IN THIS ISSUE
In our July/August 2005 issue Oblates, we featured an article on Musonda, a young man from Zambia wanted to become an Oblate. Last Sydney entered the Oblate Novitiate Godfrey, Illinois. Now, a year and later, his journey continues.
“I am like Peter, I’m following his footsteps,” grinned Bro. Sydney Musonda, his exuberant smile up his face as he proudly showed his fishing pole.
“Well, he is getting better. He’s learning to be a fisherman,” laughed Fr.Walter Butor,O.M.I. The two stand outside the Oblate residence in Sisseton, South Dakota, preparing for a morning on a nearby lake.
Not only is Bro. Sydney becoming a fisherman, he is also learning to be a “fisher of men.”
Sydney is a native of Zambia, a
country in southern Africa where the
His time in Sisseton was one of personal growth for Sydney. “At school I’ve grown in my love for the Church and for the Oblates,” he explained. “Still, you can have your Ph.D., but when you work with the people, you realize you still have much to learn. That’s when real learning begins.”
Sydney’s learning began the moment he stepped off the plane in South Dakota. “He said to me, ‘Oh, everything is so green,’ ” Fr. Norm Volk,O.M.I., recounted with a smile. “We were passing all the farmland and he just stared at the rows of wheat and corn. He’s accustomed to all of the dusty brown in Zambia.”
With help from Fr. Butor and Fr. Volk, Sydney’s education continued to grow. Both priests work closely with the people of Sisseton, many of whom have Native American heritage, so Sydney immersed himself in the native culture.
“I can identify with many of the people here. I know what it’s like to try and combine your culture and tradition with Catholicism,” Sydney shared.
Sydney’s understanding and compassion have touched many of the people in Sisseton. At a visit to the Tekakwitha Living Center, Sydney greeted each elderly resident by name and gave a hug or said a prayer with them, even though some were too ill to respond.
When asked how he learned to be so open and attuned to people, Sydney attributes his abilities to the Oblates’ influential guidance and Christ’s loving words.
“The Oblates have built a community here,” Sydney stated. “They share a life with the people. When someone’s laughing, they’re laughing. When someone’s mourning, they’re mourning.”
Sydney’s journey did not stop in Sisseton. In August he returned to school in San Antonio, and once he finishes his degree he will travel back home to Zambia to take his final vows. Meanwhile, he is still following in Peter’s footsteps. “Every day I learn more about myself. I’m so blessed to share my life with so many people. Sometimes I worry about the future, but then I pray and find hope and see the finger of God touching everything.”