God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

13.09.2009 Sunday eve

It is Sunday eve and after a day full of chatter, farewell celebration and lots of eating it is time to bid farewell to Durban. The mass this morning was full of well-wisher and once again I felt this special atmosphere and bond which exists between these good people and me. Lots of hugging and spontaneous joy as I revealed that I will stay in South Africa. Most of the people did not buy into the white lie of the press officer of the German Bishops conference that the termination of my contract was a “normal one”. It would have been easy to fuel the sense of betrayal and frustration; some told me of answers they got after writing to a bishop or the bishops conference and they felt not taken very seriously.  But they have been the lucky once, others even didn’t get an answer. I am not sure whether those responsible really know how they work in their ways against their own objectives to keep people in the church and to strengthen faith. They should be servants of the faithful and not the opposite. We still have a long way to go until the human structure of church becomes mature in this sense. Still too much puberty in the ranks… But I never give up hope. 🙂
Sunday afternoon an invite from the pastoral community council for coffee which happened to stretch until supper – with so much love prepared from Renate and Wolfgang, two parishioners who opened their home for us all. And once again challenging debates around the table. Those are the people who make so much efforts to keep a community going, to bring up their kids in our faith and at the end, all our hierarchy would be nothing and meaningless without the dedicated work of those on the ground. Sometimes I wonder how much wisdom and maturity we as a church miss out because we as the clergy tend not to listen carefully enough. And not only listen but following this – and here we are again – sensus fidelium and spiritual wisdom of those we call laity.  This blog is automatically also loaded to my Facebook side, and speaking about laity and their power, a facebook friend of mine, Jeff wrote a comment about his experience in his church and he ended:

Our parish has a tradition at baptisms where the priest not only makes the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead with chrism but also puts a hand embroidered stole (not a full sized one — they are made by people in the parish and are gifts to the newly baptized, even infants) around the neck of the baptized and says to that person, “you have put on the new life in Christ and are invested as a minister of the Gospel.” That is always a powerful reminder for me as a lay person when I hear those words spoken.

I also find this a powerful symbol and it shows the true power of Gods people, each and everybody is called to minister the faith and to be taken serious.

Well, this eve I feel indeed graced with all kind of things: the kind words, some little presents, quite some hugs, lots of good wishes and blessings and I had to promise that I will pop in next year somewhere and somehow. And I will do. I really will, not only because people here in Durban miss me but because I miss them also after 7 years of  service. I will miss Hermann, who always was worried about my stances on good old doctrine and we became friends, understanding each other 🙂 , I will miss Sr. Agnes, who always found somebody to baptize or confirm or visit when I was in Durban (but I really loved to serve under her 🙂 ), I will miss the talks with all the Mariannhill sisters and their struggle to maintain Mariannhill while growing older, I will miss the altar servers, who never let me down, Trudi and all of the pastoral community council, the finance committee counting the money faithfully after mass,  and all those friendly faces coming up to communion and listen so attentively when I tried to reach hearts and minds with my sermon.

Sizobonana & God bless them all!

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HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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