Vatican News English Africa Service – Vatican City
In his homily to priests, meeting for the first time this year, Bishop José Luís Ponce de León I.M.C., of the Diocese of Manzini, thanked the priests for their readiness to take up new appointments in the diocese. He said their availability was testimony to their calling as priests.
The Diocese of Manzini is part of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) and is the only Catholic Diocese in Swaziland. It is part of the ecclesiastical province of Johannesburg in South Africa.
Dressed for action
“Today’s Gospel passage says: ‘See that you are dressed for action.’ I found it an interesting statement considering that last Sunday many of you said “goodbye” to the places where you have been serving and are now moving to a new place. The appointments taking place - to parishes, sodalities, and pastoral areas - are much deeper than the ones we had in 2014. I want to take this opportunity to thank each one of you. I believe I visited most (if not all) of you in your parishes to talk about the new appointments. You welcomed them in faith. Your availability is a clear witness of the call you have received and your sense of being ‘one body.’ Your availability is – in this case – the being 'dressed for action' that Jesus asks from you today,” the Bishop told the priests meeting at Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral.
We are more than Caretakers of parishes
Reflecting on the COVID-19 situation which forced many parishes to close as they were restricted to “stay home” orders issued by the Government, Bishop Ponce de León said, “COVID19 changed the context in which we work but not our call. We do remain ‘baptised and sent.’”
Eswatini has recorded at least 5800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 116 deaths. Grocery stores and health clinics are open. However, religious services may only be carried out at a maximum of fifty per cent occupancy.
“COVID-19 might have revealed how used we are to doing things (in a certain way … but has now) challenged us to ‘think outside the box’ … We are much more than ‘caretakers’ of a parish or diocese. As Pope Francis told us for Mission Sunday, ‘the Holy Spirit pushes us and carries us.’”
Parishioners sufffering the most because of COVID-19
“Let us never forget how much (people’s) lives have been affected by the pandemic. While our lives -in many ways– are protected because the Church looks after us, for many families COVID-19 made them wonder: ‘What are we going to do now? How are we going to survive? Where are we going to find the daily food ... the school fees for the children?’ COVID-19 put to them questions that have deeply affected their lives,” said the Bishop of Manzini.