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An impressive ceremony of profession of first vows, as beautiful in its simplicity as it was in its depth and its prayerfulness, occurred at the International Spirituality Centre (ISC), Lusaka on Saturday, November 28, 2020.
The newly professed from the Kabwe novitiate included Br. Charles Kawengo Kamung’ondo, Br. Clay Clifford Nimely, Br. John Mwenda Mukosiku, and Br. Raphael Mwaura Ruguru. Fr. Don Phiri SMA from the Kabwe Society of African Missions Formation Community and Fr. O'Brien Senzoli Mwanza, parish priest of St. Lawrence’s Parish in Limulunga, longstanding friends of the Christian Brothers, were the Eucharistic presiders.
In his homily, Br. Alfred Banda, South-Central District Leader and African Province Leader-Elect come January 1st, commented on the call of Jeremiah from the First Reading: "I do not know how to speak; I am too young." Many are the times when I have heard brothers call themselves 'young brothers'. It sometimes feels as if it is a way of avoiding taking responsibility for what needs to be done. 'I am too young', 'I have no qualifications', 'I don't know the language', all excuses for fearing to respond to God’s call. It’s not only the young but the not-so-young or the older brothers too. Like Abraham, Sarah or Elizabeth, I have heard them make excuses for not responding to God’s call: 'I am too old', 'I can't learn a new language', 'I wish I was asked when I was 25 years old', all excuses for fearing to respond to God’s call.
All that the Lord needs is your undivided YES!
I don't know where I am going, but YES!
I don't know the language, but YES!
I am young but YES! I am old, but YES!
I am afraid, but YES!
The Lord will provide you with everything that you need to respond to his call."
During the Rite of Profession, Br. Daniel Lyimo, Director of Novices, called forth each novice by name and received the clear response “I am here.” Br. Clement Sindazi, Deputy Leader of the African Province questioned the novices on their intentions after which each novice publicly pronounced his vows individually before God and the assembly. Br. Clement witnessed the signing. Br. Senan D’Souza, a member of the novitiate team during their canonical year, presented each newly professed with a copy of the Constitutions of the Christian Brothers and the Congregation Logo.
Covid restrictions had limited the attendance to ‘invitation only’ but that did not in any way take away from the joy, colour and solemnity of the event. Br. Bruce Hakalembe of the Kabwe community assisted with the preparation of the liturgy. The choir consisted of Christian Brothers from the Kabwe community, the Luampa community and the Kabwe SMA seminarians, who also provided helpful drumming accompaniment. Hymns sung in the Nyanja, Bemba, Lozi and Kiswahili languages added much life and energy to the sacred event. Cheers and traditional sounds of ‘Ntunguh’ or ‘Ululating’ (in English), echoed joyfully from the congregation after each Brother had professed his vows and at other times throughout the celebration.
The gathering was honoured by the presence of Charles’ mother, Grace, and his brother Sitenge, and of John Mwenda’s mother, Magreth, and his sister Mukelabai, who travelled from Limulunga. Christian Brothers from the ISC, Nalubutu, Keating House, St. Edmund’s, Moreau House, Kabwe, Senanga and Luampa communities added to the event. Great to see Br. Jacob Kanda, just back from studies in Johannesburg, who also joined us for the event.
Br. John Mwenda offered a vote of thanks: “I am honoured and humbled this morning to stand in front of you to give a vote of thanks on behalf of my fellow brothers and indeed on my own behalf. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and appreciate the presence of all guests present today. A great man once whispered: ‘feeling grateful and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’ Today we take this opportunity to put all our gratitude in words. All the achievements we have reaped during our initial formation journey would not be fruitful without all you who have journeyed with us. We are thankful to our team members who journeyed with us: Brs. Daniel, Henry, Clement, Andrew, Senan and Cornel. You loved us deeply and on many occasions went out of your way to simply help us cope with the life of a Religious. Your endless support and challenges will ever be cherished and sung in the silence of our hearts.”
A delicious luncheon and the traditional cutting of the cake followed in the novitiate garden quadrangle. We give thanks for the new life and energy that God continues to bestow on our beloved African Province, and especially today in the persons of Br. Charles, Br. Clay, Br. John and Br. Raphael. We pray that the Good Lord continues to bless them and to bless us all, as we journey forward together in the spirit of Jesus and Edmund.
By Br John Holden, Kabwe community