WE ARE THE 'CHURCH'

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Sunday, 14th October, was the feast day of the St. Edward’s catholic community, Rokel, Archdiocese of Freetown, Sierra Leone. In the presence of the archbishop of Freetown, Edward Tamba Charles, the community celebrated its patron saint, Edward the Confessor of the faith. Established in 2008, the Rokel catholic community has been for a long time a ‘mobile community’; from a mango tree to different family houses and later in the community centre. Finally, the community managed to acquire a piece of land and started to build.

It was in an unfinished building that this year 2018 we celebrated the 10th Thanksgiving Mass Anniversary. Being a ‘mobile community’ obliges the community members to set as first priority the raising of funds in order to bring to an end the completion of the church. Therefore, every anniversary Mass, which in Freetown is called “Community Thanksgiving Mass”, has always been an opportunity for fund raising. Following the example of many parishes and communities, the celebration of the Eucharist was used to sell sweets, to organize games such as ‘pin your best friend’, to invite people to make pledges…Despite of all these fund raising activities, the church building remains still unfinished. For the feast day of this year, we decided to change the cap and to focus on the fact that we are the church: the community gathered by the Lord to worship him and to love one another as children of the same family, according to the Gospel. In fact, during the preparation of the feast day, we discovered that we were offending the sacredness of the liturgy by using the Mass as a fund raising event. Again, as a community we have been worried with too many things when celebrating our thanksgiving mass, to the point of forgetting what really matters for a Christian community. And for ourselves, what we set as first priority during the anniversary Mass of this year was to thank the Lord for the gift of community and God’s blessings upon us. Indeed, since 2008 God has made us a community of people from different tribes, nations and cultures. The members of our community come from all corners of Sierra Leone. We have some members from Nigeria…and even some from Congo. As a community, we have also grown in number. From around 15 members at the beginning, we are today more than 300 members. In a country where Muslims are almost 80% of the population, reaching this number in 10 years is a real success story. Being a diverse growing community, is it not God’s gift and blessing? Surely it is! Therefore, our feast day this year has been a real Thanksgiving Mass. We thanked the Lord for bringing us together to listen to his word and to share his body and his blood. We thanked him for the support that the poor, the sick and the aged people receive from different members of our community. We thanked him for the reconciliation and forgiveness he made possible within some families of our community. We thanked him for the promotion of 7 members of the community in their different public offices. As for our ongoing building project, we thanked the Lord for the financial support we have received from some generous members of our community, from the Missionary Pontifical Society through the office of the archbishop, from the Xaverian region of Sierra Leone and from the USA Xaverian province…We are sure that his providence will continue to assist us so as to get a decent "house" where to worship Him. All these facts and others, known to God alone, were good reasons for which we must continue to be grateful to God our Father who sent his only Son for us, out of love. Who continues to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit on our Rokel Community so, like Saint Edward the Confessor, we may serve to strengthen the kingdom of God through patient prayer and charity. Started at 10 :00 A.M. with the celebration of the Eucharist, our thanskingving celebration ended around 5pm with a shared meal and dancing accompanied by joyful African music  the ‘church’