Ordained to Serve

Ordination to Deaconate of
Frt Rafael Manuel Chichava CMM

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In the evening of March 19 2014, the parish church of Our Lady of Fatima (Salamanca/Spain) was filled with people who came to celebrate the solemnity of St Joseph, the Husband of the Virgin Mary. They were also eager to witness the deaconate ordination of a young missionary of Mariannhill, Frt Rafael Manuel Chichava.

The Bishop of Salamanca, Mons Carlos López Hernández presided over the Eucharistic celebration and ordained Frt Rafael. The priests of the Missionaries of Mariannhill in Spain and other fellow priests, friends of Mariannhill and of Frt Rafael, concelebrated. We also had the privilege to have in our midst two members of the General Council, Frs Thulani Mbuyisa (the Vicar) and Christoph Eisentraut. They were visiting our province and so were part of the celebration.

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An ad hoc choir, made up of the youth of the parishes of Our Lady of Fatima and St John of Sahagún, and of the Fratres of Mariannhill undergoing formation in Salamanca, was given the responsibility to animate the liturgy and the whole celebration. They did a wonderful job indeed. The repertoire of songs, accompanied by the organ, guitar, mandolin and African tom-toms, was quite varied: in Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Zulu and Shangana.

After the proclamation of the Word and after the brief rite of the election of the candidate to be ordained, the Bishop commented on the readings, highlighting those dimensions of Saint Joseph and his mission, from which the future deacon may draw some useful lessons for the exercise of his own ministry.

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The celebration continued with the different parts of the rite of the ordination: promises of celibacy and obedience, the invocation of the intercession of the saints through prostration and singing of the litany, laying on of hands and prayer of ordination, presentation of the stole and the dalmatic, delivery of the Book of the Gospels and the kiss of peace.

Once Frt Rafael was ordained deacon, he began to act as such, preparing the offerings for the celebration of the Eucharist, assisting the Bishop at the altar, and distributing Holy Communion to the faithful present.

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At the end of the celebration, just before singing the Salve Regina, the newly ordained deacon addressed the assembly with the following words:

“Dear brothers and sisters: As we come to the end of this celebration in which I have been ordained a deacon, one is filled with so much emotions and hence the desire to say many things. Challenged to choose only one, the one which is dominant in my heart is thanksgiving. First of all, my gratitude goes to God, for the gift of life, for the grace of baptism, for the vocation to religious life, and for the confidence and trust he has in me. Though knowing my weaknesses and limitations God entrusts this ministry to me. I thank the Church of Christ for choosing me to serve her members. This church stands before me with several faces. I see her reflected in my family, who gave and introduced me to Christian faith. I see her in the teachers, friends and colleagues, both living and dead, from Mozambique and from Spain, who accompanied me on the road of life. I also find her in the religious family of Mariannhill, of which I am a part.

I have learned in Spain that one is well groomed, being grateful. I want to be well groomed, therefore, I thank our Bishop, Don Carlos, for ordaining me and for the words of advice and encouragement he gave me. Thanks to the priests, Don José and Don Juan Manuel, in San Juan de Sahagún parish, because they introduced me to the ministry. My gratitude also goes to the priests, Don Miguel, Don Matías and Don Isidoro, who welcomed me in this parish of Fatima. I thank Fr Lino, my provincial superior, and Frs Juan José, José Alonso and José Anselmo, who have been my formators. For everything they have done since I arrived in Spain and continue to do for me I am truly grateful. I thank my confreres in the community, with whom I have rowed on this journey; my classmates and teachers over the past three years at the University, as well as my friends present here. I cannot forget the good and courageous group of women, with whom I have worked for two years, as well as the children, I have had in catechesis.The choir and all those who joined us in prayer and celebration have really made this celebration lively and so deserve a heartfelt thank you.

I would not be a good missionary of Mariannhill if I did not thank our Mother, the Virgin Mary, who took me by the hand and did not let go. I would also not be a good missionary of Mariannhill if, in addition to the thanksgiving, I would not request for her continued intercession and prayers that I remain dedicated and faithful to what God has called me to.”

After the Eucharistic celebration, all were invited to the parish facilities where they had the opportunity to greet and congratulate the newly ordained while enjoying a skewer and some drinks.

These few hours of joyful and vibrant celebration marked the end of a wonderful day during which we honored St Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family and protector of the Missionaries of Mariannhill. In the celebration of the feast of St Joseph we also witnessed a young missionary of Mariannhill being ordained to serve.

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Fr Lino Herrero Prieto CMM