Last year, Mr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., shared with us his adventures as a seminarian working at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Ariz. Brian now is back at Moreau Seminary as the Dean of Seminarians, but thankfully we have another seminarian off on an even wilder adventure this year. Mr. Mark DeMott, C.S.C., who just completed his second year of temporary vows, is working in our District of East Africa, including teaching at Holy Cross Lake View Secondary School. To kick off his monthly spot for us, Mark shares with us the rewards of embracing the unexpected.
Mr. Mark DeMott, C.S.C. has the opportunity to spend his third year as a professed seminarian in Holy Cross’ District of East Africa. He serves on the faculty at Holy Cross Lake View Senior Secondary School in Wanyange — a village just a few kilometers east of Jinja, Uganda — and lives with the Holy Cross community at Dujarie House, the residence for Holy Cross religious who serve at the school. He will be a monthly blog contributor, sharing his experience of religious life, ministry and formation.
Holy Cross first came to Uganda in 1958, when Servant of God Bishop Vincent McCauley led a group of four religious to what is now the Diocese of Fort Portal in western Uganda. Today, Holy Cross’ District of East Africa is composed primarily of native African religious who serve in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania — ministering in parishes, teaching in schools and serving those most in need. The priests, brothers and sisters who have ministered here over the years have made significant contributions to the development of the Church in East Africa. And, Holy Cross has been changed as well.
I arrived in Uganda just in time to join the community in celebrating the final profession of vows of five men. One of them – Brother Patrick Tumwine, CSC – will be living and teaching with me at Holy Cross Lake View Senior Secondary School. The other four were ordained to the diaconate and will be serving in parishes throughout the District. Friends and family traveled to Kampala, Uganda from all over East Africa to join Holy Cross priests, seminarians, brothers and sisters in celebrating the witness of faith of these five men. The liturgy was beautiful – Mass was celebrated outdoors with plenty of open space for singing and dancing.
A traditional feast followed the Mass, complete with live music, more dancing and speeches. Totally African. Totally Holy Cross.
A few days before the celebrations, I traveled to Kampala with the five men who would profess their final vows. The six of us squeezed into a double cab Toyota pickup for the trip. Halfway there, the truck broke down. There was no complaining. We simply spread out a tarp under a tree and sat down to wait for a mechanic. As is so often the case, there is grace in embracing the unexpected. As we waited, we had the opportunity to share our experiences of Holy Cross. These men had come to the community for many of the same reasons that I did – a desire to share in our ministries, the family-like community that we share, the witness of our life of prayer, a passion for serving those most in need, a longing to dwell with God… They have asked some of the same questions that I have asked – questions about the vowed life, questions about the Church, questions about God… Sharing this time with them strengthened my sense of identity and belonging in Holy Cross. Eventually, the mechanic came, the truck was repaired, and we were on the way again. Together.