I always believe the Vicariate of Ingwavuma is a very special place. It is still a “Vicariate”(not yet a diocese) but most of the clergy – being diocesan or religious – is local. Five new priests were ordained in the last five years. All of them born in this area. There are also another seven seminarians, all born here, who are joining the diocesan priesthood (three of them) or the Order of the Servants of Mary.
On Saturday 27, all the priests serving in the Vicariate joined a big crowd of joyful people for the ordination of Thabiso Nkosingiphile Masinga OSM. His provincial, Fr John Fontana OSM, arrived from the USA a couple of days before the celebration.
We got some light rain as a sign of God’s blessings upon him and upon our Vicariate.
During the homily, based on the readings he had chosen, I invited him to remember two or three things.
The first one is that he has been called to be sent.He was not called to stay at home (or, worse, to remain at home complaining about those who do not go to Church). I asked him to make sure he would visit every single family wherever he would be working. All of them. Not just his friends. All of them. Those going to church and those who do not go for different reasons. He is being sent to all.
I also asked him to go with a word of encouragement, a word of consolation, a word of hope. In short… with God’s word. I joked with the fact that at the entrance of the Mission there is a sign saying: “Beware of the dog” and asked him to make sure there would never be one saying: “Beware of the priest”.
- The second thing I asked him was to “listen”. It is clear he has listened to God’s call and that is why he was there. He had done all these years as he journeyed helped by different people. The risk is that becoming a priest, he might not listen anymore. “Make sure you open your ear before you open your mouth”. Again, I made him aware of the sickness some priests have who do not want to listen to anyone… being the bishop, other priests, religious or… much less, the lay people!
Finally I reminded him he has been called to be a Servant of Mary. He will be a Servite priest. Not a Consolata Missionary like me, not an Oblate or a Franciscan or a Diocesan. His priesthood will be marked by his being a Servite and that will be God’s gift to us all. It is in this diversity of calls that we complement each other and become a blessing to our people
– Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon