Pentecost at Our Lady of Assumption (Cathedral)

Every year the communities of the Cathedral come together to the "mother Church" for the celebration of the feast of Pentecost. On that day all those who were baptised and confirmed on the Easter Vigil celebrate in a special way the gift of the Spirit received through those sacraments.

It is also the "end" of their formation journey because they still met weekly after Easter to deepen on their faith.

For Pentecost they had asked for a special blessing upon them. I therefore called them all closer to the altar and reminded them that on the Easter Vigil they had committed themselves to different services in the community: serving the poor, being ushers, teaching catechism, joining the choir... "I believe it would be a good opportunity for you to report back on what you have done in the last 50 days". Some were more than ready to do it. Others looked down not sure what to say.

After Mass (and the group photo!) following a tradition, we all went out for lunch with the catechists and godparents. We were asked to say a few words before the meal. 

Godparents underlined the importance of their service and they would continue to journey with them for the rest of their lives. 

Sr Alexia (their catechist) invited them to a monthly meeting so that they would continue understanding their faith better. 

They thanked all of us who patiently helped them reach such an important moment in their lives. 


A distress cry from the bishops of Cameroon

The bishops of Cameroon have sent us a statement they issued last May 16, 2018

* * *

"I have seen the afflictions of my people" (Ex 3:7)

"We, the Bishops of Cameroon, united in one accord, are once again confronted by the socio-political crisis that prevails in the two Regions of the North-West and South-West of Cameroon.

In fact, since October 2016, the North-West and South-West Regions have been passing through difficult times, marked by inhuman, blind, monstrous violence and a radicalisation of positions which leaves us worried."

See the full message clicking on the image below 


New maternity wing at St Theresa's Clinic

On 14 May 2018, the Minister of Health and the US Ambassador 
officially opened the new Maternity wing at St Theresa's Clinic. 
Below is my speech during the event

* * *

Honourable Minister
USA Ambassador
US Representative of Defense Corporation
Members of Parliament
Principal Secretary
Regional Administrator
Members of the Regional Health Administration
Chief Executive Officer- Manzini City Council 
St. Theresa’s Governing Board
Reverend Fathers, Sisters and Brothers
Staff of St. Theresa’s Clinic 
Honoured Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

For the Catholic Church, Easter does not end on Easter Sunday. We have what we call “the Easter Season” which lasts 50 days and goes from Easter Sunday to the feast of Pentecost (which will be celebrated next Sunday). During this time, we daily read from the book of the Acts of the Apostles.

It is in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (5: 15 - 16) that we read: “Many signs and wonders were worked among the people at the hands of the apostles so that the sick were even taken out into the streets and laid on beds and sleeping-mats in the hope that at least the shadow of Peter might fall across some of them as he went past. People even came crowding in from the towns round about Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured.”

Two things seem to be clear from the beginning of the Church: 
    • the first one is that the very first Christians understood that their faith should make them care for those that were sick and tormented by unclean spirits and continue what Jesus had always done;
    • the second one is that, they did it in new ways! It is interesting to read that “the sick were even taken out into the streets and laid on beds and sleeping-mats in the hope that at least the shadow of Peter might fall across some of them as he went past”. We never see anything like this in the Gospel.

From the time of the resurrection of the Lord until today, the Catholic Church has always cared for the sick and has done it in different and new ways: hospitals, clinics, hospices, visits to the sick, parish nurses, healing services in Church... Probably most of them do not appear as such in the Bible but we do believe each one of them is an expression of the Holy Spirit working through us.

That is why we celebrate today the extension of St Theresa's Clinic with a new maternity ward. We believe it is an expression of our Christian faith and an expression of God's tender care for his people. 
There is, though, something else that I believe has always been clear in the minds and heart of our Church: that we do not work alone. That is why today we are particularly grateful to the US government, for such a sign of trust as they accepted the Clinic's request and generously contributed to the building of the maternity ward. Indeed, the Clinic has grown over the years through the support of many people and institutions. This include His Majesty’s Government, International Partners and friends, local community, last but not least the staff present here at the clinic. 

Honourable Minister, St. Theresa's clinic has always been a point of reference for people who come from all over the country, aware of the good services and care received by the patients. This maternity ward will certainly increase access to quality Health Services offered by the clinic. 

We are excited about the maternity ward but our excitement is cut short by the unavailable of equipment to make it function properly.

Honourable Minister we are happy to inform you that St. Theresa’s Clinic has received an ambulance and two dental chairs from the Papal Foundation valued at E1.3000.000. However, due to the shortage of funds we are unable to hire paramedics to operate the ambulance. We humbly request the Honourable Minister, if she can, to assist the Clinic engage the services of paramedics. The needs for the Clinic are ever increasing. We hope and pray the Honourable Minister does not grow tired of listening to the Church.

Honourable Minister, we wish to express our sincere thanks and gratitude for the significant support we get from His Majesty’s Government, especially through the annual subvention and medicine. Such efforts make us relevant to the needs of the many sick and poor people from Manzini and beyond. May this assistance never cease but increase.

Honourable Minister, we formally register our excitement about the planned taking over of the Catholic Clinics’ payroll by His Majesty’s Government, as this is really urgent. This will help the Clinic to be able to retain staff for longer periods. We wish to know how far the plan has gone now.

The many needs of the people of Eswatini mean that we have to work together in addressing them. In addressing these challenges you can count on my support, on the support of St. Theresa Clinic Management Committee and indeed the support of the Roman Catholic Church in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

Once again, I wish to thank the Honourable Minister, the US Ambassador and US Representative of Defense Corporation for honouring us with your presence today. I also wish to thank all members of the health sector present here today. Let us continue praying for each other and wishing each other well.

* * * * *

Click on the photo below
for more photos of the event
St Theresa's maternity wing opening

Round table: 'Gender based violence' (2)

As I shared in a previous post (GBV) our diocese organised a second round table at the end of April. These round tables are a partnership with the "Dennis Hurley Peace Institute" in South Africa. The first held last year on "Human trafficking". This one, instead, was on "Gender Based Violence".

More than 50 people joined us. Some were members of Catholic organisations and sodalities, others were members from different NGOs working in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

It was a space to understand better the situation of our country, the challenges police and people have to deal with at the time of reporting the cases (particularly when children are involved), the need to work together to address it, the resources available...

A member of parliament reminded us that it is legal to lobby in this country and therefore it is important that churches and other organisations approach them regarding the need of laws to address this crime that is killing our families and our future.

We also became aware of the need to screen the people working in our projects, particularly when children are involved.

Having heard the different speakers, it was interesting the insistence on those present on the role of the Christian churches. They all underlined that 90% of this country is Christian and therefore it is important to involve the Christian community.

During my closing remarks though, I asked everyone how it could be that in a "so-called-Christian-country" we could have so much violence in our families and society. It is a contradiction. There must be something wrong. Maybe we have not understood our faith properly. Maybe there is something wrong in the way we read the Bible. It might therefore not help us involving the Christian churches if it is so unless we first address these issues.

Round table - Gender Based Violence

The session was opened with a prayer by Fr Tim Wrenn SDB:

"Creator God,
thank you that we are all made in your image and equally loved by you.

Open our eyes to see your face in those of our Sisters and Brothers 
who are in darkness because of gender based violence. 

Be with those who work to support survivors 
and may they be given resources of time and money needed.

Bless those working with perpetrators, 
may they help create lasting transformation of lives.

Lead those who administer justice for victims and survivors, 
help to make decisions with integrity and compassion.

Awaken within your Church and empower us take action against it. 
Forgive us for our ignorance.

Thank you to date for your healing power over survivors.

'As often as you do it to the least of these my Brothers and Sisters you do it to me'

You have called us to los our neighbour as ourselves. 
Help us to treat all with dignity and respect 
as we follow the example of Jesus who was voice to the voiceless."


Eradicate what makes possible to make someone else a slave

Pope Francis' address to participants in the II International Forum on modern slavery, 
on the theme “Old problems in a new world”

Dear brothers and sisters:

I have welcomed the invitation to send a greeting to you, participants in this Forum on modern forms of slavery, “Old problems in the new world”, organized by the Orthodox Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, guided by the beloved Metropolitan Tarasios, and by the Orthodox Patriarchate Athenagoras Institute of Berkeley in California with the patronage of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. First of all, I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, and to the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby, who last year inaugurated this Forum. It comforts me to know that we share the same concern for the victims of modern slavery.

Slavery is not something from other times. It is a practice that has deep roots and continues to manifest itself today and in many different ways: trafficking of human beings, exploitation of work through debt, exploitation of children, sexual exploitation and forced domestic work are some of the many forms. Each one is as serious and inhuman as the others. Despite the lack of information available to us from some regions of the world, the figures are dramatically high and, most likely, underestimated. According to some recent statistics, there would be more than 40 million people, men, but especially women and children, who suffer as a result of slavery. Just to give us an idea, imagine that if they lived in a single city, it would be the largest megalopolis on our planet and would have, more or less, four times the population of the entire urban area of Buenos Aires and Greater Buenos Aires.

Faced with this tragic reality, no one can wash their hands of it without being, in some way, an accomplice to this crime against humanity. A first task to be imposed is to put into effect a strategy for ensuring greater awareness of the subject, breaking the veil of indifference that seems to cover the fate of this portion of humanity that suffers, that is suffering. It seems that many do not want to understand the extent of the problem. There are some who, directly involved in criminal organizations, do not want it to be talked about, simply because they earn high profits as a result of the new forms of slavery. There are also some who, despite knowing about the problem, do not want to talk because they are there where the “chain of consumption” ends, as a consumer of the “services” offered by men, women, and children who have been turned into slaves. We can not become distracted: we are all called to leave behind any form of hypocrisy, facing the reality that we are part of the problem. The problem is not in the opposite lane: it involves us. We are not permitted to look elsewhere and declare our ignorance or our innocence.

A second great task is to act in favor of those who have been turned into slaves: to defend their rights, and to prevent the corrupt and criminals from escaping justice and having the final word on the exploited. It is not enough for some states and International Organizations to adopt a particularly harsh policy in order to punish the exploitation of human beings, if then the causes, the deepest roots of the problem, are not addressed. When countries suffer extreme poverty, violence, and corruption, neither the economy nor the legislative framework nor the basic infrastructures are effective; they fail to guarantee security or assets or essential rights. In this way, it is easier for the perpetrators of these crimes to continue acting with total impunity. In addition, there is a sociological fact: organized crime and the illegal trafficking of human beings choose their victims among people who today have little means of subsistence and even less hope for the future. To be clearer: among the poorest, among the most neglected, the most discarded. The basic response lies in creating opportunities for integral human development, starting with a quality education: this is the key point, quality education from early childhood, to continue generating new opportunities for growth through employment. Education and employment.

This immense task, which requires courage, patience and perseverance, demands a joint and global effort on the part of the different actors that make up society. The Churches must also play a role task in this. While individuals and groups speculate shamefully on slavery, we Christians, all together, are called to develop more and more collaboration, to overcome all kinds of inequality, all kinds of discrimination, which are precisely what makes it possible for a man to make another man a slave. A common commitment to facing this challenge will be a valuable aid for the construction of a renewed society oriented towards freedom, justice and peace.

I wish this Forum every success, and I ask the Lord to bless you and to bless your work. And, please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Below, Pope Francis' video address in Spanish


Round table: 'Gender based violence' (1)

At the end of April we had our second "round table" organised by the Diocese of Manzini. The first one, on Human Trafficking, was held last year. This one was on "Gender Based Violence". Below is what I shared at the beginning of our gathering, explaining why the topic was chosen.

* * *

"Last year I was in Italy invited to give some talks on alcohol abuse in our country. During a homily I shared with the people some situations that are deeply hurting us: alcohol and drug abuse, human trafficking, gender based violence... among others. I also spoke briefly about the presence of refugees coming from other parts of our continent.

The most interesting thing though is that – as I told them – none of these situation is foreign to them. Unfortunately globalisation also applies to them. Italy, among others, is not strange to alcohol and drug abuse, human trafficking and gender based violence. It is enough to follow their daily news to became aware of violence in families. 

Even more. I was born in Argentina which is in South America. Even there, GBV has become part of their daily news. 

Visiting Peru last January Pope Francis “denounced femicide and other gender-based crimes that have turned Latin America into the most violent place on Earth for women, calling for legislation to protect them and a new cultural mindset as he visited one of Peru’s most dangerous areas.” Like I believe happens here: “many situations of violence that are kept quiet behind so many walls” (1)

The region has the dubious honour of having the world’s highest rates of violence against women occurring outside romantic partnerships, and the second-highest of violence within. 

Though GBV is now present in different continents and countries, the causes and answers to it might be different according to each specific context and that is why we called for this round table. The goal is to help each other to understand it better and share ideas on what can be done to put an end to it.

It is no longer a matter of raising awareness as if we do not know it is present among us. The 16 days of activism done during the month of December present very clear cases of what happens in our families and societies. 

I am grateful to you for accepting our invitation. I am also grateful to those who accepted to share with us their views and experiences. Even though there are two bishops present (Catholic and Anglican) we are not here to “preach”. These are “round tables” where we come together to listen to each other and help each other in order to make an impact in our country."

* * *
Click on the photo below for photos of the event

Round table - Gender Based Violence

* * *



Swaziland Council of Catholic Men

Every year the SCCM (Swaziland Council of Catholic Men) gathers at one of our parishes for the weekend. 

The SCCM brings together all the Catholic men in the country, just like the SCCW gathers all Catholic women. It goes beyond any single sodality. In fact, some of the men are also members of St Joseph's sodality and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

This year, their gathering was done at Holy Rosary Parish (Mankayane). Not only was the first time for them to be there, but it was also the first time for the parish to host such a gathering. As Fr Theodomir shared at the end of Mass: "Ours is a parish that needs to develop and your presence helps us grow. Your singing was so good these days that people were wondering what was happening at the Catholic Church!"

With the help of Fr Khuluse (spiritual advisor) they involved Fr Makama (diocesan priest), Fr Onyango (Consolata Missionary) and Fr Shabangu (Salesian) in giving different talks during the weekend. 

Most of the parishes were present and it was the biggest and better represented gathering they have ever had. 

I presided today's (Sunday's) celebration of the Mass. While sharing on our call to love one another I asked them to reflect on the situation of our country where so many children are orphans. Some because one or both parents died, but others because one of the parents left the family... in most of the case: the father.

We need to think how this affects them today and in the future and how our Catholic men can help them as they grow up and one day start building their own families.

Click on the photo below
for Flickr photos of Holy Rosary Parish

2018_SZ_Holy Rosary Parish

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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