The opening celebration of the 50th anniversary of the priesthood of Fr Joseph was held on Thursday, 29 June, 2017, the day he was ordained 50 years ago. It was the day of the solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the day also that we renewed our vows. What a coincidence!
The Mary Help of Christian’s choir prepared the mass and animated the liturgical celebration. The singers had worked very hard for days in preparation of this great event. The choristers, dressed in long white and blue robes, demonstrated their vocal powers in beautiful harmonies. Songs revisited by the choir were in French, Swahili, English and Kinyarwanda. ‘’Congratulations to the choir!’’ said father provincial Camiel Swertvagher.
At the end of his homely, he recalled that Saint Peter and Saint Paul, pillars of the Church, can inspire us as witnesses strengthened as we are by the renewal of vows of our ‘’Yes’’. He added that everyone should ask himself these fundamental questions: first, what enthusiasm have I to be the bearer of the Gospel; secondly is Jesus present in my whole life?
The actual feast took place on Sunday 2 July, 2017. That began with a parade of children on the football ground in honor of father Joseph followed by a football match between the team of the Salesians and the team made up of Cooperators and adherents of ADMA (Association of Mary Help of Christians). It ended with the victory of the latter team with a score of four (4) goals to three (3). At 5.30 pm began the Holy Mass presided over by the father Joseph and concelebrated by Fr Provincial, Fr Jean Pierre, Fr Jean Bosco and the director Fr Pierre Celestin Ngoboka, who, in his homely, spoke about the daily life of Fr Joseph in the community especially emphasizing his love for prayer and his obedience .May he be a model for all of us!
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, delivering his speech, Fr Joseph spoke of the day of his ordination and how he was sent as a missionary to Africa and how he could realize his mission in Burundi, especially in Rukago Parish. He ended by revealing to us what he loves in his life as a priest, among other things : celebrating Mass and administering the sacrament of reconciliation. He thanked God for the gift of priestly life, he also thanked the faithful and all the confreres. Then we went to the veranda where other ceremonies were to take place.
Brother Diomede, who was with him in Rukago parish, gave a personal testimony. Then Fr Joseph said that he did a lot of activities, in particular building schools and churches. But also helping the poor, especially poor youngsters. Fr Provincial took the opportunity to emphasize that the ideal priest is the example of Jesus Christ. In his turn, the director, Fr Pierre Celestin told us about Father Joseph’s work since he arrived in Rwanda.
During the meal, a movie on Father Joseph‘s life was shown to all participants. After that a big golden jubilee cake was cut. A light dinner was also served to all, accompanied by drinks.
The last part of the gathering was the musical performance of youth groups, confreres and ADMA members. Reciting cultural poems and performing other kinds of activities attracted even the casual passers-by. Almost all the presentations focused on the identity and the role of the priest. The short speech of Fr Joseph brought excitement and joy to those present who shook hands and took photos with him. Gifts were offered. The blessing of Father provincial concluded this happy day. .
NDAYISHIMIYE Willy sdb Kabgayi