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The Franciscan congregation was blessed by the ordination of two new priests on Wednesday 16th December in Hardenberg Mission: Frs Valentine Ebo and Mothuli Keketso. The Eucharistic celebration started at 10h.00 AM and was presided over by Rt Rev Bishop Zolile Petros Mpambani of Koksatd Diocese. It was a day of joy for the congregation, parishioners and the diocese at large.
In his homily, the Bishop highlighted that since priests are taken from among people, they should be also present among them. They are set apart from the people for a certain period of time to be trained and sent back to serve them. In this regard we can understand that priests are not ordained for themselves but for the people. Therefore they are to be often found among their people because that is where they are sent after the ordination.
He also added that a priest is a person who was born in a certain human context. Therefore he has got a history. Priests do not mushroom from nowhere and appear only on the day of ordination. They are taken from among the people and prepared. They must know where they come from and who they are. They are also to consider their personal history and not forget their families since formation starts from the family. He added that if one wants to build the church or society, one should firstly start with the family since it is a fundamental place to build the Church.
A priest should also be a tranquil person. A tranquil man will also be able to manage many things around him. In difficult moment he will use the beauty of this tranquillity in relation with the Lord. The tranquil and humble priest is the one who will always work well with the people. He will be able to show joy, happiness and love to the people and this will make him to be approachable, a man of compassion and of people. However, the Bishop invited also priests to be reachable and available to their people. “Failure to this is a sickness that will need a doctor” he said. In addition, he urged the clergy to not punish and be harsh to the faithful. They do not need to shout at the people and use the pulpit for unspiritual matters since it is a place made for spiritual nourishment of the faithful. “In any case of the abuse of the pulpit by the clergy, faithful should be ready to approach the priest in a friendly manner instead of backbite him.” The Bishop said.
The priest should be an apostle of the Gospel. The gospel he preaches should manifest the joy inside him. The priest does not preach his own words but the word of God. He should be closer to God and men. He is a shepherd who knows his sheep. He is there to proclaim the word of God and show mercy to the people. “We must not be authoritative but authoritarian. We need to be firm and not harsh to the people. We need to show respect to the Christian faithful and must learn to rejoice and not lose the capacity of joy” he said.
The Bishop also added that a question a priest should always ask himself is: “ if the Lord comes today where will he find me?” Because “where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be”(Mt 6:21). Our treasure is the people of God. Where they are is where we should be as priests; to be and pray with them is our duty.
He finally invited all the faithful to always remember and pray for their priests so that they may in turn take a good care of them.