By Quegas Mutale
The Catholic Young Adults from Hwange Diocese made a pilgrimage to Mutoko where they visited the popular Mtemwa Shrine and the Leprosy Centre from 25 to 29 October 2023. The pilgrimage was meant to nurture spiritual growth of young people who wanted to pray on top of Mt. Chigona and to trace the life of the friend of lepers, John Bradburne.
Mtemwa is a pilgrim place where John Bradburne lived among lepers and helped to transform their situation. It is at this place that Catholics and non-Catholics flock to offer prayers and supplications through the servant of God.
Fr. Salicio Mukuwe welcomed the young adults before narrating how Bradburne lived a life of faith, love, peace and touched many people through his way of life.
“I am glad to receive you here on this pilgrimage. John Bradburne had love for the lepers. He came to live among the lepers here and to give them hope. That is why they are still here to give testimony to the work that John did. We want to rekindle that fire. John Bradburne helped people to accept their condition. It is good for one to accept reality,” Fr. Mukuwe said.
Fr. Jean Claude Hakizuwera OFM, the Chaplain of the Catholic Leprosy and Care Centre appreciated the young adults from Hwange for making it to a life changing pilgrimage. He stated that people go to Mtemwa for God to give them the gift of faith.
Fr. Mukuwe stressed that; “You left you’re the comfort of your homes to come and meet God at this place. Take this opportunity to experience God’s love in your life and share the experience with others.”
He said that Bradburne arrived in Mtemwa when people were dying of leprosy and through divine providence, he restored hope and life. Fr. Mukuwe said that taking care of the sick is not easy and requires commitment like what Bradburne did.
“Now you are here to rejuvenate yourselves. We are here in the spirit of Bradburne. John took the sick to the tin house. what about you? Ask yourself, why am I here? why did I travel to Mutoko? If John managed it, why not me?,” Fr. Mukuwe asked.
Fr. Mukuwe asked the young adults to reflect on how they live their life in church and community and encouraged them to remain focused.
“Time comes when family will fall apart, families will fight. Men you are here to pray for your families. Let’s pray to God that our families stand strong. Let the will of God be done in our lives,” he said.
Fr. Hakizuwera stressed on the importance of proper formation of children in the family while he advised young couples to use dialogue as a way of solving problems than engaging in domestic violence.
“We have come here at Mtemwa to pray for love. When you get there at the mountain pray for love. Let’s love one another. God is love. If you love one another, life will be good. Wake up and work for your family, and then help the church. If the family has no unity or peace there will be no unity or peace in church.
The pilgrims then made pastoral visits to the Mother of Peace Children’s Home, All Souls (Mutoko) Children’s Home, the Leprosy Centre and clinic amongst other places where they interacted with the community.