News from Tanzania

Franciscan pilgrimage in Mwanza

This is one of the annual events animated by the Franciscan both, secular and religious Fraternities of Mwanza area. This year the occasion was scheduled on August 9th, being one of the wonderful days we have passed here in Ilemela.

It was a sunny morning when all the pilgrims arrived at Nyakato Parish to start the mission of the day. It was 7 o’clock when we began with an opening prayer, and, before our departure, we recited the rosary and then we proceeded to Nundu outstation. At Nundu we had Morning Prayer, followed by a talk on Franciscan Pilgrimage, based on the theme of the day: “A Franciscan in a holy pilgrimage witnessing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

From that station we went on saying the rosary towards Nyasaka, an outstation of Buzuruga Parish. Having reached the place, a number of activities took place. First, we paused for about 5 minutes followed by the sacrament of Reconciliation. Next step was to give witness of the spirit of St Francis. This was done respectively by a Secular Franciscan, a Sister of the Franciscans Sisters of Charity and Penance, a Franciscan youth of the Virafra movement and finally an Ofm postulant.

After all this, the pilgrims were still eager to push ahead in their tiresome journey.

From Nyasaka the next step was to move to Kiloleli, an outstation of Kawekamo Parish. The road was becoming busy with traffic, but this did not stop us continuing our journey, since many motorists were slowing down, some even going to the extent of stopping aside, letting us pass safely.

At Kiloleli we had adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament and then we moved on to the next stage, the Way of the Cross. This was a moment of reflection, while we were climbing up the hill of Kawekamo. The similarity between the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and our going up that steep hill was visible and almost real. At the foot of the hill we had to pass through a group of houses built so close together, that we had to wind our way up with difficulty. Moreover, the path was rocky and at times the thick vegetation forced us to crawl up in pain.

After all this struggle, we finally reached the summit of the hill and then we went down the short way to the shrine of Our Lady, where we got ready to celebrate the Eucharist that marked the climax of our pilgrimage. The celebration took place shortly after our arrival, and, at the end, after thanksgiving and the final announcements, the pilgrims were dismissed to go back home to proclaim the Word of God to the world.

Reflections on the pilgrimage experience.

Just as during the pilgrimage we were journeying on together, so our entire life is a pilgrimage where together we travel towards God. That’s why to attain salvation, on the way to heaven we have to encourage each other going on together. Hence it is healthy to persevere with courage in our trials, and never to let us be put down by the ups and downs of life, big as they might be, guarding always intact our hope in the future eternal life.

Finally, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the friars who organized this pilgrimage, especially to br Festus, the National Assistant of the SFO, and to br Kagenzi, the Regional SFO Assistant of Mwanza, for their good service given to the Secular Franciscans.