Among many such places we have here in Livingstone, in Zambia St. Francis Catholic Parish, where the Bible became a daily food for their parishioners. The Parish Priest of Dambwa Fr. Rajesh D’Souza was highly inspired by the same Words from the Gospel of St. John 1:1-14, which were always the inspiration to our founder, St. Arnold Janssen: “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God…..The Word became a human being and lived among us. We saw his glory..”. These words inspired the Founder to found the Congregation, which proclaims God’s Words to all nations over the world.
The charism of St. Arnold greatly inspired Fr. Rajesh to do the same in St. Francis Parish. His zeal for God’s Words has been transferred into the whole Parish. First he inspired the leaders of the SCC’s, who managed to organize SCC-ties for the same purpose. As the Parish, they wished to see the glory of God in His Words. All communities committed themselves to read one or two books from the Bible per month. Then at the end of each month they have Bible Quiz prepared by the Parish Priest with some symbolic prices. Each SCC must be composed of men, women and youth. The youth have a different questions from the adults. The answers are written and later checked by Parish Priest. At the beginning of each month the Father gives a general introduction to the book to be read by the community. Also different groups and organizations make greater use of the Bible during their weekly meetings. On the day of their meeting they prepare the liturgy and give the introduction to the readings. Sunday’ sharing of God’s Words in SCC-ties this time are well prepared by the leaders. There are many other programs, which are influenced by the regular reading and praying of the Bible.
This year 2019 the Community even decided to pray with the Bible together as a family from Monday to Friday. And these weekly readings are given to them on Sunday and explained to them, when they come for Mass on weekdays. They started this journey of God’s Words with the book of Psalms and would follow with the other books.
After more than one year of this Bible program in St. Francis Parish Fr. Rajesh realized lots of tremendous changings: the parishioners are more united in the Parish and in SCC-ties, Weekly and Sunday Masses are better attended, many members of the Parish very often talk about the Bible and share among themselves different readings, the parents and the youth come closer in their Church activities, various family problems are easier solved and generally there is more life in the Parish.
I am sure, that St. Francis Parish in Dambwa could inspire many other SVD parishes in Zambia and in the world. Each and every SVD Father and Brother is a great specialist in the Bible and may inspire many people to read and follow God’s Words.
Fr. Rajesh desires, that Fr. Arnold Janssen words: “May the Heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people” always remain alive.
Prepared by Fr. Rajesh D’Souza SVD and Fr. Romek Janowski SVD