MARIA TELGTE PILGRIMAGE 2017

THEME: “MARY, FAITHFUL MOTHER HELP US TO PUT OUR FAITH IN ACTION”

Each year the Diocese of Kokstad organizes a pilgrimage in Maria Telgte. This year, the weather condition was not suitable to begin the prayer at the right time. The rain started early before noon. This situation never stopped people to come in numbers for prayer as they usually have been done previously.

The service started at 13h.00 pm in the afternoon despite the weather condition. Bro P. Mbhata who opened the prayer service with a penitential service invited people to meet with Jesus at the confessional by encouraging them how it is important for one to open his/her heart to Jesus so as to receive forgiveness and healing. The penitential service ended with the prayer of the Rosary with meditation on the seven sorrows of Mary. This was followed by a healing Mass led by Frs T. Letsolha and M. Jakuja. The Evening Mass started at 19h.00 pm led by Rt Rev Bishop Thadeus Khumalo of Eshowe Diocese followed by many other spiritual activities which were finalized by the Sunday morning Mass that took place at 4h.00 Am.

In his Homily, at the Evening, the Bishop invited all the faithful to be like Mary the Mother of God who said: “…I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done according to your will.” Luke 1:38. He stated that Christian faithful should be also like Mary. They should let the will of God be done in their lives and not their own will. He invited the people to often be patient and not in a hurry while dealing with certain issues in their lives. They should have their minds and hearts open to God in order to let His will be done in decisions they make in their lives.

In his Homily at the morning Mass, Fr M. Ngcobo invited people to put their faith in action not only by words but also by good works. As Christians they should preach the Gospel both by words and actions. In doing this they can come closer to God and God in his turn can come closer to them. “We get known as children of God by others through our work” he said. He also added that God has given us this opportunity to come to Telgte for pilgrimage so that by outpouring his Spirit on us we get healed from our wounds and go back to our homes and heal others. “God wants to change us and use us to change others in return.” He said. This is how we can make the work of God visible among his people. Jesus, the Son of God is a very good example to us. His words were always accompanied by good actions. This started before the beginning of his ministry. He used his talents and strength to help his foster Father Joseph in the carpentry. And in his ministry, he always led by example in practicing what he was preaching. He also invited people to imitate Jesus by exploring their talents and strength and put them into action so as to let the image and glory of God be seen to those who seek him and those who are still walking in darkness.

Finally he urged people to accept to be transformed by God so that they can also be instruments of transformation to others as they go back home at the end of the pilgrimage.

Bishops’ Message for Lent – On the Jubilee Year of Mercy – 2016

“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt. 9:13)

Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ

This year the Lenten period forms an integral part of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, a special year set aside by His Holiness Pope Francis for all the Catholics to, first take into cognisance the abundance of the mercy of God to us his people and to enable us to show mercy to one another, “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

In this letter I will generously quote from the Popes message for Lent, 2016. In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Pope asked that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative “24 Hours for the Lord”, he sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God’s word, especially his prophetic word.

God’s covenant with humanity: a history of mercy.
The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compassion, especially at those tragic moments when infidelity ruptures the bond of the covenant, which then needs to be ratified more firmly in justice and truth.

This love story culminates in the incarnation of God’s Son. In Christ, the Father pours forth his boundless mercy even to making him “mercy incarnate” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). Mercy “expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe” (Misericordiae Vultus, 21), thus restoring his relationship with him.

The works of mercy.
God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged. For this reason, I expressed my hope that “the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; this will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy” (ibid., 15).

The Sacrament of reconciliation
The time of Lent is a time where we are called to do self-introspection and discernment in order to see where we need to make good with the Lord. This sacrament is received by someone who has repented from the wrongs he/she has done. On Ash Wednesday, as we received ashes on our foreheads the priest said: “Repent and believe in the Good News.” It is called Reconciliation because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: “Be reconciled to God” (2Cor. 5:20) He who lives by God’s Merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go, first be reconciled to your brother/sister” (Mt. 5:24) (The Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you are urged to frequent the Sacrament of reconciliation, especially during this period of Lent and right through this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Parables of mercy
The Gospels are full of readings on mercy; it is fitting, particularly during this year of mercy to read and understand those and let us be guided by them, in particular the parables of mercy. In these parables Jesus reveals the nature of God as that of a Father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcome rejection with compassion and mercy – (see Lk. 15:1-32; Mt. 8:22; Mt. 18:33; Mt. 18:35; Mt.5:7) (Pope Francis – Misericordiae Vultus) These must be accompanied by the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

The Catechumens
I ask you brothers and sisters to remember in your prayers all those who are to receive the sacraments of initiation on the Easter Vigil in our diocese of Kokstad. That marks a turning point in their lives and they will, henceforth, be full members of the body of Christ whose members we all are. Let us welcome them warmly in our communities and continue to pray for them as the whole Church is praying for them in a very special way.

Living in harmony – Result of forgiveness and mercy
It is very important and necessary that we live in harmony, one with another, wherever we are, at home, at work, in church and in society. As Christians we have a special duty to imitate Jesus Christ in our thoughts, words and actions. “Live in harmony with each other. Do not be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And do not think you know it all” (Rom. 12:16) “No foul words should ever cross your lips; let your words be for the improvement of others, as occasion offers, and do good to your listeners……… Any bitterness or bad temper or anger or shouting or abuse must be far removed from you – as must every kind of malice. Be generous to one another, sympathetic, forgiving each other as readily as God forgives you in Christ” (Eph. 4:29-32)
In the words of Pope Francis, let us not waste this season of Lent, so favourable a time for conversion. We ask this through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who, encountering the greatness of God’s mercy freely bestowed upon her, was the first to acknowledge her lowliness,(Lk. 1:48) and to call herself the Lord’s humble servant (Lk.1:38)
May the Lord bless and keep you.

+Zolile Mpambani, SCJ
(Bishop of Kokstad)

PRIESTLY ORDINATION OF TWO FRIARS AT THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION MISSION IN HARDENBERG

The Franciscan congregation was blessed by the ordination of two new priests on Wednesday 16th December in Hardenberg Mission: Frs Valentine Ebo and Mothuli Keketso.   The Eucharistic celebration started at 10h.00 AM and was presided over by Rt Rev Bishop Zolile Petros Mpambani of Koksatd Diocese. It was a day of joy for the congregation, parishioners and the diocese at large.

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In his homily, the Bishop highlighted that since priests are taken from among people, they should be also present among them. They are set apart from the people for a certain period of time to be trained and sent back to serve them. In this regard we can understand that priests are not ordained for themselves but for the people. Therefore they are to be often found among their people because that is where they are sent after the ordination.

He also added that a priest is a person who was born in a certain human context. Therefore he has got a history. Priests do not mushroom from nowhere and appear only on the day of ordination. They are taken from among the people and prepared. They must know where they come from and who they are. They are also to consider their personal history and not forget their families since formation starts from the family. He added that if one wants to build the church or society, one should firstly start with the family since it is a fundamental place to build the Church.

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A priest should also be a tranquil person. A tranquil man will also be able to manage many things around him. In difficult moment he will use the beauty of this tranquillity in relation with the Lord. The tranquil and humble priest is the one who will always work well with the people. He will be able to show joy, happiness and love to the people and this will make him to be approachable, a man of compassion and of people. However, the Bishop invited also priests to be reachable and available to their people. “Failure to this is a sickness that will need a doctor” he said. In addition, he urged the clergy to not punish and be harsh to the faithful. They do not need to shout at the people and use the pulpit for unspiritual matters since it is a place made for spiritual nourishment of the faithful. “In any case of the abuse of the pulpit by the clergy, faithful should be ready to approach the priest in a friendly manner instead of backbite him.” The Bishop said.

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The priest should be an apostle of the Gospel. The gospel he preaches should manifest the joy inside him. The priest does not preach his own words but the word of God. He should be closer to God and men. He is a shepherd who knows his sheep. He is there to proclaim the word of God and show mercy to the people. “We must not be authoritative but authoritarian. We need to be firm and not harsh to the people. We need to show respect to the Christian faithful and must learn to rejoice and not lose the capacity of joy” he said.

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The Bishop also added that a question a priest should always ask himself is: “ if the Lord comes today where will he find me?” Because “where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be”(Mt 6:21). Our treasure is the people of God. Where they are is where we should be as priests; to be and pray with them is our duty.

He finally invited all the faithful to always remember and pray for their priests so that they may in turn take a good care of them.

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ANNUAL DIOCESAN PRIESTS RETREAT AT ‘UKUPHILA RETREAT CENTER” BLUFF/DURBAN

ANNUAL DIOCESAN PRIESTS RETREAT AT ‘UKUPHILA RETREAT CENTER” BLUFF/DURBAN

On Sunday 8th November in the evening all the diocesan priests together with the Bishop gathered at ‘UKUPHILA RETREAT CENTER’ in Durban for their annual retreat. Fr Jerome Nyathi was the facilitator. The theme of the retreat was “HERE I COME!!!”. These five days of prayer and meditation were a great opportunity and special moment for priests to manifest their gratefulness for life, vocation and many positives. There were two sessions per day accompanied by prayer and meditation, holy hour combined with the night prayer after supper. At the last session all the priests were urged to take the Blessed Virgin Mary home since she is the Mother of all the clergy.

At closing Mass on Friday morning, all the priests renewed their vows in front of the Bishop. During the homily, Fr Jerome encouraged priests to be grateful to the Lord who has directed them to the retreat and who is still helping them to perform what He has invited them to do. As they have known God, they have also experienced Him. They have even experienced His presence through little things in their lives particularly at that special moment of retreat. They were therefore asked to go and witness what they have experienced during those five days of being beneath the feet of the Lord and listening to Him. They were encouraged to go in order to grow in prayer, in faith and witnessing by asking God to increase their eagerness in prayer and zeal to know him and serve him. As servants and ministers of the Gospel, they were called to go and tell the people that God is alive.

KOKSTAD DIOCESAN PASTORAL COUNCIL “KODPAC” FIRST MEETING IN KOKSTAD

On Saturday 14th November the Kokstad Diocesan Pastoral Council held its first meeting in Kokstad. The meeting started at 9h.00 in St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall. All the Diocesan Pastoral Council Executive Committee members, chairpersons and secretaries from different Parish pastoral and finance Committees, Sodality and youth representatives as well as other representative members from different groups and unions within the Diocese attended the meeting. During the gathering the following subjects were to be discussed: Amendments in connection with the drafted statutes of KODPAC, vision statement, Proposed policies and guidelines of PPC, PFC and Catechesis, Brainstorming topics for ongoing formation, Evaluation of Maria Telgte Pilgrimage, Annual Contribution towards KODPAC, Theme for 2016 KODPAC after which the Bishop thanked all the participants then said a short prayer followed by the final blessing.

CELEBRATION OF CONSACRETED LIFE IN KOKSTAD DIOCE

On Saturday 31 October 2015, the Catholic Diocese of Kokstad celebrated the Year of Consacreted life. Priests and religious including the invitees attended the event in Kokstad. The procession to the tent started at 8h.00. As the procession left the Sacristy, it was welcomed outside by the magnificent sound of drum Majorettes from the deanery of Matatiele. At the same time there were shouts of joy from the faithful, rejoicing and thanking God for blessing them with so wonderful gift of priests and religious in the Diocese. As soon as all priests reached the sanctuary they venerated the altar and each one regained his seat and a moment of silence was observed after which Fr Luis Matthew invited everybody to pray the lauds. When the Morning Prayer was over, the Bishop immediately begun the Holy Mass starting with the introductory rites.

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Fr Hugh Lagan delivered the Homily during which he elucidated how it is important for priests and religious to tell the story of their vocations. He also mentioned that everyone has a vocation and we are all gifts from God. He went on to remind young people that they should not hesitated or harden their hearts once they are being called by God to serve him as priests or religious into His vineyard. He also added that once God calls us we should not say that we are not worthy or there are so many people out there who are better than us. We are to respond to His call as soon as we hear his voice and leave the rest to Him who has called us. Good number of things might be portrayed as failure for us to respond positively to God’s call among which brokenness can be mentioned. However, we are invited to know that “it is in our brokenness that God meet us and that is where God keep on working with us.” He said.

Before the Episcopal blessing, the bishop thanked every body who was present and invited all the priests and religious from the diocese to come forward and each one of them received a token of appreciation.

 

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bis

 

A MESSAGE FROM BISHOP ZOLILE ON THE YEAR OF CONSACRATED LIFE

And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail ( Isaiah 58:11).

For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end (Psalm.48:14)

 

To all the consecrated people of God

And to all the people of God who support us in prayer,

Heartfelt greetings for the celebration of the Year of Consecrated life. The promulgation of the Year of consecrated life could not have at an opportune time than this one when the vocations to consecrated life, in many parts of the world have slowed down considerably, a phenomenon that calls for more thanksgiving, prayer and hope for a better future.

The Lord has called all of us in our weakness and poverty, as he did in former times to his prophets and apostles: “ I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do(Luke 10:21)”, and has sent us to preach his message to the world; but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us(2 Corinthians 4:7)

In our fears and doubts whether we would fulfil the work of God faithfully, he promised to be with us as he did long ago to his prophets: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 4:5).

The Lord has indeed been with his consecrated people as he called them and chose them carefully. Yes, we are here today because he has been with us. We owe him our vocation, our sincerest gratitude as we do to those who were and have been before us, living and dead. They have been leaving examples to us, a true inspiration, humanly and spiritually.

The baton is now on our hands to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ, and to preach the good news that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures, by word and by deed, to live the present with passion, with joy and happiness, and be true to our vocation, exemplary and become idols to the young ones coming after us. Christ has called us to live call personally and in community joyfully and in unity with brothers and sisters, manifesting love, forgiveness and healing, often impossible without humility, taking after the example of Jesus Christ as he has instructed us in the Gospel of John: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (13:34): “ that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (17:21)

May the good Lord grant his blessing, in abundance, to each and every one who has left everything behind to follow him and serve him in his people “And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life( Matthew 19:29).

I thank everyone, without mentioning names, who has, in many form, contributed in making this celebration of the Year of Consecrated life in the Diocese a Success. May the good Lord reward each and every one of you abundantly. A special thanks to all who responded and participated in this celebration by prayer or by their presence, in particular all the vocations from the diocese of Kokstad. May the almighty Father, through the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, St Patrick, our patron saint, bless, keep and accompany you always in the life you have consecrated to him.

Blessing upon you all.

+ ZOLILE PETROS MPAMBANI

(Bishop of Kokstad)

 

ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE IN MARIA TELGTE

On Saturday 3 October , all the faithful from the Diocese of Kokstad had their annual pilgrimage in Maria Telgte. The celebration was presided over by Rt Rev Bishop Stanislaw Jan Dziuba of Umzimkulu Diocese. The theme for this year’s pilgrimage was: ” Mary Mother of our families teach us to consecrate our lives totally to God”.The program was scheduled as follows:
-Welcoming by Mrs N. Macoba
-Penitential rite by deacon V. Ebo
-Benediction by Fr N. Khumalo Ofm
-English Mass by Bishop S. Dziuba OSPPE
-Spiritual dancing by children from the Holy Spirit Parish in Flagstaf
-Healing service by Fr T. Letsohla
-Playing reflecting on family and consecrated life by the youth from the immaculate conception parish in  Hardenberg
-Talk on consecreted life by Srs Callista Natshele FCSCJ and Patricia Ndongeni CPS
IsiXhosa/Sisotho Mass by Fr Sihle Mbhele

 

The celebration started around 17h.00 pm during which the Bishop also blessed the new executive members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

 

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The Bishop is blessing the Diocesan Pastoral Council Executive Committee

 

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Crowd is praying the rosary at the grotto

 

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Crowd of the faithful

 

 

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Bishop Stanislaw Dziuba presiding over the Holy mass

 

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Bishop S. Dziuba is delivering the Homily

During his Homily the Bishop displayed the nowadays’s situation of our communities which seem not pleasant because of too much evil that is taking place day by day. ” In such situation the children learn all evil from other evil people in their communities and become killers, robbers not having respect for value of human life”. the Bishop therefore called all the Christians to come together and renew their commitments to live as true followers of Jesus Christ and to bring his love and new life into families to renew them, to bring reconciliation and care to our communities. ” this is now the time of new evangelization-renewing of love for God and for his Church. As the Church- we cannot be closed in-but go to others around us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and help other to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord” the Bishop said. Like Mary, like St Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Abbot Francis Pfanner, Blessed Benedict Daswa, we are called as Pope Francis is asking to become “missionary disciples” in our communities, especially during the coming Year of Mercy, to become “Missionaries of Mercy”…

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Bishop with priests

 

 

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Priests on the altar at Mass

 

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Priests and the Bishop on the altar

 

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Young children performing a spiritual dance before the beginning of the healing service

YOUTH ON HERITAGE DAY IN THE DIOCESE OF KOKSTAD

On the date of 24 September, the youth of Kokstad Diocese gathered together in Kokstad to celebrate the Heritage Day. Priests and Sisters also attended the celebrations which took place at St Patrick’s Hall. It was a very exciting day. Youth were encouraged to be proclaimers of the Word and educators of faith. They were invited to take the message of Jesus in their hearts, to obey God’s commandments and bringing Jesus to the people. They were also invited to be men and women of prayer and to lead by example since the future of the Church, the country and the family in particular depend on them. ” Youth of today are the family of tomorrow”, added one of the facilitators.
After all the speeches were made, attendees shared meals together then each parish’s youth, performed few activities which they had prepared for the day,  after which the national anthem was sung followed by the final blessing by Fr Dominic M. Jakuja.
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