Dec. 4-10, 2003
We Are All One
By Kristen Fox / SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Chuck Wainwright
African Mass gives a glimpse of culture priests bring to the diocese
A Solemnity of Christ the King African Mass was celebrated on Nov. 23 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Syracuse. Father Edward Owusu Ansah, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Endicott, was the main celebrant. He was joined by other priests from the Syracuse Diocese including Father Robert Chryst, administrator of St. Anthony’s Church, as well as priests from Nigeria and Sudan. Students from Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School’s Choir and Liturgical Dance Group and the Sudanese Choir, a group of men from Sudan, a country in Northern Africa, enhanced the liturgy through song and dance. A dinner at Paduan Hall followed the Mass. The annual African Mass was a celebration of diversity and African heritage. The Sudanese Choir sang in Swahili. Readings were done in the native languages of Ghana and Nigeria. Though different cultures were represented at the Mass, there was one common thread shared in the celebration, said Father Charles Opondo-Owora, pastoral vicar at St. Ambrose Church in Endicott.
“We might be from different continents, but we are all one Christian community,” he said. “The readings today that we said in African languages are the same readings that are found in missals throughout the world. The word of God is proclaimed in all languages.” During the homily, Father Opondo-Owora talked about the feast of Christ the King. “Pilate did not understand how Christ could be a king. He was not what he thought a king should look like,” said Father Opondo-Owora. “But Christ’s kingdom was not founded on power, glory and triumph. He is the king of love, justice and peace. Christ’s kingdom is internal.”
The celebration reminds Christians that Christ is “the way, the truth and the life,” remarked Father Opondo-Owora. “Christians can say, ‘We are citizens of the kingdom of God.’ This can be traced back to the sacrament of baptism. Christ was anointed as priest, prophet and king and we are anointed in his likeness. Claim your right to be citizens of His kingdom,” Father Opondo-Owora said. Father Opondo-Owora also extended gratitude to Bishop James Moynihan for his support. Mary Phillips attended the Mass. She said that she participates in the Mass annually as a way to appreciate diversity and celebrate her African-American heritage. She enjoyed hearing the readings and the Prayers of the Faithful in the languages of various African countries.
Phillips said that the people should embrace different ethnicities and cultures. “Today’s Gospel told us that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Even though we are different, we are all one. We need to respect and love one another,” Phillips said. “I hope to come again next year,” she added. Just as the Mass was a celebration of diversity, each person has different talents to contribute to Christ’s kingdom, explained Father Opondo-Owora. “Celebrate the gifts that God has given to each of you and love each other,” he said. “As you do this, new relationships will be established among people and nations.”