A Botswana ordination

Today Sefularo Mogopodi is ordained a priest.

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross here in Gaborone is packed, not least with clergy at the benches ringing the wall at the altar. Mongezi Guma, the former cathedral dean, has traveled up from Johannesburg, and Benjamin Moleko, the former diocesan secretary, from Pretoria. Nick Darby, another former dean, is visiting from the Diocese of Newcastle, in England. And many clergy, familiar faces, from within Botswana join them.

Fr. Sefularo is a Motswana, thus adding to the very short list of priests from Botswana itself. He finished his studies at the College of the Transfiguration in South Africa a year ago. And he is young. His wife is invited forward toward the end of the service, carrying with her their baby girl. The infant is wearing a lacy white dress, and has a small band of white cloth wrapped around her head. She stares out at the congregation with interest, no doubt wondering what this is all about.

Bishop Trevor presides. He is busy preparing to leave Botswana in slightly over a month. This is his last ordination.

‘You stand here today as God’s dear child,’ he begins his charge to Fr. Sefularo. I especially like the words that come later: ‘Remember your own frailty.’ Perhaps that comes after nearly 25 years in the priesthood and 70 years of life.

It is a glorious celebratory service. True, it lasts a bit over three hours, and some of my African friends complain about it. But still….

I wish this young man well. And when he gathers years from now to reaffirm his ordination vows – as we do each year during Holy Week – I hope he will say with as strong a voice as he uses today: ‘I do.’