Elias Gweme CSsR - sharing his Journey.Source
It all started in the late '80s when I used to sit with my brother in our spare bedroom scrutinizing this strange picture of a woman. What struck us so much were the eyes. No matter how we would try to hide, we would feel that she was staring at us and indeed, she always was. Some priests had given my mother two pictures of this woman many years before. As a family, we would always have our night prayers together but on busy days the girls would pray in their room, mum and dad in their bedroom, and we, the boys, in our bedroom. My brother and I would look forward to these days, but the problem was the woman on the other side of the room. We knew those eyes would look at us until we had said our night prayers, so we would take the picture, put it under the bed and go to sleep.
However, the biggest suprise of all came at the end of 1997. After I got to know the Redemptorists through the Catholic Church News and from some friends, I came to a 'come and see' experience, a vocations workshop with the Redemptorists. I was given a nice room, and when I looked around it, there was that woman again, this time she had a bigger shinier picture. I looked at her with utter amazement, so much so that the Brother who was looking after me noticed and said 'this is the icon of our most blessed mother, Our Lady of Perpetual Help'.
He explained many other things which I did not take in at the time because I was already trying to connect my own mother with the Redemptorists. Late that night as I was lying on the bed looking at what I now knew to be the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I felt this was my home and I said here I could stay. The following year I was welcomed by the Redemptorist community as a postulant together with Br. Mark Chandavengerwa and others.
Ever since, I have continued to grow both physically and spiritually. After a year of Catechesis and Christian Ethics at Wdzanai Catechetical Centre, I started my philosophy studies in the year 2000 at Arrupe College and completed them in 2002. I was then a novice in South Africa under the 'close watch' of Fr. Andrew Burns CSsR. After the celebration of my first vows, I started theological studies as one of the pioneers at Holy Trinity College. Over those years of study, I have had a chance to visit the province and participated in the 2007 spirituality course in Italy. This served as preparation for my final vows and diaconate, which we celebrated on the 19th and 20th of April 2008.'A Religious vocation is a gift freely given and freely recieved.'
On Profession day, Fr. Richard Reid CSsR was the preacher. Soon after the ceremony my sister said;"so they send you people to Rome to learn how to preach?". I said;"no it's done here in Tafara". I don't think she believed me! I wish to say thanks to the brothers here in the region and throughout the whole province for their support.
Special thanks to Fr. Ronnie the Provincial and to Archbishop Ndlovu who graced our celebrations. God has and will continue to answer our prayers.
Now my mother remembers two priests whom she helped when they were preaching in her home parish. She cannot remember their names but she said they were nice people and at the week of preaching, they gave her two icons of Our Lady of Perpetual Help'You are at the great crossroads of your lives, and you must decide.'