did after the annunciation

After the final blessing, of course, time for photos outside!