Celebrating Mass in the Ngorongoro Crater

While traveling in Africa, Fr. Pat celebrated Mass on the hood of a Land Cruiser in one of the most life-abundant places on Earth — Ngorongoro Crater National Park. He was awestruck by the merging of faith and nature.

Video Transcript

Narrator: Meet Father Pat. He’s a Denver native and was ordained a Holy Cross priest in 2014. He’s traveling across Tanzania to visit various Holy Cross religious communities. He’ll encounter a variety of parishes along the way, but today, Father Pat gets to serve Mass in a more unique setting.

Father Pat Reidy: The closest I thought I’d get to this is an animated Disney movie.

Narrator: This is the Ngorongoro Crater. It’s names translates from the Maasai people as ‘gift of life,’ and it is alive and teeming with an array of wildlife and natural beauty. It even served as inspiration for The Lion King.

Fr. Pat Reidy: So I celebrated Mass in the middle of the Ngorongoro Crater. There aren’t many alters in the middle of the crater. We made do with the hood of our Land Cruiser, which was stupendous to begin with and as a tall person I appreciated the height.

To hear the words of Scripture, to hear the first reading was from Exodus, the giving of the Ten Commandments. The Gospel reading was about seeds being sown in different places. To pray the Eucharistic prayer, to look around and exchange peace in the midst of something so much bigger than me, it brought together for a rare moment in my priesthood the utter incomprehensibility of the Mass — the celebration of the Eucharist and the drawing together of heaven and earth, the bringing into Communion the whole Communion of Saints was utterly astounding, utterly astounding.

And I guess maybe because I grew up finding God in nature that, being amidst natural beauty is going to allow my wires to cross in such a way that that connection can be made.

To hear the words of Scripture and to pray the prayers looking out upon this awe inspiring creation is something else. And it was on the hood of a Land Cruiser, which is just ridiculous. Like who does that? It was so cool.

Fr. Pete McCormick: I’m guessing you are one of the few priests who can say that he celebrated Mass in that space as well.

Fr. Pat Reidy: Yeah.

Fr. Pete McCormick: That would be my guess.

Fr. Pat Reidy: That was different kind of consecration of space.

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