- Written by Br. Clement Sindazi
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At a Profession ceremony in Tamale, northern Ghana, on November 25th, 2016, fourteen men took their First Vows as Christian Brothers.
These men have been preparing in the novitiate for the past two years under the direction of Brothers Milton Lawrence, Martin Binyenya and Vince Duggan.
The new Christian Brothers are
1 from the Philippines - Dennis Fernandez
4 from South Central District - Luke Musa, Steven Momoh, Alysious Sefoi and Emmanuel Allieu
5 from East Africa District - Kelvin Otieno Ouma, Allan Mwashi Shunza, Melkizedeck Buteyo, Isaac Odongo and Edwin Wekullo
4 from West Africa District - Ackim Simasiku, Joseph Kapalu, Peter Malama and Leo Liyungu
The Profession ceremony was graced by the Archbishop Emeritus of Tamale, the Most Rev. Gregory E. Kpiebaya, our congregation leader Br Hugh O’Neill, Br John Casey from the CLT, Br Clement Sindazi the Deputy leader for Africa, Br Albert Gomez the Deputy leader for West Africa District, Br Francis Agoah the Province leader for the Presentation Brothers in Ghana and some former Brothers from Ghana. In attendance we had also a good number of local priests and various religious congregations around Tamale, the local community of Christians, two local choir groups and the dancing girls. Br Patrick Nuanah was the official cameraman and he did a great job.
Archbishop Kpiebaya spoke to the assembly on the readings from Isaiah 61:1-3 (“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…”) and Luke 5: 1-11 (“Put your boats out into deep water…”). One of the highlights of the ceremony was the presentation of the symbolic gifts by the newly professed brothers in pairs. Two Brothers presented the gifts to the alter at a certain interval and Br Isaac Odongo from Kenya explained the meaning of each particular symbol.
The first set of symbols were a house and a tree which were presented by Brothers Allan Shunza (from Kenya) and Emmanuel Allieu (from Sierra Leone). Isaac explained that in African culture when a woman gets married, she has to be immersed into the husband’s culture and try to build up a home. A house was presented as a symbol of a community that the newly professed brothers stayed in for the last two years. When they arrived in Tamale as novices, they were all new from different countries and they were encouraged and invited to participate in community building. They spent two years in a cross-culture community coming from six different nationalities, seventeen different personalities and culture. Despite the different challenges they faced in Tamale especially the heat, they managed to live as a community.
Alongside the house, they presented a tree as a symbol of continuity and growth. A seedling needs to be natured for some time before it could grow on its own. The newly professed brothers expressed their gratitude to their formation team and the entire congregation for having natured them for two years hence their willingness to offer themselves to the congregation. The tree also symbolizes our mother earth and the conducive environment they spent in and around their novitiate.
The second symbols were different types of fruits which were presented by Brothers Alysious Sefoi and Steven Momoh (both from Sierra Leone). They presented different types of fruits as a symbol of their uniqueness, their different talents and individual personalities that they contributed to the well-being of the novitiate community.
They also presented coconut fruits as a symbol of willingness and openness. A coconut has got three useful parts but it depends on who wants to use what. It’s the letting go of the outer part of the coconut that makes the other parts useful. As novices, they had to let go different attitudes, cultures and beliefs in order to grow and be useful to one another in the novitiate and the Tamale community.
The third set of symbols were Candle and water and they were presented by Brothers Peter Malama (from Zambia) and Dennis Fernandez (from the Philippines). They offered a burning candle as a symbol of Christ burning and shinning in them. As novices it always reminded them of the words of our lord that “I am the light of the world.” It also reminded them of their individual patron saints and it reminded them of their departed relatives especially their deceased parents, sisters and brothers and those who were close to them..
Alongside the burning candle was the water a symbol of spiritual cleansing. Water has been reminding them of the importance of their baptism as Catholics and God’s forgiveness.
The fourth and last set of symbols were the wine and the Hosts. These symbols were presented by Brothers Leo Liyungu (from Zambia) and Edwin Wekullo (from Kenya). These were a reminder of the scripture “You, who gather grapes, shall drink wine in the courts of my sanctuary…". Jesus willed that wine signify his precious blood in the Eucharistic sacrifice. And so wine and hosts were presented as a symbol of their spiritual nourishment. The newly professed Brothers felt that just as the body needs food and water for physical growth and so does their souls needs spiritual food. These symbols reminded them their participation in the Lord’s supper in the church and in their novitiate community. They believe that the Eucharist has been their source of strength in their lives as novices and as Christians.
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration the Brothers invited the congregation for a meal that was served at the novitiate. There were at least more than three hundred people who joined us for lunch and some entertainment.
The newly professed left Ghana in the days after the ceremony and returned to their home Districts to connect with their families, friends and local Brothers who they have not seen since early 2015 when they made the trip to Tamale.
On behalf of the Province Leadership Team, we are grateful to Milton, Vince and Martin for their two years of dedication in preparing and accompanying our young brothers in their initial formation. We are also thankful to the parents and families of our newly professed Brothers for their generosity and support. Our gratitude goes to the newly professed Brothers for their generosity and willingness to follow the footsteps of Edmund our Brother. Our prayer is that they may live their vows faithfully and joyfully as they leave Jesus in their hearts always. Congratulations to our 14 newly professed Brothers and blessings on you always.