A seminarian during his pastoral training at Zanaki Parish
in Musoma Diocese, Tanzania was told by the pastor: “Next Sunday, you will give
the sermon at the Parish Mass.”It was Mission Sunday! He worked hard all week
preparing his homily.
Sunday morning he stepped up to preach. Seeing the retired
President Julius Nyerere sitting in the front row a few steps in front of him,
he panicked. He forgot every word he prepared. He could hardly speak.
“Today is Mission Sunday!” he began. “When we think of missionaries we think
of Wazungu (Swahili for “foreign”) priests, but we are all missioners. Everyone,
every Catholic, must do something to spread his or her religion.” Trembling, he
made the Sign of the Cross and sat down.
Two months later a messenger arrived with an invitation from Nyerere to come
to dinner. Around the table with the retired president and his wife Maria were a
number of young children. “Jimmy!” Nyerere said, “You lead the prayer.” Little
Jimmy made the Sign of the Cross and said the prayer before meals in Swahili.
When Jimmy was finished, Nyerere turned to the seminarian
saying: “Frater! That is the result of your sermon. That Sunday I began to think
that I have not done much to teach my religion. These are some of my
grandchildren. I’m calling them here to teach them their prayers.”