By: Fr. Diego Cano, IVE
Ushetu, Tanzania, 20 January, 2020
This is the first chronicle written since we began the New Year, and so I would like to take advantage to greet everyone and wish them a year filled with God’s grace. Several weeks have passed since the last time I wrote, and it was not because I have nothing to say, but because we have had so many activities, there is too much to say. I have not yet been able to recount anything of the altar boys camp, the girls camp, the beginnings of a new school year in the houses of formation, the visit of several volunteers, the first Communions in several places, etc. I still must tell you of the first Mass of Fr. Pablo Folz, and this is what I shall do now, albeit briefly.
Last year, by the grace of God, we received Deacon Pablo Folz who was assigned to our misión. He was with Fr. Victor at the Novitiate, while, little by little, he learned the Tanzanian culture, and most importantly, Swahili. As always, the first apostolic tasks, and the first steps with the language, are with the children. In this way “Deacon” Pablo became very popular among the children of our parish, especially at the Sunday oratory.
When the time of his ordination approached, we advised the people that “Deacon” must go to Argentina, and I remember that many people looked at me with surprise and signs of sadness. Immediately I clarified that he would be ordained a priest and would return, no longer as “deacon” but as “Father Pablo”. They applauded and celebrated, knowing that he would not only stay at our mission, but that we would have three priests in Ushetu. During the whole time that he was away, the people remembered to pray for him, especially on November 30th, the day of his priestly ordination at the Cathedral in San Rafael, Argentina.
He returned to Ushetu mid-December and was received with great joy. The children came to greet him and continued to call him by the name they had learned: “deacon”. One novice took upon himself the task of explaining to them that he was no longer a deacon, but “father” now. He told them: “He is no longer deacon but father… What is the new father’s name?”, to which they responded: “Father Deacon!”. Then change took a bit of an effort, but I believe that they have all begun to call him “Father Pablo”.
We had a first Mass here at the parish in Ushetu, on December 26th, the feast of St. Stephen. Afterwards there were festivities at the Hose of Formation. Many people participated in the Holy Mass, and rejoiced above all else to see him with a chasuble, celebrating, praying the Mass in Swahili. At the close of the Mass there was the kissing of his hands and greetings… many people are not accustomed to this tradition, but it was very beautiful to see that many persons kissed his hands, understanding well that his hands were consecrated, blessed, so as to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, to bless and absolve… Finally, Fr. Pablo gave thanks, in Swahili!. Everyone was touched at listening to him speak in their language, and to hear for the first time a thanksgiving for the gift of the priesthood. These things make them esteem the religious, priestly and missionary vocation highly. They make our faithful grow in knowledge of these great mysteries of our faith and to love our dear Congregation.
After the Mass, we went to the novitiate for the festivities. Just before lunch a terrible downpour was unleashed, so impressive because it had not yet rained for two months. The people said it was the blessing of the new priest. We piled into our dining room and kitchen, and the small wing that we had just started to build a few days prior. The water entered in everywhere, the windows, under the door, everywhere. But this did not interrupt the feast at all. There was entertainment (a fogón), gifts, and cake… as is the tradition here, this must be cut with a ceremony… Fr. Pablo cut the cake, assisted by his friends, a group of children who were present.
We are currently four priests at the mission, because Fr. Jaime, who spent this past year helping in Tunisia, returned. We give thanks to God that he was able to assist at that mission, after the death of Fr. Daniel Vitz they were in much need of another priest. We are also happy that he has returned to us, and we can better attend to the needs of the mission, the houses of formation and the parishes.
We ask you to pray for us… pray for the missionaries and keep praying that there may be more priests, more missionaries. To see so many souls, so many villages, so many kilometers to run, so many things to do… we cannot cease to recall the words of the Lord: “The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few”, and how much truer is it of the missions! There is such a need for laborers, there is such a need for many more to venture for Christ and for the souls who are waiting for them.
Firm in the breach!
Fr. Diego Cano, IVE