On the 5th June 2016, the parishioners of Zamdela, Sasolburg, in the diocese of Kroonstad, South Africa gathered to celebrate the feast of their patron: the Martyrs of Uganda. Prior to the high mass, the parishioners were full of song and jubilation as they welcomed the local ordinary Rt Rev Peter Holiday, Bishop of the diocese of Kroonstad. There was a walking procession to the church led by children accompanied by church groups: Chiro Youth Club, St Ann, and St Joseph, Catholic Women’s League, Christian Life Group, St Stephens, St Cecilia, Sacred Heart group, friends and invited guests from neighbouring parishes. The bishop was given a guard of honour by the Knights of Da Gama. The procession, though it was a cold Sunday morning, attracted many onlookers in the township.
The Mass began at 10 am with hundreds of people in attendance. The procession of the Word of God was beautifully presented by the youth of the Parish. In a solemn procession, little children dressed traditionally representing the 22 martyrs. Each of the martyrs’ name was called out loudly to remind us that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith and that our duty like the martyrs is to spread the Word of God to the ends of the earth.
Reflecting on the courageous nature, commitment and dedication of Charles Lwanga and Companions, the bishop in his homily called on the young people to uphold values of integrity, respect for sex and one another. In a society driven by sexual abuse, rape, fornication, crime, alcohol abuse, the bishop invited people to pray for South Africa and our young people to make the right choices in life worthy of God’s calling and service to the community. Urging the faithful to remain steadfast in faith, the bishop reflected how authentic sacrifice in the face of persecution, oppression, pain, sickness, and problems often bring people to a greater praise of God. ‘On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, ‘don’t cry’. They praised God saying ‘a great prophet has appeared among us. God has visited his people’ (Luke 7; 13ff). Prayers of the faithful were done by a child, a youth, a man, a woman, an elder representing the different facet of people in the parish.
In a typical Sotho dance, The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), the Parish Finance Committee (PFC), the Fundraising, Projects and Development Committee of the parish presented offertory gifts to the Bishop.
After mass, Anthony Ndichia mhm with the Fundraising Committee officially presented to the faithful, the beautiful building plans of the proposed multi-purpose hall with catechism rooms, offices, kitchen and toilets for Martyrs of Uganda Catholic Church Zamdela, Sasolburg. This committee is charged with raising funds for this project. People are asked to generously contribute towards this life changing project for the parish.
The feast day celebrations ended with entertainment from youth and altar servers and a sumptuous meal as the saying goes ‘Ha ona mokete kantle ho dijo’ ‘There is no feast without food’.
As I am writing, South Africa is observing a public holiday as they remember the uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide changing the socio-political landscape in South Africa. On June 16th 1976, the students marched peacefully to demonstrate and protest against the policies of the Apartheid government. This led to the loss of life. Today they are honoured as heroes of South Africa. I came across a beautiful way to describe the reality of life today in South Africa and the World at large: ‘We were all humans until race disconnected us, politics divided us, religion separated us, and wealth classified us’.
Blessings and health to everyone!
Anthony Ndang Ndichia, mhm
To view additional pictures click HERE