Author Archives: cmmroma

Fr. Innocent Shava, C.M.M.: Priest of God for the sake of mankind

Father Innocent Shava, C.M.M., a young missionary of Mariannhill, trained in our House in Salamanca, Spain, was ordained as a priest on July 29, 2017. The celebration took place in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where he comes from. Together with him two other Mariannhill missionaries of the Bulawayo province and a diocesan seminarian of the same Archdiocese were ordained priests. In the same celebration two other missionaries of Mariannhill and a Capuchin friar were also ordained deacons. The ordination liturgy took place in the spacious outdoor amphitheater on the grounds of the parish of Our Lady of Fatima, located in the Pumula South neighborhood of the city of Bulawayo. The archbishop of Bulawayo, Alexander Thomas Kaliyanil, S.V.D., presided over the solemn and at the same time festive celebration.

Saturday, July 29, dawned cold and unpleasant. During the morning there were even moments when a fine rain, aided by the wind, tried to wet the assembly. However, all those weather changes did not manage to dampen the joy of the more than 3,000 people who had gathered to attend the solemn liturgy of ordination. The many hymns that were sung in various parts of the celebration by a superb choir of over one hundred people, men and women, helped to sustain this joy as well. A large battery of marimbas and drums accompanied the choir. Although the songs were performed by the choir, the whole assembly spontaneously joined the singing.

It was past 9:00AM when the liturgical procession began to move towards the altar that was in the middle of the amphitheater. After the processional cross and the acolytes came those who were to be ordained and the nearly one hundred priests who took part in the celebration. The archbishop of Bulawayo, Archbishop Alexander Thomas Kaliyanil, S.V.D., missionary of the Divine and born in India, came last in the procession.

The language which was predominantly used throughout the celebration was siNdebele. Once the first rites of the Eucharistic celebration ended and the Liturgy of the Word was over, the rite of Ordination of the three deacons and the four priests began. At the beginning of the celebration the candidates to be ordained were scattered in diverse places among the assembly, wherever their families were located. When the priest who presented the candidates to the Bishop mentioned the name of Innocent Shava, he answered with a loud voice in Spanish, “Here I am.” That caused some surprise and happiness among the attendees. Once all to be ordained were called, they went to the altar accompanied by their parents, who led them by the arm. It was a beautiful and meaningful gesture by which the parents expressed their gift of their children to the Church so that they might become ministers.

Once at the altar before the Bishop, the three candidates to be ordained deacons and then the four to be ordained priests answered the ritual questions by the bishop. With the answers given by each of them, they publicly demonstrated their willingness to exercise the diaconal and presbyteral ministries in a free and voluntary way, accepting the commitments that this entails.

After the ritual scrutiny, the candidates to the diaconate made the promise of ecclesiastical celibacy and both they and those who were to be ordained as priests, one after another, made the promise of obedience to the bishop, his successors, and their legitimate religious superiors.

Then all who were to be ordained lay down on the ground before the altar and all the others, both ministers and assembly, knelt for the litany of the saints, which was sung by the choir.

Then the time came for the ordination itself. In silence the Bishop laid hands on the three young men who were to be ordained deacons and recited over them the beautiful prayer of ordination, and in this way they became deacons of the Church. Once clothed with the dalmatic, the liturgical vestment proper to deacons, the Bishop gave them the book of the Gospels. With the Bishop’s kiss of the new deacons and their introduction to the people, the ordination of deacons ended.

Then the four candidates who were to be ordained priests approached the Bishop. He laid hands on them in silence. All concelebrant priests did the same thing. With the prayer of ordination, recited by the Bishop, the four young men were ordained priests of the Church. Clothed with the chasuble, their hands were anointed with Holy Chrism and each of them was given the paten and the chalice by the Bishop. After receiving one by one the kiss of peace of the Bishop and each of the concelebrating priests, they were presented to the assembly, which received them with joy.

Once the new deacons prepared the offerings on the altar, the four new priests of Christ, among them Father Innocent Shava, together with all the other priests and the Bishop, consecrated for the first time the species of bread and wine, which became the Body and Blood of the Lord.

At the end of the celebration, after giving each one who was ordained his respective certificate of ordination, the Bishop knelt before the four new priests to receive from each of them their first priestly blessing. From that moment on they did not cease to give their blessing to all those who requested it personally.

The sun, which had remained clouded over during the whole of that joyous celebration, finally became visible. When the processional cross finally arrived back in the sacristy, four hours had passed, which, in the words of all those present, did not seem long.

The parish teams in charge of the kitchen began to distribute the meal they had been preparing since dawn: meat, vegetables and maize pasta.

In the late afternoon the family of Father Innocent offered a festive dinner for all their guests and friends in a tent which they had set up in front of their home. Afterwards, a spontaneous and lively dance began, in which everyone from children to grandparents took part.

The following day, on the morning of Sunday, 30 July 2017, Father Innocent celebrated the Eucharist in the church of his parish, with himself as main celebrant. That celebration had an undeniable family flavor, not only because his relatives and friends were present, but because that was where his religious, missionary and priestly vocation began to grow and mature. There were present the people and catechists who helped him grow in the Christian life; there were present the groups, in which the Christian life was maturing to fruitful in what he is now: religious, priest, and missionary of Mariannhill.

After the Eucharist and before the meal, a reception was held in the parish halls for all those who attended the celebration, in which the various groups of the parish, confraternities and apostolic movements approached the new priest, singing and dancing, to offer him their gifts. There were so many who wanted to do so that the reception had to be interrupted for lunch, continuing after the meal. The great number of people who came to congratulate the new priest was a clear and evident proof of the sympathy he enjoys between his own people, despite having been abroad in Spain for all his training during six years.

Coming from Spain, in order to accompany Father Innocent in these celebrations, a group of six people had traveled: Fr. Matías Prieto Espinosa, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes [Salamanca], Fr. Jesús Vicente Sánchez, former parish priest of the same parish, Fr. José María Rodríguez-Veleiro Rodríguez, Delegate for Pontifical Missions Works of Ciudad Rodrigo [Salamanca], Maria del Mar Manzano Castro, helper of the Pontifical Missions Works Delegation of Ciudad Rodrigo [Salamanca], Mr. Antonio Ramos Blázquez, Antonio Sanz Madruga, friends of Father Innocent, and Father Lino Herrero Prieto CMM, regional superior of Mariannhill in Spain. All of them have felt privileged to be able to accompany Father Innocent in his priestly ordination and first Mass, living the unique experience of both celebrations. They are also grateful for the hospitality received at the provincial house of the Mariannhill Missionaries of Bulawayo and for the welcome of the Shava family. The group took advantage of the trip to visit some missions and parishes run by the Mariannhill Missionaries, as well as some of the country’s landmarks: Matopos National Park, Great Zimbabwe, Kami Ruins, Hwange Game Park, Victoria Falls.

The deacon Innocent Shava CMM a few moments before his priestly ordination.

The deacon Innocent Shava CMM, first in the picture, laid on the ground, during the singing of the Litanies.

The Bishop presents the title of the priestly ordination of Fr. Innocent Shava CMM.

The parents of Innocent Shava CMM present his son to the Bishop.

Members of the group which travelled from Spain to be present in those joyful celebrations.

 

Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto CMM

Celebration of the Liturgical Memory of Blessed Engelmar in Salamanca

In the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis by which Fr. Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig, C.M.M., missionary of Mariannhill and martyr of Charity in the Dachau concentration camp, was declared Blessed it is stated: “His feast is able to be celebrated every year in the places and ways established by law on the second day of March, the day on which he went up to heaven”.
On March 2nd the Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.
The celebration, presided over by the diocesan Bishop Mgr. Carlos López Hernández, took place on the eve of that day in the church of the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima [Salamanca].
At the very beginning of the celebration the Bishop blessed a polychrome carving of Blessed Engelmar. The carving was made eight years ago in the Czech Republic and was recently painted by an artist from Salamanca, Mr. Francisco Orejudo Alonso.
The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.
After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it. Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.
Then the intercession of Blessed Engelmar was invoked in the opening prayer of his Mass, which reads: “Almighty and eternal God, you gave the martyr Blessed Engelmar the grace to give witness to your merciful love in the midst of the cruelty of imprisonment. Through his intercession give us, too, the strength to love our sisters and brothers with dedication and serve them full of mercy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”.
The biblical readings proclaimed in the celebration were those of the Mass of the new Blessed. The first reading was taken from the Book of Wisdom [3: 1-9]. As a responsorial psalm a few verses of Psalm 27 were sung. The second reading was taken from the First Letter of St. Peter [3: 14-17]. As Gospel the end of the Gospel of Matthew [28: 16-20], which contains the missionary mandate of the Lord to his disciples, was proclaimed.
In his homily the Bishop, besides taking a tour through the most important milestones in the life of the new Blessed, pointed out how in the midst of the hell of the Dachau concentration camp Blessed martyr Engelmar behaved like an angel. He advised the newcomers, encouraged the weak, comforted the desperate, shared his food with those who had nothing, begged to help the most disadvantaged, spoke of God, taught the catechism, etc. That was how, even as a prisoner, he became a good Mariannhill Missionary. He also indicated how in the life of Blessed Engelmar the disconcerting logic of the paschal mystery of Christ was fulfilled, i.e. whoever gives up his life out of love wins it forever.
The very surname of the new Blessed – Unzeitig – refers to the disconcerting nature of the paschal logic. Unzeitig in German means something that happens out of time, which happens in the off-time. Applied, for example, to agricultural products it would refer to immature fruits, not complete, not having achieved the degree of expected ripening. Is it not true in the light of the evangelical and paschal logic that what the world usually judges as immature and untimely is regarded by God as the most propitious and opportune?
In the prayers of the faithful several petitions were addressed to God, taking Blessed Engelmar as intercessor. They were [1] that, in commemorating Blessed Engelmar’s love for God, we feel impelled to make our life more religious; [2] that, in commemorating the missionary zeal of Blessed Engelmar, we be urged to keep apostolic zeal alive in ourselves; [3] that in commemorating the generosity of Blessed Engelmar to those most in need, we be encouraged to follow his example; [4] that, in commemorating the patience of Blessed Engelmar in adversity, we may find ourselves comforted in the hour of trial; and [5] that, in commemorating the sacrifice of the young life of Blessed Engelmar, we be taught to respond to our personal vocation.
At the moment of the offertory, together with the Eucharistic bread and wine, three especially eloquent symbols referring to Blessed Engelmar were brought up; a heart, a loaf of bread and a piece of barbed wire. The heart symbolized the unconditional love with which Blessed Engelmar did all things and which earned him the title of Angel of Dachau. The loaf of bread made reference to the giving away of his life and his things, which earned him the title of Missionary of Mercy. The barbed wire symbolized the unconditional sacrifice of Blessed Engelmar in favor of the sick and dying, the neediest of all, gaining for him the merit to be invoked with the title of Martyr of Charity.
At the end of the celebration Fr Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M., Regional Superior of Mariannhill in Spain, thanked everyone present for attending this moving Eucharistic celebration. He recalled that the saints and blessed are oases of peace that God puts in the midst of the deserts of our life, so that we can rest and regain strength in order to continue the pilgrimage of existence. From Blessed Engelmar – he continued – we can learn at least three things: [1] God does not move away from us even when we go through difficulties. Therefore in the midst of such situations we must not go away from God. [2] We must be faithful to the commitments made in baptism and to those we have accepted later in life. [3] We can be evangelizers and missionaries even if it seems that the circumstances in which we now find ourselves are not the most propitious for this. He ended by inviting everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.
So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.

Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M.

PHOTOS: CARMEN BORREGO MUÑOZ [SALAMANCA/SPAIN] [1] 2nd March 2017: Celebration of the Liturgical Memory of Blessed Engelmar in Salamanca.

[2] The Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.

[3] The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.

[4] After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it.

[5] Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.

[6] So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.

[7] At the end of the celebration the Regional Superior invited everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.