St Joseph’s: 100 years! (1914 – 2014)

At the beginning of this year, the diocese of Manzini celebrated the centenary of the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries in Swaziland. They were members of the Order of the Servants of Mary. They settled at Mbabane, where “Mater Dolorosa” is today.
Few months’ later, on 04 May 1914, they started a new Mission: St Joseph’s at Mzimpofu. Aware of the coming centenary, Fr Angelo Ciccone OSM started working on the preparation of the feast. He wanted to do it on the day of the foundation but, being the bishop away on the “ad limina” visit, he decided to wait for the following Sunday.
It was a four hour celebration which started remembering how the Bible came to the Kingdom of Swaziland, the arrival of the first Catholic Missionaries to the area and the killing of one of them.
A second moment saw us moving towards the Church where the readings were read and a picture of the life and death of Fr Mayer was unveiled.
There was a very moving momentwhen the second reading was fluently read in braille by a blind young girl. She was brilliant and I decided to stand and go to her and congratulate her. We were all deeply impressed.
The third moment was done at the grotto where continued the celebration of the Mass. Together with the centenary celebration, Fr Ciccone wanted to take that opportunity to welcome the new bishop to the Diocese of Manzini and to St Joseph’s Mission. It was indeed my first “official” visit and will certainly be followed by others so that I can know better the different projects being run for disabled and blind people.