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24th March 2011

Greetings from Rusape, where the temperature is 28C today!

I had an unusual experience on Tuesday last before returning to Rusape. The daughter of a former garage owner, where we had our trucks serviced, died at the age of 50. Fr. McGrath invited me to participate in the funeral service. A word commonly used here for any form of liturgy. The ceremony took place at the funeral home. I did a reading from Ecclesiasticus ?There is a time for everything? and a general prayer. The congregation, mostly white, were from the tobacco industry where Pam had an executive role in the export business of the industry. Fr. McGrath led the service with a few hymns and a homily. The ceremony reminded me of one I did in Fremantle for a drug addict , whose mother came from Mullingar. It was difficult to know if there was a faith community present. A kind of uneasy feeling.

On Wednesday, I drove to Harare hoping the join the Mashona Irish for a game of golf on St. Patrick?s Day. However my friends from NI informed me that the golf would not be played until Friday. My journey was not in vain as I collected altar breads from the Franciscan Sisters in Waterfalls, had afternoon tea with a Franciscan priest with whom I studied in Rome and exchanged the lap tops, I bought some months ago, for desk tops, which are more robust and better for training courses for youth. I played golf on my own at Windgate on Thursday morning, covering the first nine in just one hour. My second nine was slowed down by the presence of three ladies groups but I enjoyed the outing. I took three of the brethren to Da Eros for a leisurely nice Italian lunch to celebrate St. Patrick?s Day. I returned to Rusape in the late afternoon.

It was a great week for Irish sport. Irish horses winning six of the seven races on the opening day at Cheltenham and finishing the festival with thirteen winners. The best ever performance. News of President Obama?s visit to Ireland was announced at the White House. That with the Queen?s visit will make April/May special.

Ireland put in a brilliant performance against England in the Six Nations Rugby game at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, beating them 24-8. The score could have been higher. There were twenty thousand Brits present, hoping to win the Grand Slam. That is all six games in the championship. Ireland subdued them with full blooded opposition. No rendering of ?Swing low sweet chariot?. I stayed up late on Saturday night to watch France beat Wales.

The St. Josephs men?s confraternity(123) met at the weekend for their annual retreat. They come in from all the outstations. I gave some of them a lift on Sunday on my way to St. Bernard?s, where I visited Ambrose, celebrated the sacraments with him and gave him his supply of groceries. He seemed a bit subdued.

North Africa/Middle East is like a cauldron, ready to explode. I fear that Gadaffi will not go easily and that it may be a long haul for the coalition partners. ZANU PF held a large gathering in Mutare last Saturday, opposing the sanctions. No danger of a popular uprising here. Older people have too many memories of the brutality of the Liberation War.

Younger people experienced the beatings during the 2002 and 2008 election campaigns.

I enclose a copy of the talk given by the AB of San Francisco re: the new missal. It is quite good.

Mum?s anniversary is at the weekend.

Love and best wishes.


NB an excerpt from cousin Sue?s letter on St. Patrick?s Day in San Franccisco..

We had a nice St. Patrick’s day at school. Our Irish cafeteria cook (the one that grew up in Mt. Argus parish, Dublin) made shepherd’s pie, colcannon, and scones for the faculty for lunch. We usually just bring food in a bag for school, so it was a very nice treat. The kids got their green jello and were also very happy. We had Friday off school, a kind of unexpected holiday due to some kind of glitch in the calendar the Archdiocese made for the schools last year. We all had one too many days so they gave us Friday off. It was such a treat to have that day. March is the only month of the year that has no three-day weekend holiday. Anyway, despite the horrific rain on Friday (there was even a tornado warning for San Francisco!) I went to see Kit(the last surving first cousin of my late father) and took her to lunch. She was as usual, bright and cheerful and completely lucid. She even insisted on driving(95 year old) in the horrible rain! She ate a good lunch, but told me she didn’t want to eat too much since she would be going out to dinner that night with a neighbor. She told me you sent her a long email and that she had not gotten through it all yet. She continues to be unbelievable.