Following much planning and preparation the day for our 200 anniversary celebrations finally came. During the previous weeks we had immediate and remote preparations. How many and who to invite was a challenge. There are thirteen outstations in the parish so ten members from each received invitations together with representatives from the different parish groups.
Sisters and priests from the diocese, the twenty chiefs in the area, catechists, choir and people who have supported us from the time of our arrival in Konzalendo were also invited. We also received a copy of a letter written by the Bishop inviting everybody in the diocese! However, due to long distances and lack of transport only a handful of people responded to this invitation. The congregation would mainly be the parishioners and of these two hundred and eighty would be offered a meal after the Mass. “Thobwa”, the local liquid refreshment, would be prepared for all the other people joining in the celebration. Classrooms in the local school, where the meal would be served were booked, and the various groups allotted to each classroom.
Cooking is done outdoors so firewood was purchased. The cooks were selected. Large pots, containers, drums cups and plates were borrowed. Securing food stuffs entailed two trips to Blantyre; perishables had to be bought two days before the celebration and this nearly ended in disaster because the company where chickens were ordered had gone out of business. After much searching chickens were eventually located and all was well!
The Liturgy was planned together with Fr Hanock, P.P. and the choir who had many hours practicing. Mass celebrated outdoors required shade so members of the Church Council and other groups set up a structure to provide the majority with shade. A beautiful flamboyant tree in full blossom would give shade to the overflow.
Sr. Marianne Doherty, our Regional Superior arrived from Zambia two days before the event. On Saturday 24th the Bishop was one of the first to arrive and we were surprised at the number of priests and sisters who came to celebrate with us. When all were assembled at 9 a.m. the entrance procession began, Mrs Thangata the wife of our catechist presented a picture of Mary Aikenhead.
Mrs. Gabriel a faithful member of the Church and Legion of Mary carried a bowl of flowers and Mr. Konala, Church Council Chairman brought a candle and these were placed in front of the altar. The Liturgy was reverent, vibrant and all
entered into it with enthusiasm. During the celebration gifts were presented to the sisters even though we had requested that this should not be done. It is part of the people’s culture to present gifts at any big event and to do otherwise is not acceptable.
This is the first big event we have had since coming to Konzalendo and we felt supported by those who came parishioners, priests and religious. The people also were happy as they enjoyed a substantial meal together with “thobwa”.
The Bishop with members of the congregation