The feast of the Holy Rosary was the date chosen to consecrate the new church at Mankayane (Diocese of Manzini, Swaziland). It is a project that took many years and was led by Fr Antonio Dora who is now a priest of the archdiocese of Naples (Italy) but worked in our diocese in the past.
We remembered him at the beginning of our celebration together with Fr Moses Lupupa who served in that parish until he got sick on Christmas’ day 2014 and was called to the Lord the following March.
At the beginning of our gathering and after listening to the history of the Catholic Church in Mankayane, I received the keys of the building and handed them to Fr Theodomir Sibomana who has been the parish priest after Fr Lupupa and led the completion of the project. He opened the door for us and we all went into the Church.
It was full to capacity with the local Catholics, non Catholics from the area, traditional leaders and Catholics for other parts of the Diocese, particularly from Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral (Manzini).
It was a community and diocesan celebration which also included: confirmations, welcoming in the Catholic Church a member of the Lutheran church and a baptism. The celebration of these sacraments became a reminder that this new church building calls us to continue building the Church sharing the Good News of Jesus with everyone.
But probably the centre of attention was the altar. It is a rock. It was already there and, if I understood properly, the church was built around it as a sign that we build our faith on the rock that is Jesus Christ.
After Mass (and lots of photographs, of course!) it was time for music, dances and speeches. The representative of the town council underlined the presence of the Catholic Church in Mankayane area as a special one: it deals with our Christian faith, our commitment to the education of our children and youth (through the primary and high schools) and also with health. This was pointed out as, during the announcements, Fr Makama spoke about an initiative to be taken in our diocese to commemorate HIV/Aids day at the end of November – beginning of December.
An interesting and unexpected comment came at the time we were walking towards the place where we would share lunch. Someone approached me and said: “Bishop, do you remember what the prophet Haggai said?” and he somehow quoted the following text:
“Yahweh says this, ‘Think carefully about your behaviour. You have sown much and harvested little; you eat but never have enough, drink but never have your fill, put on clothes but feel no warmth. The wage-earner gets his wages only to put them in a bag with a hole in it.’ Yahweh says this, ‘Think carefully about your behaviour. Go up into the hills, fetch timber and rebuild the House; and I shall take pleasure in it and manifest my glory there'” (Haggai 1: 5 – 7)
He felt that now that the temple has been completed, blessings will flow over the people of the area. We pray it is so!
(Click HERE for photos and videos)