An all-African community of Christian Brothers on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, ministers to people marginalized by HIV and AIDS. In renewing their annual vows this December, two of these brothers used words which, though partly derivative, reveal something of the spirituality they live. Listen first to Tanzanian Gerald Mgalula:
Glory to you, God our Creator, you who breathe into us new life, new meaning; to Christ, you who lead us in the way of peace and justice; to the Holy Spirit, you who transform us to empower others.
My vows invite me to stand on the side of the poor and to try to challenge the structures which keep people poor and oppressed. They call me to strive for the right relationship with God, people, and the cosmos. They encourage me to listen to God through the designated leaders about my way of life.
Here is the vow-text of Michael Mumba from Zambia:
In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Standing before you today in the midst of this community gathered here, I re-commit myself as a vowed member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers.
I am challenged to use my deep-felt emotions and pain to understand the deep suffering of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and to accompany them. All I can bring to this encounter is who I am, leaving myself open to engage with their pain and to let them know that I am suffering with them. Discernment has become my key to discovering God’s will and love for me in the events of my life.
Both brothers ended with versions of the standard formula-of-vows, along these lines:
You can read more about their experience in Orange Farm by reading Gerald Mgalula’s personal account ‘A Heart Open to AIDS victims’ which can be found by clicking RECENT RICE EXPRESS on the left.