By Sr Cynthia Mgwena CPS
..Bishop Muchabaiwa celebrates priestly golden jubilee
A golden jubilee is always an occasion of thanksgiving and celebration, and on the 17 of November 2018 it was noteworthy. Bishop Emeritus Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa, celebrated a mass of thanksgiving at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Mutare Diocese on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
Gracing the occasion was the Archbishop of Harare Robert Christopher Ndlovu, Bishop of Hwange Albert Serrano and Bishop Paul Horan of Mutare. Other dignitaries included IMBISA Director, Fr. Claudio dos Reis and ZCBC staff who Catholics from all corners of Mutare and beyond to support the retired Bishop for a long life in the pastoral ministry. Hordes of Catholics paid tribute to the way Bishop Muchabaiwa lived his priestly life and touched the lives of many for the past 50 years when he ministered as a father and bishop.
The liturgy was marked by beautiful music and noble simplicity of celebration.” Handirevi kuti ini ndakatobudirira” a Shona hymn composed from St. Paul’s words to the Philippians Chapter 3:12 gave a boom to the celebration as people reflected on the life of a living legend. Adorned angelic young girls dressed in white bridal dresses and high school students added color to the celebration.
Fr Owen Kudumba O. Carm preached a sermon enlivened with anecdotes from Bishop Muchabaiwa`s experience of priesthood. Basing on the call of Samuel, Fr. Kudumba highlighted the fact that all who are called by God must go out to proclaim his word and serve his people.
Fr. Kudumba challenged the faithful gathered for the jubilee to discern their vocation and to follow God’s will and not some human thinking. He called on all priests to have a synergetic relationship with God so that they fulfil the mission of their calling.
“The strength of a priest depends on his relationship with God, the priest must be close to the people he serves, he must be a minister of mercy, a model of integrity and a source of Blessing for his people. The priesthood of Bishop Muchabaiwa securely rested on these pillars thus he has reached so far,” said Fr. Kudumba. Fr. Kudumba wrapped up his sermon by noting that the journey of Bishop Muchaibawa was not yet complete as his last wish to become a Saint was still to be realized.
Speaking during the mass Archbishop Robert Ndlovu stated that Bishop Muchabaiwa`s service to God, the church and the diocese of Mutare has been exceptional. He described him as a voice of reason in the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop Conference and a man of prayer.
“Before making any decision during the Conference he would always invite us to pray about it”, said Archbishop Ndlovu
He further addressed the priests and religious congregated for the jubilee celebrations to be authentic followers of Christ, that is to let Christ lead them in their vocation and not entertain other spirits like (midzimu/amadlozi) which may hinder them from being truthful witnesses of the gospel.
The long years of service of Bishop Emeritus Muchabaiwa, reflect two very important aspects of the church`s mission, pastoral care and missionary activity, said Bishop Paul Horan of Mutare. He went on to pronounce Bishop Muchabaiwa as a people’s priest, and that pastoral care is the second nature to him. Bishop Paul Horan was grateful for the foundation and seed of faith which Bishop Muchabaiwa laid in the Diocese of Mutare.
Bishop Muchabaiwa in his speech noted that, the mission of preaching the gospel message has been his main preoccupation, whether in his preaching or in his pastoral work.
“I have always found that prayer is the most important element in my priesthood,” said Bishop Muchabaiwa stressing that whatever good he did in his priestly ministry was through prayer.
“I pray that I become a saint one day,” he said.
Pictures by Richard Mupindu