by Bishop Jose Luis IMC
When – a year ago – Pope Francis called the Church to celebrate an Extraordinary Missionary Month we welcomed it joyfully in the Kingdom of Eswatini and decided to extend it for the whole year.
That decision was indeed Providential as “the Church called to go forth” suddenly found herself preaching: “stay home”.
Soon, though, we became aware that COVID19 could have changed the context in which we were living but not our call. We remain “baptised and sent” and therefore we all stood up once again saying: “Here I am Lord, send me” in new creative ways:
- a small choir came together, members of our sodalities and priests made themselves available for Sunday celebrations on YouTube;
- our youth started awareness campaigns on COVID19 in the rural areas, among the most vulnerable in the country;
- nurses made themselves available in the different parishes to lead or support the “COVID19 teams” making sure everyone is protected;
- a team of lay people and priests started offering short daily podcasts of prayer and reflection based on the daily readings. Over a thousand people registered on WhatsApp to receive them;
- radios were provided to families who had none so that government’s message regarding COVID19 would reach them but also children would be able to continue studying from home;
- and, of course, we continuously look for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), food parcels for those risking hunger and the provision of water in areas where rain is scarce.
We all became to each other a source of hope, strength and love in these turbulent times. As Pope Francis says in his message, we became – in new ways – witnesses to God’s love, deliverance from sin and death, his liberation from evil.
+ José Luis Ponce de León IMC
Bishop of Manzini