I Will Never Forget My Silver Jubilee
By: Fr. Ernesto Amigleo,CICM
And to show the beautiful simplicity of our people here, I received from them a present which was a bouquet of plastic flowers with a note in English: Happy Wedding Anniversary!
Remote Mountain Village
Three times I celebrated my priestly Silver Jubilee. The third celebration was held in a very remote mountain village, also part of the parish. When people heard I was going to their village they got all excited and without my knowledge they planned something for my visit. I though I would just go there to celebrate the Eucharist with them, but it turned out to be more than that.
Upon my arrival, a woman in her native costume came forward to put around my neck a garland and a small native bag, called noken. Meanwhile, all the village people were watching the scene. And then, the leader asked me to sit on the Bamboo seat they made and tying two poles on either side of the set they carried me around their village while they sang and shouted with glee.
Still carrying me like king, we crossed two rivers and at the other side of the second river a group of musicians and of “warriors” with painted faces and their bodies decorated with palm leaves and carrying bows and arrows, greeted me with local music coupled with shouting and singing. A lot of naked children came along and joined the fun. Some dogs too followed. Yes, they are also part of the celebration!
Songs By Heart
Finally we reached the chapel, but before we entered it they brought me around their village. After that, we prepared for the Mass attended by all the villagers. I was struck mostly by little kids, some naked, who sang Christmas songs without text. They know them by heart. There were also some old folks, their faces already wrinkled and toothless who where present for the Mass.
After the Mass, I was invited to their small village hall where a reception was held. The tribal chiefs were present, including the musicians and the “warriors “and also a lot of children and mothers flocked around. Before the eating part, several village leaders came forward to deliver their extemporaneous speeches.
Develop Positive Cultural Values
Finally, they called on me to say something. It was an opportunity for me to thanked them most heartily and also to express my sincere admiration for their great hospitality. I stressed also some of the positive values in their customs which ought to be upheld and develop to the full, while admonishing them at the same time to do away with the negative aspects of their custom like drinking and social taboos which keep them from advancing.
Carried Like a King
I told them also that I never in the last fifty one years of my life was carried like a king or a Bishop or a Pope. They were amused. Then, the master of ceremonies called on a pastoral worker to start the grace before meals, after which we all took part in the “banquet”.
Time To Go
After about an hour and a half, the weather changed, the clouds became heavier, which signaled us to be ready to go back home. It is a sign that it would rain. And so, with out much ado, they carried me again, crossing two rivers, and finally we reached the place where the jeep was waiting to bring me back to the low lands.
It was a very nice and memorable experience to have celebrated my Priestly Silver Jubilee in the midst of the people whom I served.