|9/4/2012 11:33:00 AM|
Cultures connect during Tanzania trip
Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss“'Mjambo,” “Karibu!” The casual “hello,” and heartfelt “welcome,” in Swahili greeted St. Pius X Church parishioners at every turn in Tanzania in July.
As the group prepared to leave for Moshi, in northern Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro, St. Pius Pastor Father Craig Boly blessed the nine travelers and Father Peter Siamoo, priest in residence. The Moshi area is Father Siamoo’s home but he has served at St. Pius for several years.
The group went to Tanzania to attend the ordination of 24 priests, celebrate with their communities, witness the wildlife in Tanzania's national parks, and connect with the people of Tanzania.
“We connected in many ways – spiritually during joyous liturgies, through delicious food and drink, with music, dancing, and with the Tanzanian three-part handshake and embrace,” said traveler Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss.
The travelers from Oregon received an exuberant welcome at the small out station called Otaruni, high on the flanks of Mount Kilimanjaro. After an hour-long bone-jarring ride up steep, pothole- and rock-filled dirt roads, locals greeted the travelers, singing, waving green branches, and throwing wild flowers.
“I felt like a returning astronaut,” traveler Emma Davis said.
A dancing group and girls and boys choirs led the procession into the small Otaruni church before Mass. Approximately 500 parishioners packed the simple church, sitting on hand-hewn wooden benches. After a spirited, long Mass, a collection sought funds to bring running water and install a sink in the small priest house by the church.
When they departed, the St. Pius travelers donated extra money that had been allocated to hire buses and drivers to the people of Otaruni to complete the water project.
From home St. Pius parishioners who could not join the travelers pitched in dollars for the Diocese of Moshi, which supports thousands of orphans through its Rainbow Center, helping children placed with relatives, as well as those living in orphanages.
Members of the group from Portland hope to return again next year.