As the Cameroonian dancers, wrapped in blue and white African garb, swayed down the middle aisle at our traditional church, parishioners’ eyes widened in awe. Subtle rhythm from a simple instrument, coupled with the briefest of chants, accompanied the slow-moving dancers. The women’s steps were paced; hip and shoulders moving slightly, as they swished toward the altar – paradoxical to our more established service.
This festive and memorable occasion honored the first Mass said by a newly ordained priest, who hails from Cameroon. We parishioners had expected African embellishments during the celebration, but were amazed by the up-close-and-personal!
The priest’s family from Cameroon was honored; visitors’ elaborate African dress dotted the congregation; accolades and applause abounded; eyes blurred with tears. It was glorious! And it brought back memories of elementary school and of the Benedictine nuns. Our nuns taught that in prayer, “we walk to God” but “in song- we run.” Sashay down the aisle to snappy rhythms and you’ll wake up the most lethargic congregant. I’m equally sure it’s a good way to get God’s attention.by