One of our Gappers, Sarah, tells us of her experience at Mass in Kenema, Sierra Leone
On the morning of Sunday 10th March we visited Holy Spirit Church, Kenema, to join with the community in celebration of Sunday Eucharist.
We arrived, early this time, for mass at around 9:20. People were already beginning to gather outside the church in their ‘Sunday best’. The most fabulous array of colours and fabrics were represented. Dominic, Thomas and Crispin (members of the Diocesan youth) who we had met in the week, were there to greet us.
The church was beautiful. Depictions of best loved bible stories were painted directly on to the walls in vivid colour, as were the Stations of the Cross. Providing a backdrop to the sanctuary was an image of Pentecost, a commemoration of the story behind the name ‘Holy Spirit Church’.
Each portrayal embraced African culture pertinently, from the characters to the landscapes.
Similar art decorated the walls of St Pauls Cathedral. The artist, we were informed, came from Freetown.
What struck us during the minutes leading up to Mass, were just how many people we have come into contact with during our time in Kenema thus far. So many familiar faces were present at the Church and so many welcomed us like old friends. We were ushered to the front row seats and it soon became clear that we would not be getting out of the CAFOD side of the work, even at Mass!
It had been arranged that we would introduce ourselves to the Parish… a daunting prospect!
As Mass began, we were soon put at ease and made to feel more than at home by the beautiful and warm sound of the Choir, who were made up of members of the community and many youth. Singing in Mende, the Choir, led by a male and female vocalist, brought the liturgy to life with soul and passion. It was wonderful to simply sit back and be overwhelmed by the sounds of voices and the uplifting beat of the African drums.
Even the Clergy (made up of Fr James Jamiru, Fr Michael Lamboi and a Seminarian named Laurence) couldn’t contain the zest they had for faith and music as they danced their way to the sanctuary. Mass lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes… but there we’re no complaints, only prayer, liturgy, singing and at times laughter. At the offertory a new born baby, and member of the community, was welcomed into the Church and raised before the Altar. It was, all together, a fantastic and spiritually enriching, experience. The Choir even allowed us to record some of the music to share with you all when we return home. We thank all at Holy Spirit Church for making us so welcome. God bless.
Sarah, Team Kenema