“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40)
In the Nawinda mission, on Sunday, 20 August 2023, when we blessed and opened the Boarding house “Blessed Carlo Acutis”, we also celebrated my Silver Jubilee, the 25th anniversary of my priesthood. Anniversaries are always useful occasions for looking back, but also for looking to the future. They are sometimes turning points for making new decisions. Anniversaries invite us to re-examine all our relationships, decisions, actions… I look back on the past, including the difficult and delicate moments, with gratitude, because such moments build our character the most, in the most specific way. Pope Francis encourages us to build “a missionary Church, a Church that goes forth, a Church with open doors, a poor Church entirely for the poor, a family Church, a field hospital Church, a Church that heals wounds, an expanding Church, a Church of dialogue, a synodal Church…”
I thank the people of Nawinda and the parish priest, father Theophilius, who prepared a wonderful celebration on the occasion of the opening of the Students’ Residence and the celebration of my Silver Jubilee. The people of Nawinda are poor, the poorest in the world, yet they are joyful, happy, friendly and smiling. They offer you all they have, which is a smile, a hug, a friendly handshake… I give thanks to all of you who have helped these poor people, especially the children and young people of Nawinda. “When you put yourself at the service of others, you discover that what you give without expecting anything in return is never lost, but becomes an exceptional wealth. Gratuitousness unburdens the soul, heals the wounds of the heart, brings us closer to God, becomes a source of joy and keeps us young inside. To truly do good, goodness of heart is essential: a commitment to seeking what is best for others. Only love can overcome selfishness and keep this world going.” /Pope Francis/ “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” /Mother Theresa/
In the traditional procession, with song and dance (you can watch the video), elderly people led me into the church. During the procession and for some time in the church, while we were under the canopy, those people taught me about life, encouraged me not to grow weary, not to falter or give up, urged me to continue working and living for the poor with the same enthusiasm… They want to see the love and goodness of Christ in the priest. The mass lasted “only” 4 and a half hours
Dear brothers and sisters! I am extremely happy because today we are celebrating the opening and blessing of our boarding house. I always knew and had no doubt that we would successfully complete this project. I am also happy that I am celebrating my silver jubilee of priesthood with you in my dear Nawinda.
Seven years ago, dear God brought me here through fr. Boris. I immediately felt that I belong here, because I met a lot of kindness, a lot of nobility and love. I especially fondly remember my departures and stayings in the outstations. Those are unforgettable moments and beautiful experiences that I will always carry and cherish in my heart.
I thank dear God for my 25 years of priesthood, especially for the last 7 years in which He connected me to Zambia and to all of You. Today I also want to thank dear Bishop Valentine and the priests of the Diocese of Livingstone who accepted me as one of them. Thanks to Fr. Boris who brought me here. Thanks to the Capuchin brothers who also accepted me as their member. Thanks to our dear parish priest Fr. Theofilius, who sees me as his older brother and without whom our boarding house project could not have been completed.
Many thanks to my dear friend Fr. John who has gladly accepted to be here with us today and to preside over this Mass and give the preach. From the beginning, Fr. John supports and helps all our projects. I thank him for that as well as for the kind words he addressed to us today.
I am sending you greetings from our friends from Croatia who selflessly helped build our boarding house.
Thanks to the parish council, Legion of Mary, our youths…, who prepared this celebration and to all good people who helped make this beautiful and festive ceremony.
Finally, a big thanks to all of you, especially those of you who came from the outstations. I am glad to have met you again. I promise that I will continue to help this parish as much as I can. Nawinda has a special place in my heart. I am asking you all to pray for me and for my priesthood every day so that I can continue to humbly serve God and poor people.