The Liturgy

Acolytes at the ordination danced and held the thurifer when it was not in use.

Albert Shuyaka’s ordination to the priesthood differed from the ordinations that I had witnessed at the Cathedral in Los Angeles.  First of all, the ordination wasn’t held in a Cathedral, but outdoors, in the Ekenyi District of Wembo-Nyama.  The LA ordinations did not include dancers, boys and girls, who moved rhythmically throughout the ceremony.  And most importantly, the ordination was celebrated in Otetela, the language of the Sankuru district.

Peter Nugent and the Tshumbe priests with the preferred means of transportation, the motorcycle.

It was the Roman Rite, regardless of the language, and many Tshumbe priests were there.  Even in Otetela I could follow the elements of the ordination ritual: the entrance procession, accompanied by drums; the liturgy of the Word and the bishop’s homily; the ordination itself, with the prostration, the imposition of hands, and the anointing; and the liturgy of the Eucharist.  Before the ceremony, the priests lined up for photos by a line of Yamaha motorcycles, all of them gifts from a US donor.

Albert Shuyaka prostrates himself before the altar in the ordination ritual.

Albert was beaming, of course, and Bishop Djomo was his usual dignified self.  I know that I had never seen an ordination outdoors, with so much singing and dancing, and I suspect that Peter Nugent hadn’t either.  Doubtless it was the same rite as we have at home — Bishop Djomo even recalled the time when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had visited Kinshasa to approve the Congolese liturgy.  But in Wembo-Nyama it was less Roman and more Tshumbean.  And utterly memorable.

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