As missionaries working far away from our homes, a visit from a family member, someone from our home parish or district, is something very important and helpful. It not only reminds us of what we have left behind but also it renews our motivation in the mission.
Last weekend, 26 Parishioners from St. Ann Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Meru – Kenya, made a pastoral visit to our Epiphany Parish in the Archdiocese of Arusha – Tanzania. They came to visit one of their very First Priest and Missionary from their parish: Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD as well as having a first hand missionary experience.
The 550 km journey from Meru – kenya to Arusha – Tanzania is both tedious and costly but the experience during the 3-day visit made it worthwhile. Apart from Burka parish, they also visited St. Joseph the Worker parish in Olasiti where we also have a shrine in the memory of the victims of the bomb blast that killed 3 persons on the inauguration day of the parish almost 5 years ago.
Being on a weekend, we the priests were very busy with the weekend apostolate as well as the preparation form the Feast of Christ the King and on this particular weekend we had extra work: on Saturday the TYCS alumni from one of the Secondary Schools in the parish had a graduation mass and celebration in the parish. Their were also two weddings on the same afternoon. On Sunday, apart from the regular 5 masses, we had also End-of-the-Year mass for the SVD Youths from our three parishes in Arusha City.
However, these did not restrain in any way the experience of our visitors because we had a team of youths who made them enjoy every bit of their time here. Though I have been with these young ones for about two and half years now, and also seen how they have grown in faith and charity in many occasions, the kindness and the sacrifices they demonstrated during the entire time the visitors were here left me amazed. The visitors also were profoundly touched by the gesture. They were in the parish from Friday evening to Monday evening, serving the meals, taking them around and explaining to them many things. Meanwhile, we continued with our normal weekend apostolate.
The team also came to help with our parish-house construction in the small way they could. This gesture also meant a lot for us and for the Church. It is time that the Church in Africa became missionary not only in terms of producing priests and religious but also financially. This pastoral exchange helped a lot educate our faithful from both sides, about the meaning of the missionary aspect of the Church and of each and every faithful for that matter.
We would like to thank God for His graces during the entire visit and also the Parish Priest of St. Ann Parish Kariene, Meru and his parishioners for this gesture. Deep appreciation also goes to the parishioners in Arusha and more especially to our youths.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD