Celebrations in Tanzania
In Tanzania, after religious ceremonies (sisters’ profession, novitiate and postulate), we begin another year of formation. Earlier, I wrote about planning these celebrations, now I will give some information about their course.
After the spiritual preparation in which we were helped by the retreat, we started preparations in organizing the celebration. This year, due to the pandemic. The celebrations were somewhat cumulative in place and time. Everything took place in Chikukwe in two days. This “intense” celebration, however, had its own special charm.
The immediate preparations were also, in a sense, another celebration – a holiday community and good cooperation. Sisters who came from other communities also helped work for celebrations. Each was given some responsibility: for example, Sr. Anna (the postulate mistress) and Sr. Yasinta (the superior of the Nunciature) were responsible for making mandazi and pilau (traditional food that cannot be missed in Tanzania during big occasions). Sr. Ksavera novice mistress was baking bread and bananas with meat. I was assigned to undress the meat preparation (Bull and chickens).
Sr. Franciska, Superior of Nanjota decorated the chapel and was responsible for the liturgy together with Sr. Miriam. Of course there was a lot of fun during this work, but in moderation, because we wanted to respect the concentration of the sisters who prepared themselves spiritually for their great day.
On the day of the celebration of August 28, for some, the wake up time was even at 2:00 A.M. for others at 4.00 AM to be in time with the cooking and final work by morning at 6.30. After common prayers, during the Holy mass four were accepted into the novitiate, postulants who took new names: Sr. Eliana, Sr. Prisca, Sr. Diana, Sr. Grace. In Tanzania, the external sign of novitiate admission is the habit and the white veil. For novices it is always a very important moment because it is visible to everyone change – not only in their lives, but even in appearance. Habits and veils were blessed by Bishop and blessed our new sisters who now, through daily work, prayer, the study of the Word of God and our Constitutions, but above all through ones common living in joys and problems will prepare themselves to confirm their intention to dedicate one’s life to God in a religious community.
After the photo session in beautiful, new habits and a quick but common one for breakfast, there was the last singing attempt under the watchful eye of Sr. Anna.
At 10.00 a solemn mass began with three novices: Sr.M. Stefania, Sr.M. Emilia, Sr.M. MarcelIna,made their first religious vows. And Sr. M. Regina, Sr. M. Clelia, Sr. M. Innocencia, Sr M. Theodora, made their perpetual vows. The liturgy of the Holy Mass itself lasted two and half hours. Probably this time will fall deep in the hearts of these sisters, the time of the wedding with Christ and total surrender to Him. This moment is never forgotten!
Remembering this moment, I think accompanies each of us, no matter what religious internship and helps us through difficult times in our ministry and in spiritual development. These solemn and beautiful celebrations aroused a lot in us joy in the present moment, with new sisters, but also with many memories of our own celebration.
After the beautiful liturgy and the satisfaction of the first hunger, there was an artistic part, during which novices and juniors performed various songs, dances and skits. Looking at them, how joyfully they entertained us, I wondered when they had have prepared? After all, there was so much other work before the celebrations. Singing and dancing are an inseparable element of all celebrations in Africa.
When celebrating, it’s hard to do without singing and dancing. Anyway, one thing entails second. How to sing without moving to the beat of the music? How to move rhythmically without drums?
I think that the dance is a mirror of our sisters’ interior. Both this one during liturgy and recreation. The next day, five candidates in Nanjota were admitted to the postulate.
For myself, this time of celebration is always a great joy because I can see how the Congregation lives and grows here. I am grateful to God that I can participate in celebrations that are slowly being forgotten in Poland as a result of lack of vocations. Then I remember my veills, my first and perpetual vows.
It is also a moment of reflection on my zeal and faithfulness to God.
Let us be grateful to God for every vocation in Tanzania.