Last Sunday I was present at the Baptism of an adult woman, a child, and the Confirmation of many young people from various African countries.
This took place during our African Catholic Mass here in Darwin.
Most of the families represented are refugees. They represented such a wide range of human experience. I could not help but reflect on how much human pain would have been experienced by so many in refugee camps. Others would have been caught up in warfare, and other forms of violence. Many have experienced forced family separation.
The Mass was colourful, like the brightly coloured clothes so many were wearing. The music was good, as was the prayerful dancing in the liturgy. It was an engaging liturgy. The faces of those present showed real faith.
I attended a party with the community afterwards. There was good food and a very relaxed atmosphere.
Different national groups danced in their various traditional ways.
As I moved around, I felt energised by the whole atmosphere.
Once again, I was struck by the richness of our Church family. There were so many ethnic, linguistic, and other groups represented.
Christ is for all peoples and nations and races.
He helps to overcome uncertainty about the different, the other. Once again that quote from Henri Nouwen came to mind “What is most intimate and most personal, is most universal”.
I was also enriched by the presence of the Missionaries of Charity Sisters, and others, who have been supporting these people who have experienced so much.
I know the extra mile that so many have walked with those present on many occasions.
The African Masses, the African chaplaincy, have made such a difference in the lives of so many. It is good to see the African Catholic community grow.
The sense of belonging, and the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit is evident.
Thanks be to God of all peoples, in all places and time.