By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Mr. and Mrs. Mekani received a certificate of recognition and a blessing from Pope Francis for celebrating their 25 years wedding anniversary when 130 couples renewed their marriage vows at St. Peter Canisius on 16 December just before the 2018 Christmas.
Among the group were young and old couples with Mr. Maxmore and Mrs. Theresa Savanhu celebrating 59 years of love. It was a memorable day for most couples who could not hide their joy for enduring trials and tribulations of their vocation.
This was in line with Pope Francis’ theme for the 9th World Meeting of Families held in Dublin, Ireland dubbed, “The Gospel of the Family: Joy of the World.”
The renewal which was graced by Monsignor Gabriele Pesce, Apostolic charge d’af.faires at the nunciature was preceded by the parish’s mission and preaching week covering all sections of St. Canisius.
The event challenged young couples and the youth to reflect on the importance of being faithful in a relationship. Most of the young people questioned if they would actually manage to stay put when the going gets tough, especially in an economically volatile environment. But the answer for the senior couples was faith in God, respect of each other, fidelity and trust. These kept them glued together amid challenges of raising a family.
According to the Parish Priest for St. Peter Canisius, Fr. Claud Maganga, the theme of the Holy Father laid the foundation for the renewal and reunion of families in his parish.
“The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World” was the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 9th World Meeting of Families which was held in Dublin-Ireland. The theme guided the programme for our Mission and preaching week which culminated in the awaited mass for the renewal of marriage vows. The theme is drawn from the two Apostolic Exhortations of Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) published in November 2013 and Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) published in April 2016,” stated Fr. Maganga.
Fr. Maganga said, Amoris Laetitia is the fruit of a reflection process led by Pope Francis on the situation of families in today’s world. To support the Pope’s initiative, St. Canisius held a mission week followed by the preaching week on the situation of families and how to respond to the challenges facing family life today.
Pope Francis considers the family as central in the life of the Church. The family plays a pivotal role in the transmission and nourishment of faith at all levels.
The mission and preaching weeks were characterised by family visits, preaching and discussions on issues affecting the family.
He said: “We spent the whole mission week visiting the families and praying together with them. This was the time to meet couples in their homes and revive family life amidst today’s challenges. The second week from 9-13 December was the preaching week where all people were invited to gather in Church for talks. The program was starting with daily mass followed by personal prayer and adoration. Confessions were being heard daily as well from 1600hrs to 1800hrs.”
Some of the topics covered during the preaching week include; Breaking the silence on dealing with domestic violence, The family as an agent of peace in a turbulent world, The hidden treasure: The theology of the body of St. John Paul II, Choose Life: Pope Francis on the throw away culture and Turning technology for the greater good: faith, family and technology.
16 December was the climax that brought all families together in the celebration of mass and the renewal of marriage of the 130 couples under St. Peter Canisius.