Perpetual Profession of Fratres
On Sunday, the 18th of October the Missionaries of Mariannhill in Spain, lived a day filled with joy. Two of its young members, Fratres Geronimo Ramos Matimbe and Innocent Shava pronounced their perpetual profession, committing themselves to the Congregation for the rest of their lives.
On the very day the universal Church was celebrating the World Mission Sunday. This was a fitting occasion for the two confreres to commit themselves for the rest of their lives to the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill and its mission mandate.
Being in autumn, the weather was rainy throughout the day. This did not prevent the faithful from gathering at the parish church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Salamanca to accompany these two young religious and missionaries on such an important day of their lives.
The church was filled with guests, parishioners, young and elderly, who attentively and lively participated in the liturgy of the day. Though the liturgy was a bit long, they remained captivated by the proceedings.
Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto CMM, the Regional Superior of the Missionaries of Mariannhill in Spain presided over the liturgy, accompanied by other priests present who concelebrated. Four young novices of the Legionaries of Christ served at the altar. The choirs of St. Juan de Sahagún and Our Lady of Lourdes animated the liturgy. They kept the congregation enthralled as they sang in a variety of languages, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin, Shangana and SiNdebele. The young Mariannhill Missionaries present assisted the choirs in the animation, making the celebration truly a festive one.
In his homily, the presider, addressing those who would profess, among other things, said the following:
Today you are going to devote yourselves to God for your life time within this religious family which is Mariannhill. Besides being religious, you are also missionaries who are called not just to spread good ideas or only religious theories, but to give courageous witness to Christ, the Son of God, whom you have personally encountered and with whom you keep a warm and friendly relationship …
You are not missionaries to escape from challenges or where you do not like to stay. Neither are you missionaries in order to make interesting excursions where you like to go. You will go where the Church tells you to go and will do what the superiors of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill ask you to do…
The motivation of your missionary activity is not some kind of philanthropy or solidarity, but the love, that being born of God as a source, has come to you through the channel of the Church and encourages you not to keep it to yourselves, but to hand over to others…
As missionaries you will be expected to collectively and individually work towards improving the fields, houses and hearts of people; to look after the agriculture, their culture and the cult; to build up construyáis farms, schools and churches. Your life will bring you into contact with many people whom you have to serve wholeheartedly and respond to their needs in a holistic way, with love and care.
As you bring in from your countries of birth the impetus of a vibrant Christian life Mozambique and Zimbabwe, it is expected that you share this vitality and verve with the Christian communities in Spain, those values and aspects, which perhaps here we have forgotten. The following are some of the important aspects you bring along from Mozambique and Zimbabwe and you must share these with the people of Spain: It is a blessing to be believers within the Catholic Church, Christianity frees and liberates us from sin, evil, the world etc.; we are not be afraid to stand up for Christ and his Gospel values, we witness with the whole of our lives and are proud to be Catholics; We benefit a better life by living our faith, a life of values, a dignified life; We openly welcome others into our relationship with God and share God’s love with all; We share the little we have since all we have is a gift from God…
You are at the service of this truth: Jesus Christ is the only Savior of humanity. Jesus is not just a religious leader among others, like Buddha, Mohammed or Confucius. He is the only Savior of all humanity. The question is not whether or not the ones who do not know Christ and have not been baptized within the Church, will be saved. That is not the issue. Because God has ways unknown to us, through which those whom we think do not know Christ and do not form part of the Church, will be saved.The question is whether we will be saved, we who know Christ and live his life in the Church and might have kept this good news only for us.
After the homily, the rite of profession followed. The candidates were called by the deacon. The two who were to profess responded to the various questions of scrutiny. Then both of them prostrated on the floor, while the assembly invoked for them the protection from above, by singing the litanies. Then individually they read the formula of profession, written and signed by their own hands. After the solemn blessing or consecration of the newly perpetually professed, the Regional Superior acclaimed: I publicly affirm that you are now fully part of our community and are full members of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, so that from now onwards you have everything in common with us. Faithfully fulfill the ministry which the Church entrusts to you, and do it on her behalf. This statement was accepted by the assembly with loud applause.
At the end of the celebration, one of the two professed confreres addressed the assembly with words of joy and gratitude: There are moments in life which are special; moments that mark important milestones on the road of life. Today we are living one of those moments: the love of God has allowed us to commit ourselves to Him for the rest of our lives. We are grateful to God for the gift of life. We thank the good families we have in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Through them, God planted in us the seed of faith. Being children of God through baptism, we thank God for the vocation to religious life.
We want to thank our Superior in Spain, Father Lino, who accompanied us on this journey. Thanks also to Father Anselmo, our Rector, for his enthusiasm, sense of humor and his good hand in dealing with people. And also a word of thanks to Father Rafael, who is his assistant, for being so close to us. We are grateful to all our confreres here in Spain.
We also thank Fr. Isidoro and Fr. Matias, in whose parishes we do pastoral work. Thanks to the parish councils of both parishes, the catechists and, in particular, to the choirs. Our gratitude also goes to the Missions Office of the Diocese of Salamanca, to the Parish of Saint Juan de Sahagún, to Lourdes Hospitality, the professors and fellows of the faculty of theology. Many thanks to all of you for sharing with us this important day.
After a long and joyful celebration, we were all invited to the parish hall where we chatted with each other and congratulated the newly professed confreres over a Spanish glass of wine and some refreshments.
Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto CMM