Pastoral Letter to the Church of Kokstad Diocese
Theme: “May the Word of Christ dwell in you abundantly” (Col 3.16).
This theme will lead us on our journey of re-discovering of our identity as the Members of the Catholic Church and the members of the local parish communities, as we desire that the Word of God would enlighten us in our daily life.
The book of the Acts of the Apostles tells us about a man called Barnabas. He was not one of the twelve but the Church remembers him as an apostle. “He owned a piece of land he sold it and brought the money and presented it to the apostles” (Acts 4, 36). We might be surprised about this but the sharing of what each one had seems to have been common at the beginning of the Church. In fact we read: “The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common… None of their members was ever in want as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from the sale of them to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any who might be in need” (Acts 4:32.34).
No one was obliged to do it. In his second letter to the Corinthians Pauls says: “Each one should give as much as he has decided on his own initiative, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9, 7).
This sharing would provide for each other’s need, especially those of the poorest among them and for the needs of the Church. Paul writes to the Corinthians regarding the churches of Macedonia saying: “I can testify that it was of their own accord that they made their gift, which was not merely as far as their resources would allow, but well beyond their resources; and they had kept imploring us most insistently for the privilege of a share in the fellowship of service to God’s holy people…” (2 Cor 8, 5).
They were deeply generous and had great joy supporting financially each other and the apostles.
Already a year has passed when our beloved Father – Archbishop William Slattery was called to lead the Church of Pretoria and we wait for the new Shepherd to come to our diocese. We remember and are grateful for all the care and support the people of Kokstad Diocese have received from the generous hands of Archbishop Slattery – how he used all his connections, friends, family and organisations to support financially the poor, education of the young people, different training in skills, and the work of the Church in our Diocese – so that no one was thinking about the local contribution from Catholics from our parishes to the expenses of the diocese and parishes.
But now, he is gone and also all the resources for the support of the priests, buying and maintaining of the vehicles, payment of the insurance for the vehicles and buildings in the parishes, building of new churches, priests’ houses, education of our 12 seminarians, support for the pastoral work and formation of catechists, families, prison pastoral care, administration and so on.
So now it is time to renew of the spirit of the first Christians, whom we mentioned in the beginning of the letter, among the Christians of the Kokstad Diocese to live fully the Spirit of Jesus Christ who although was God, he humbled himself and became one of us in order to bring us salvation. This is the call for all Catholics of our Diocese of Kokstad to open wide your hearts to accept others and their needs as St Paul in the letter to Philippians said: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2. 4). It is the time to stand on our feet and walk without crutches making our parish communities and diocese self-supportive, not always begging for the money from the funders abroad. The Bishops of Southern Africa in the letter wrote: “Our parishes and dioceses in Southern Africa have to become financially self-supporting. This means we have to raise enough money in our own parishes and dioceses to keep the fire of God’s message and love burning in our midst. We need to raise enough money to allow the work of God to continue in our parishes and dioceses” (No 2).
How to do this? You can do this by making your gift of money an act of holy worship of God. How? When we give money for the parish car, buying food for the priests, for the education of seminarians or other needs of the diocese – we can make it a gift of thanksgiving to God. God has given us so many gifts, such as life and health; brothers and sisters, work and pension; Jesus and the Holy Spirit; Mary and the Saints; the Church, priests, Sisters, faith and joy in God – and many more.
Therefore, when we give money to the Church, we can pray: “Lord, you have given me everything. Take this money as a sign of gratitude and love for you”. In this way you make your money contributions an act of gratitude and holy worship, praising and thanking God for all the good things which he has given to you.
Your financial contributions to the needs and work of the Church of Kokstad Diocese could become your prayer and expression of your faith as it was for the first Christians who beside giving themselves to Lord gave also all they possessed trusting in God’s providence as it was also with the widow whom Jesus praised in the Gospel.
So I ask that:
v all parishes should establish working Parish Finance Committees with members who have expertise in financial matters and fundraising to look for the financial support for the parish and the diocese as well to manage the funds according to proper accounting practices. The financial committees should also send to the diocese every three months the financial report from the parish according to supplied forms. The parishes should send to the diocese 10% of their total income for the payment of the expenses of the insurance of parish churches and buildings, purchase of cars, priests’ stipends and formation, education of 12 seminarians, support of difference pastoral commissions, administration as well support for the bishop for whom we eagerly wait to come.
v It is essential that we commit ourselves faithfully with our pledges. You know that most of the Christian churches would ask for 10% of your income. Is your contribution at least 2% of your income? I ask you to remember Paul’s words: “Each one should give as much as he has decided on his own initiative, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. Commit yourself to your Church and do it with joy. Pledges should be renewed annually so as to keep up with inflation and make it a gift of thanksgiving to God.
v My special appeal is for a yearly once off contribution for the education of our 12 Seminarians who are the future priests of our Kokstad Dioceses. The funding from Franciscan Order overseas has finishes with the leaving of Archbishop Slattery and now there are no funds to pay for their education and formation in the seminary. The cost of education for one seminarian for one year is R55 000.00 and we have 13 of them. It makes R715 000.00 per year. There are no funds to pay for this year. If we will not get your support – the seminarians will have to come back home and wait until the Church of Kokstad will find funding for their education. So their future is in your hands!!!
I ask that every adult Catholic as well youth according to their possibilities give a gift of R100.00 for the education of our 12 Seminarians, although it is not restricted to this amount – we cannot limit the generosity of your heart. We need only 7150 committed Catholics from our Diocese to achieve this goal!
I would also invite each one of you to put your personal gifts at the service of the Church. It is quite common to see teachers teaching catechism. Could we apply this to other gifts we have received? There should not be any need in employing someone to fix our churches, the priests’ cars, cut the grass, visit the sick, look after orphans, clean the church… We have so many Catholics with such expertise that should be used for the building up of our Catholic Church. Would you…?
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is a very important time for our Diocese that is waiting for the new Bishop to come. What a welcome gift will you give? Would not be it your generous and loving of the Church heart that shares the responsibility of the supporting our own Catholic Church? I invite you all also to be grateful to God for his constant blessing upon us, to pray and reflect the Biblical texts I quoted above and to grow in love and support for our Church. May God’s Word dwell in us all abundantly.
Fraternally yours in Christ and Mary,
Kokstad, on 20th of February 2012
+ Stanislaw Dziuba, OSPPE
Diocese of Kokstad
Administrator’s Address: PO Box 332, Harding 4680. Phone: 039 4331421, Cell: 083 7062146
Fax: 086 5136280. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org