Posted by: matt25 | May 22, 2012

It’s A Small World After All

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What an incredible experience Of the global church I had Friday morning at Katigando Seminary, which is the oldest institution of higher learning in Uganda, as they celebrated their graduation and prepared for their 100th anniversary. It was my first opportunity to serve at mass since I arrived and I was graciously received by all of the clergy present and especially by the main celebrant His Lordship Right Reverend Santos Wanok Bishop of the Diocese of Nebbi. It was amazing how comfortable I could feel serving at holy mass and proclaiming the Gospel half a world away from home on the continent of Africa.

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I was also humbled to realize that in addition to representing the Diocese of Buffalo, the Pontifical Mission Societies of Buffalo, and St. Joseph parish in Fredonia, I am also an unplanned ambassador for the the order of permanent deacons which has not yet been fully reinstituted in Uganda in the wake of Vatican II. In fact, most of the clergy I have met here have “never seen a permanent deacon in the flesh before”, as one of the priests in Kampala shared with me.

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So much of the mass feels the same, in part because we celebrated in English but most of all because the prayers of the liturgy are the same everywhere. I couldn’t help but reflect on the universality, the catholicity, of our world church. But to say that there are no differences would be to say that every culture is the same and deny the richness of the people of God. As a case in point I need look no further than the offertory and the presentation of the gifts. The procession was led by at least two distinctive groups of tribal dancers, whose energy was as joyful as it was infectious. They were followed by people bringing gifts from the work of their hands and harvest; pineapples, bananas, potatoes, beans, sugar cane, eggs and (I did not see this coming) a live chicken.

The bishop’s homily also pointed to our common nature in the problems we face.

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People turning away from God to false teaching, people turning to drugs to fill the emptiness in their lives, men committing acts of violence against women in the home, and the difficulties of poverty are not African problems, they are human problems. The answer and hope is for all humanity as well; to love God above all else and to love others as ourselves. In doing the first we are empowered to do the second.

Peace!

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