Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Splendor

On January 15, 2002, I woke up as usual in my house in Kiabakari. Got ready for the morning Holy Mass preceded with confessions for those who wished to confesss before the Eucharist. Had my head full of many things while I celebrated the sacred liturgy, praying for the gift of discernment and the guidance of the Holy Spirit...

Then I had my quick breakfast, a mug of coffee with milk and a toast with butter and jam. Got off to Musoma in my truck, heading for the meeting with His Excellency, Rt. Rev. Justin Samba, the Bishop of Musoma. I asked for the appointment way before as I had several issues I wanted to share with him and discuss to come up with possible solutions.

At that time I served the Diocese of Musoma not only as a missionary, parish priest of Kiabakari, custodian of the Diocesan Shrine of Divine Mercy in Kiabakari and the dean of Bunda/Serengeti Deanery, but also - since 1997 - as bishop's vicar for religious.

I wanted to meet the bishop in this last capacity as his vicar for religious. All my agendas related to this area of my responsibilities in the diocese.

I got the vague impression right from the beginning of our meeting, that the bishop is somehow distracted and did not pay close attention to what I was saying and explaining. So we went quickly over the agendas and once finished, it was his turn to share with me what he had in his mind.

He looked at me and said: 'Father, I want to ask you to move from Kiabakari to Musoma Cathedral to become a parish priest of the cathedral. The parish needs major spiritual and pastoral overhaul', 'imekaa kaa tu' as he said in swahili meaning - it is just there and nothing is going on...'the Golden Jubilee of the parish is coming thick and fast, the cathedral church needs major renovation and there are so many issues that I want you to take care of and set things right. Help me to restore the splendor of the cathedral and please, heed to my request', he added in English...

I looked at him perplexed as it was the last thought I would ever come up with in my mind going to meet the bishop on that day! Me going to the cathedral? What about Kiabakari? What about the vision I got on that Lent Sunday morning back in 1991? What about Divine Mercy in Kiabakari? Then again, if I say no, because I want to further continue with the development of Kiabakari, what about my integrity as a priest who vowed to be obedient on the day of his ordination? What about if this is genuine will of God even if I do not understand it?

With my head spinning with myriads of questions and doubts, I turned to the bishop and said: 'You know, since I put my hands into hands of my bishop in Wawel Cathedral on May 22, 1988, I have never withdrawn them yet. If this is the Will of God, I will say 'yes'. But you know me and my tough character. You know you are sending me for crucifixion to Musoma?

Bishop nodded and said: 'Yes, I am aware of that, but still I ask you to go'.

So I said: 'When? And for how long? So I can prepare myself to leave Kiabakari in good shape and finish some important things before I go, and also there, to set a pastoral program that I will follow, but I need to know the timeframe'.

The Bishop said: 'I give you six months to finalize your issues in Kiabakari, then I want you to stay in Musoma Cathedral up to ten years'.

I went back home unconscious. Have no idea till today how I managed to drive back to Kiabakari.

This was the second time my obedience was tested. The first time in my first parish when I was suddenly without warning asked to move to Jaworzno-Osiedle Stałe (I was give 48 hours to do so) as there was a problem there and it was necessary to make a quick transfer.

This was the second time and much more difficult to comply with. Still, I felt deep inside that this was a genuine call from God. I did not know what would happen with Kiabakari and myself. What I knew only that if this was God's Will, He himself will take of everything...

For the following six months I made hectic preparations to leave the parish and the shrine in the best possible shape, at the same thinking about Musoma and pastoral vision of the cathedral parish as Bishop wanted me to come up with the comprehensive vision of Musoma Cathedral Parish.

Today, nine years after that day, I'm sitting in the living room of my rectory in Kiabakari. I was sure I was leaving Kiabakari for good... It turned out that I went to Musoma for mere four years and four months only and was sent back to Kiabakari to continue with the vision of this place on November 6, 2006...

Amazing are ways of God to do His Will. And at times they demand a blind trust, total obedience and courage to surrender ourselves to His plans otherwise we may miss completely fantastic adventures and wonderful experiences God rewards us with while challenging us with incomprehensible plans...

This statement came out to be absolutely true as I look in retrospect on the past nine years. What I can say is only - 'Wow!' Not even best script writers and movie directors would come up with a movie script packed with action and unexpected turns like the God's Script for me for those past nine years since that day when  bishop asked me to prove my obedience.

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