My pastoral experience helped me to have a great joy of going out to meet people and to share with them my faith and spiritual experiences. My sharing is based on our summer exposure of December 2016 to January 2017 at Queenship of Mary Kanyanga Parish in Zambia. In the midst of many nourishing
experiences we had, my focus will be on the experience of visiting people in the villages.
Experience teaches that in order to know people with their struggles, we have to go out and meet them, because sometimes people are afraid to come and see us in our communities, due to our protocols and religious structures. Being sent to Kanyanga for our pastoral experience, one of our motivations was to go out visiting Christians, to share with them our faith and to see how they express and live
their faith. One of the things which struck my attention was to realize how people are thirsty for the word, body of Christ, and a spiritual figure. In order to respond to this concrete pastoral need, we would go; the first day just to visit families, share with them and the second day, we would go for the Eucharistic celebration. Due to the nature of the parish and the availability of the priests, most of the people in the villages remain thirsty of the Eucharist. From this experience, I have really seen that people need more priests. That is why Jesus’ words come into my mind: “therefore asks the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” Mathew 9: 38.
Moreover, it was a great moment of joy for me to share my faith with people and to see the way they express their faith. When it comes to any spiritual gatherings, people respond positively by their attendance. For me this is a sign of great faith and readiness to respond to our Christian vocation. Such experience remains touching, motivating and challenging because as priests, brothers, we have to respond to people’s spiritual need. It is surprising, when in some places there is abundance of priests and religious people without any pastoral work, other places there are Christians in need of more priests at their service. The risk of such experience in the villages whereby people lack enough priests is the temptation to go to consult traditional priests to deal with their spiritual problems and struggles. It is the situation in which many of our Christians are struggling. Sometimes they become hopeless and are really in need of a priest, but no one is there for them.
Above all, it was easy to see the joy of people as they welcomed us and especially expressing it through partaking in the Eucharistic celebration. They could move from different villages and gather together for the Eucharist. Seeing the devotion that people have for the Eucharist and the word of God, the main questions coming into my mind are: how do we, as religious respond to people’s thirst for Christ? What is the impact of the Eucharistic celebration in our lives, we who have the chance to partake everyday? Are we ready to go out to meet people and share with them our faith? Sometimes, although people are materially poor, they mostly need spiritual consolation and a person to direct them not to lose hope in Christ.
Sch. Pascal Adrupiako Akuma