Parish celebration in Zimbabwe

 The Parish of St Gerard in Borrowdale, Harare, had specials celebration yesterday, to mark the feast of their Patron Saint Gerard Majela. Many thanks to Dave Clarke from Harare for sending us this account.

A special Solemn Mass and Confirmation took place yesterday in the Church of St Gerard, Borrowdale, Harare, to mark our patronal feast. We are the parish where Pope John Paul II celebrated his Harare Mass during his visit to Zimbabwe.

We started our Eucharist with the solemn arrival of Archbishop Robert Cristopher Ndlovu of Harare Archdiocese who, incidentally, had celebrated his 25 years in the Priesthood two weeks ago.

The Parish Priest, Fr William Guri, CSsR, Fr Tryvis Moyo CSsR, Fr David Rown SJ and a visiting Angolan Priest concelebrated. They were assisted by four Redemptorist Brothers, one of which was Bro Elias CSsR who will be ordained next Saturday in Gweru, a Midlands town that he comes from.

Our parish has averaged one new ordination every year for the past five years. Although the Redemptorist community are based in Harare, and operate parishes there, an ordination is always carried out in the town that the new Priest comes from. Fr Guri doubles as the Redemptorist Superior in Harare acting under the London Province. He is a local man.

Mass began at 9am and took three hours with the Confirmation of 50 children ranging from 12 to 20 years of age. The choir of 300 tried to raise the roof, but as we had Mass outside in the grounds of the presbytery they failed! After the Mass, the Archbishop crossed to the adjacent Church of St Gerard and installed a new statue of Saint Gerard next to the Tabernacle. He then named and blessed four satellite teaching and training buildings around the church.

The congregation of some 700-800 people were drawn from the three large churches in the parish: St Gerard's, the titular church of the parish, The Church of the Immaculate Conception located in the grounds of Nazareth House in the South East of the Parish (Highlands) and St Augustine's Church to the North at Hatcliffe. All the churches are large traditional brick structures fully fitted and each holding 400-500 people. There is no parish debt, everything is paid for. St Gerard's Church is styled on the circular Cathedral in Liverpool but not QUITE as big!

Afterwards the Archbishop joined the Confirmed for lunch and the whole congregation joined in the feast. Steak, Sadza (a local maize dish similar to mashed potatoes) rice, and vegetables was served to all free of charge.

The Police Band (a silver band) entertained during the lunch and afterwards THEY were fed as well! The celebrations wound up at 4pm with not a cloud or drop of rain all day. (That WAS to be expected as it is summer time in Harare) Shade was proved by ample tree cover with marquees for the congregation and the temporary sanctuary.

Note: Dave writes that temperatures are about 30 degrees during the day and 15-20 at night.

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