Africa: The Church welcomes fifty-two new acolytes and readers

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By Honoré Onana Olah, SJ

Receiving ministries is not just an increase in another rank on the shoulder, rather it is a call to service of the people of God.” These are the words pronounced by Fr. Joseph Oduor Afulo, SJ, Provincial of Eastern Africa (AOR) last Saturday, at the chapel of Hekima university College (Nairobi-Kenya), when he instituted acolytes and lectors (readers) in the Church, fifty-two (52) young men.

New Acolytes Hekima 2018
New Acolytes Hekima 2018

On the occasion of the celebration of Blessed Rupert Mayer, SJ, Fr. Joseph Oduor Afulo, SJ, Provincial of Eastern Africa (AOR) instituted this November 03, 2018, during a Mass, several readers (33) and acolytes (29). More than fifteen priest concelebrated during that Mass including Fr. José Minaku, SJ, Provincial of Central Africa (ACE), Fr. Johny Thachuparamban, CMI, Regional Superior of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate in Kenya, and Fr. Deogratias, Rwezaura, SJ, Rector of the Jesuit Community of Hekima College; two deacons: Francis Wambua SJ, and Osarodion Iriabe, SJ.

What is the role of an acolyte and a reader?

New Lectors Hekima 2018
New Lectors Hekima 2018

Before conferring the ministries of reader and acolyte, Fr. Joseph Afulo, during his homily, recalled their different roles in the Church. Indeed, “The acolytes are extra-ordinary ministers, basically official mass servers, for distribution of communion.  Guided  by  the  regulations  of  the  local  church,  they  can  expose  the  Blessed Sacrament but they are not allowed to bless people with it (Can. 943).” Concerning the readers or lectors, they “are proclaimers of the Word of God in an assembly” and they are invited to proclaim it with “clarity and confidence.”

Les jésuites de la PAO: Amegble, Taroh, Koffi, et Loua
Jesuits from AOC province : Amegble, Taroh, Koffi and Loua

The Provincial of the Jesuits from Eastern Africa invited also the candidates to live in greater humility in the service. Indeed, « serving in these offices therefore demands humility, dedication, patience and tolerance. It requires that we are good listeners especially of our brothers and sisters who are vulnerable, poor and oppressed.” Quoting Pope Francis, he added: “one can observe in many agents of evangelization, even though they pray, a heightened individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour. These are three evils which fuel one another” (EG 78).

Ministeria Quaedam establishes the lay ministries of lector and acolyte

It should be noted that it was through a Motu Proprio” “Ministeria Quaedam of Pope Paul VI of August 15, 1972, which decided to institute the ministries of lector and acolyte. « Traditionally, the  ministries  were  called  minor  orders  which  included  Cantor,  Tomb  digger, Acolyte, Exorcist, doorkeeper and reader”. Any lay person can receive those ministries.

Recall that the 52 readers and acolytes are coming from different religious congregations. Before this Mass of ministries, the various candidates prepared themselves spiritually for this event through a weekend of prayer. The celebration ended with fraternal agapes.

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