I am sure that many of you have seen a lot of coverage on TV of the terrible destruction in the poor country of Haiti. I hear about it every morning on the Voice of America and the BBC. We have occasional tremors here. It is hard to imagine what that was like.
2010 is well underway and we are busy preparing for the challenges ahead. The Bishop has not yet given me a definite date for opening the Diocesan Shrine of Divine Mercy here at St. Peter’s in Nkololo but I am hoping that he will be able to do so on the date of my 50th anniversary of ordination, 11 June. When he does come we will also celebrate his 25th year of consecration as a Bishop. I will really not celebrate my anniversary until October this year after I come back from home leave. I expect to have a celebration in each of our 4 Centers of Nkololo, Gasuma, Ng’wasinasi and Halawa. I cannot expect a lot of people to travel here to celebrate. No one in my parish has a car so they either bicycle or walk. It is easier for me to travel in my Toyota Land Cruiser.
We continue to redecorate our big steel frame church, not only in preparation for the opening of the shrine, but also to make it a house of prayer. I tell people that we are trying to make it like a magnet that will draw them into the church and into prayer. Tomorrow we will begin building a special place for our big picture of the Sudanese saint, Sr. Josephine Bakhita. It will be on the right side of the altar and balance off the Divine Mercy Shrine on the left side of the altar. It is not symmetrical now.
We also have new Stations of the Cross that are bigger and are full of images that will help people know more about the station at which they are praying. We had to put up some paneling so that we have a spot to place them. We also have material to make banners that will fit in with our shrine and the liturgical seasons of the year.
This coming week on the 21 January we will go to the ordination of Deacon Francis Katami at Chamugasa parish about 2 1/2 hours from here. It will be a long day as we will leave early and come back late. I was just at the ordination of Deacon Gerald Luhende on 13 January at Busanda parish 135 miles south of us. I had to leave on the 12th and got back on the 14th. Two weeks before that I was at the ordination of a Claretian priest, Fr. John Bosco at Nyalikungu. It was quite a day as we ran into very heavy rains on our not so good roads. When we got to Bariadi just south of us, it looked like a town sitting in a lake. The water just couldn’t run away fast enough. A number of houses were lost that day.
The celebration of the Shrine opening, after which we expect to feed 2000 people, is not the major challenge ahead of us in 2010. No, it is the work we have to do to open a Health Center that will be of hospital standards. As I have mentioned, we are building a staff house. Its first resident will be our AMO, (Assistant Medical Officer) (Dr.) Helena Sindano (see picture), who will finish her studies in August. We have finished the foundation.
On Monday, the 18th, we expect to begin preparing and measuring off the site for one of our most important buildings, a laboratory with 6 big rooms and a large waiting area. I was excused for a few hours from a parish council meeting on Saturday to give me time to make drawings incorporating the new lab from our old 3-room lab. The “how to” had been bothering me. After some prayer and thought the light came on in my head and now we have what I believe will be one of the best laboratories in the area. Equipping it will take some doing. I was able to re-do a government lab plan so as to enlarge the blood donation/specimen room which will allow us to have the refrigerator there. A big item will be electricity. And it might just happen. The Tanzania Electrical Supply Company, TANESCO, has checked two routes for bringing wires in and has looked at the needs of our rapidly growing town. The reason we can even be considered is because of the growth of this area due to the road building we have been doing for over 10 years. Many of you have been a part of that work and can be proud of your participation in improving lives.
I will be continuing to ask for any assistance that you can give in finding donors for this chance-of-a-lifetime to build a hospital in Nkololo and save lives. The saying “what goes around comes around” does not hold true in my case, because if the opportunity were to come around again I would be long gone. My time is “now”.