The Jubilee Cross, Arusha

Visiting the homes with the Jubilee Cross in the Maasai land in the Archdiocese of Arusha

We adore you O Christ and we praise you. Because by your Holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”

The pastoral year 2022-2023 marks 60 years since the Archdiocese of Arusha, Tanzania, East Africa, was started in 1963. In preparation for the culmination of the celebrations on Oct 1, 2023, the Feast Day of the Diocesan Patroness St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, a Jubilee cross is being carried around in each Deanery of the Archdiocese. The archdiocese has adopted a motto: “Imani na umoja vitawale” which means: “Faith and unity may prevail.” As we know very well, faith is very important for us Christians, we are Christians because of our faith in the person of Jesus Christ as God and Human.  Our faith becomes stronger when we live in unity with others.

The Archdiocese of Arusha as the Metropolitan Diocese is one of the biggest Ecclesiastical provinces in Tanzania. It is comprised of four dioceses: Arusha, Moshi, Mbulu, and Same. The Archdiocese of Arusha covers an area of about 65000 square kilometers, extending more than 400 km to the south of Arusha town and a similar distance to the North East of Arusha. It has 55 parishes. Arusha as Archdiocese has a big population of the Maasai. And the good thing is that we (Divine Word Missionaries) have been working with the Maasai people in Simanjiro District, South of Arusha, starting in 2002. We have two vast parishes that have more than thirty outstations. The evangelization in the Maasai land is going on, it will take time because there is much to do and good things take time.

In line with its motto, the archdiocese has planned various activities for the preparation of the Jubilee, ranging from seminars and sessions which will allow the Catholics to know and love their faith more. Other activities are choir festivals, bible quizzes for school children, together with fun and sports competitions.

In the spiritual preparation, the focus is strongly on the Jubilee Cross. Catholics are reflecting more deeply about the cross in order to know our theology better because sometimes it is seen as a scandal by the Christians of the other Christian denominations as it was seen by the Jews before the resurrection of Christ: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. (1 Cor 1: 18). The Archdiocese with the help of the Deaneries has organized a schedule by which a Jubilee Cross will reach each parish, outstation, small Christian community, and house.

I am doing my pastoral year in the St. Augustine Parish, Orkesumet, 200 km south of Arusha. We received the cross from our neighboring parish on the 22 Feb 2023, which was at the onset of the Lenten season. The visits of the cross in the homes of our Christians help to strengthen their faith. What touches me, is the faith of the Maasai, the respect, and the devotion towards the Cross. Together with Catholics hailing from other regions in Tanzania, they are ready to venerate the cross the whole night in the Church with joy and passion.

Things are well organized in the small Christian communities and private houses. The Cross moves to each small Christian community and then to each house. The family receives the Cross, accompanied by the Bible and the candle with faith and love. The priest, catechist, or I pray for the family and bless the house with holy water. It really makes sense for them. Even some who are not Catholics ask for the Cross to reach their houses because they believe in Jesus as the savior and in the power of the Cross. They would not like to miss its blessings. I can testify that this experience of the Cross in the Maasai land has increased the faith of the Maasai people and this encourages us to do more and more. Some people have come back to the Church, others have given or received forgiveness, and others experienced healing and great comfort.

It is a great experience for me and I am very grateful to be in the Maasai land during this year of the Jubilee in the Archdiocese of Arusha with the Cross visiting the homes of the people of God.

By Frt. Jean Paul Boloko, svd. Pastoral year student in Kenya-Tanzania province.

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