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30th March 2010

Greetings!

I hope this message finds you well as we are united in celebrating the Paschal Mystery during this Easter Triduum.

Last week was busy but informative. The three day Seminar ran from 8.30am to 4.00pm. Afterwards, I went to Hillside Golf Club each day for a forty minute brisk walk with one of my Irish confreres. It was good to see the grounds staff cutting the rough, shaving the greens and the tee boxes.The course should be in better condition for our next outing.The Club had borrowed or leased a stronger tractor to cut through the dense rough.While it was doing the job, it was also emitting a wave of black smoke. The Club’s own tractor, an old Ferguson 35( about thirty or forty years old )was not up to pulling the power driven cutter. As the rainy season comes to an end, this will be the last major grass cutting exercise at the Club.

The Seminar ended on Thursday at 4.00pm A committee of six was formed to produce a document on Child Protection before the end of May.I reluctantly allowed my name to go forward. It will mean a number of meetings to put shape on what we discussed and agreed.Fortunately, DOMCAP(Diocese of Mutare Catholic Aid Programme )will fund the project and provide secretarial services.

I received an email from the travel agents in Harare informing me of a change in my travel plans. Instead of flying out on the night of June 23rd, I will now fly out in the morning and arrive in Gatwick at 6.00pm, when Aer Lingus flights have gone. I will overnight in Gatwick. No big deal. Anything is better than passing through Johannesburg during the Soccer World Cup.

This is a beautiful time of the year in Zimbabwe as the temperature eases downwards to mid 20C(70F) during the day and about 8 or 10C at night. Limitless blue sky is the order of the day.

Africans love processions etc. Palm Sunday allows them to express themselves in movement and song. I was at Padua outstation 56km(35 miles) from Rusape. The faithful gathered under two huge trees, the school assembly area, where there were rows of small walls for seating. I did the blessing of the palms and a short homily. We processed about 200meters to the church, while the congregation waved their palms, sang and ululated. The passion was read by three young men. I had a story about a young French nobleman, from a background of privilege, Eugene de Mazenod, who entered a church in the south of France about two hundred years ago on Good Friday. He gazed on the crucifix and prayed. He was overcome by a realisation of God’s mercy and God’s special love for the poor. In the south of France, at that time, the people were poorly educated. They did not understand the language of the Church or the Government. Eugene decided to found an Order:The Oblates of Mary Immaculate to minister to the people in their own language, a hybrid French, a dialect disdained by the educated and upper classes.

I was on the road to Mutare on Sunday p.m. to play golf on Monday and to celebrate the Chrism Mass on Tuesday. For some months, I was driving off the tee far to the left, often into the rough or into the trees. I decided to have a lesson with the professional. He took me for a half hour on Monday at 10.00am. I had developed some bad habits, which may take some time to correct. The lesson was worthwhile.

It is 2.30pm on Tuesday 30th March. I have just returned to the Priory in Mutare from the Chrism mass at Danganbvura, a settlement area about ten km out of town.

The bishop spoke for forty six minutes!

I offered Mass for aunt Oliver Joseph and will offer Mass for Dad on Holy Thursday. Twenty five years have passed since his death.

Love and best wishes for a blessed Easter.