A New Heart Beat by Father Peter Paul Ssemakula

A New Heart Beat

Father Peter Paul Ssemakula’s reflections on his recent visit to Stouffville.

On March 2nd 2004, George Ssegawa and I flew back to Uganda, ending a three-week visit to Canada. It was an interchange between Bukoto Catholic Parish and Community Mennonite Church of Stouffville organized by Richard and Carolyn Reesor.

I found this trip to be a wonderful opportunity to live, discuss, pray, and share love and concerns between Catholics from Uganda and Mennonites in Canada. As part of this exchange, I delivered the sermon at two Mennonite congregations. I also attended a Mennonite retreat weekend. I was invited into many homes, enjoying the variety of foods offered and the fellowship that comes from eating a meal together.

This privilege to share God's love and learn from each other sent me back with a new heart- beat. I am sure it left the same behind, since already Pastor Alton, from Community Mennonite Church is making plans to visit St Jude Bukoto Catholic Parish in Masaka, Uganda, in August.

As believers, we need to reach out and experience the joy of befriending one another. Moreover, as the Bible indicates, we were created by the same God (Acts 17:26). Though our worship might be different and sometimes our emphasis on points differs, we all believe in ONE GOD. Secondly, JESUS is the key concept of our faith and thirdly LOVE, to God and one another, is the way of serving the one true God. It is always important to reflect on and strengthen what we have in common as human beings and as Christian believers and that promotes fellowship among us.

Though different in faith, when we form deep bonds of friendship and then work, reflect and live together, we discover that the usual tasks of life, e.g. raising children, love in the family, protecting our environment, living faithfully according to our deepest convictions, ensuring peace and justice and answering the needs of those who suffer illness, stress, poverty and disaster, confront us not just as individuals but together as a people of faith. Thus, our common faith causes us to react to situations and work together.

An example of this was the "Have a Heart for Uganda" music fundraising concert that was held in Stouffville on February 14th. At this concert, Bryan Suderman sang " My Voice Alone". This song suggests that when we join our voice with others, we can make a real difference in the world. When we come together as neighbours in this global village, our faith in God makes a greater influence on the world. The world today needs this strong heart-beat - religious harmonious co-existence that makes us all winners in the end.

I pray that each and all of us always remain as winners to the end, not for ourselves but for Christ.

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