CHRISTMAS HAS COME EARLIER AMONG SOUTH SUDAN’S MUNDARI COMMUNITY IN TALI PARISH
By Francesco Chemello – The star that appeared 2000 years ago is surely the same one that has appeared and stopped on each of your homes and also on our parish of Christ the King in TALI, South Sudan. However, it is a special star that, if not welcomed, continues its journey towards other more welcoming places.
It’s like the image of Jesus that knocks on the door and, if he finds a person who opens, he enters and stays with him or her, otherwise he proceeds on its way.
This is my and our best wishes for this Christmas to you all and also to us of TALI PARISH: that Jesus may always come, enter and stay with us all for ever.
TALI PARISH, in a sense, is a particular place for cultural and climatic factors.
Cultural: the MUNDARI ethnic group is a group of pastoralists with herds and flocks and so devoted to them.
Climatic: because from January to May, the dry season, many of them have to migrate with their families toward rivers or marshes to find water. This makes our pastoral-missionary work very hard, especially with regard to the preparation of young people for the Sacraments.
For this we had to shift the preparation and reception of the First Communion and Confirmation between August and November this year, instead of immediately after Easter. We finished at the end of November.
We were able to set everything up with their participation, and since this time is harvest time, I was really very glad that they themselves could help with their own food, cooking and taking care of the boys and girls by organizing together the meetings. They were really great because, if it had been during the dry season, we would have had problems of food shortages and hunger.
In a sense, Christmas for their kids (and for us all) came in earlier with Jesus in the First Holy Communion and also completed by the coming of the Holy Spirit, in Confirmation, just like John the Baptist preached: “he who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”. And so Jesus did…
Now we just have to wait for the coming of the Lord in the humility of Bethlehem, already nourished with his Bread of Life and strengthened by his Spirit.
For TALI Parish this was a change in the liturgical calendar in favour of those same SHEPHERDS that, as it happened in the very first Christmas, the joyful message of the Gospel was proclaimed first.
TO YOU ALL THE BEST WISHES OF A JOYFUL AND PEACEFUL MERRY CHRISTMAS 2017 AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018
Fr Francesco Chemello (Comboni Missionary)
CHRIST THE KING TALI CATHOLIC PARISH
Terakeka State – Republic of South Sudan
Image credits: jesusmafa.com