FROM AFRICA TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
by Father Dismas Bahati Rwitare, CRM
“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you'”. (Gen. 12: 1)
These are the words that were always present in my heart during the procedure for obtaining the visa for the USA, until I was notified to be assigned to the new mission in the United in a town called Sumter in South Carolina. In my journal, January 26, 2017, is the day marked as my departure from Goma to Kigali (Rwanda) to catch your flight to your set destination. I was accompanied to the airport by my fellow adorno priests Fr. Donatus Kasereka, Fr. Laurianus Banyunzukwabo, and Coadjutor Brother Basil Mulimbwa. I was comforted by their presence and gave me some advices for the long journey. I never flew before. The farewell was moving but I was comforted by the many prayers assured to me by my brothers.
From Kigali I arrived in Brussels at 6 the next morning after a 9 hour flight. An interesting journey, but in my mind many questions circulating about the place where I was going and if I would make it to enter into a new world so different from mine. In addition, the airport with with all its greatness was for me a mess and a maze. I have finally arrived in the United States, at Newark Airport in New Jersey after another 9-hour flight. It ‘was a memorable day. It was winter and cold, weather that I never experienced efore in my life. I thanked God for protecting me during the trip.
There are no words in the depths of my soul to describe the feelings of a good life experience. With great joy I was able to meet for the first time the superior of the US-Philippines Delegation Fr. Teodoro Kalaw who came to welcome me along with brother John Bert Lolo. I felt better after having met them. What a joy to have met them! I felt at home.
They took me into the nearest CRM Community, that of Ramsey, New Jersey where I stayed for a few days before leaving for South Carolina where I was assigned. Arrived at our Community of Goose Creek there are three days left to regularize my presence in the Diocese of Charleston. The bishop of Charleston, Bp. Robert Guglielmone, has officially accepted me in his diocese. Then from the CRM community of Goosecreek, I was accompanied to Sumter, my final destination. In particular, in the parish of St. Anne and St. Jude where my brothers Fr. Franco Palmieri, parish priest, and Fr. Noly Berjuega greeted me with a warm hug.
A long and interesting journey, new people but friendly and kind: a wonderful world I have experienced so far. What I immediately noticed is being greeted with a smile and with the word “hi” (hello), with wishes for a good day, with questions about my joy of being in the US and especially the difference in style of life between my new place and Africa.
I was comforted by the friendly atmosphere created by many brothers and sisters that with this sharing of kindness are not too different from those that I have left in Africa. However, I can not compare the lifestyle, the culture, the food, the infrastructure of America with those of Africa.
The Parishioners were happy that I was finally here after a long wait. The good thing is that now our CRM community in Sumter has become “international”. There are three brother priests from three different continents: Europe Fr. Franco, Fr. Noly, from Asia and I from Africa. What a beautiful community: so is also described by our parishioners. I felt happy and I’m slowly adapting to the new way of life and apostolate.
Our parish is made up of a community with two nearby churches among them that of St. Anne and St. Jude. Daily Masses, two Sunday Masses and Saturday confessions are made in both churches. There are other liturgical celebrations like the Adoration on Tuesday in rotation between the two churches, visiting the sick, pastoral care for young people, Bible study for adults, the Movement of the “Cursillo”, the ministry to prisoners, etc.
I conclude this article with a “Thank you” to the Superior General Fr. Raffaele Mandolesi and its General Council for choosing me for this new mission. Thanks to Fr. Faustino Kambale, the Managing CRM for Africa for having helped so much in the lengthy procedures for obtaining visa. I cannot forget the Aimable and Josaphat Fathers for their help, and all my colleagues in Africa with whom we promised each other’s prayers.
Special greetings to the Bishop of Charleston Bp. Robert Guglielmone who welcomed me with joy, the parishioners of St. Anne and St. Jude and to my community of Sumter.
We offer mutual prayers so that the Lord ill continue to bless and increase the number of Clerics Regular Minor to serve well our brothers and sisters throughout the world.