Dei et Apostolicae sedis Gratia
Episcopus Titularis Ecclesiae Aezanitanae
Et Vicarius Apostolicus De Kokstad
Canonica Erectio Paroeciae SS mi Paraciati Apud Bizanam.
Post erectionem Hierarchiae Ecclesiasticae in Africa Meridionali, omnino decet ut saltem aliquae paroeciae in Nostra Dioecesi stabiliter constituerentur. Quare, attentis voto et consilio Nostrorum Constultorum et necessitatibus animarum Nostrae curae pastorali commissarum, Nobis opportunum visum est ut paroecia apud Bizanam canonice erigeremus.
Invocato igitur D.N Jesu Christi Nomine, Eiusque Matris semper Virginis Mariae, Ecclesiam apud Bizanamu sub invocatione SS.mi Paraclati nostra auctoritate ordinaria tenore praesentium in Parochialem amovibilem erigimus et erectam declaramus, in eaque Sanctissimum Eucharistiae Sacramentum ad altare maius, fontem baptismalem, olea sancta et alia quae ad Ecclesiam Parochialem pertinent retineri et custodiri mandamus.
Ecclesiaeque praedictae in Parochialem erectae iura omnia et privilegia quae parochialibus de iure competunt concedimus; illis guadere debere decernimus, cum eleemosynis et oblationibus universis certis et incertis curae a eacris canonibus consessis et permissis atque cum sic dictis iuribus stolae.
Dei et Apostolicae sedis Gratia
Episcopus Titularis Ecclesiae Aezanitanae
Et Vicarius Apostolicus de Kokstad
Ipsamque Ecclesiam Parochialem ad liberam Nostram et successorum Nostrorum collationem et provisionem spectare et pertinere decernimus.
Insuper mandamus ut20% omnium redituum paroeciae Nobis et successoribus Nostris legitime constitutis pro bono Dioecesis reddantur.
Designationem autem limitum huius canonice erectae paroeciae huic erectionis documento adjungimus.
Datum apud Kokstad subsigno sigilloque Nostris ac Cancellarii Nostri subscriptione, anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo primo, die vero senta mensis Augusti.
Boundaries of the Newly erected Parish of Bizana
The following are the Boundaries which we officially sanction for the Parish of Bizana, and which we wish to have observed until revoked or changed by us or by our legitimately appointed successors in Office:-
1. North : The Mariannhill Diocese
2. South : Lusikisiki and Flagstaff Magisterial Districts.
3. East : The Indian Ocean
4. West : Mount Ayliff Magisteria District.
Given at Kokstad on this sixth day of August in the year nineteen hundred and fifty one.
In Nomine Domini……..
The territory known as the Natal Vicariate was erected on Oct. 5. 1850, and extended from the Kei River to Quelimane (on the coast opposite Salisbury), then inland towards Salisbury and on as far as the Cubango River on the border of Angola, then due South through the middle of SW Africa to the Orange River, then along the Orange River to Basutoland, turning South again along the Cape Frontier to the Kei River.
During the reign of Bishop Jolivet, OMI which began in 1874 and ended 1903, the Trappists were invited to come to Natal. They therefore left Dunbrody near Port Elizabeth and set up a mission in Mariannhill and thus began the evangelisation of the Native peoples. They erected monasteries in Natal, each new one a day’s horse ride from the next. Gradually they spread out, reaching as far as East Griqualand. Gradually they sent missionaries into Pondoland.
In 1880 there was an insurrection of the native tribes in the Matatiele district. Detachments of the Cape Mounted Rifles were sent to quell the rebellion and their headquarters were in Kokstad. There were many Irish soldiers among them and they decided to build a church for themselves. In 1884 the foundation stone was laid and Fr. Nicholaus Meyer, OMI became priest in charge. The following year Br. Francis Howlett OMI arrived and was ordained in Durban in 1885, Ub 1886 he was appointed priest in charge of the Kokstad area, which position he held until 1905. In 1887 the Holy Cross Sisters arrived in Kokstad and opened a school which served the whole of Pondoland. The first recorded Baptism was performed in 3/3/1883, by Fr Baudrey OMI who was passing through Kokstad. He later came back to visit the Cape Infantrymen.
These Cape Infantrymen elected Fr Howlett to be secretary for committee for celebrating St Patrick’s Day in 1885. When the church was finally completed it was dedicated to St. Patrick.
The OMI missionaries concentrated solely on Europeans, leaving the Native work to the Mariannhill Fathers. The first African Catholic in the Bizana district seems to have been Pius Mlingo Ngonini, son of James Sobazana Ngonini from Dutyini. He went to work in Natal and was baptised at Mpendle, but did not make his First Communion. This must have been in the late 1880s. When he returned home he persuaded his father to allow a younger son, Fidelis Noboloza, to go to a school which had been run for some years by the Trappists at Lourdes (Cabane). Fidelis, who was born in 1884, studied in Lourdes and was baptised there in 1902. He met a Catholic girl, Maria Mbele, one year his junior, and they were married at Lourdes, returning to found a home at Dutyini about 1907.
Meanwhile in 1905 Fr. Howlett was transferred to Umtata, his place being taken for one year by Fr. Vernhet, OMI. Then in 1907 Fr. Gourlay, OMI, who had been a travelling priest since 1905, was appointed priest in charge in Kokstad. He used visit European Catholics over a very extensive area, the whole of Pondoland, Umtata, Kathkop, Mt Fletcher and Matatiele being included. In July 1907 he visited Bizana. He was driven by car there by a man called McKilwe of Mfundisweni. Apparently he made arrangements with the only Catholic in Bizana, Mr G.W Lewis, to say Mass in his home. On the 21st July 1907 Mass was said by Fr.Gourlay for the first time in Bizana.
In visiting these regions Fr. Gourlay records that the people were very kind but the ignorance on matters of religion was lamentable. He distributed catechetical courses and had the older children teach younger ones. He found the work discouraging as only 30 Catholics out of 80 in Kokstad went to Mass regularly. However, in 7th June 1908 eleven were sufficiently instructed to make their First Communion. Among them was George Lewis. They all went to Kokstad for the ceremony.
In 1910 Fr Howlett came back to Kokstad for health reasons and Fr Gourlay went to Umtata. He used come about once a year to say Mass at the home of George Lewis. As he had no car he used come on horseback and the Lewis children used attend the school at Kokstad. This lasted until 1919 when Fr Howlett became seriously ill. He went to Durban where he died after a short time. He was a very popular priest and during his illness a service was held for his recovery by the Anglican community of Kokstad.
Meanwhile, other Africans were beginning to follow the example of James Ngonini, and sent their children to Lourdes for schooling. One of these children, Patrick Madikizela (alias Ngutshane) was baptised at the age of 12 years in 1907. His father had the peculiar name of ‘Sathana’ . Later he married and his wife Elizabeth agreed to join the Church and was baptised in Lourdes. Another boy, Timotheus Franciscus Ndlovu, was baptised in Lourdes at the age of 18 in 1908. He became a shoemaker and did not return to Bizana district.
All this while the only really Catholic home was that of Fidelis and Maria Ngonini. They used meet with the other few Catholics at their home which was behind and to the left of Dutyini school. No trace of it now remains. In 1909 Maria went back to Lourdes, according to Native custom, in order to have her first child. This child was baptised when eleven days old in Lourdes, and was called Aloys. The Mariannhill Fathers decided to send a priest into Pondoland and to say Mass and give instruction to the few Catholics who were at Dutyini. That was how Fr Appolinaris came to be the first Trappist Father to visit Bizana district, and the first priest to work among the natives there. He came circa 1909 – 1910 and said Mass in the home of the Ngoninis. He used travel on horseback.
When returning to Lourdes Fr.Appolinaris took with him Aloys Ngonini, a younger brother of Fidelis, (not to be confused with Aloys the son of Fidelis), who studied at Lourdes and eventually made his home there. He became a teacher, which position he held until he retired with an old age pension. He was still alive in 1963 at Lourdes.
About this time two other young men from Dutyini, Carolus Khatywa and Damian Madikizela went to Natal to work at Mobeni. From there they went to Mariannhill, probably to take the industrial course there, and were converted to the Faith and baptised round about 1909-1910. They later returned to Dutyini and married, Carolus to Aemilia Geledu, a Wesleyian, and Damian to Elizabeth Nyande, a pagan who was a relation of the Khatywa family. Carolus and Damian used often meet at the home of Fidelis Ngonini for the purpose of prayer.
In 1912 a daughter of Fidelis, called Maria, became ill and was baptised in danger of death by her father. She was eight and a half months old. This is the first known Baptism to be performed in the Bizana district, the rest being performed at Lourdes. The second baptism was also performed by Fidelis Ngonini when he baptised his uncle, Theodore Ngonini, later in 1912. Theodore was 65 years old at that time and he lived to be 80, dying in 1927. A son of Carolus Khatywa, Paulus, became ill and was baptised in 1913 just before he died by Fidelis.
At this time parents were encouraged to send their children to Lourdes for education. Carolus Khatywa and Damian Madikizela were among those who used accompany the children on the long road to Lourdes. But the man who was principally responsible for sending many children was James Ngonini, father of Fidelis, who himself became a Catholic and was baptised at Lourdes. Among those who went for schooling was Eustace (Eupsiclius) Ngonini who started at Lourdes in 1913. He became a Catholic and was baptised in 1917 at the age of 15 years. Damian Madikizela’s younger brother, Aurelius, (called “Lawless” by some) also went to Lourdes, was baptised by Fr. Marcellin Bruno in 1915. He later became a Catechist, the first in Bizana district.
In the meantime there were changes at Mariannhill. In 1909 the first Abbot, Fr Francis Pfanner, died. There had been many difficulties in relating the Trappist life to the needs of the missions. So, after the death of Fr. Francis, a separation was made and thus the congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill (CMM) came into being.
From 1913 to 1920 the Mariannhill Fathers came only rarely and the few Catholics of the district used travel to Lourdes at Christmas and Easter for the liturgical celemonies and also to be instructed before the reception of the sacraments. On the way they used stay overnight at Mahobe in the home of Maduna. There were two branches of this family, one at Mahobe and the other at Ntsingisi. From this family came a priest, Fr Christopher Maduna, who was ordained in 1959.
From Ntlakwe, in another part of Bizana, a non-catholic called Paulus Nomazele (who was born in 1872) sent his son Gabriel to Lourdes when he was four years old. This child was baptised in 1916, as was also another child, Raphael, born in 1915.
About this time another catholic came to the district. As a boy, Theophilus Dindi attended a non-Catholic school. As an adolescent he was jailed for reasons unknown. In jail he met a Catholic who whiled away the time explaining to him the Catholic Faith. When he was released from jail Theophilus went back to school, this time a catholic school at Mhlatuze. There he was baptised. All this period his home was near Harding. On leaving school he came to reside at Mzize about one mile beyond Redoubt store. He got to know Paulus Nomazele, who was well disposed to the Church because he had children at Lourdes. Bothe decided to invite a priest to visit them and perhaps say Mass. As a result of this Fr. Marcellin Bruno came on horseback and said Mass in the home of Paulus Nomazele, probably in 1920 for the first time. Paulus was baptised then along with his sone Johannes, and Emily, wife of Carolus Khatywa from Dutyini and Elizabeth Madikizela wife of Damian, and Rosalia Dindi, wife of Theophilus. The date of all these baptisms was 20-09-1920.
In another district of Bizana, Silangwe, the Faith was introduced through Andreas Mbali. He must have been born well before 1880 and became a Wesleyian catechist. Then his first wife, Elizabeth, left him. It seems they were never properly married. He met another girl from Umzimkhulu and asked her to be his wife. But she was a Catholic and refused to marry him unless he became a Catholic also. This he agreed to do and he was baptised in the Umzimkhulu district, both returning to Silangwe to become the first Catholics there. Unfortunately, his wife died shortly after the birth of their first child, Rosina. But his sorrow did not last very long as his first wife Elizabeth, came back to him, became a Catholic and so they were married properly this time in Umzimkhulu. Her daughter, Caecilia Maria Inah, also became a Catholic at this time, she being 18 years of age.
Among the priests who came infrequently to Pondoland was Fr Robert. He was already very old and decrepit and could not ride on horseback. But he used make the journey once or twice by horse and carriage. He only visited Dutyini round about 1918.
Fr Marcellin Bruno decided to get church sites if possible. He came to the district with Fr. Andreas Ngidi, an African priest, one of the first to join the Mariannhill congregation. They managed to obtain the consent of several chiefs, including Langasiki and Fungu Madikizela. They had at least four sites marked, one at Dunge, one at Matwebu, where the present school is, one at Mabula near the home of the Kipi family, and one at Luthulini. These sites never received approval from the magistrate owing to objections by other churches, especially the Wesleyians. However, Aurelius Madikizela being catechist at this time, a private agreement was made to say Mass at the home of Damian Madikizela. The home of Fidelis Ngonini, where Mass had been said some ten years previously, was considered unsuitable as it was too close to the Dutyini Wesleyian school and church, and friction was caused. Another priest, Fr. Bonaventure, came and blessed a house in the homestead of Damian Madikizela and Mass was said there for the first time in 1922.
In this same year, 1922, Mr W.G Lewis, (known as Mahlatini, because he was employed as a forest ranger for the plantations which had been started towards the end of the last century all round Bizana) owned a store at Ntsingisi , about four miles from Bizana. He built a rondavel in the store grounds and gave it to the Church as a chapel. Mass was said there almost immediately and Baptisms took place there in 1922.
But it was the Marianhill Fathers who came there. The OMI stopped coming to Lewis’s place in Bizana after Fr Howlett’s death. Then they began coming a few times up to 1924, when the Mariannhill Fathers took over completely. This chapel at Ntsingisi became quite famous and people used travel to attend Mass there from as far away as Silangwe about twice a year. Andreas Mbali was beginning to act the part of a Catechist and in 1922 baptised two people who were in danger of death.
In 1921 the Marianhill Vicariate was erected, comprising the districts of Southern Natal and all the Transckeian territories. Bishop Adalbero Fleischer became Vicar Apostolic in 1922 and he remained in office until 1950 when he retired. He died in 1963.
The Marianhill Fathers (Trappists) of Lourdes looked after the whole of Pondoland. They used saddle up with provisions and not return for some months. During that time they would visit Bizana, Flagstaff, Lusikisiki, Tabankulu, etc. For that reason they could not come frequently or regularly, especially as the roads were very bad or else non-existent. But the people still continued to travel to Lourdes for the Christmas and Easter functions, and also to prepare for Baptism and other Sacraments.
Another priest who came now and again was Fr. Emmanuel Hanisch. He later became first Prefect Apostolic of Umtata in 1930, and in 1937 was consecrated Bishop and made Vicar Apostolic of Umtata. He died in 1940.
In 1926 Fr. Fabian Weiss made the journey regularly into Pondoland to say Mass for the people. He went principally to Ntsingisi, because the rondavel at Damian Madikizela’s place was in a bad state of repair and collapsed this year. He visited Ntsingisi during September, and again in November, 1926, and again in February 1927. He stopped coming that year because it was decided to send a resident priest into Pondoland.
Priests used still come now and again for the Europeans in Lewis’s home in Bizana. Although the Marianhill Fathers had been granted the whole territory, the OMI Fathers remained in Kokstad until 1923. Fr. Kelly was the last Oblate there. Then came Fr Gereon Stach, the first CMM pastor. He remained there until 1928 when his place was taken by Fr Rafael Boehmer, CMM.
The priest chosen to be the first resident priest in Pondoland was Fr. Chrysostomus Ruthig. To him is due the greater part of the foundation work in spreading the faith in Bizana. A site for a church convent and school was obtained in Flagstaff and sisters of the Holy Cross Congregation were sent there. Accompanying them was a young teacher, Wilhemina Dzanibe, who had been reared and educated at the Lourdes orphanage and later in Mariazell. They arrived in Flagstaff in January 1927 and were followed a few weeks later by Fr. Ruthig. He used visit the whole of Pondoland on horseback, going down as far as Cala, sleeping where he could find a place. Once when going through a plantation his pack-horse refused to go any farther. He dismounted and tried to get it to move but it reared up and struck him with its hooves. He lay unconscious for some time, and only with difficulty made it to Gallagher’s store at magusheni where Mrs. Gallagher gave him medical attention until he was able to return to Flagstaff.
In that year, 1927, he came to Dutyini and said Mass in the home of Carolus Khatywa, which was only ten minutes away from the home of Damian Madikizela. A house there was blessed and given the name of St Michael’s. This was to be the church at Dutyini for the next thirty years. Fr Ruthing used come frequently to say Mass here. But he also went frequently to Ntsingisi, and he also opened an outstation at Silangwe at the Mbali homestead. He performed many Baptisms at these places and was aided in his work by Aurelius Madikizela, Carolus Khatywa, Andreas Mbali, Ruffin Maduna and other men of the district. Carolus had even gone for some time to Polela in order to learn catechism work.
In May 1928 Fr. Chrysostomus invited Bishop Fleischer to do confirmation and they were performed in the Ntsingisi chapel for the first time. About this time Mr Lewis was thinking of moving out of the Ntsingisi store and into town, so he offered so sell the store to the Catholic Church or at least give it in exchange for “some land near Franklin”. However, the deal never came off because the magistrate would not give permission for the building of a church on that site, probably because of the proximity of some Protestant churches. But as Lewis was definitely moving out and the new occupants, Van Niekerk, could not be presumed to be favourable to the Church, Fr Ruthing bought Erf no 90 in the Bizana village for 150. This transaction took place in 1929.
The erf contained a brick house, thatched, which formerly belonged to a European. This house was converted into a chapel. Some rondavels were on the property and Fr. Ruthing made one of them into living quarters for himself. So he left Fragstaff, where the Holy Cross Sisters were already operating a school, and came to Bizana, the first resident priest there. He dedicated the chapel to “The Paraclete”.
He had the idea of making the chapel serve also as a school for African children but could find no teacher. He asked Fr. Schweiger, who had taken his place in Flagstaff, to release Wilhemina Dzanibe, who had been doing very valuable work in the school there, and also in translating the Zulu hymns into Xhosa. Along with Fr. Andreas Ngidi, Alfred Sikunyana, Fr Aloys Hliso, she assisted Fr. Ruthing in getting out the 1927 edition of the Xhosa prayer book which was adapted from the 1908 prayer-book of Fr. J Apel, SJ from Keilands.
In a letter dated 20-10-1929 Fr Ruthing invited Wilhemina to come to Bizana, but seeing that Flagstaff was not fully on its feet she did not come until several years later.
However, Fr Ruthing started the school anyway in 1930, with a Miss Nani as his teacher. The children were boarders and the teacher lived with them. This was the first Catholic school in Bizana.
Fr. Ruthing also started a school for Coloured children, probably using one of the rondavels for the purpose. A Mr Thatchell was his teacher, but the venture was not successful, and when Mr. Thatchell left, it fell through altogether.
Fr Ruthing’s territory consisted of Bizana, Lusikisiki and Port St Johns, not including Flagstaff. Between 1929 and 1930 he baptised 35 adults and 63 children. The total number of Catholics in the whole district was 87 white, 226 Coloured and 431 Black. He also did 11 marriages, the first recorded one being between Boniface Somi and Rhoda Mavane on the tenth of September 1929.
He also stated that he had three teachers and three Catechists. But he did have a number of unofficial catechists who helped him but received no salary. One example was Andreas Mbali. But in 1930 his wife died suddenly and after this Andreas lapsed from the Faith. For that reason Fr Ruthing no longer said Mass at the home of Andreas but instead went to the home of Cletus Mbali. For years Fr. Ruthing tried to get Andreas back to the practice of his religion but there was no success until Fr. Ruthing had gone and his successor, Fr.Magnobon, had arrived. Then, about 1936, largely through the efforts of Benjamin Nomazele, Andreas returned to the Faith. After that he did wonderful work in establishing the Church, and made many converts to the Faith, especially in later years when he was admitted as patient to St. Anne’s T.B hospital in Bizana. He died at his home in 1962 and was buried there by Fr. Wilfred Byrne. OFM.
Beniamin Nomazele was a helper, not an official catechist, and did very good work in the Ntlakwe region. Unfortunately he got into bad company, lost the Faith, and spent his time carousing at beer parties and also with women. In the early 1950s he repented and promised to make amends. As a token he began to do penance on the mission, repairing fences. But he never completed the work; he returned to his old ways and finally died without the sacraments, the victim of an assault by the husband of the woman with whom he was consorting.
Another catedchist mentioned wa Ruffin Maduna. He came in and stayed on the Mission with his wife and used to travel around with Fr Ruthing. Mass was said sometimes at his home in Ntsingisi after the chapel in the store closed down. Outstations at this period were Nomlacu (Kwa Mdingi) mentioned in 1928, Hlamvukazi (Kwa Cletus Mbali), 1929, Dutyini and Ntlakwe (Kwa Ruffin Maduna).
In 1930 it seems that Port St.Johns was substracted from the territory covered by Fr Ruthing who then served only Bizana and Lusikisiki. The European Catholic population was then reduced to fourteen, there being three Coloureds and 343 Natives. Then in 1931 the district of Lusikisiki wa taken out, leaving just the present Bizana district.
During that year Fr Ruthing went back to Germany for a holiday and his place was taken for six months by Fr. Raphael Boehmer who was parish priest of Kokstad from 1928 t0 1935. In 1935 he went overseas and when he returned he went to Rhodesia. Later he returned to Mariannhill and in 1963 was still parish priest of Umzinto.
In 1932 Fr. Chrysostomus applied to the Bishop for permission to start again a boarding school for Coloureds. The Bishop, going on erroneous statistics sent by Fr Raphael, thought that a day school would be sufficient, but Fr. Ruthing pointed out that there were only about 12 Coloureds in the district. Only a boarding school would be possible. However, nothing was done about this.
In 1931 the Franciscans of the Bavarian Province came to South Africa and were stationed around Izingolweni. They established the mission of St Boniface, about six miles outside Izingolweni.
In 1932, round about July, Wilhemina Dzanibe left Flagstaff for a holiday in Lourdes, but instead of ruturning to Flagstaff she went to Maria Telgte to teach in the school there. She wa not keen on going to Bizana as Fr Ruthing had the reputation of being very cross (which was signified by his nickname ‘isikhuma senkabi’ – the hide of an ox). However pressure was brought to bear and finally in January 1933 she came to Bizana as teacher. When she arrived she found the boarding school was finished and only day pupils were accepted. Miss Nani left immediately without saying goodbye. The place was in a bad state of repair with the garden overgrown with elephant grass. Mr. Lewis wished to donate a tract of land nearer the centre of the village, almost beside the present European school, but Fr. Ruthing did not like the situation as the African children playing around the centre of the village might cause Europeans to complain. Ert 84 adjoining erf 90, owned by the Church, was owned by Mr. Lewis, so he made a donation of it to the church, though the transfer was not formally made until 1936. There was a workshop on this land and Fr. Ruthing used it as a school building. It was made of brick and situated where the present presbytery is. ( 1963). This school building was already in use when Wilhemina Dzanibe arrived in 1933.
In the returns for that year ( 1932) Fr. Ruthing stated he had 19 whites, 6 coloureds and 439 Natives. In the school were 22 boys and 24 girls, but only as day pupils. In November 1932 Bishop Fleischer came to do the first Confirmations at the paraclete. He performed 29 that day.
Fr Ruthing had a car at this time which he garaged near the rondavel he lived in. A walnut tree was used as a stable for his horse. Water was collected in a hole near where the present church gate now stands. Food was very difficult to obtain as supplies from Lourdes were very irregular. Frequently Wilhemina had to go to Mr. Wood, a Catholic, who lives near where the power house now is, Mr Lewis and Mrs. Bohill (Mr Lewis’s daughter), to beg for some food for Fr. Ruthing. It was found impossible to start a boarding school until Fr. Magnobon arrived in 1935.
An outstation was begun at this time at Lugwijini (also spelt Lugwityini). Jerome Letsekha, a Mosutho, lived near Mariazell in E. Griqualand. He used to trade in horses , travelling very far distances. In Bizana he met a girl from Isinini location, called Amelia Mda (or Mtolo), and although he was married already he went to live with this girl at Lugwijini, about ten miles from the coast. He soon lost all contact with his wife and two sons, one of whom, Marcellin Letsekha, was a teacher for many years at Mariazell. Mrs. Letsekha we to live at Pietermaritzburg where she was looked after by her two sons until she died in 1943.
Jerome first came to Lugwijini about 1925 and he was soon followed by other Basutos, all Catholics. He became a man of wide repute. Even the bus stop at that place was called after him, i.e Jolombo Halt (a corruption of Jerome). Fr Ruthing, being pleased to get any place where he could say Mass, went there frequently. He baptised the children of the second wife, the first baptism to be performed being that of Jacob Letsekha in 1933, who later became a catechist.
The Catholic community being fairly large on account of all the immigrants, Fr Ruthing began a school at the home of Jerome in 1933.
This school lasted for six years and at times had about sixty pupils. The first teachers had come from Natal, but later Bernard Nombembe, (nick-named ‘One-one) from Matwebu, taught there and married Jeromes daughter, Pauline. When Jerome’s first wife died in 1943, Fr Magnobon fixed up the marriage with Amelia.
In 1933 there were five outstations with chapels: Dutyini kwaKhatywa, Ntlakwe (or rather Ntsingisi) kwa Maduna, Lugwijini kwaLetsekha, Nomlacu kwaMdingi and Mhlavukazi kwa Cutshela. Fr Ruthing using used also go often to say Mass kwa Cletus Mbali, but his successor Fr. Magnobon, regularly went to Cutshela’s because it was nearer. This lasted until Fr. Germain’s time in the 50s when Cutshela’s home was used only when the weather was too bad to go to Silangwe.
The photograph shows the actual house where Mass was said for nearly 20 years. It was left unused, except by hens, for some years, and eventually fell down in 1963.
These ‘chapel’ were not official sites, but just houses built by the people for church purposes only. Besides them there were other outstations where the priest said Mass in houses which were also used for other purposes. As a pioneer, Fr. Ruthing used go about saying Mass wherever he could. Some of these outstations were never successful, e.g kwaPungula in Swelekile’s location, near Mtentu. Others lasted for many years e.g kwa Maqam in Ntshamate which lasted until the 50s, was dropped then but later revived in another home. Mrs. Dinah Maqam was the daughter of Mjelo, one of the oldest Catholic families of Ntlakwe.
Fr. Ruthing had a car by this time and for long distances had Leopold Jenneman as driver. This man was the sone of K.C Janneman, the first inhabitant of Bizana, who came from Holland, travelled on foot through Egypt, down through Africa, and after many vicissitudes arrived in Bizana, which was just a military outpost. He was a hundred years old in 1963, still in good health and surrounded by his many Coloured descendants, some of whom became Catholics. He himself was baptised in danger of death in October 1960 (where his age is erroneously stated to be 94) but after recovery he had no more to do with the Faith.
In seems as if Fr.Ruthing discouraged mixed marriages as very few were performed. In May, 1933, Bishop Fleischer came again and did 56 Confirmations.
By Papal decree on April 8th 1935 Kokstad district of the Mariannhill Vicariate was constituted the new prefecture Apostolic of Mt Currie, containing Mt Currie, Bizana, Flagstaff, Lusikisiki, Tabankulu, Mt Frere, Mt Ayliff, Matatiele South of the Kenegha River and Port St Johns on left bank of Umzimvubu River. It ws entrusted to the Bavarian province of the Friars Minor under Bishop Sigebald Kurz, OFM. BishopKurz had been a missionary for twelve years in Shansi in China.
The first Franciscan to come to Bizana was Fr Magnobon Koller. He had come on a visit as long ago as 1933 and did two Baptisms then in May. He arrived to take up his new position on 15th November, 1935. Fr Ruthing remained for some time to show him around and then departed for good on the 9th December, 1935, at 7 am. He went to Izingolweni but later was transferred to the Umtata Vicariate where he became Vicar General when it was made a diocese. He was stationed for a while at Engcobo and finally retired in the late 1950s and lived at Mariannhill in the home for invalid missionaries. He died there on Saturday, 23rd March 1963 at the age of 84, within a few days of the death of Bishop Fleischer.
When Fr Magnobon took over he found the church as seen in the diagram. The altar is not exactly in the centre because the roof was leaking at that place. There were two benches at the side for Europeans.
The priest lived in a large rondavel, which was divided in halves by a six foot wall, thereby forming launge, bedroom and office. The teacher lived in a rondavel on the other side of the church.
In the above photograph, taken in 1935, the teacher’s house is on the left. Beside in can be seen a pile of bricks which is on the intended new church site. This was abandoned later, even though the foundations had already been started. The church is on the right with the lean-to kitchen at the back. The priest’s house is not visible.
The final returns submitted by Fr. Ruthig show that there were 7 Whites, 9 Coloureds and 476 Natives in the district. There were two schools, one in Bizana and the other in Lugwijini, both day schools and containing about 68 pupils altogether. There were four outstaions with chapels (the one at Nomlacu had finished) and many without chapels.
Fr Magnobon immediately made the Bizana school a boarding school with Wilhemina in charge. He himself lived in the house vacated by Fr. Ruthig. The Franciscan Missionary Union of Munich donated a small DKW car which enabled him to get to most places.
One of his principal outstations was Dutyini at Khatywa home. He opened up an outstation
at Melan`s home in Ntlakwe, thus changing from the station at Maduna`s in Ttsingisi which was fairly near. This when it collapsed and a new church building was erected by the people not far away. Fr Magnobon had a total of ten outstations.
A new church in Bizana was patently necessary, and although the forndations of a new one
were already laid, Mr. Lewis suggested that a better site would be erf 84 where the school was. This idea was accepted as this site was on the main street, so Mr. Lewis made a formal
transfer of the property to the Church in 1936 and work began. The land was swampy and much piling had to be done before the foundations could be laid shortly after Easster, 1936.
Brs. Doseth and Juniper arrived and began work making raw bricks with the aid of an old car taking the placed of a span of oxen in turning the mixer.
The old workshop which had been usesd as a school was knocked down and once more the old church building had to be ussed for classes. The Brothers built a rondavel in place of the
old workshop and there they lived while the work was going on . The new church was also
dedicated to the Paraclete and the forndation stone was laid and blessed by the first Vicar Apostolic, Rt. Rev Bishop Kurz, O.F.M. in 1936 . Bishop Kurz combined the offices of Vcar Apostolic and Regular Superior. He maintained this position until 1942.
For two years the work on the church continued, during which time Fr. Magnobon increased
his outstations to 13, four with chapels. He had 83 pupils in two schools, eleven of these children were boarders in Bizana. Native Catholics numbered 575, there were 26 Whites and
13 Coloureds. Bernard Nombembe was teaching at Lugwijini school at this time.
In 1937 Fr. Magnobon first began to think of having a hospital in Bizana. He asked the V.M.B. would it be possible for them to hand over some unoccupied even for the purpose. The V.M.B. officials, in a letter dated 5/3/1937, said they had no authority to do this, nevertheless they gave encouragement to the project.
Round about 1938 Fr. Magnobon applied for a school site, probably at Lugwijini. This applicatjion was refussed because the Wesleyaians had a site near that place for over ten year
No one had known of this site, it was not marked, and no building was erected on it. Nevertheless the Catholic application was rejected. It is probably on account of this that the school at Lugwijini had to close down in 1936.
The work of building the church neared completion. Mons. Kurz added the priests` residence
under the same roof, with a verandah on both the ground floor and the first story. Once the
residence was completed the Brothers demolished the rondavel they had been living in. Fr.
Magnobon soon installed a lighting plant in the ground-floor verandah outside his office. The church was officially opened and blessed by Mons. Kurz in November 1938.
In December a minor earthquake rocked the building, and, as it was built of raw bricks it had to be strengthened at once. Hence the cross-stays under the roof and the burnt-brick buttresses both inside and outside.
During this period the first lay society was established in Bizana by Fr Magnobon when he established the Sodality of the Sacred Heart.
Then in March 1939 two German Sisters of St Solanus came from their head house, Maris Stella, near Port Sheptsone. Bishop Kurz bought Erf 92 adjoining the mission property. On this there was a small cottage which served as a convent for the two sisters, who worked in the garden and …. out a living by selling vegetables around the town.
On the 11th July 1939 the Prefecture of Mt Currie was raised to the dignity of a Vicariate and called the Vicariate Apostolic of Kokstad. Mons Kurz was consecrated titular bishop of Terenuti by Pope Pius XII in Rome. Eleven other Bishops were consecrated that day which was the feast of Christ the King.
The school at Lugwijini closed down this year and only the boarding school was left at Bizana. There were 82 pupils there, though only two were actually boarding. There were only three catechists. The total of Catholics had increased to 679. The first Confirmations in the new church were performed on the 28th July 1940 when 49 were confirmed.
About this time Fr Magnobon closed in the front of the ground verandah as everyone was able to see the priest when he went up or downstairs or to the bathroom. The war had begun and the Brothers were interned so he got Mr Manuel, a Coloured, to do the job.
The German missionaries were interned who had not been residing for a certain length of time in South Africa. Those who had been in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power were regarded as suspect. Even the Bishop, Mons,. Kurz was interned. He never returned to his territory, so Fr Lucas Puerstinger was appointed administrator in his place. Fr Caius became regular Superior.
Fr Magnobon was not disturbed in Bizana, though several tragedies struck. Early in 1940 the old church-school building was razed to the ground by fire. For a time Wilhemina Dzanibe had to teach the children on the verandah of the sisters’s convent. As all financially help was cut off from Germany at this period it was very difficult to carry on. The Society of St Peter Claver gave great assistance during this time. It was only in 1942 that Fr Magnobon managed to erect another small school to replace the one burnt down, but it was not well built and collapsed during a hurricane in 1943. Fr Magnobon had already decided to build a much larger school near the site of the old one because of the increase in the number of children applying. He built this one with accomodation for 40 boarders, and in the very week it was completed the hurricane struck and blew down the old school. As the old school was needed for classes, Amandus Tsaneka immediately built it again, but made a poor job of it and soon enormous cracks appeared in the walls. So round about 1944 or 1945 Br. Dosith pulled it down and built the present building which contains two classrooms, a kitchen, an office and a partitioned living room.
In 1944 the Inspector of Education requested Fr. Magnobon to sent in returns to Cape Town. This was in connection with a supplementary feeding scheme, which had been in force since 1929 for Government-aided schools. In 1944 it was proposed to extend this scheme to embrace even non-aided schools. Fr Magnobon too this opportunity to write a long letter to the Superintendent of Education complaining about the treatment his school had received in being still unaided after so many years. He pointed out that there were no Government schools in he vicinity and all the others were purely denominational and anti-Catholic in character. The Princispals of these schools had threatened to report the Inspectors if ever they should even visit the Catholiv School. So the school had never been inspected in spite of frequent invitations on the part of Fr Magnobon.
Shortly afterwards the Chief Inspector replied, saying there was no hostility on the part of the Department to the Catholic Church but funds were limited, and with applications for aid coming in at the rate of 200 a year, they could not consider aiding a school which was only a few miles from an already aided school, which ( in theory was supposed to accept all, regardless of denomination.
However, at least the subsidy for school feeding was approved and kitchen equipment was sent up at the Governments expense. It came to nearly $9. The subsidy varied but was usually arount 2d a meal. In 1948 (if this year can be taken as average) 14, 981 meals were served, for which $124 -14-10 was received in quarterly installments. But all this work involved a great deal of time as all the receipts had to be sent to the Department.
There were three teachers, but they used change very frequently, the only one consistently in Bizana being Wilhemina Dzanibe (known as ‘Antie) who was both principal and boarding mistress. The fee for each boarder was three sacks of mealies per year. Even this was very difficult to obtain. In 1945 there were 30 boarders out of the total of 117 pupils. Stds V and Vi were taught this year for the first time though there was only one pupil in each of these classes. A total of 14 pounds a month was paid insalaries to the three teachers. In this year there were 869 Native Catholics, 8 Whites ( of whom 6 were lapsed) and 6 Coloureds. There were four Catechists this year. The only Sodality was that of the Sacred Heart which closed down the following year.
In 1946 Ft Magnobon wrote an account of the state of the district. He said that owing to the opposition of the Protestant churches he had been unable to obtain any official sites. Mass said at private homes was only tolerated by the Government. Priests working among the natives had to get a permit to enter the Reserve, which permit could be withdrawn at any time without reason being stated.
As the war and its aftermath prevented missionaries for a long time from coming to South Africa, the Irish Province was invited to help out. In 1946 the first Irish missionaries arrived – Fr Bernardine Dore, Fr Urban O’Sullivan, Fr.Benedict Leary and Fr Antonine Kelly. Fr Benedict went to Bizana where he spent nine months with Fr Magnobon, and so for the first time in the returns are two resident priests mentioned for Bizana.
In that same year, 1946, Mons Lucas Puerstinger did 131 Confirmations in Bizana.
In 1947 Fr Urban was made Secretary to the Apostolic Delegate. Fr. Germain came out from Ireland and was sent to Bizana in October. Fr.Magnobon made another request for aid for his school, but the application was turned down.
In 1948 a Coloured Primary School was started in the offices of the V.M.B with Mrs Rhoda Manuel as principal. The offices were leased in April at a fee of ….. per month. Only nine pupils attended, five boys and four girls. Fr Germain bought a little scooter and used to travel down to this place to teach Catechism. However, these offices were insanitary and badly ventilated, so they were condemned for school use. Negotiations began immediately to have a school built near the mission.
Fr. Severin Neumeier was Regular Superior at this time and on March 6th 1948 Fr Paulinus Lavery arrived on the Mission, having been appointed by the General as Visitator.
The question of a hospital once more came up. The VMB was approached and they wrote on 17th November 1948 to Cape Town to see what could be done. They gave encouragement for a private or mission hospital to be built. Concerning the land the VMB were informed that they had no authority to give away the land but they could sell it at a nominal price, e.g …. , but on condition that it it be used for some other purpose other than that specified it would revert to the VMB, except on payment of the full amount. The land was priced at…… an acre.
Mons. Lucas got in touch with the Catholic hospital Board and they gave their approval and some advice. There were many delays after this, because Mons. Lucas did not follow any of the advice.
Fr magnobon Koller wrote to Fr Urban at the Apostolic Delegation in Pretoria, openly accusing Mons. Lucas of deliberately delaying matters. As evidence he adduced that letters sent to Mons.Lucas to be forwarded were ignored, and though he had been told he should start getting material he had done nothing whatever. Fr Magnobon also wrote to the Provincial in Ireland mentioning the difficulties experienced owing to the delaying tactics of Mons.Lucas, motivated “by jealousy”. He says “the last three years have not been easy” i.e since Fr Lucas was confirmed in his position and it was certain that Bishop Kurz would not come back.
Fr Germain Mannion left late in 1948 for Mt Frere, so for the following year Fr Magnobon was on his own again. Fr Canisius Bertsch was now Regular Superior. The new Coloured School plans were drawn up and passed 28-02-1949, and Br Dosith, helped by some Coloured labour began the work of building on Erf 92, adjoining the convent of the sisters. Br Magnerich helped Br Dosith.
The School buildings were valued at ……………….. The school was opened in July 1949 and began receiving Government aid from that date. Fr Magnobon was appointed manager on 3-09-1949. There were 35 pupils and the first teacher was Mr Stafford, who did not stay long and was replaced by Mr Meth, who got married that same year.
Fr Evangelis McBride OFM who had been Provincial in Ireland was in July 1949 consecrated Titular Bishop of Aezitanus and Vicar Apostolic in Kokstad. The ceremony took place in Dublin and shortly afterwards Bishop McBride arrived in South Africa to take over from Fr Lucas Puerstinger who had held office from 1942 until 1949. Bishop Kurz had officially resigned in 1946. Bishop McBride was officially enthroned at Kokstad by the Apostolic Delegate on October 2nd 1949. He came to Bizana later that year and blessed the new Coloured school.
Meanwhile Dr Rieckert of Bizana was pushing the matter of the hospital. A draft deed of sale was drawn up in July 1949, in which it was proposed to sell 105064 morgen at a nominal price of …..
In the native school the pupils had risen to 174 so Fr Magnobon made another effort to get the school aided on 10-12-1949. This request was turned down. Fr Magnobon made arrangements to go overseas for a holiday and Fr. Germain returned to Bizana. The floor of the church was covered with malthide ( a brown colour) this year.
Fr Magnobon went off to Germany for his holiday, but returned no more to S. Africa. Later the Bavarian Province opened a mission in Peru, South America, and Fr Magnobon went there. He was still there in 1963. When he left Bizana he had 167 pupils in the Native school, of whom 50 were boarders. There were 43 pupils in the Coloured school up to Std VI. There were three catechists ( Carolus Khatywa had retired) Andreas Mbali, Alfred Ngomeni and Hamilton Candlovu. There were teachers at school. There were eight Whites, 19 coloureds and 960African catholics.
There were three chapels at outstations – Dutyini, Silangwe and Ntlakhwe and seven other outstations in private homes.
Fr Germain was appointed manager of the Coloured school on the 1st June 1950, and this was confirmed on the 8-01-1953 when it was ascertained that Fr Koller was not returning.
Bishop McBride did his first confirmations in Bizana on the 29th January 1950 when he confirmed 70. These were also the last confirmations attended by Fr Magnobon. In this year a procuration was established at Kokstad in order to centralise the economic running of the area. Fr Urban and Fr Germain had the idea of getting a holiday home at the coast near Port Edward, so they made an application for a sea-side cottage. This was granted on the 14-09-1950 and a the building was valued at ……… and built on site 13.
Meanwhile difficulties were experienced with regard to the hospital. The catholic Hospital Board wrote saying that the agreement was unaccemptable because of Dr Rieckert’s terms. He wanted to control the appointment of doctors, and wished to have a vote on the appointment of a resident doctor at the hospital itself.
About this time Fr Bernardine Dore became Regular Superior.
A caretaker’s house was built for Wilhemina Dzanibe at the top of the Mission in October 1950.
Although missionaries had been saying Mass for years in Khatywa’s house in Dutyini, this was, strictly speaking, illegal. Complaints were lodged by the Wesleyians and Fr Germain thought of building a proper church elsewhere. But his application for a church site at Ndize was turned down in 1950 because it was less than the regulation five miles distance from the nearest Wesleyian church. The letter from the department stated that the five miles had to be measured as the crow flies, not by motor road. Another application for a church to be called St Anthony’s was turned down the following year.
In an effort to promote vocations and also to obtain better education catholics, Fr Germain agreed to pay school fees for some deserving boys. Two of these left for Lourdes in 1950, Damasius Mtolo and Joseph Dikini. They both became teachers, the former went to teach at the Holy Cross school at Dordrecht and Joseph taught at Mlambo-Ndaba and various other schools, and was Vice Principal at the former Wesleyian stronghold of Dutyini for a while before being promoted to Principa of Madadana.
Fr Germain used sometimes go as invigilator to the Wesleyian High School at Marelane, Ludeke, about 12 miles from Bizana.
In the Bizana school the three teachers were George Swana, Agatha Nomvethe and Harpgood Mdingi. Wilhemina Dzanibe was supervisor.
There was much opposition to this school, seeing that Catholic children used leave other schools to come to Bizana.
On January 11th 1951 Pope Pius XII established the Hierarchy in South Africa and various dioceses were formed. Kokstad thus became a diocese and Bishop McBride its first bishop. At the urging of Fr Urban, the bishop decided to form parishes. Thus on the 6th August 1951 Bizana became a parish with borders officially as follows:-
North: Mariannhill diocese (this later, 1954, became Umzimkhulu diocese)
South: Lusikisiki and Flagstaff Magisterial districts. (These Magisterial districts were later changed)
East: Indian Ocean.
West: Mt Ayliff Magisterial District.
To make this clearer the borders are as follows:
North: The Umtamvuna River from Taleni store to the coast.
West and South: From the point where the Goxe stream meets the Umtamvuna (i.e at Taleni Store) along the border of Izilangwe Location to the peak of Mashlwetwane, then along the same border, excluding Amantshangase and Highview store the border of Enkantolo location near Ntlavukazi store, then along the border of Enkantolo, excluding Amantshangase and Ntshangase locations to the river marking the border of Esikumbeni Location. This river, called the Nqabeni river cuts the main Bizana- Magusheni road about 4 miles from Ludeke halt. It is later called the Swane river. One follows that river, later caled Mtentu river right to the Indian Ocean.
East: The Indian Ocean from Mtentu mouth to Mtamvuna mouth.
Locations included in the parish are :- Izilangwe, Enkantolo, isikelo, Izinini, Isisele, Intshamate, Abeshawu, amanikwe, Umnyaka, Esikhumbeni, Amandela, Entsimbeni, Monti, Ukolora, Imizizi, Amagutyana, Amadiba, hlolweni, Etyeni, Amadengane, Amankanyayo, Amampisi.
The borders of the parish coincided with the borders of the Bizana magisterial district, but the magisterial district was later extended to include Ntshangase and Amantshangase.
In April 1952 Fr Germain erected a Stations of the Cross at the Dutyini outstation, kwa Khatywa.
Miss Hornsby came to be the second teacher at the Coloured school which was annually visited by the Inspector. It was stated that the home language of 60% of the pupils was Xhosa.
Fr Germain re established the Sacred Heart Sodality , started the children of Mary and also the PontificalWork of the Holy Childhood as well as St.Anne’s Sodality in this year.
On the 26th October 1952 Bishop McBride did 51 confirmations, among them old Mr Lewis, who had been so generous to the Church in the past. He died a few years later. His son married a divorcee and left the Church.
Fr Germain had now roughly 1,000 catholic Natives, 4 teachers – George Swana, Agatha (Gladys) Nomvete, Harpgood Mdingi and Wilhemina Dzanibe. He had 5 catechists among whom was Remigius Mafunda, a Hlubi from Mt Frere district, who remained as catedchist for over ten years and stayed on the mission with his family. Alfred Ngomeni had been sacked just before Fr. Magnobon left because of Wesleyian practices and the catechists were Mafunda, Candlovu, Andreas Mbali, Jerome Letsekha ( a helper really, not a salaried catechist) and Boniface Somi ( also a helper). At the school there were 35 boarders out of a total of 162. There were 45 Coloured Catholics.
In 1953 Fr. Hubert Quim, the Provincial, came out on visitation and went round all the houses. He commented that the person who built the staircase in Bizana must have had suicidal tendencies.
Negotiations for the hospital continued and eventually it was agreed that Dr. Reckert should have a veto on a resident doctor for five years after the opening of the hospital. All this proved to be much ado about nothing as later when a resident doctor could have been appointed none actually was because there was not sufficient work solely in the hospital to keep a doctor busy; and as the doctors lived only a few minutes away by car there was no real necessity for a resident doctor, especially as Dr Rieckert would not allow him to work at the out-stations. Fr Germain went on holiday this year and Fr. Reginald Gunn came to take his place. He obtained oak-lip for use on the hospital free of charge from the VMB.
The Sisters of Solanus left this year after 14 years work in Pondoland. Fr Reginald attempted to lease the convent to Mt Oosthuis but eventually leased it to Mr Berkely, but first proper toilets had to be put in and other repairs done. The rent was …….. a month.
Fr. Reginald tried again to get Government aid for the school but with no success. However, the school had at least been registered as a private school on October 22nd 1951. It was not aided, but Fr Germain had to send in returns to Cape Town, stating number of buildings, teachers etc. the Inspector at that time was Mr Stone, and he was favourable to the Church. Eventually on August the 7th a letter came to Fr Mannion from the Department of education, sta…. that the school was approved for Government aid from July (i.e retroactive) and permission to appoint two teachers, one male and one female, was granted. This was done, but the Mission kept on a third teacher at its own expense. Harpgood Mdingi left and the three teachers were George Swana, Agatha Nomvete and wilhemina Dzanibe.
Br Dosith began work on the construction of the hospital. Bricks were checked for reliability by concrete Engineers, Ltd, Durban. An approval for a preliminary sketch came from the provincial Administration. It was statd that the actual approval of the hospital itself would be considered after twelve months. Plans by the Provincial architect for Robertson Hospital were sent as an indication of what would most likely meet the Administration’s approval.
The mission school , Bizana and Pupils
In September, 1953, the first inspection of the Native School took place. Std V was being taught, and the Inspector recommended a drop of Std IV because of the fewness of the official teachers. This was done and in the following year there were 125 pupils up to Std four.
In December 1953, at the instigation of Fr Germain, Bernard and Andreas Mbali made an application in the name of the Bantu school Board, Bizana, for a school to be built at Mlambo-Ndaba. There is some confusion about the proper spelling of this place. It is nearly always referred to as Mlambo-Ntaba in official documents, but the local people say it should be Mlambo-Ndaba. It is in the Silangwe district, overlooking the Goxe stream. No reply is known, but as there was another school only 2,5 miles away, the application was almost certainly turned down.
Fr Germain returned early in 1954 and he and Fr Reginald made an effort to visit as many homes as possible. They often travelled on horseback and managed to visit thoroughly quite a number of districts.
In this year, 1954, they removed the side altars from the church so as to make more room for the people. New seats, designed by Joan Steyn, were put in that year.
Fr Reginald used lived in the back room looking out on the garage, and in order to get more light he had a translucent corrugated sheet put in the roof. This can be seen in the photograph showing the building of the new office, in the next page. The other larger translucent sheet is over the sanctuary in the church.
Interior of church before 1954, with side altars
Without the side altars
Fr Reginald left for Tabankulu later in 1954 and Fr Germain was once more on his own. In this year Wilhemina Dzanibe retired from teaching. She had not been fully qualified according to Goverment specifications, but the inspector asked that she remain on for a while as an uncertified teacher. This she did until this year when she retired to look after the Presbytery and the church. George Swana was then principal of the school and his sister, Getrude came as assistant. Gladys Nomvete, who was converted to the Faith and baptised in 1956 with the name ‘Agatha’, also had to resign because she was married and it was Government policy not to hire married teachers.
In August, 1954, the Government proposed to take over all Bantu schools. However, those who wished to remain in control of their private, Government aided schools, could do so, but with a reduced subsidy , i e. 75%.
Fr Germain decided this year to build an office separate from the house because it was very inconvenient for peoplr to be tramping up and down stairs to the office which was then upstairs. In the photograph not the two hydra….. bushes one either side of the entrance to the house. One was taken away after the building of the office.
Building of New Office 1954
Plans for the hospital were going ahead and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were invited to come to staff it eventually. They arrived on the 15th September 1954 with Bishop McBride, and Fr Antonine and Fr Germain. The four original arrivals were Mother Rosary, sisters, Declan (both Irish), Judith Ann (American) and Luisa (Italian). They moved into the former convent of the Solanus Sisters. A small chapel was improvised and Mass said for the first time on 17th September 1954. In October the Transitus function was held with Frs Germain and Bruno officiating. In November a bigger chapel was built by Br Doseth and the Way of the Cross erected.
The Convent of the sisters Fr P Peyton’s Crusade
In 1955 Fr Germain noted he had 1,240 Native catholics, 21 coloureds and 25 whites. There were 19 boarders in the school out of a total of 116. He had three outstations with chapels and ten without. Boarders at the school were charged …… per annum but only half of them paid. It was always a strugle to keep things going even with the 75 % subsidy. George Swana and his sister Getrude, had their salaries paid by Government. Agatha Nomvethe remained on at the school as an unaided and uncertified teacher, though glowing reports were sent in by the Inspector on the standard of work of her pupils. A further blow was struck in July 1955 when it was announced that the subsidy would be reduced in April 1956 to 50%, and in June 1957 to 25% and from 1958 there would be no subsidy for non-Government schools. The bishops began a fund-raising campaign to keep the schools going. In Bizana GR Duhy and Francis Lowry were the campaigners. They raised ……….
Fr Matthew McDonald from the Seminary in Pretoria paid a visit this year. The sisters did some painting on the altars and the church. Fr Columbanus Timmons, OFM gave the retreat to the sisters. As Sr Luisa did not understand English she slept through the whole lot.
In May, 1955, Fr Patrick Peyton held a rally of the Rosary Crusade in the Bizana cricket grounds. Bishop McBride was present.
In June the Corpus Christin procession was held, with the altar in porch of Coloured school.
On 15th August 28 Children of Mary were received after a three day retreat, given by the sisters.
On the 30th August Fr Germain made an offer of 221 pounds to ABG McLead for a Lister engine, which was accepted and ……… to the one operating successfully at Mt.Frere. But it never showed a profit.
Seeing the situation with regard to the school was becoming impossible, and there were objections to a native school being in a white area, Fr Germain decided to transfer the school outside the town, and also to transfer the running of the school to the Government under the system of Bantu Community.
The site chosen was Matwebu, by coincidence the same site as that obtained by Fr Marcellin so many years ago, but which was never ratified. There was an initial difficulty about getting the site. The men of the district agreed to allow the site if Fr Germain used his influence to get a dipping tank for them in the neighbourhood as it was very inconvinient for them to travel long distances to the nearest dipping tanks. Fr Germain did this and a dipping tank was installed in the valley opposite the school. It was intended to make a big school with accomodation for boarders, but this plan was shelved. The assistant teacher, Getrude Swana, applied for a post at Ntlakwe and left. Her place was taken by Bonifacia Mbanjwa.
On the 18th Julu 1955 Fr. Germain received word that the plans for the hospital had been approved and work commenced on the digging of the foundations on the 16th of November. Brs Deseth, Philip, Juniper and Masseo did the work along with Native labour. The money came from Ireland and the Government on a pound for pound basis. The remaining ……….. came from the NRC making a total of ………….
1956 During this year a school was built at Silangwe without permission. In May a rather threatening letter came from the Bizana School Board requesting the school to close down forthwith. Joseph Dikini was teaching there at that time and a school board had been formed composed of Lucas Chagi, Andreas Mbali, Zibunu Chagi, Mjanyani Chagi, Johannes and Justice Chagi,Canisius Chutshela. Joseph Dikini complined that the rain and dew in this wild area was ruining his shoes, so he requested Fr Germain to “bring me the gumboots”. In June there came another letter, this time from the Magistrate, asking to know with what authority was the Catholic Church using a building at Mlambo-Ntaba (Silangwe) for church purposes, seeing there was no record of such a site in the Magistrate’s office. At this time the five miles limit was relaxed and was applied to churches of one’s own denomination, i.e one could not build a church within 5 miles of one’s own church. So Fr. Germain made an application immediately, which was approved on 17-11-1956 and the land fenced on 27-11 -1956. At this time the church was called St. Anthony’s
In March 1956 Fr Germain formed a Matwebu school committee and informed the school board that the committee would provide the site, the buildings, fences, and generally look after the place. Fr Germain’s motive seems to have been to make sure there was a successor to the Bizana RC school, where the majority of the pupils would be Catholics and some influence exerted, even though it would be a B.C. School. At the time of the transfer the teachers would both be Catholics. This, in fact, did take place, though some years later as vacancies occurred for the assistant teacher, non-catholics got the job. But the principal, George Swana, was still there in 1963. Meanwhile the Bizana school carried on although the subsidy was reduced to 50%. There were 102 Catholics attending and 15 non-Catholics.
In October 1956 Fr. Germain became a correspondent for the Sunday Tribune. This post lapsed in 1962.
Fr. Germain had been on his own all this while, but in October Fr.Aelred Devine came as assistant.
Outstations with chapels at this time were Dutyini (kwa Khatywa), Ntlakwe (kwa Melane) and Silangwe (the school building). Outstations without chapels were (date when they are first mentioned is given in brackets) : Luthulini (1953), Gundrift (1952) Mzize kwa Dindi, Lugwijini 1933) kwa Letsekha, Nkantsweni (1956) kwa Maqayi, Mbongweni (1953) kwa Mbanjwa, Ntozelo (1956) Kwa Langa & kwa Dzanibe, Greenville (1956) kwa Memela, Mbobeni (1956) Kwa Chagi, Ntshamate kwa Maqam ealrly 1930s) There was another outstation started half way between Bizana and Lugwijini on the main road at the home of a Non-Catholic Coloured, Roskridge. But it was not a success and soon dropped. At Ntshamate the station kwa Maqam was dropped and another home nearer the majority of the people was chosen, ie Kwa Nonkinyela. The station at Gundrift, kwa Ngxabi, served pricipally the people across the Umtamvuna who worked in the Harding farms. The priest at harding could not caome frequently to say Mas for them so there was an agreement that Baptisms could be entered in the Bizana books. This station was changed later to kwa Nyide, right down near the river Umtamvuna.
In December 1956 Fr Germain made an application for a church site at Ntlozela amd also at Mzize. With the relaxation of the 5-mile limit rule, all over the diocese outstation churches began to spring up. In November permission to occupy the site at Dutyini was granted. This site was roughly about a quarter of a mile from the place originally desired at Ndize, but in a better position.
The priests’ residence at Bizana was old and badly ventilated on the ground floor so it was decided to build a new presbytery. Fr Awlred and Fr Germain drew up the plans and wrote many letters, especially to America. Eventually they got enough money to build a fine house for olny …………. Coloured labour was employed and the work continued until 1957. The plans were approved on 11-3-1957.
At this time there were 1,295 Native Catholics, 22 Whites, 22 Coloureds. There were 15 boarders at the school out of a total of 129. There were 42 at the Coloured school. There were 5 catechists, 30 members of the Children of Mary, 50 in the Holy Childhood, 40 in St Annes, 10 in CAU.
1957 Plans to transfer the Native school to Matwebu were making slow progress and the Bizana school was still operating, though the subsidy was reduced again by half. Fr Germain attempted to have the school registered as a BC school temporarily until the school at Matwebu would be ready. This he did so that he salaries of the teachers would be paid in full by the Government. This attempt met with no success and at no stage was the Bizana school ever registered as a Bantu Community school, even though the Bizana School Board was in favour of this. In January, 1957, one hut had been built at Matwebu and another started. Fr Germain applied for assistance in the building, stating the cost to be estimated at 1662. In the latter half of this year the school was finally completed and the old school on the mission closed down after 28 years of operation. Agatha Nomvete retired from teaching as married women teachers were not acceptable in BC schools. The teachers at the new school were George Swana, Principal, and Bonifacia Mbanjwa, assistant.
Matwebu School Building of Dutyini
In May this year bishop McBride did over 100 Confirmations. A Prefab was ordered for Dutyini on the 15th of May and soon delivered. Br Masseo organised the work and a rondavel was put up to house the tools. The Wesleyians had not reconciled themselves to the Catholics getting a site, and one night they burnt down this but and destroyed the tools inside as well as some ladders. But the work continued anyway and a stone and iron structure was erected. On the 27th October the first Mass was said.
The application for Ntlozela was granted on the 12th July this year, but the site was not fenced until the 25th of March 1958.
The application for Mzize was also granted and permission to occupy came on the 12th August 1957. The site chosen was a few miles from the home of Theophilus Dindi. Fr Aelred and Chief Nomaqhwatekana designated the site.
In January an application was made for a site at Lugwijini and this was granted on the 12th August 1957.
On 22nd November Fr Aelred was transferred from Bizana to Lusikisiki. Fr Cornelius came to replace him but stayed only a very short time.
During this year work proceeded on the hospital with Brs Dosith, Juniper and Masseo in charge. On the 1st March 1957 the Provincial Administration agreed to allow a TB block for the hospital.
As the school was now vacant it was decided that it would be a good place to have a catechist school so as to provide the diocese with well instructed catechists. This had been a problem for some time, and a short course had been given in Hardenberg, but without a great deal of success. Letters were written to Lydenberg, Lumko and other places where there were catechist schools, and from the information gathered, a programme was drawn up for Bizana.
This year Fr Urban was made Superior of all Irish Franciscans in South Africa and Rhodesia. In a legislatively confused way, Fr Bernadine was local superior. Fr Urban resided in Vanderl Park in the Transvaal.
Each Chrsitmas there was a Midnight Mass and it was well attended by the African Catholics.
1958 This year in February a Palist Father, Fr Gough, gave a mission to the Europeans and Coloureds. There was a good attendence.
The hospital was completed and patients from February. The sisters left the old covent and moved into their new one. The bishop blessed the convent on the 8th March. More sisters came from overseas. There was one Irish, 2 English, 2 Scottish, 1 Italian, 1 German, 2 American, 1 Canadian and one from Luxemburg, Mother Anne-Bernadette who became superior, Mother Rosary having gone.
On the 30th March it ws decided to form the Legion of Mary and six Coloureds attended a preliminary meeting.
5th April: Holy Saturday. Dr E Campher waas received into the Church. His wife was was a Catholic from Derry.
7th April: Fr Laurence came as assistant to Fa. Germain who had been on his own for the most of the time since Fr Aelred went to Lusikisiki.
19th April 1958: Official opening of hospital. It was blessed by the Apostolic Delegate, Celestine Damiano, and opened by Mr TD Ramsay, chief Magistrate of Transkeian Territories. St Annes TB hospital was opened by Dr JB Rensberg, chief Regional Health Officer. Bishop McBride, Bishop Fleischer, the Paramount chief Botha Sigcau, 20 priests and many sisters were present. About 5,000 Native were there and between 200 and 300 Whites and Coloureds. There was horceracing, dancing and singing. Seven oxen were slain and 50 loaves of bread were provided for the occasion. It was stated that the hospital would also be used as a training centre for African Nurses. In the evening a ball was held in the Village Hall which was very nicely decorated, espectially by Mrs Joan Steyn.
4th May 1958: First official meeting of Coloured Praesidium of Legion of Mary, “Our Lady of the Visitation”. Fr Laurence was Spiritual Director and Mother Austel helped at first. Six woman and one man enrolled.
1st June: Fr Germain began the Third Order in Bizana by enrolling 5 Coloured women. On this day the old convent of the sisters was rented to the Dyhys. They paid a rent of ………. per month.
The Wesleyians were still trying to oppose the Catholic Church in Dutyini and offered to buy the property of the church site from Fr Germain for …690. He agreed on condition that an alternate site be found, knowing that the Wesleyians would never be able to raise the sum and that the Bantu Affairs would not agree to any change. In fact the Commissioner did refuse to consider any change. It is said that the money collected was kept by the Minister for his personal use.
Arrangements were going ahead for the establishment of a catechist school, and equipment was bought to provide living quarters.
It was decided to utilise the old residence for a library and an application was made to the Cape Provincila Library. This application was granted in 1959 and a Coloured Library was established with Mr Meth, the Principal of the school as librarian. The Library bus used call round every few months and deliver new books.
Hamilton was removed from his position as catechist because he used have the Wesleyian custom of Imvuselelo’s i.e a sort of revival meeting held at night. The dangers of this sort of thing were apparent. Mr Lukhosi of Matwebu took on the work of part time catechist, and used the mission horse to visit schools.
12th October: A new church of brick with an asbestos roof was completed at Lugwijini.
Building of Outstation Lugqijini.
18th November 1958: Chief Makasonke Sigcau was installed as chief in Amadengane Location. He had been educated at Mariazell and became a Catholic there. But when he returned he never practised the Faith.
16th December 1958: First Annual Reunion of all Legionaries of diocese. Round about September a praesidium for Africans had been started with the title ‘Regina Angelorum’. On the 26th October a hospital praesidium was started with a title ‘Stella Matutina”. Tom Paulsen was President for a while, then Philomena Tseki took over. The Praesidium was run by Mother Austell. It kept going for about six month and then collapsed.
1959: Fr Lucius McLean, OFM came on a visit. At that time he was Guardian of Merchants’Quay in Dublin.
19th January: The Bishop and Fr Bernardine arrived to enroll about twenty men to begin training at the catechist school. Their instructor was Peter Mangqalaza, a former seminarian.
First group of Trainee catechists Bishop McBride chatting to
beside their school. Peter Mangqalaza the Instructor
25th January: The outstation church at Lugwijini was blessed by Bishop McBride and given the title S Maria.
19th March 1959: An agreement was drawn up between the Diocese and the FMM with regard to their foundation in Bizana. Conditions were
1. Daily Mass in convent when two priests are in residence.
2. Benediction daily in Convent except Sundays and Fridays.
3. Conference twice monthly.
4. Confessions weekly
5. The sisters were to provide meals, laundry, and give a monthly stipend of …5.
11th April 1959: A visit by Fr Schimlek CMM
3rd May: Dr E Campher confirmed by the bishop.
22nd May: Br Stenson, envoy of the Legion of Mary, paid a visit.
At this period there were freak rains and much flood damage was caused. The pontoon at the Umtamvuna was washed away. Water was flowing between the old presbytery and the new Fr Germain was due to go on his holiday overseas at this time, and he was delayed on account of the weather. However, he did manage to get away on the 24th May and went to Ireland and America. Fr Laurence remained in charge.
6th June: The Legionaries went to Flagstaff for a meeting with Br Stenson. There he formed the Bizana Curia with the title ‘Immaculata Curia’. The Praesidium Regina Angelorum was divided into two to make another – Regina Pacis. So there were three Praesidia in the Curia originally – Our Lady of the Visitation, Regina Angelorum and Regina Pacis.
30th June: Fr Laurence opened up a new outstation at Vema, but only visited it once.
In July this year Mlambo-Ntaba school was transferred to the Bantu Community and received aid. It only went as far as standard II. The first techer was Tressie Nqibisa, and then Bonifacia Mbanjwa. After that a non-Catholic was appointed. Under the new system of Bantu Community, any religious denomination could send a catechist to give religious instruction twice a week during school hours to its own adherents. This meant in fact that a Catholic catechist could visit a former Protestant school and teach catechism to the Catholic children there, something which would have been unthinkable before hand. The same applied to former catholic schools, but the Protestants never took advantage of this regulation. Because teachers did not sometimes understand this regulation, much trouble was caused. But the inspector Mr Stone always supported the letter of the law in every case and catechists were teaching in nearly all schools which had Catholic pupils by 1963.
2nd July: Frs Stanislaus and Bernard from Pretoria Seminary called on a visit.
15th July: The Procurator of the missions, Fr Oliver Moran, paid a call.
This year there were an estimated, 1,800 Native Catholics. There were 13 sisters in the hospital and 7 catechists were being trained for this parish.
31st August: Heavy snow came as far as Fort Donald and some OMI priests had to stop a day at Bizana because they were unable to get through to Kokstad.
8th September: Fr Reginald was here for treatment in the hospital and today celebrated his silver jubilee of Profession.
15th October 1959: Fr Kieran came here for treatment.
2nd November: Frs John, Manus and Eric, newly arrived missinaries, come to Bizana to learn Xhosa. Their instructress was the former teacher at the Bizana school, Agatha Nomvete. She was at that time employed as receptionist at the hospital. Later she left that job and became secretary to the parish.
4th November: Siwisa first mentioned as an outstation. This place was really inside the borders of Flagstaff parish and was dropped in 1962.
A Junior praesidium Queen of the holy Rosary’ had been started and shortly afterwards it was divided and another called Queen of Mt Calvary was established.
16th December: Legion Reunion in Kokstad. A lorry was hired for ….10 to take the members who paid 5…. each.
29th December: Frs John Manus went to visit Khaleni where a woman had been baptised in danger of death. The people had expressed the wish to know more about the church, so this place was visited nearly every Sunday by these two Fathers, alternating, travelling there on horseback. Later an outstation was started there kwa Hlabe and all this family joined the Church.
Fr Germain returned from overseas after his six months holiday.
24th December: Fr Emmanuel from Boksburg came for a short holiday.
A party was given by the sisters to the Coloured children. Fr Eric made a big impression as Father Christmas.
25th December: For the first time in Bizana the midnight Mass was a Solemn one with Fr. John as celebrant.
28th December: Fr Laurence was transferred to Kokstad to look after the Coloured community.
31st December: Old year rang out at midnight. Loudspeakers had been installed in the bell tower some time previously and records were played from the sacristy.
1960 January the 3rd: The Fathers went to Kokstad for a retreat given by Fr Kevin, OFM Fr Germain remained behind.
7th January: The Bavarian Province had accepted an offer to send missionaries to Zululand, and Frs Lucas, Caius and Gottschalk agreed to go there. On this day a farewell party was given in their honour in the hall at the school in Kokstad.
12th January: Fr Laurence returns to Bizana with a slipped disc.
17th January 1960: Fr Eric led a group of Legionaries on foot to Ntlakwe to start the first outstation praesidium. A violent thunderstorm in the afternoon dampened evangelical ardour.
For some time Fr Germain had been Secretary of the film club in Bizana.
2nd February: Drs. Ducray and Campher came into Fr Eric’s room at midnight, looking for his blood for an emergency transfusion in the hospital.
13th February: The Bishop gave Fr Germain permission to buy a jeep to supplement the Rambler. It was bought in Umtata for …250.
14th February: In attempting to start the sisters car, a Renault, Fr Eric set it on fire.
Sr Lydia got some fire extinguishers and managed to spray Fr Eric and Sr Marcia liberally with the chemical. Sr Izaac took the extinguisher from her and sprayed a Native Policeman with it. Eventually the fire was put out.
17th February: A new outstation was started by Fr Manus at Mqeni, not far from Ntlozela. Mass was said in the home of Gilber Dlamini, a recent convert.
In going out to the outstaions all there years the Fathers were accompanied by the sisters who used to visit homes and invite the people to come to Mass. They used also teach catechism to small children sometimes.
25th February: Mother Superior was taken by plane from Bizana to Durban for hospital treatment.
5th March: Fifty people were baptised this morning in Bizana.
10th March: It was decided that a more intensive course in Xhosa could be obtained from Fr Frey, the Regional Superior of the Pallotine Fathers in Queenstown. He had had discussions on the matter with Fr Urban. So Fr Urban came and took the three Fathers to Queenstown, to a place called Flowers Halt, about seven miles outside the town, where Fr Frey resided.
During this year the church was extensively renovated. The seats were painted. The walls which had been dark red were repainted a much brighter colour. A new Confession box was made and the Altar repainted.
19th March: Sr Frances and Maureen made their final vows in the church. Bishop McBride presided at the ceremony.
1960 (continued) At this time there was political unrest in Pondoland. The Native resented the way chiefs were implementing Government policy. They said the Bantu Authorities imposed upon them. Members of tribal authorities were appointed without consultation with the Pondos. Bribery of school authorities by teachers was alleged, and there were also complaints about Pass laws and dipping regulations.
Agitators were known as ‘the hill men’, many later proved to be Communists. Several chiefs were attacked and some were assassinated. On the 20th March all Europeans in the district came to take refuge in the hospital until the situation eased. Some families stayed the night in the hospital as it was feared the Native were going to attack the town. Nothing came of this however.
27th March: Fr Baptist O’Toole arrived from Ireland.
3rd April: Fr Germain obtained a new church bell. It was blessed by Bishop McBride and erected in the tower. The inscription on it reads:
M. O’Byrne Founder Dublin In Honorem Sanctissimi Paracliti
Ex.Mo et Rev.Mo JE McBride, OFM
Germanus Mannion OFM
13th April: The course at Queenstown was not a success, owing to the inability of Fr Frey to explain the language, even though he himself spoke it fluently. Fr John arrived back on this day and helped with the Easter functions.
18th April: Frs Manus and Eric arrive back.
30th April: The Bishop came for St Patricks Ball, held in the Town Hall.
12th May: Fr Germain started a Parish Bulletin and the first installment came out on this day.
18th May: The sisters made a donation of a set of Gold High Mass vestments and they were used today for the first time.
9th June: Two brick flower boxes were put in front of the house and the space between the old and new houses was cemented. The catechists did the work, supervised by Paulsen.
10th June: Fr Roger Huser came on General Visitation. Fr John went to Flagstaff for him. On the way back they passed through a large crowd of Natives, but were unmolested. Assembles of more than three were forbidden at this time.
11th June: Coloured dance in Town Hall in aid of the Mission. It was not very successful as people were afraid to travel through Pondoland on account of the emergency.
14th June: The Police gave a demonstration of lifesaving from one of the helicopters which were in Bizana because of the trouble.
17th June: Fr John appointed to Maria Telgte, an old Mariannhill foundation which had been closed down for some years, but not the FMM sisters were thinking of making it a novitiate, so Fr. John was sent there to be chaplin. This plan never materialised, but Fr John remained there and made a flourishing mission out of it. Fr Manus was appointed to Hlangwini and Fr Eric to Lusikisiki.
19th June: Corpus Christi. Procession, with the Blessed Sacrament being carried under a canopy for the first time.
Corpus Christi procession Military helicopter over Bizana Hospital
26th June: To the church at Dutyini Fr. Germain added a bell tower. A new church, built of mud and roofed with corrugated iron, was opened by Fr. Eric at Ntlakwe . This was to replace the chapel at Melane’s kraal which had fallen down the previous year. Sebastian Gumede tried to build another on the same spot, but no sooner had he it built than it fell down. The new one was built about quarter of a mile away and not near anyone’s homestead.
30th June: The chief Magistrate of the Transkei, Mr Leibrandt, came to Bizana and explained the political situation.
1st July: Fr.Khuzwayo from Mahobe, assisted by Fr Maduna (who was born at Ntsingisi) gave a three day mission to theparishioners. The mission was very well attended. Fr. Erich departed for his new position at Lusikisiki.
6th July: Fr Manus departed for Matatiele, instead of Hlangwini.
9th August: Fr Baptist decided to resurrect the nurses praesidium, but on condition that the sisters would have nothing to do with it. The new praesidium was called ‘Our Lady help of the Sick’, and its first meeting was held on this day with Mrs. Manuel as acting President.
16th October: Visit of Italian ambassador.
2nd September 1960: Fr John left to take up his position in Telgte.
Word came from the Chapter in Ireland that Fr Bernardine was now Superior Regular again in Kokstad, and that Kokstad was a separate entity from the Commisariate.
5th October: Country-wide referendum decides that South Africa will become a Republic.
11th October: On this day thousands of Pondos came to Bizana for a meeting to resolve their difficulties with the magistrate. During all this time there was grave unrest and a sizeable army was sent into Pondoland to control any uprisings which might take place. Helicopters were used to help catch fugitives, and Saracen tanks were patrolling the district all the time.
The Pondos had various meeting places, the most famous being Ndlovu Hill, only a few miles from the site of Dutyini church. Many of the chiefs were removed into protective custody in other districts in South Africa. But some were attacked and assassinated. On of them, Stanford Nomaqwatekana, of Mzize Location was hacked to pieces and his mutilated corpse brought to the hospital. His children were sent for safety to the convent of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary at Umzinto.
As a result of this murder (which was not purely political as Stanford had not been a very just chief and was disliked by his people) five men were executed in 1962. One of them was a Wesleyian minister. Another, whose home was beside the church at Lugwijini, wrote to his family when in jail, and told them he was resigned to die. He encouraged them to embrace the Catholic Faith, though he himself died a Protestant.
For a long time the stores in the village were boycotted by orders of the ‘Him Men’. Even the hospital was ordered to be boycotted because it was built by Whites, and frequently the people had to smuggle their sick to the hospital at the dead of night for feal of reprisals. One boy was gored by an ox, and his family waited a whole day before they plucked up courage to bring him to the hospital at night.
Eventually, the ringleaders of these disturbances were caought, jailed or exiled, and peace came upon the territory once more. But it took a long time for things to settle down to normal.
These disturbances scarcely affected the Church and work proceeded as usual, except not and again a priest might be turned back from going to an outstation because the army were making a raid in that area. This was rare, and none of the Catholic Natives was involved in any subversive activities from the start to the finish. Afterwards Pagans were heard to accuse the Protestants of being behind the whole trouble.
8th November 1960: The first group of catechists qualified and received diplomas from the Bishop during an impressive ceremony.
First Group of Qualified Remigius Mafunda His catechist
Catechists with the Bishop insignia from the bishop
8th December: Fr Urban died suddenly in the Barage, Transvaal.
16 th December: Annual reunion of Legionaries. A lorry was again hired for the purpose but it was held up on the way by soldiers, and consequently arrived very late.
About this time Fr Germain put in a new Sacristy with wood block flooring and new furnishings. He also put in a new Baptism Font.
The Fathers of the diocese hardly ever used the seaside cottage, so it was loaned to Mr Wagner on condition that he paid the rent and would vacate it should any of the Fathers decide to use it.
1961 Fr Sean O’Riordan came from Grahamstown to give an intensive course in Xhosa in Kokstad. About twelve Fathers attended.
15th January: Fr Antonine, Parish priest of Kokstad, V G. and Procurator for the Missions, left South Africa for good. Fr Stephen Whyte was made Superior of Commissariate in place of Fr. Urban. Fr Bernardine had already been appointed Superior in Kokstad.
16th March: Fr Germain was invited to take Fr Antonine’s place as PP of Kokstad and Procurator of the Missions in the diocese. Fr Wilfred Byrne, who had been stationed in Hlangwini, was invited to replace Fr,5 Germain in Bizana.
When Fr Germain left there were roughly 1,800 Native Catholics in the parish. The Coloured school had 20 Catholic pupils and 35 non-catholics. An inspection report stated that the home language of 90% of the pupils was Xhosa. Their teachers were Mr Meth and Miss Gloria Walker. There were seven catechists, viz. Remigius Mafunda, Lucas Chagi, Gilbert Khatywa son of Carolus, Jacob Letsekha son of Jerom, Benedict Dindi son of Theophilus, Philemon Mbali son of Cletus, and Justice Kipi from Mabula. There wer 13 sisters in the hospital.
Fr Germain had just bought a new Zephyr. New lights were put in the church and new bas-relief Stations of the Cross erected. There was extensive work done at the outstations. In places people built houses for church purposes only. Occasionally complaints were received from the Magistrate as according to law one could not have a public church service in a private home.
However, Fr Germain told the people to leave ploughshares and hoes in these places and to call them stores. So there was no real trouble. Outstations on official sites with chapels were: Dutyini, Silangwe, Lugwijini, Ntlozela and Mzize; unofficial sites with chapels were Ntlakwe, Nkantsweni, (The people had built a small hut on top of a hill opposite the old place where Mass was said), Gundrift, Greenville, Mqeni.
Private homes where Mass was regularly said were Mbobeni (kwa Cagi), Khaleni (kwaHlabe), Ntshamate ( kwaNonkinyela), Luthulini (kwaMqakama) and Mbongweni. Mass was also said at Siwisa inside the Flagstaff district.
Mbobeni At First Alies Legion of Mary 1961
During Easter week Fr. Wilfred Byrne arrived in Bizana but Fr Germain remained on for some weeks.
16th April 1961: The church at Dutyini was officially opened today by Bishop McBride. A large and colourful crowd of people, both Christians and Pagans was present. The church was dedicated to St Joseph.
Towards the end of April Fr Germain was given a farewell party by the European parishioners in the hotel. (Mr & Mrs Lawry, the proprietors were Catholics) Mr Lowry made an appropriate and eloquent speech praising Fr Germain’s solicitude for the spiritual welfare of the parishioners and his interest in the civic and social affairs of Bizana.
8th May: The African parishioners gave a farewell ceremony and a generous presentation. Nurses from the hospital gave a small concert.
During this month the new Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop McGeough, paid a visit. His signature and good wishes are included in this chronicle.
Three newly-ordained priests bound for Transvaal and Rhodesia paid a visit. They are Frs Sean, Richard and Myles all OFM.
5th May: Evening Mass begun for First Friday. Good initial attendance of Europeans, Coloureds and Africans.
19th May: Official (canonical) visitation by Rev Fr Celsus O’Brien, OFM, Minister Provincial.
13th June: Sr Maria Assumpta renewed her profession for one year.
24th June: There were 46 Baptisms today. The following day 56 made 1st Holy Communion.
2nd July: Bishop McBride came to do 136 Confirmations.
10th October: Fr Egbert comes to give one day retreat to Legion of Mary.
12th October 1961: Fr Wilfred’s feast-day. Many priests came for a celebration. It was also Fr Seraphin’s feast-day but he got stuck near Fort Donald with battery trouble and did not make it ot Bizana.
About this time a new floor was put down in the church. The church itself was repainted.
24th November: Carolus Khatywa dies. He had been the mainstay of the Church at Dutyini almost from the beginning. Fr Germain came for his funeral and a short account of his life was written for the Southern Cross.
This month the jeep was sold to Tabankulu Mission and an Austin Gypsy purchased from Dr Ducray who was a Catholic.
The field outside the church was just a swamp for years, but round about this time it was filled in by the VMB and the frogs who used sing there moved elsewhere.
December 28th 1961: Fr Baptist, who had remained on in Bizana after his course in Xhosa, was transferred to Kokstad. Fr Manus, who had been in Matatiele, came to Bizana instead.
December 31st: the old year was rung out and the new year rung in at midnight by means of records played in the sacristy and relayed from loudspeakers in the church tower.
The second group of catechists qualified at the end of this year and the course was discontinued. So the catechist school closed down.
1962: 1st January: Br Augustine, a Marist Brother, came to do his retreat here preparatory to going to Cape Town.
15th January: Fr Eric comes to do a refresher course in Xhosa.
18th January: A new Legion of Mary Praesidium was started at Lugwijini with the title of Regina Apostolorum. In the previous year a Praesidium had been initiated at Dutyini and another mixed Senior and Junior one at Luthulini. This was later separated. This meant that there were in all eleven praesidia in the parish: two adult African Praesidia in Bizana, Two Junior praesidia attached, a Coloured Praesidium, a nurses praesidium, one at Dutyini, a Senior and a Junior at Luthulini, one at Lugwijini and one at Ntlakwe which had fallen away but was resurrected this year. Attached to the Curia which met at Bizana were three Lusikisiki Praesidia which were visited annually from bizana, but which scarcely ever managed to attend a Curia meeting. Correspondence was done directly to a special correspondent in Dublin.
28th February: Mr Hugh Gallagher, a Catholic from Magusheni who had been educated at the Holy Cross school in Kokstad, died and was buried at Port Shepstone, the Bishop and Fr Germain coming specially for the funeral.
19th March: Dr Ducray leaves Bizana for another appointment.
25th March: An Acies of the Legion of Mary was held in Bizana.
Fr Kieran gave a three day mission to the Europeans and Coloureds in town. It was well attended by all; even not-catholics came.
Seeing that the Catechist school was now closed down the buildings were no longer in continuous use. Therefore Fr Manus too down the partition in the large hall which was used for a dormitory and made a dance hall out of it. Dances were given with Zulu records to the nurses from then on about once a month.
April 15-22 Holy week. At Dutyini outstation over 90 people received communion on Palm Sunday. An impressive procession was held there. Many people from all over the parish came in to prepare for Baptism and Holy Communion. Sixty Baptisms were done in the open air by Frs Wilfred and Manus. Also present was Fr. O’connor from Kenya, Brother of St Maureen, FMM. He is a member of the Kiltegan Congregation. The ceremonies of Holy Week were well attended especially by the Africans and Coloureds. On Easter Sunday the 10 o’clock Mass was celebrated in the Hospital grounds, in from of St Anne’s. This was necessary owing to the large crowds. During the Good Friday function the catechists read aloud the Passion in Xhosa. This was very impressive and continued the following year.
30th April: Fr Manus began visiting the houses of half the parish to impart the Easter Blessing, and also to make a census.
17th May: Fr Wilfred reopened the outstation at Vema, kwa Macingwane.
31st May 1962: A meeting was held to try and resuscitate the nearly defunct Sacred Heart Sodality.
15th June: Ice and icycles found in the garden. No one can remember that happening before, even Auntie.
9th July: Remigius Mafunda, the catechist, leaves for his home in the Mount Frere district where he will continue his work as catechist. He had laboured faithfully in the Bizana district for 12 years. His wife also was very Regina Pacis Praesidium of the Legion of Mary. Lucas Chagi of Silangwe has taken the place of Mafunda.
22nd July: Two Japanese sisters (FMM) spent a night in Bizana and left again on Sunday. They were on route to Brazil where they will work among the Japanese emigrants there.
September 8th 1962: Br Dosith died suddenly in Durban. He had done great work in Bizana, especially in the building of hte hospital, reinforcing the church and helping at various outstations.
1st October: Francis Lowry, the Catholic proprietor of the hotel died today in the hospital.
8th October: Mother Visitator, FMM goes to outstation at Vema with Fr Wilfred. Many Pagans present. Mother Visitator distributed pictures of Pope John. Afterwards she left for Kokstad and Matatiele. Folk dances were arranged for her in the hospital grounds.
10th October: Reuinion of Legion held today at Kokstad. The day was changed from December because of the bad weather then, but this day also turned out very wet and miserable.
12th October: Andreas Mbali died at Silangwe. He had been retired for a long time as a catechist and contracted TB. He was a patient in St Anne’s Hospital and during his stay there he converted many to the Faith. He ‘went home to die’ and after a fairly long time he passed away peacefully. He was buried by Fr. Wilfred by the edge of a wood near his home.
10th December: Fr Joseph Moore arrived from Ireland and was supposed to replace Fr.Manus who was ill for some time in Bizana. But he was not feeling well and after an examination it was discovered that he had cancer of the stomach. He returned immediately to Ireland where he died after six weeks. He was 29.
24th February: Stations of the Cross erected at Silangwe by Fr. Wilfred.
Fr Cosmas came here to polish up his Xhosa before being appointed to Tabankulu to do supply for Fr Seraphin.
19th March: Fr Khuzwayo comes to give three-day retreat to nurses in hospital.
23rd March: Fr Chrysostomus Ruthing died in the Home for Invalid Religious at Mariannhill today, Saturday. He was 84.
2nd April: New outstation opened at Dindini by Fr Manus, kwa Mfela. Many Pagans attended.
9th April: Holy Week. In the morning Masses during the week three nurses read the Passion in Zulu.
17th April: Application made for a church site at Mbobeni.
21st April: Blessing of houses in second half of parish begun. This continued until the end of June.
23rd June: New railings were put in the sanctuary. Br Juniper also put in a light in the confession box. The mud church at mzize was too small so in these months it was extended by the people, the builder being Jacob Letsekha. A wooden altar top was made by Br Benignus.
7th July: Bishop McBride comes to do Confirmations and also to open the Church at Silangwe officially. Between Bizana and Silangwe he confirmed 210 adults and children, the largest number ever in Bizana. The church at Silangwe was dedicated to St Laurence and Our Lady of Fatima.
26th July 1963: A number of women were received into St Anne’s Sodality today , thereby bringing the numbers up to 99.
27th July: Approval and permission to occupy the site at Mbobeni arrived.
15th August: Fr Joe O’Connor comes again for a holiday prior to returning to Ireland.
Statistics for 1963 after a census had been made show that there are 1, 873 African Catholic, 19 Whites, and 49 Coloureds in the parish. The outstations are Dutyini, Silangwe Lugwijini, Ntlozela, Mzize, Ntlakwe, Nkantsweni, Gundrift, (which got its name from the old days when there was gun-running from Natal to the Cape, and this is the point where the smuggling was done), Greenville, Mqeni, Khaleni, Ntshamete, Luthulini, Mbongweni, Vema (kwa Macingwane), Dindini (Kwa Mfela) and Mabula (kwa Yengo). This last had recently been started at the home of a convert, Johnson Yengo, who had been in prison during the distrurbances. While there he dreamt about the Catholic Church and decided to join, which he did. By coincidence his home was very near the site which had been given to Fr Marcellin in the 1929s by a chief, but which was never ratified. The station at Siwisa was dropped as it was inside Flagstaff and Fr.Severin used say Mass quite near.
There were 24 catholics at the Coloured school and 46 non-catholics. There were six trained catechists, Lucas Chagi, Gilbert Khatywa, Benedict Dindi, Philemon Mbali, Jacov Letsekha and Justice Kipi, a convert who had been educated at Mariannhill. There also five catholic teachers in various schools of the district: George Swana, Alfons Somi, Joseph Dikini, Vandana Vanda ( a convert) and Athanasia Mpandle.
26th August: Secretary for Propaganda Fidei comes on a short visit.
27th September: Br Masseo comes to do some plastering at Silangwe and also to erect a bell which had come from Ireland.
21st October: Six Fathers turn up for Fr Wilfred’s feast-day which is being celebrated today.
1st November: The old presbytery was being repainted during this time.
9th November: Dance held in aid of the Coloured school. A band from Lusikisiki, organized by Fr Eric, performed.
20th November: The Government had decided to give the Transkey, which includes Bizana, a measure of independence. The first elections were held today.
30th November: Bazaars had been held regularly every two or three years, but now the various Church bodies decided to hold no more. We held our last one today and the sum of R162.69,5 was realised, Mrs Campher did most of the work.
5th December: The Sodality of the Children of Mary had diminished in numbers over the years, so that there were only three or four members left. Fr Manus gave a three-day retreat to those who wished to join and on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 62 were received into the Sodality as probationers.
9th December: Fr Khuzwayo here for retreat to the nurses.
19th December: Floor in side chapel tiled with marley tiles.
25th December: A second midnight Mass was celebrated for the Africans, some of whom had hired a bus to come in for the occasion.
27th December: We went to Kokstad for the Bishop’s feast day, bringing with us Fr Columbanus who had been appointed to Tabankulu.
31st December: The presbytery was painted outside at this time. The Austin Gypsy was traded in today for $300 and a new Willy’s International Jeep was bought for $1,060. The deal was made through Wegener’s Garage.
From the 1st January 1964 the Coloured School came under the new coloured Affairs Department. But no practical change has taken place. Fr Wilfrid Byrne is still manager. Uletta Jones received her permanent appointment. The school was completely repainted.
24th January: A life size statue of St Joseph, which had been in the church for years was brought out to Dutyini, which is dedicated to St Joseph.
27th January: We went to Kokstad to say goodbye to Fr Canisius who is leaving the diocese to take up an appointment in Zululand.
31st January: A new Legion of Mary Praesidium, Mother of Divine Grace, was started by Fr Wilfred at Silangwe.
12th February: A very severe hailstorm knocked off most of the new paint on the school, broke ten windows there, and also broke the translucent corrugated sheets in the church and in the old house. Some of the hail measured three inches.
Today Fr Wilfred, Mr Schultz, the assistant Magistrate and an African policeman measured and be……. the site at Mbobeni. The site measures 150 feet square.
22nd February: Fr Finbarr, newly ordained, arrives to study Xhosa.
10th March: Fr Bernardine, Regular Superior, comes for Visitation.
17th March: Usual St Patrick’s Day celebrations at Kokstad.
22nd March: Palm Sunday. The outstation today was Silangwe and the blessing of Palms and procession was held there.
27th March: The Passion was read today, Good Friday, by three catechists.
28th March: Holy Saturday. A total of seventy baptisms was done today.
29th March: Easter Sunday; An extra Mass was celebrated at midday to accomodate those unable to get into the church earlier. Many Pagans attended this Mass, and a commentary was given to them by the catechist.
About this time the painting of the interior of the presbytery was completed. All the work was done by an African called Nikwe, a relation of the chief of Nikwe Location.
19th April: Rev Fr. Celsus O’Brien, Provincial, arrives for Visitation.
28th April: Fr Manus said Mass at Kwa Pungula, eluSindisweni, where Mass had been said years before by Fr Ruthig and also Fr Magnobon. There is only one family to Catholics there.
7th May: Leonard Chagi, a man from Mbobeni, went to Ingwavuma to take up position as catechist. He was very successful there, working for the Servite Fathers.
10th May: A retreat for the Legion of Mary was given by Fr Reginald, OFM in the Parish Hall.
11th May: The annual retreat was given at Melville on the South Coast by Mons. Ullyat, OFM from Volksrust.
1st June: A language laboratory had been established at Lumku in the Queenstown Diocese by Fr Riordan, MSC. Six priests from Kokstad joined six from the Port Elizabeth diocese in taking part in the first course. It lasted two weeks and was enjoyed by everybody. A Gaelic football match was played between Kokstad and Port Elizabeth on the Lady Frere rugby pitch. Kokstad won by two points.
During this month the site at Mbobeni was fenced. Also at Ntlakwe the church was rebuilt with mud bricks by Jacob Letsekha.
June: Eight Coloured children made their First Communion.
5th July: Corpus Cristi procession was held today in windy weather.
16th July: A travelling troupe gave exemples from Shakespeare’s comedies in the Town Hall.
21st July: The Catechists arrived from various parts of the diocese to do a retreat, given by Fr Reginald, and also tod o a refresher course. They stayed a week.
25th July: Fr Lukhozi from Mahobe gave a retreat to the women of St Anne’s Sodality.
28th July: Mass was said for the first time in many years at Mpisi, kwaMahotela. This woman had come from Flagstaff and Fr Severin many years previously had said Mass at her place. However, she was a careless catholic and there were scarcely any prospects in this place.
30th July: Mass was said for the first time at Ntsimbini Location, kwa Vezi. There are a number of Catechumens in this isolated area.
5th August: the first Pondo to become a Franciscan Missionary of Mary was professed this year. She returned today and went out to see her mother near Mpetsheni. Her name in religion is Sister Antonia Candida Candlovu.
7th August: Work was begun at the Mbobeni site to build a small hut which could be used for tools, for meals etc during the building of the church. The hut was comited in about a week, being built by Andreas Chagi. The local women gave assistance in making the bricks, and the jeep was used to transport mud to bricks to the site from the pond where they were made.
30th August: The Church at Ntlakwe was officially opened by Fr Wilfred.
3rd September: A Xhosa Adaption Committee had been set up in the Queenstown Diocese to implement changes in the Liturgy according to instructions from the Bishops. Fr Manus went from the diocese of Kokstad to a meeting at Cala where decisions were taken according to the decrees of Vatican Council II with regard to vernacular Liturgy. A special group of African priests were invited to do various translations of the Missal.
23rd September: In accordance with Government Policy, a Zoning Committee visited Bizana, and it was decided that part of Bizana on the left hand side of the road facing Natal should be zoned for African occupation. The sisters were allowed to choose with regard to hospital property. After much discussion, they decided to have the hospital zoned in the African area, as the Government would probably take it over anyway. Also, after the takeover, the sisters would still remain running the hospital on a basis of an 80% maintenance grant, but with regard to “capital subsity” i.e should they wish to put up new buildings, the Government would bear the full cost.
12th October: Br Masseo arrives to bring sand from Punzi Drift to the Mission where bricks are being made for the Mbobeni church. It was decided to try to make enough for Ntlozela also.
16th October: Old Mrs Lewis, mother of George Lewis, who had died a few days previously, was buried in Bizana from the Church here. Requiem Mass was said in English by Fr Wilfred. Fr Sylvester is here on a short visit.
24th October: Klas Connelius Janneman died at the age of 101 and was buried from the Methodist church. But he had received Extreme Unction while ill in hospital.
25th October: A mud brick church was built at Ntlozela by Justice Kipi and officially opened today by Fr Manus.
3rd November: The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary took over a new foundation near Durban, at Northdene in Queensborough. Mother Anne Bernadette from Bizana went to begin the foundation, but she soon returned to Bizana.
15th November: A private supper was held in Hotel as a farewell to Doctor and Mrs Campher who left Bizana to to to Port Elizabeth.
16th December: Legion Reunion was held this year in Bizana. The Bishop and a number of priest were present. About 200 Legionaries were present, including a lorry load from Kokstad and some from Lusikisiki.
20th December: 42 made their first Communion today.
24th December: Two Midnight Masses, one in English and the other in Xhosa. Weather poor and congregation rather small.
25th December: A concert was held after dinner, continuing until 4.30. This was to provide a substitute for the immoral concerts usually held by young people at Christmas time.
Many men were admitted to hospital during these days, the victims of assault. Several died. This is the usual thing at Christmas.
30th December: The Confession Box was changed to make it accomodate only one penitent at a time. Acoustic tiles were put in.
1st January: Fr Tarcissius OFM from Rhodesia paid us a visit, as also did Fr Liam OFM from Sharpeville, Transvaal.
26th January: Two prefabricated structures for the churches at Mbobeni and Ntlozela, arrived by RMT.
4th February: Fr Niall, recently ordained, arrives in the diocese.
17th February: Fr Wilfred goes to Franklin for Jubilee Mass of Fr Reginald.
22nd February: Plans drawn up for Mbobeni church and the foundations started. Frank Bartman was hired on contract to build the church.
14th March: New Friary opened in Vanderbly Park. Fr Wilfrid goes for opening.
30th March: Fr Hugh Daly, OFM provincial procurator for the Missions comes to visit us.
17th Easter: Usual ceremonies and Baptisms……….. 64 in all.
22nd April: Roof completed on Mbobeni Church, and plastering started.
May: Visit of Bro Conrad McEvoy OFM Irish Province enroute to Ireland from Singapore. Also visit by Fr Flavian Temple, OFM.
16th May: Fr Aelred Devine OFM. Stays with us a few days prior to his departure from the diocese on account of ill-health.
1st June: Fr Manus leaves for Ireland for his first holiday.
16th June: Fr wilfrid’s Silver Jubilee of ordination. Mass at 10 am attended by Coloured school children and some Africans.
Bishop McBride arrived later. There were heavy rains for 3 days with snow on the surrounding hills. Many roads impassible. Bishop held up here from 16th to 21st.
24th June: Fr Niall Hardiman arrives on supply after 6 months Xhosa course in Lumko , Queenstown. He continues his studies with Agatha Nomvete.
30th June: Social gathering of Friars for celebration of Fr Wilfrid’s Jubilee. Very enjoyable meal provided by the FMM Sisters at the hospital. Speeches were made by Fr Bernardine, superior Regular and the Bishop.
4th July: Special Jubilee Mass for Africans at 10-30 followed by Corpus Christi Procession. Well attended and quite orderly from church to hospital grounds where Benediction was given.
Feast and concert in afternoon by the Amakolwa, who made a presentation to Fr Wilfrid.
On the same day a gift of a beautiful …….. was made by the FMM. Sisters .
This was specially designed by the artist Sr Pientia CMM.
Both in church and at presentation Fr Wilfrid in his address paid tribute to the pioneers of Bizana Mission and made a plea for vocations.
16th July Bros Benignus and Masseo complete Church at Mbobeni.
18th July First Mass celebrated at Mbobeni by Fr Wilfrid though not yet formally opened by the Bishop.
7th and 8th August: Retreat for St Annes Sodality given by Fr Wilfrid Xaba of Lourdes. Great crowds of Africans for confession at both Sunday Masses. Reception of new members after 10-3- Mass. At 3-30 all women assembled in the hall for questions and discussions with the retreat master.
5th September: Legion Acies-over 100 present both active and auxiliary members.
Talk by Fr Niall on the significance of the Promise. In the afternoon a lecture by Bro Jacob Letseka on Catholic Action and the special role of the African layman, followed by discussion.
18th October: On return of Fr Reginald from Ireland a joint celebration was held in Kokstad with Fr Wilfrid.
This occasion was remarkable as being the first time that con-celebration took place in the Diocese.
Principal Celebrant: Fr B Dore Religious Superior.
Concelebrants: Frs Reginald and Wilfrid ( Jubilarians Serafin and John Kerr.
The return journey was grim. Heavy snow over Brooknek on 18th October!
28th November 1965: Fr Manus returns from his holiday overseas.
18th December: About 40 made their first Communion.
25th December: Not a very large congregation for the 2nd Mass. A concert for children was held from 2 o’clock onwards as a substitute for concerts formerly held in the district without supervision.
28th December: Srs Frances and Clement, who had been stydying at Mariannhill, received honours in their midwifery examinations. Sr Frances came first in the whole of South Africa, and was awarded a gold medal from the Nursing Council.
Another award was given her by a Pharmaceutical firm.
Sr Frances receives award
16th January 1966: Fr Coghlan, OMI gave talk in Kokstad on the new Bishop’s Lenten Appeal which is being launched. On the way back Fr Niall and Fr Finbar had an accident with the Lusikisiki Jeep on account of the mist . Fr Niall was taken to hospital.
13th February: Course in Medical Ethics was started in hospital for nurses. Lectures given by Fr Manus.
24th February: Inspector Mr Visser comes to look over proposed new class room because of an application we made for a third teacher. There are 74 Coloured pupils enrolled. The classroom, which was formerly used for the African school was approved.
28th February: Fr Pat O’Connor, brother of Sr Matron, arrived for a visit. He is a missionary in Korea.
6th March: The new church at Mbobeni was officially opened
Church of St Francis, Mbobeni
by his Lordship Bishop J E McBride, OFM. The bus Madolovela made two trips to bring the people out and back in the afternoon. 130 people received Communion.
8th March: Fr Wilfrid leaves for holiday overseas. Fr Niall arrived two days later to do supply for him.
The outstation at Mabhula was changed from the home of Yengo to the home of Justice Kipi the catechist.
23rd March 1966: The General Visitator
Fr Hermes Peters arrives for canonical visitation. He spent only one day in Bizana.
28th March: It was decided to build a good church at Ntlozelo, instead of the mud structure there. The money was provided by Michael Madden of Clarendon Mineral Waters, Derry, N Ireland. Br Masseo arrived to bring sand for the making of bricks.
3rd April: Palm Sunday. Function at Bizana and also at Mbobeni.
Stations of the Cross were erected there on that day.
9th April: Holy Saturday. 63 baptisms in morning. 27 made First Communion at Easter.
27th April: A rockery was made near the former presbytery. Also a path was made from the gate entrance to the garden.
8th May: Retreat given in Melville to the priests of the diocese by Fr Van Etten, OP.
9th May: Thomas Mqhakama died suddenly. Mass had been said at his home, Luthulini, for many years.
31st May: Coloured sports. Prizes presented by Mrs McKenzie. Her husband donated a fine cup.
5th June: A new Parish Church was opened today by the Bishop at Mt Frere.
12th June 1966: Corpus Christi Procession. Large number of people. The Brownies walked for th first time. Procession started at church and ended with Benediction in hospital grounds.
5th July: New church opened in Flagstaff parish, bordering the Bizana parish, at Nqabeni.
9th July: Sr Gisela, SCP who comes from Bizana, made her final profession at Glen Avent, Umtata. Another girl from Bizana, Cecilia Mqhakama is a candidate there.
12th July: Br Masseo arrives to work on church at Ntlozelo. Fr Bernard, from Pretoria, comes to give retreat to sisters.
30th July: News arrives from Ireland that the new Superior Regular for the Kokstad Diocese is Fr Wilfrid Byrne, Parish priest of Bizana.
21st August: His Lordship did 97 confirmations here today. “Misa Baba Wethu” was sung in Zulu by the nurses , choir.
24th August: Steel windows were put in the old school building which is now being used as a Coloured School classroom.
4th September: Acies of Legion of Mary was held, but few turned up on account of the weather.
5th September: Fr Niall introduced Netball to the nurses and they travelled today to Hlangwini to play the school teams there.
Also about this time he started to make a tennis court in the hospital grounds. Ant heaps were dug up and used along with river sand to lay the foundation. One of the sisters was appointed as games mistress.
6th September 1966: Dr Verwoerd, the Prime Minister was murdered in Cape Town.
10th September: First ever interdenominational service held in Bizana, to commemorate Dr Verwoerd. It was held in the Methodist church.
14th September: Roof put on church at Ntlozelo.
Church of St Michael , Ntlozelo
1st October: Fr Wilfrid arrives back. Fr Lukhozi comes from Mahove to give retreat to nurses.
23rd October: Mass said for first time in new church in Ntlozelo. The church was built
by Br Masseo.
30th October: Mass said for last time Kwa Nyide at Gundrift. The owner has lost the Faith and refuses to allow his house to be used as a Mass centre.
At this time the pontoon over the Umtamvuna was closed down and the new bridge opened. This is the exit of the parish of Port Edward.
December: Fr Benen Fahy OFM stayed for a week with us.
Fr Simeon from Rhodesia also passed through.
25th December: Wet Christmas, so smallish crowds.
9th January 1967: All the Catechists in the diocese made a retreat with Fr Khumalo, OMI in Maria Telgte.
11th January: Frs Canisius and Gerard, former priests in the diocese and now in Zululand, passed through on a short visit.
23rd January: Jacobo Chagi, the catechist’s son, goes to Ixopo to study for the priesthood.
Kwa Melane, Isizityaneni
24th January: New outstation opened kwa Melane at Isizityaneni. Sixteen people received Communion.
29th June: New outstation opened at the store at Makwantini. Mr & Mrs Faber are Catholics and have come from Tabankulu to run this store.
This year quarterly recollection is done not in Kokstad, but in various centres. Those is Pondoland have to go to Flagstaff.
10th February: The Annual “Women’s Day of prayer’ was held in our church this year.
24th February: Br Benignus put up a ceiling in the sacntuary in the new church at Ntlozelo.
25th March: Holy Saturday. Thirty-seven were baptised. Forty-three made First Communion.
9th April: Fr Wilfrid was appointed to do Visitation for th Province of Zululand and left today.
7th May: The retreat this year given by Fr Godfrey Tortolano of the English Province.
10th May: News arrived of the death of Br Benignus at Melville, during the retreat.
Funeral of Br Benignus
Br Benignus Molloy was born near Belfast in 1911, and was professed in 1938. Most of his Franciscan life was spent in Rome. He did a course in First Aid and nursing with the John of God Brothers on the Tiber Island, passing the final examination ‘cum luade’.
When he came to the Missions he did a course in carpentry and made many wonderful furnishings for churches all over the diocese. The altar at Mbobeni was made by him. One of the last works in the diocese to be done by him was the ceiling over the sanctuary at Ntlozelo.
All the friars of the diocese and representatives from Durban, the Transvaal and Rhodesia were present at the funeral from St Patrick’s Cathedral, 12th May, 1967.
23rd May 1967: A new Praesidium of the Legion of Mary was started at Mbobeni.
4th June: Acies of Legion of Mary held after 10.30 Mass.
Envoy of Legion of Mary , Marilyn Landers with Legionaries at Acies.
Miss Landers, the Legion Envoy was present. She stayed a week in the hospital and visited all the Praesidia in the parish.
7th June: Srs Lydia and Rene put in Marley tile floor in sanctuary at Ntlozelo.
8th July: Fr. Vianney comes to give retreat to sisters.
19th July: Fr Wilfrid traded in the Zephyr which has been here for six years and bought a Holden. R610 was allowed on the Zephyr.
21st July 1967: Fr Khumalo OMI begins Parish mission.
He gave separate talks to the St Anne’s Sodality, Children of Mary, local mena of Bizana etc. and also visited two outstations – Lugwijini and Mbobeni which are central for people living far away.
Sr Gabriella also helped with the St Anne’s and the children. She is stationed at Hlangwini. In the evenings, Fr Khumalo gave a retreat to the nurses.
31st July: Fr Hirmer gave a talk in Kokstad on the Vita Series of Audio-visual lessons on doctrine. These tapes and slides, worked off a battery were later used all over the diocese to great effect.
22nd August: Mr Ferreira, who was retracing the route
taken by Dick King, arrived in Bizana and on his departure was cheered on his way by the pupils of the Coloured School.
18th September: Lectures were begun by Fr Manus to the Sisters on Scripture.
21st November: New Outstation begun kwa Sibeni, near turn off for Mzamba.
23rd November: Permission arrived for a change of site at Mzize. The site was beaconed in the presence of the chief and a representative of the court.
26th November: New Church opened at Cedarville.
11th December: New site at Mzize fenced.
27th December: Pascalina Ngoniwe, mother of Sr Giselle who had been professed in 1966 in the Pecious Blood Congregation, died and was buried today. Sr Giselle came from Mariannhill along with another sister for the funeral. Very many people attended the funeral, including some nurses from the hospital.
At this time Br Masseo was doing repairs on the church and house. Steel windows were put in the sacristy and side chapel, and also at the back of the church. Also a small temporary structure was put up at the new site at Mzize. The old church and site was donated to the ‘Africa’ Sect, on condition they gave some assistance to put up the building at our new site. They helped willingly and a wattle and daub structure was soon erected.
30th December: Very hot weather, which cause a violent thunderstorm. The hospital was struck by lighthning, but not much damage was caused.
6th January: Miss Juletta Jones, who had been assistant teacher for some years at the Coloured School got married today at Lusikisiki. Miss Martin takes her place at the school.
14th January: Mass was said for the last time at the
old site at Mzize. Furniture, altar etc. were removed.
25th January: Mr Brian Trotter, of Hadrian’s Paint, who is a Catholic, visited us today and worked out a colour scheme for painting the outside of the church.
19th February: Fr Seraphin Kennedy OFM in hospital here with pleurisy.
6th March: New audio-visual doctrine lessons given for first time at Izinini. This consisted of series of 20 colour slides synchronized with a cassette tape recorder, and was worked off a twelve volt car battery.
10th March: Mass said for first time at new site Mzize.
6th April: Fr Celsus O’Brien, Provincial, arrives for Visitation. He stayed one day with us.
14th April: Easter Sunday. 24 were baptised the previous day, 60 made their First Communion. The Xhosa Mass, composed by Tyamzashe was sung by the people for the first time. We were visited by Fr Oliver Moran and Philip Griffin, a former Brother and Missionary. They flew from Durban in a light plane, piloted by Philip.
15th April: Meeting of all the diocese in Kokstad with Fr Provincial.
19th April: Fr David, Procurator for the Missions, visits us.
20th April: Church at New Makhoba opened officially. Much of the painting of this church in the Matatiele district was done by Sr Lydia of the FMM Convent, Bizana
Fr David Oreilly OFM
19th May: Diocesan retreat given this year at Melville by Benen Fahy OFM.
23rd July: Fr Wilfrid Byrne, Superior regular, left for what came to be known as the Mini Chapter – a chapter in preparation for the main one the following year.
12th August: Fr Germain Mannion, former parish priest of Bizana, celebrates Silver Jubilee of Priesthood in Kokstad.
5th September: Fr Wilfrid arrives back from Chapter.
30th September: Fr Manus took six catechists to Maria Telgte for the retreat given by Fr Dominic Khumalo, OMI, which began with a short course on chiro, a youth organization similar to the Scouts. Fr De Graeve from Klerksdorp gave a talk also to a large number of priests from the Diocese. As a result this organization started in some parishes.
9th October: Fr Khumalo came for nurses retreat in the Bizana hospital. He also gave a talk at the reception of some Women of St Anne.
15th November: Outside of church painted by Titus Pemba of Port Elizabeth.
26th November: Fr Vianney O’Ceallaigh died suddenly during the night in Kokstad.
29th November: Friars came from Durban, Johannesburg and Ladysmith for the funeral of Fr Vianney. Also priest from Harding and Marialinden.
18th January: The new coiling in the church was completed.
27th February: A new wing was built in the hospital, which nearly doubled the size of the hospital. This new wing consisted of a children’s ward, a maternity block, and several other rooms. Today it was officially opened by Bishop McBride.
13th March:We were visited by Fr Virgil Mannion OFM, ex Chines Missionary. He had been stationed for some years in the Friary at Singapore.
4th April: Good Friday. On account of the large crowds adoration of the Cross was done by representative groups from the various outstations and sodalities in the parish. General adoration was done by the people after the function.
5th April: Seventy nine were baptised this year, and one hundred and twenty made their First Communion.
5th April: Two hundred and twenty seven were confirmed today by Bishop McBride.
2nd July: Fr Wilfrid left for Ireland to take part in the Provincial Chapter, at which he was re appointed for another three years as regular Superior in the Kokstad Diocese.
4th July: Br Masseo began the building of the new church at Mzize.
7th July: The mobile eye doctors arrived and did many operations at the hospital.
17th July: Fr Bernard Lukhosi from the Umzimkhulu Diocese gave the retreat for the Nurses this year.
20th July: We heard on the radio today a commentary on the Appollo astronauts and their first walk on the moon.
25th July: For four years the Handbook of the Legion of Mary was being translated by Mrs Agatha Nomvete. This was revised and typed out by Fr Manus and Paul’s Mission Press at Umtata agreed to print it for R1,390 for 3,000 copies. The manuscript was sent off today.
30th July: Mr Peter Mangqalaza was appointed by the Bishop’s Conference to prepare a draft translation of the Deuterocanonical works of Scripture. He was a Catechist in Flagstaff, but used to come to Bizana for translating work, and his efforts were distributed to the revisors by Fr Manus, the Secretary of the Commission.
27th August: Br Juniper came and helped Br Masseo to erect the roof on the new church at Mzize. In the parish church a new wooden altar which came from a firm in Queenstown replaced the old one, and so the celebrant was able to face the congregation. New pews were put in the side chapel and also a lectern of the same sort of wood was installed.
2nd September: Br Flannan put in a large window in the Mzize church.
3rd September: Fr Wilfrid returned. During his absence Fr Benen Fahy stayed here to learn Zulu in preparation for his appointment as priest in charge of Vosloorus- an African township near Boksburg.
12th September: Br Juniper completed his work at mzize, and put the former altar rails of the parish church at the back of the church in from of the Baptistery and the Confession Box.
12th October: Mass was said in Mzize for the first time. However, the altar, formerly in the sisters, convent chapel, was not installed until the 17th October.
26th October: The Church of St Michael at Ntlozelo was opened by Bishop McBride, in the presence of the Chief Mdelwa and a huge crowd.
12th December: The Children of Mary retreat was given by Fr Peter Dlamini of the Umzimkhulu Diocese. Sr Joan, FMM had charge of the children of Mary at this time. Eighteen new members were received.
24th December: Only one Midnight Mass was celebrated this year as Fr Wilfrid had to go to Flagstaff to help Fr Severin who was ill.
27th December: The Sisters purchased a Siemens 16mm sound Projector, and showed films to the nurses from time to time. Sometimes and Parish hall was used and films shows to the Coloured Community, as objections had been made to their attending performances in the Town Hall.
24th January: Frs Gerard Griffin and Gerard O’Reilly arrived in Durban en route to the Kokstad Diocese. They arrived in Bizana on the 28th, fetched by Fr Columbanus Timmons, and stayed a few days. Then they went to learn Xhosa at the Lumko Institute in the Queenstown Diocese.
18th February: The altar at Lugwijini was rebuilt so that the celebrant faces the people. A week later the altar at Dutyini was also changed, and so now all the churches in the Parish have altars facing the people.
28th Marh: Holy Saturday. Seventy nine were baptised.
29th March: Easter Sunday. Seventy seven made First Communion. Then about 40 were received either for probation or fully into the children of Mary.
22nd April: V Rev Fr C Koser, the General of he Order, came to visit the Diocese, and we all went to have a meeting with him in Kokstad.
1st May: Miss Yvonne Martin left the Coloured School to get married and her place was taken by Jennifer Bester, who did not stay very long as she was not qualified. Eventually, the daughter of the Principal Mr Meth, took the position. There are sixty five pupils attending the school to whom twenty seven are Catholics.
At this time members of the Christian Institute came from Johannesburg to do social work in the Transkei. They held their meetings at Elusindisweni, the centre of a sect run by Rev Goduka. Leader of the group was Mr Lafitte, a French Catholic. Also in the group was Mrs Houghton, an American and an expert at teaching illiterates, Miss de Scheepe, a Hollander, and Mrs Makwe. The wife of the Minister for Education in the Transkei, Mrs C Ndamse, also came and gave a lecture. As t here was no other accomodation she spent the night at the Mission here in Bizana.
24th May: Fr Manus left for overseas with Fr Bruno. Fr Gerard O’Reilly came to take his place.
June 15th: Very severe frost, several degrees below freezing point. An icycle formed under the tap outside the presbytery; this had not been known to happen before, except in 1962.
23rd June: About this time Mrs, Lowry, the Catholic of the Bizana Hotel, solt out to the Xhosa Development Corporation and left Bizana.
The outhouse beside the church at mzize (which had previously been used for a temporary church) was burnt down. It was suspected some maniac was responsible. It had been insured and the money received was quite adequate to replace it with a zinc-roofed structure, placed this time right behind the church.
Fr Sean Gildea from Rhodesia visited the Diocese to consult the Friars on Mission Apostolate. He did this as part of a delegation from the Provincial Commission headed by Fr Eusatace.
24th August: Fr Manus arrives back. Fr Wilfrid was in hospital for a serious back operation, from which he made a good recovery.
4th October: The Acies of the Legion of Mary was held late this year, but was well attended, and a good talk was given by the Catechist, Philemon Mbali.
18th October: Fr Reginald Gunn visited us to spend his last night in the Diocese. He was transferred to Vanderbly Park in the Transvaal. Bizana was one of the many stations where he had served. He was here in 1954.
31st December: Rainfall for the year was 27.61 inches, somewhat below average.
27th January: As the Legion of Mary at Silangwe had increased greatly, Fr Wilfrid decided to split the Praesidium and have one of the branches meet at Nkantsweni. This new Praesidium proved quite successful.
18th February: Fr Nicholaus Egan arrived for Visitation.
24th February: As the Holden car was giving trouble it was traded in for a later model. R700 was allowed on the old one and R1,900 paid for the new.
29th March: The work of the Durban Friary consisted largely in the University chaplaincy, the chaplaincy for St Augustine’s Sanatorium, and the chaplaincies to the Marist Brothers and the Nazareth Sisters. But the University chaplaincy was transferred to a Diocesan priest, the Sisters left the Hospital and the advisability of closing down the Durban Friary was much discussed. As this Friary was much used by the Friars of Kokstad Diocese as a place of contact for travelling, shopping etc, the Superior and Councillors were asked to give their opinions. Eventually, it was agreed to sell a part of the land attached to the house which would be retained and subsidized by the Kokstad Friars.
31st March: Drs Rieckert, Sievers, and Dallseng went on holiday successively; and the locum tenens was a young Irish doctor, Dr Gallivan.
4th April: Palm Sunday. The procession had to be held inside the church as the weather was very wet.
11th April: Easter Sunday. This year 95 were baptised of whom 67 were ten years or older. Eighty seven made their First Holy Communion today.
12th April: Fr Seraphin arrived to give a Tridum to the Sisters. This turned out to be the last retreat he gave in Africa.
20th May: Ascension Thursday. A new High School had been opened at Mbongweni. So on days which are Public Holidays and on the fifth Sundays of the month when occurring, Mass was said at Mbanjwa’s place, so that pupils attending Ngalonkulu School could attend, and also some teachers from the district around. There were about five Catholic girl teachers in that region, and about eight pupils at the High School.
27th May: Old Pagan superstitions die hard. At Ntlakwe two of our old Catholic men ( who rarely went to Church, however) accused a relative of theirs of having an impundulu kind of witch’s familiar) and that was the reason their cattle had fallen down a cliff. She charged them in court and they were imprisoned.
31st May: Retreat at Melville given this year by Fr Sylvester O’Brien Ofm.
22nd July: A new centre for instruction had been set up at Goliath Msongelwas place near Ntsingisi. Today Mass was also said there by Fr Wilfrid for the first time.
18th August: Almost two years after the manuscript had been sent to Umtata, the Xhosa version of the Legion of Mary Handbook was published. About 170 were sold rather quickly after advertisement had been placed in the Southern Cross. The St Peter Claver Society in Rome subsidised the book by 500.
10th September: Gilbert Khatywa, one of the six catechists here, was appointed secretary to the chief Mpungwa of the Monti and Amangutyana tribal authority. All this meant was that he had to attend the tribal court at Mahlaba near Luthulini every second Friday. Our catechists were generally regarded as men of Standing, and most of them were on the school boards of their areas.
29th September: Jerome Letsekha died peacefully today, having received the Last Sacraments. He had come originally from Mariazell and had introduced the Faith at Lugwijini in the time of Fr Chrysostomus Ruthing. His home became the Mass centre for the area, until eventually a church was built nearby and his son Jacob became catechist. Anothe son taught at Mvenyane training school, near Cedarville and another worked in a laboratory at Howard Collage in Durban. The funeral was very well attended.
12th October: We were visited for Fr Wilfrid’s feastday by Fr Antonine Kelly, former VG of the Diocese.
18th October: Br Masseo made a verandah at the back of the house.
4th November: At a hospital board meeting to decide on termination of Dr Dallseng’s contract as Medical Superintendent, it was decided to let him stay on. Drs Rieckert and Sievers handed in their resignations and stopped working in the hospital at the end of the year. They stayed on in private practice in Bizana, however. So only Dr Dallseng, a Norwegian, and Dr Magazi, an African lady doctor were left to work in the hospital. She is a niece of AC Jordan, the author of Ingqumbo Yeminyanya.
5th November: A number of Friars attended a farewell party for Seraphin Kennedy who is leaving the Diocese on account of illhealth. He came to Bizana on the 8th and spent the last night in the Diocese with us.
11th November: having cemented the floor of the sanctuary in preparation for putting down wood block flooring, Br Masseo left, taking with him the large Crucifix that used to hang in the sanctuary. This went to Maria Telgte. A new one had been brought from Italy by Fr Wilfrid.
27th November: First baby show run by Sr Kathleen. She had begun a clinic for babies in the parish hall every Saturday which proved a grea success.
2nd December: Br Flannan came to put down parquet flooring in the sanctuary. Wall paper was put at the back.
10th December: Fr Sixtus Vezi came from Durban to give the Children of Mary Retreat.
16th December: At about this time medical personnel got large increases in salary. Trainee nurses who formerly got R4 per month, now get R45.
25th December: There were two Midnight Masses, the Xhosa one following the English. Then for the time two outstations, Mbobeni and Lugwijini were done. This was very successful.
21st March: Sr Frances rushed to America onthe news that her father was gravely ill. He died later, but she never returned to South Africa. On account of Government policy when a white person left a job it had to be given to a suitably qualified African, if one existed. For this reason as the Sister left for one reason or another, they were usually not replaced by other Sisters, with the result that the Community number gradually diminished from a high of fourteen.
24th March: Today many Fathers and Sisters came for the Silver Jubilee of Sr Joan Fennelly. She was in charge of the Children of Many Sodality in the parish, the only sister to have a direct influence on the parish work of the Apostolate.
28th March: Fr Sylvester McGoldrick of the English Province was brought here today by Fr Cornelius. Fr Sylvester is the visitator General this time.
1st April: Holy Saturday. Fifty one were baptised this year of whom only two had been baptised previously in other Churches.
2nd April: Fr Dick from St Adalbero Izingolweni showed the film Ben Hur in the hospital. Fr Dick had a very full life. Son of a very wealthy farmer in White River, he had tried his vocation in various places, including St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria and the little Brothers of Charles de Foucald in the Sahara. He joined the Institute of Christ the Priest as a lay helper but eventually was compelled to accept ordination. Later he entered the Carthusians in England but left after some months. While a Carthusian he tried to sell some of the priests of the Umzimkhulu Diocese hair shirts, but without success.
4th April: Fr Gerry Griffin arrived with some lads from Cedarville to try and start the Chiro youth movement here. About seventy boys came to do the two day course, but only about thirty were over fourteen years of age.
9th April: Sr Roscelina Candlovu made her final profession today. She is the first FMM vocation in Pondoland. Many sisters came from Umtata, Mt Frere, Kokstad and other places, and the ceremony was presided over by Bishop McBride and the Profession performed by Fr Manus. An article by Se Candlovu was later published with photo graphs in a German Franciscan missionary magazine. This was a translation of an article which appeared in the Brief the magazine of the FMU in Dublin.
21st April: A painting for the Bapatistery was done by Sr Fernand FMM, a Belgian Sister.
1st May: Fr Magazi the lady doctor at the Hospital handed in her resignation. She had deep personal problems. This left only Dr Dallseng as Medical Superintendent, but later he gave in his resignation also.
12th May: Fr Gerry Griffin gave a camp course to the Chiro at Mzize, where the boys stayed for three days. Some often the local women helped with the cooking.
27th May: There was a meeting of the Conference of Mission Hospital at Tsolo today, attended by Sr Matron and Fr Manus. This Conference had been founded with the intention of uniting the Mission Hospitals especially in the Transkei in a single policy. But it was a failure from th start. The Government never paid much attention to this association, and there was no unity among the members themselves as there were especially representatives from the Dutch Reformed Mission Hospitals whose policy coincided with that of the Government.
The discussion was mainly concerning the Transkei take over of all the hospitals but it became obvious that the Government would do as it liked without reference to the association. For this reason the Catholic spokesmen conceded that they were willing to turn over the Catholic Hospitals to the Government, whenever the Government should make that decision. Rumour said this might be next April.
5th June: A Rayburn anthracite heater was bought in Durban and fitted in the lounge, which was a big improvement on the old open grate.
16th June: Dr Magazi died in Durban of an overdose of pills.
8th August: Results of the Chapter in Ireland received. The new Provincial is Fr Louis Brennan and Fr Wilfrid is re appointed in Kokstad.
During this period a great deal of powdered milk was sold to the people. At first it was sold at the Mission, but later as this became a nuisance and the people could get it at the same cost price in the hospital, it was limited to outstations where the people would otherwise have found the milk difficult to obtain. Sometimes over fifteen cartons of twenty four packets each were distributed.
7th September: Rehabilitation has taken place in Ntshamate Location and the people have been moved to two residential areas. The kraal belonging to the September family where catechism was taught and Mass said occasionally was also moved, but for a while everything continued as before, but later the Dlamini kraal at Ndunge was found more convenient for the catechumens.
15th September: A Catholic John Mditshwa died at Mzize and the Anglican Minister sent word that we could use his church and graveyard for the funeral, which Fr Manus did for the first time in the history of the parish.
24th September: The Mariannhill Monastery no longer supplies altar breads, and hosts are now obtained from the Capuchin Sisters at Melville on the South Coast.
29th Septmber: Fr Gerry Griffin gave nurses’s retreat this year. He brought with him a second had Lameretta scooter which was bought for R70. This was for Justice Kipi, but he could not learn to ride it, so eventually it was taken by Jacob Letsekha who was already experienced, and used it principally to go to KwaSibeni which was a growing outstation.
24th Oct: Mass was said KwaNtakanyana in Entsimbini Location. The people there usually go
to Mass in Dutyini, but we said Mass now and again there to gather together those learnining for Baptism and 1st Communion.
31st Oct: It was decided aftetr the outstation at Izizityaneni to close it down as a regular otstation as only about ten attended. This palce looked like being flourishing but it languished after one of the mosst vigourous Catholics in the aarea died after being struck by Lightning.
17th December. Fr. Manus gave religious slide show to the Anglican youth association at Mzize. Relations with the Anglicans were very good at this time, largely due to the friendship between the Minister Madolweni and the Catechist Bendict Dindi.
31st December: A dance was held in the hall for the nurses up to midnight to see the New Year in.
4th January: Fr Manus went to Inchanga to give retreat to the Third Order of St Francis in the Archdiocese of Durban. About seventy brothers and sisters (mostly sisters) came from various mission stations including Durban. This retreat had been given for about twenty five years by Fr Lucas Puerstinger until his death. There seemed to be a vigourous Franciscan spirit among the members, although not one fraternity had a Franciscan spiritual director.
30th January: Another meeting of the association of Mission hospitals, this time in the Anglican Hall in Umtata. Mons. Hughes came from Pretoria and also present were Bishop McBride and Bishop Henry Karlen of Umtata. The atmosphere was one of pessimism, particularly among the Protestant Churches who stand to lose a great deal more than the Catholics in a take-over by the Government, as frequently for them the mission is the hospital, with their churches actually in the hospital grounds. No definite resolution could be arrived at, and it was obvious that the association is an ineffectual body.
4th February: Bishop Mc Bride came for confirmations. A total
of 148 was confirmed which included two nurses from the hospital.
27th February: A new doctor from Ireland came out with his wife to be Medical Superintendent of the hospital. He was Dr Morkan and was only recently married.
2nd March: Mons Desmond Hatton came to give the Retreat to the Sisters this year.
We gained a new Catholic family in the parish at this time. Mr and Mrs. Chips came from Mount Frere to look after the forest regions and resort sites in the Bizana district.
16th April: Canon Trevor Verryn, an Anglican priest, came at the invitation of the Sisters to discuss their future apostolate. He stayed the night with us, after talking on a wide range of topics until midnight.
19th April: Dr Dallseng’s house burnt down. Nowdays when anything gets burnt in Bizana, it stays burnt.
22nd April: Eighty-one were baptised at Easter and seventy-eight made their 1st Communion. Fifty one failed examination for 1st Communion. Sixteen new members were received into the Children of Mary and sixteen more made their promise as full members.
30th April: Three Catechists, Jacob Letsekha, Justice Kipi and Philemon Mbali went to Cwele in the Umtata district for a three week refresher course. They were not impressed.
4th May: St Anne’s celebrated the Silver Jubilee of their foundation in the diocese.
2nd June: Mr Meth’s daughter Denise got married today at a very nice ceremony and nuptial Mass celebrated by Fr Wilfrid.
27th June: The Mazda van was traded in for a Datsun. Scowby Motors gave an excellent trade in price.
1st July: Corpus Christi procession as usual. Very fine weather. Thomas Maduna led the procession as he had always done. This turned out to be the last time he did so.
13th July: Dominic Magula who had worked for us since 1965 as a gardener and miller died today from liver disease. For the last few months his place has been taken by Paulus Ndlebe.
27th July: Sr Anne O’Connor, the Matron and Superion in the hospital left for overseas. She did not return. Number of Sisters now down to six. Two more left later this year.
22nd October: Dr Morkan had not been getting on well in the hospital, so at an emergency meeting of the Board his temporary appointment was terminated. He hung on for some
weeks causing trouble among the staff, and eventually a solicitor’s letter told him to vacate the house in the hospital grounds within twenty four hours. He left then.
7th December: The second Sister from Pondoland to make her final profession, Sr Agnes Momazele, was professed today in Umzinto.
Bizana is usually plagued by mosquitos at this time, but this year in spite of a wet summer very few mosquitos have appeared. Perhaps the new sewage system at the hospital has something to do with this.
13th December: Fr Wilfrid Napier came to give the Children of Mary Retreat. The girls were expected to stay the full three days and even those who live nearby were expected to stay the night on the Mission.
3rd January: Boniface Somi died at home. He was one of the leaders of the Church at Ntlakwe. In the early part of the century he had gone to Lourdes, and later he learnt leather work there. His only son studied at Mariazell and later became Principal of Ntlakwe pripary school. The funeral of Boniface Benjamin Somi was one of the largest for years.
During this month Philemon Mbali resigned as Catechist because he wanted to concentrate on taxi work – a disastrous venture.
21st January: We sent another boy, Constantinus Letsekha nephew on the Catechist, to Zingisa Seminary. Our other student, Jacob Chagi, failed his exams in the Minor Seminary, and is trying again by correspondence course from a mission in Aliwal diocese.
25th January: The report on the Coloured School came. Again a good report, and a statement that as it is the only one of its kind in a radius of 60 kilometres it serves a good purpose. There is a total enrolment of 71 up to Standard V. Of these only eighteen are Catholic as more and more of our Catholic Coloureds are going to Durban. The Bartman family was the latest to leave. Most of the other children live in the African tribal areas and their home language and life style is more African than anything else. But they like to attend the school here because as registered Coloureds they can get higher paid jobs afterwards. Even in the hospitals Coloured nurses who are registered as such get paid a higher salary than the Africans for doing the same work.
26th January: Fr Wilfrid arrived back from Besters in the Volksrust Prefecture, where he had been attending a Franciscan workshop to see what could be done about Franciscan vacations.
3rd February: Old Thomas Maduna died today. He was a stalwart Catholic, and though in bad health for some years, always tried to come to Mass.
He used always head the procession at Corpus Christi. He lived most of his life at Mahobe in the Umzimkhulu Diocese bu the last fifteen or so he had lived here in Bizana. His son Fr Christofer Maduna came to do the funeral. The weather was very wet and for that reason not many were able to come.
9th February: News arrived of the death of Bishop Kurz, first Vicar Apostolic of Kokstad.
22nd February: A very hot stifling day. At evening clouds rolled up and a very severe lightning storm hit the Mzize area. About 5.30 a bolt of lightning struck the house where Benedict Dindi and his family were staying. He was killed along with a fourteen year old girl. The others were only slightly injured. The Anglican Minister , Madolweni, brought in the bodies to the hospital. Mrs Dindi was in hospital at that time with diabetes.
Fr Manus and Sr Joan went out to help the rest of the family and brought in two.
27th February: Ash Wednesday. Benedict Dindi was buried today after Req Mass at Mzize Church. A huge crowd of mourners attended.
15th March: Fr Louis Brennan, Provincial, came on Visitation. He was accompanied by Fr Angelus Lee, Procurator, FMU. They spent three days in Bizana and saw most of the outstation churches.
26th March: the location containing Mbobeni, Isikelo, was rehabilitated, but the Church building was left in a residential area, so the site did not have to be changed. But the dimensions were altered, with the result it had to be refenced.
19th May: Dr Van der Berg came from Pretoria to act as medical officer.
22nd May: Fr Wilfrid went to Kokstad for meeting with Fr remained the following day for a Hospital Board Meeting. Sr Carmel left for the new foundation of the FMM at Weenen.
4th June: The Tabernacle key was stolen today from the sacristy.
5th June: The Mother General of the FMM came today for a hurried Visitation, accompanied by Sr Maura O’Connor who later returned for a more thorough visitation. The Bishop came and said Mass for the occassion.
5th July: Fr Wilfrid Napier came for a week end retreat to the St Anne’s Sodality and also the Legion of Mary.
At a Chapter of the FMM it was decided to withdraw from Bizana. A meeting was arranged for Umtata on 2nd August and the Depatment of Health informed.
11th July: The Bishop celebrated his Silver Jubilee in Kokstad. Arch-Bishop Hurley preached.
2nd August: Justice Kipi got a job in the office at the hospital and so resigned as Catechist, but he continued to reside at the Mission. There are only three officials Catechists , Lucas Chagi, Gilbert Khatywa and Jacob Letsekha. Later on Philemon Mbali was re instated in a semi official capacity and reduced salary.
7th August: Our student at the Minor Seminary, Jacob Chagi, arrived back from Umtata, having failed in his studies for Matriculation, and so cannot continue for th priesthood.
18th Augus: We combined the Parish celebrations for the Bishop’s Jubilee, along with the opening of the new Church at Mzize. Six Coloured children made their First Communion and made a presentation to the Bishop. Other Sodalities also made presentations after the 10.30 Mass. Among the presents were a travelling bag, digital battery clock, Italian style jacket, rug, mat etc.
The Bishop then went to Mzize where he opened the new church in the presence of a huge crowd. One hundred and forty received Communion, and Mr Vanda acted as chairman and gave a short history of the place. The church was dedicated to St John the Evangelist.
27th August: Owing to the forthcoming departure of the Sisters and general fall off of discipline among the nurses the nurses Praesidium of the LOM was closed down.
29th August: Dr Van der Berg gave in notice at the hospital.
3rd October: The Transitus was held in hospital for the last time.
5th October: Many visitors arrived for the celebration of the Silver Wedding Jubilee of Mr Meth.
27th October: Word arrived that the General Curia of the FMM had authorized the withdrawal of the Sisters from Bizana. The deadline is 31st March 1975.
12th November: The people at Vema have built themselves a church building, so that we no longer have to use one of the Macingwane houses. Diameter of the rondavel is 24 feet.
21st November: Today there was a Hospital Board meeting at which the Bishop was present, and it was ruled that the hospital be transferred to Transkei Government in 1975.
8th February: We were visited by the Provincial of the FMM Sr Pamela who wanted to close down the Oratory in the hospital straight away; but we refused to allow this.
11th February: At this time a penitential Cross had been set up at Maria Telgte and brought then in procession to various mission stations. So we obtained this large wooden Cross for nearly the whole of Lent this year and brought it round nearly all the outstations. What usually happened was that the people set up a station about two miles from the church, and then the Cross was brought to them, assembled, and carried in procession by the men of the area, while the Stations of the Cross were made and hymns sung. This was a great success and the people came to the functions in great numbers, especially to those places where the Cross was left erected for a few days, and services held by the sodalities until the concluding Mass. The weather was frequently inclement, and in places like Mbobeni the people had to carry the Cross in driving rain, but enthusiasm was never dampened.
The opening function and procession was on the 12th February, Ash Wednesday, in Bizana.
22nd February: The oldest member of the parish, Wallbruga Cekwana died at the age of 93 and was buried at Dutyini.
16th March: We had the final ceremony of the Cross with the Bishop present. He had come for Confirmations. The service was held in the garden to the left of the Church with the Bishop presiding from a platform with red carpet and kneeler.
A short sermon was given and a penitential service was conducted, concluding with blessing given by Bishop. Then there was a procession into the church and Mass and Confirmations took place. For the sermon inside the church Jacop Letsekha did interpretor for the Bishop as usual. One hundred and five were confirmed. Then the Cross was dismantled and brought to Kokstad to following day for return to Maria Telgte.
18th March: Mass was said for the last time in the Sister’s Oratory in the hospital. Then th Bl Sacrament was removed to a smaller room for the Sisters Adoration, until the day they would leave. The seats were removed and sold tot he Mission for fifty Rands.
20th March: Dr Rieckert and Dr Sievers put on a farewell party at Rieckert’s place. The Bishop came, and also Dr Brundza and his wife, who had recently arrived, and a Mr Callitz and his wife, the few ramaining Europeans in Bizana. Dr Rieckert made a very nice speech, to which the Bishop replied in kind.
29th March: Very busy with examinations for Baptism and Holy Communion. This year sixty five were baptised and one hundred and eight made First Communion. Twenty four failed examination for First Communion. For the last time a number of the children were accomodated at the hospital.
30th March: Easter Sunday. Many made their First Communion today. Afterwards we had a special meeting of the Children of Mary at which the members said farewells to the Joan who had been their directress for some years. They made a presentation to her.
31st March: This was the last day of the Catholic Mission Hospital, Bizana. Many people came in to say goodbye tot he four remaining Sisters, and a concert was given at night at which some of the local dignitaries spoke, Mr Sam Malimba, Mr Damoyi and Mr Mda.
Crucifixes and signs of religion such as statues, were all removed from the wards and donated to various missions, but the Lourdes grotto in the garden was left untouched. The hospital came under new management on the 1st April, but the Sisters remained for a few days in the convent upstairs to do their packing.
2nd April: The four remaining sisters came to the Mission for a small party and we gave them presents of suitcases, Missals, alarm clock etc.
3rd April: We said goodbye to Srs Yvonne, Kathleen, Cecile and Joan. Then they drove off in their car, and Fr Manus brought Sr Joan and remainder of luggage to Park Rynie.
13th April: Domestics in hospital told they must start work at 7 am. This makes it virtually impossible for them to come to daily Mass. They had been the main congregation for Mass every morning, and this now became impossible. Also on Sunday the arrangements of duty hours made it very difficult for nurses and employees of the hospital to come to Mass.
20the April: A record 121 Communions at Dutyini. No particular reason.
22nd April: Hamilton Candlovu died today. He had been a semi official catechist in the 40s but after the troubles of 1960/61 had ceased to practice. However this Easter he returned to full communion with the Church. His daughter, Sr Rosalina, joined the FMM.
1st May: Fr Bruno brought Fr Edmund Dougan to visit us. He stayed a few days and visited some of the scenic areas here. He is a professor of Philosophy in Galway University.
1st June: We had the Corpus Christi procession today, but as we can no longer use the hospital grounds an altar was set up in the Coloured school. This worked quite well.
12th June: A party was held here to say farewell to Fr. Wilfrid whose term as Superior comes to an end. He is leaving for the Chapter in Ireland soon. Nine priests as well as the Bishop came and the meal was cooked in the Mission kitchen. Elizabethe Candlovu, daughter of Hamilton, was employed as caretaker after Wilhemina Dzanibe’s death in 1965, left for her home in Mbobeni.
12th August; This winter was extremely dry and the previous summer very wet with the result the grass was very long and dry, so that fires were very common. A very serious one was at Swane Ridge on the Flagstaff-Bizana border and nearly thirty people lost their lives and 2000 left homeless. Generous assistance was sent by the Diocese, overseas organizations and local societies.
24th August: A request was made by the Secretary of the hospital that a service should be given in the hospital on Sundays, so from then on a Bible Service was given in turn in the Male, Female and TB wards nearly every Sunday at 7pm.
18th September: Dr Rieckert came to say goobye as he leaves now to go to retire to a small farm near Richmond.
22nd September: The Society of St Anne hired Silas Madikizelas but to go to Kokstad for the Ingqungquthela. He arrived nearly instead of early morning, and then on account of rain did not go to fetch them back at all. Only on account of the good offices of Fr Bruno in Kokstad were they able to get a bus which got them nearly as far as Bizana before it skidded off the road. The ladies were fetched back from Nyanisweni in relays by Fr Manus.
26th November: Rachel Mqakama, leader of the community at Luthulini, died in hospital this morning. Her daughter Sr Gaundentia came from Umtata for the funeral which was attended by a huge crowd, including her brother from Benoni, Mordecai Mnyanda, one of the first to be baptised by Fr Ruthing in Bizana.
24th December: For first time 1st Mass was said at 8 pm on Christmas Eve in English, and then only one Mass at Midnight in Xhosa. First Communions also made this Christmas.
13th January: Fr Gerry Griffin arrived with students from Besters and Fr Ngcobo . A decision had been made to have a common Novitiate House at Besters for the English, German and Irish Provinces, but that the succussful students would form the nucleus of a Franciscan Federation, which later would become a Province in its own right.
11th February: Lucas Chage died at home. He had been the Catechist at Bizana since Remigius Mafunda left, but for the past few years had been in failing health. He had been helped a great deal by the Sisters and had always said that when the Sisters left he would die.
21st March: Torrential rains, nearly ten inches in three days made it impossible for outstations to be done, and the garden round the house was flooded.
17th April: One hundred and fourteen were baptised this Easter.
9th May: The Maluti branch of the Nurses Association had their day of prayer this year in Bizana. Nearly 300 turned up from various hospitals and an impressive function was held in the church followed by entertainment in the hospital.
25th May: Since Mr Mqakama’s death we now say Mass Kwa Nogaga at Luthulini, which is a homestead quite near Mqakama’s place.
1st June: Mass at outstation, Kwa Sibeni. Mr Sibeni is now a member of the Tribal Authority, kwa Madiba, and so has started negotiatings for a church site down near the coast.
3rd June: A minor earth tremor occurred at 2 pm, and a lessor one ten minutes later. No damage to the church, but in the area some walls were cracked.
At this time Mr Meth went with his family of Kokstad and the house was rented to Mrs. Mavis Adams. Mr Meth rented a room from her in which he stayed during the school year, returning every week end to Kokstad. This reduced our congregation for the first Mass even more on Sundays.
27th July: About twenty Legionaries went to Ntlozela on the Peregrinatio pro Christo, or Exploration Dominicalis, and stayed there a few days visiting most of the homes in the area. They were very well received but there was no much follow up.
6th August: Sr Gisella CPS gave the Retreat to the Children of Mary. She was home on holiday so we asked her to give a few talks and conduct a discussion.
2nd October 1976: Transkei was to become an independent country on the 26th October, so each village had to have its own celebration before hand so that more people would be able to go to Umtata on the bid day. In Bizana there was a small procession with float, horseracing etc., but on account of heavy rains not so many people attended.
20th October: Br Bernardine Murtagh came on a visit to Kokstad. He is assistant Procurator for the FMU.
26th October: The Transkey became independent at midnight. Bells were supposed to be rung and bonfires lit on the hills but in around Bizana all was silent.
19th February: George Swana died today of a heart attack. He had been Principal at the school on the Mission during the 1950s, and then when it was closed down he went to Matwebu from where he was promoted to a standard VI school at Njanyelwa, and later on a Junior Secondary School at Ntlozelo. He always had very good academic results, and his wife was President of St Anne’s Sodality when he died.
27th February: The church building at Nkantsweni took on a 45 degree slant, so we abandoned it and got permission to have a new site in a rehabilitated area close by.
16th March: The funeral of Amelia Khatywa, mother of the catechist, Gilbert, took place today.
9th April: Holy Saturday and Baptism of 135 people of whom 88 were over ten years. New rite of reception of adults used.
16th April: Walter Mbanjwa, head of the Kraal where we say Mass at Mbongweni was buried today.
17th August: A Very wide veld fire swept through the Silangwe Location and many of our Catholics had their homes burnt down. The School at Mlambo-ndaba beside the church was burnt, but the church itself was saved because it has an iron roof. An appeal was launched and Bishop McBride gave R500, and Harding Mission sent clothes and blankets, and Margate Mission under Fr Clerkin OMI sent money. The money was used principally to buy maize as their harvest had been destroyed. But building materials were also bought. Non-Catholics were also helped if their need was great. The Magistrate also went to survey the damage and each household which had lost its harvest was given a half sack of maize.
28th August: Bishop McBride came for confirmations. As it turned out these were the last Confirmations he was to perform in Bizana.
13th September: Mass said at kwaNogaga Luthulini for the last time as we now have permission to return to the old church building at Mqakama’s place.
14th October: Legionaries of the Regina Angelorum praesidium went on a three day Peregrinatio pro Christo of Khaleni, which brought a few back to the Church. This wsa so successful that in succeeding years it was repeated especially in its one day format known as Exploratio Dominicalis.
5th December: Four men, not catechists, of the parish were brought to Telgte for a week’s course in Church leadership.
10th December: A new Mayor and Councillors were inducted in Bizana today. Fr Wilfrid was requested to say the opening prayer.
27th December: Sr Elizabeth Dzanibe from Ntlozelo made her final profession today in the FMM congregation. Many Sisters came from as far away as Weenen and Bishop McBride presided. Many people also came and were given a meal in the hall.
31st December: V Rev Fr Louis Brennan, Provincial, came on Canonical Visitation.
7th January: Coloured Recreation Centre Complex opened in Kokstad before many dignitaries, including the Provincial, Frs Hyacinth and Bonaventure from Pretoria, Stanislaus from Boksburg and Mr Norman Middleton, spokesman for the Coloured Labour Party. The Complex is the result of the work done by Fr Baptist O’Toole, Former Curate (1960) of Bizana.
15th January: The Apostolic Delegate, Arch. Polledrini came to Kokstad to interview all the Priests and Brothers on the question of a new Bishop, as Bishop McBride has offered his resignation.
22nd April: We had a repetition of the floods of a few years ago with 9,5 of rain in a three day period. Once again the water flowed all round the house. The track to the outstation at memela’s place at Greenville disintegrated and we were not able to do that outstation for many months.
22nd May: Fr Lobinger of Lumko visited the diocese for a course on the Lay Ministries. We all attended in Mount Frere where we stayed at a hotel and had the lectures in the house.
26th June: Wilfrid Napier OFM has been appointed the Administrator of the Diocese. At a concelebrated Mass today the Bishop formally read out the decree and handed over the administration of the Diocese to the new Monsignior.
7th July: The annual retreat of the St Anne’s was given here by Fr Gerry Griffin, the diocesan director.
17th July: Today Bishop McBride left the Diocese of Kokstad to retire to Ireland.
8th November: Amandus Tsaneka died today. He had been baptised in Natal during the time of Bishop Jolivet, at the end of the last century, and had come to Bizana from Lourdes and was of great assistance to the church especially in choir work – he knew all the plain chant Masses. He was almost exactly ninety years of age.
10th December: The Coloured school which had served the community for so many years was closed down as most of the Coloureds had left the disctrict and there were hardly any Catholics left. Many of hte children in recent years were not from Bizana village but came from far outlying districts and boarded with African families in the neighbourhood. The home language of well over 90% was Xhosa. A copper plaque was presented to Mr Meth the Principal on the occasion of the closing. This Plaque contained the Franciscan Peace Prayer. Mr Meth went to live in Kokstad.
20th January: State visit of Prime Minister, later President K D Matanzima, to Bizana.
23rd March: This year during Lent we had ceremonies of the Cross in each Station, a repetition of what we did a few years ago, though this time we made our own Cross.
14th April: Holy Saturday. This year we had a record 228 people for Baptism.
24th April: After representations from the school committee and the chief inspector Mr Mehlomakhulu (who happens to be a Catholic ) the former Coloured school was handed over on a lease basis to the department of Education. The rental was fixed at R12 per annum. A Provisional lease agreement was sent to Umtata for approval
16th July: Farewell for Fr Columbanus Timmons in Kokstad. He has terminal cancer and is returning of Ireland after many years of invaluable service in many places in the Diocese, especially Tabankulu.
18th August: The Bishops had asked that an allnight vigil should be made near the feast of the Assumption, so we had it here, and it was very well attended in spite of cold and wet weather.
30th August: Sibeni had fallen away from the Church so we could no longer go there, but we found another place nearby, kwa Mkhize. Said Mass there for the first time, and got sixteen Communions but some of those came from Lugwijini.
3rd September: We had various meetings concerning pastoral consultation. Today the final and most important meeting was held in Kokstad.
7th October: First Confirmations done by Mons. Napier in Bizana.
8th October: Today we learnt of the death of Fr Columbanus whohad been Missionary in some Missions in the Diocese, notably Tabankulu and Cedarville, though not in Bizana. A Requiem Mass was said for him today in Kokstad.
8th November: Fr Alexander Kerrigan ofm, who had been professor of Scripture for many of the members of Kokstad Diocese, arrived to give an updating course in Kokstad.
15th November: Fr Fergal Grannell visited Bizana for one day on Provincial Visitation. He went to see Mzize and Ntlozelo Churches.
15th December: About 65 boys came from various parts to take part in a course to introduce a Youth Mass.
This is to be held on the first Sunday of every month, and is to be in Xhosa, and the readings etc are to be done by the young people themselves.
During the year the school continued to be occupied by black pupils, and the rent was paid regularly. But later in the year, the Moyor and other leading members of the community approached the Parish Priest with a proposal to turn the school into a cerebral palsy clinic, as part of the new society projects known as Vukuzenzele – a welfare organisation. This proposal was not met with enthusiasm because of lack of detail of how to solve problems.
20th May: Outstation at Rolweni very badly attended. A new Casino is going to be built very near this place, under the auspices of the Holiday Inns, and this will probably mean the people down there will have to move their homes, and this outstation might finish.
Monsignior Napier attended the Acies in Bizana this year for the first time, and it was very well attended.
15th December: the Provincial, Fr David came to Kokstad on visitaiton. Mons. Napier announced his appointment from noon today as Bishop of Kokstad.
25th December: Christmas Tree was put in Hall and there was carol singing before and after Midnight Mass. Outstations done were Lugwijini, Mzize, Ntlakwe and Mbobeni. Christmas concert was held outside hall on account of the heat during the afternoon.
28th February: Today WF Napier OFM was made Bishop of Kokstad. The consecrating Bishop was Archbishop Hurley of Durban. The function was well attended by all the Diocese including a bus and several other vehicles from Bizana.
22nd April: Fr Alexander Kerrigan OFM came to Kokstad to give updating lectures of Scripture.
25th April: Philemon Mbali the Catechist was buried at his home in Silangwe. He had been ill for a long time.
10th June: A portable TV sent was bought today for Bizana Mission, the first. It cost R189.
20th June: Jacob Letsekha the Catechist came to help put up bunting for the following day, Corpus Christi. Word came from Kokstad that Br Octave Lankes had died in Kokstad of a heart attack.
5th July: On the retirement of Fr Eymard, Fr Bruno Byrne was appointed VG of the Diocese.
9th August: First Parish Committee (Locally for Bizana area) appointed. Members are Agatha Nomvete, Ida Msongelwa, Anastasia Sosibo, Wilmot Cele, Theresa Mazongolo, Johannes Fodo, Lemon Madikizela, Dina Maqam, Peter Gongotha & Nelli Gwanisheni.
14th August: We were visited by Fr Donatus Romer and three lady helpers Getrude Rheinhild and Winkler sisters. They send hundreds of parcels of used clothing to Bizana from Germany.
4th November: Prefab church structure arrived fro Peitermaritzburg, for the unofficial site we have at Ntlakwe. Cost R3120.
20th December: Bishop Napier did 110 Confirmations today. The occasion was also used to have a celebration for the people of Bizana to meet the new bishop. He was presented with a sheep some handwork and a cheque for R250.
25th December: Apart from the town Masses, Lugwijini, Mzize,Ntlakwe and Mbobeni were done.
28th February: Erecting church building at Ntlakwe. The Nqala family allowed us to use their home for Mass while the building was going on. Crushed stone had been obtained from Margate quarries and Br Masseo came to help put up the stanchions.
23rd March: Br Junipher came and put up a water tank with pipes leading into the house. This proved invaluable during the drought which followed.
10th April: Holy Saturday. 113 Baptisms this year of whom 58 were adult. A new Paschal Candle and stand (costing R110, and donated by Fr Wilfrid in memory of his mother) was used for the first time.
17th April: Fr Wilfrid resigned as PP of Bizana and went to become Parish Priest in Kokstad.
28th April: Fr Manus (now alone in Bizana) did the first interracial marriage in Bizana between Frederick Usherwood a non-Catholic from Canada, and M. Cherkoot, a Creole Catholic girl from Mauritius. Both were working at the Casino just inside the border of the Parish. Fr Colbert Byrne OMI made the arrangements. He is the Priest at Jericho, just across the border in Natal.
17th May: Fr Manus , Jacob Letsekha, Justive Kipi and Aron Nzana erected a wooden building, roofed with iron taken from the old building Ntlakwe, at Rolweni, a few kilometres short of the Casino. Br Flannan made some benches, and about twenty people could attend Mass there in comfort. This replaced the private home of the Mkhize’s.
30th May: Mass said in the partly finished church at Ntlakwe.
1st July: Mass said for the first time at Elurolweni. There were 27 adults present and some children. Sixteen communions.
11th July: Rogers Sihlobo OFM who is studying for the priesthood came and stayed a few weeks in Bizana.
15th August: Fr Manus appointed Parish Priest, Bizana.
18th September: Frank Bartman was buried today. He was the oldest Catholic in Bizana, and during his during his life had helped in building the Hospital, Dutyini and Mbobeni outstations.
4th October: Fr Kevin Egan came for some months to learn Xhosa. He was helped by Agathe Nomvete.
16th December: Lucas Bambezela was ordained priest and Rogers Sihlobo ordained deacon in Kokstad. Big crowd went from Bizana.
18th December: A record five marriage were performed in Bizana church today.
8th January: Augusta Khatywa was buried today. She was the Catechist’s wife and mother of Sr. Agnes, a nun at Maria Telgte. Hude crowd.
3rd April: Easter Sunday. The country was in the grip of a terrible drought at this time. For the first time in memory the Lobantshi stream feeding the Bizana water supply dried up and the Mission had to rely on water from the roof tanks. But during Easter they also dried up.
12th April: Since Mrs Mqakama died at Luthulini we had been using first Nogaga’s place and then the old building at the Mqhakama’s. But we got another unofficial ….. and a rondavel was put up there. Unusually it was roofed by felt roof covering rather than thatch, and this was satisfactory in this region was does not get hail. Mass was said in this place for the first time but only a small congregation was present. Fourteen received.
13th April: Fr Severin celebrated his Golden Jubilee in Kokstad, the first in the Diocese
since Bishop McBride.
22nd April: Road tarred from Bizana to Port Edward.
19th May: The unofficial church site in Vema got a new church building today, square, rather than round as formerly. Mass said there for the first time.
6th June: An application from Bizana to get electricity supplied by Escom was successful, but all premises had to be rewired. The firm Elmech from Kokstad rewired the whole Mission including Mrs. Adam’s house for about ten thousand Rands.
19th July: Mass said possibly for the last time at Memela’s Greenville as all the people there are being rehabilitated.
27th July: Escom electricity supply was switched on today in Bizana. The old engines were sold as part payment for rewiring the municipal offices, and eventually the power house was used as temporary quarters for the new high school.
31st August: At a Franciscan Congressus, held at Coolock House Fr Liam McDermott became the new President of th Federation with the mandate to work for the establishment of Vicariate.
13th September: Poor congregation at Luthulini owing to faction fights in are in which nearly 100 were killed.
21st September: Jacob Letsekha in Umtata hospital after very serious accident which with Motorbike.
1st October: A three day session started in Flagstaff to start system of Neighbourhood Gospel Groups. Thirty from Bizana attended.
1st January: Sunday, so good crowds for Mass.
6th January: About 35 girls from near Bizana did retreat for children of Mary.
8th February: Fr Manus went overses for holiday and his place was taken by Fr Bruno for one month and Fr Germain for the other two months.
20th May: Today Jacob Letsekha died. It would seem the strain of the accident and subsequent treatment was too much for his heart. So ended an era started by his Father Jerome Letsekha at Lugwijini. The homestead round there disappeared and the land was used for sugar cane. Jacob’s death left just one salaried Catechist in the parish Gilbert Khatywa of Dutyini.
28th May: Fr Manus celebrated his Silver Jubilee in Kokstad. It had already been celebrated overseas with members of the same ordination group, including Fr Baptist who had been stationed in Bizana during 1960.
1st June: Funeral Mass for Jacob Letsekha, presided over by Bishop Napier. Amont those present was Cameron Mda, Leader of the Opposition in the Transkey Parliment, who was related to Jacob’s mother.
9th June: Vigil of Pentecost. Baptisms this year were done at Pentekost. 150 baptised, including 72 adults.
3rd July: Justice Kipi, former catechist, accompanied Fr Manus to look over possible sites to replace the church at Lugwijini which looks like becoming redundant because of the moving of the people to make way for sugar cane. Official application was made and the chief’s permission was granted at a meeting held this month at Calara’s place. Then the documents were sent to Qawukeni.
6th July: Ingqungquthela of St .Anne’s attended by nearly 140 members.
20th August: Repairs to mill engine cost R2000.
29th September: Acies held today instead of the usual time during March.
8th October: At a Regular Superior’s meeting in Kokstad it was proposed to transfer Fr Egbert of Kokstad, Frs Bruno, Kevin O’Byrne to Bizana, and Fr Manus to Matatiele.
15th November: Fr Bruno Byrne came to take over as Parish Priest of Bizana. Fr Manus left the following day.
16 11 1984
A new chapter has begun in the history of Bizana parish, with the departure of Fr Manus Campbell. His boundless energy enabled him to labour here strenuously for twenty three years. When Fr Wilfrid Byrne was transferred to the Cathedral, Kokstad,Fr Manus had to serve this vast parish on his own for the past three years. In addition to the usual pastoral work, he was deeply involved socially, in supplying KUPUGANI milk powder and other foodstuffs at minimal cost to the poor. Very good second-hand clothes were sent to him regularly from Germany by another Franciscan, Fr Donatus Romer. These he distributed at the twelve outstations. If as parish priest of Matatiele he finds missions life a little less hectic – at least at the beginning – I’m sure he will quicken the pace there too – there he richly deserves a “break”.
Fr Bruno Thomas Byrne who had been 25 years at Uganda Mission took over as parish priest with Fr Kevin (formerly) Callistus as his assistant. Fr Kevin had worked for twelve years at Hardenberg Mission, and was successful in setting up Neighbourhood Gospel Groups.
28th January 1985: Attended meeting (regional) of Friars at Flagstaff.
Egbert ( Regular Superior, Severin, Kevin Egan, Niall, Gerry O’Reilly were there to discuss how best to give witness as Franciscans and to serve the local church as members of the Vicariate which is to be established shortly.
Back in Bizana that night as we came out after eating, the hall light revealed our two cats battling with a yard – long snake. It was a real tug-of-war affair, one pulling at the tail, the other at the head.
During the month Tom attended and did the official opening prayer at a ceremony in St Patrick’s hospital for the graduation of some nurses and the promotion of others. Four nurses graduated as Family Planners!
Gerry O’Reilly called, He is chairman of the South African Council of priests, and was elected to the office for a second three year term. He lead its executive to a conference in Chicago (USA). Priests from some 16 English speaking countries attended. The theme to the Conference was “SHARING THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PRIESTHOOD SOME TWENTY YEARS AFTER VAT II”.
4th February 1985: The friars in the Kokstad diocese met with Fr Bob Mitchell, the Visitator General to discuss the forthcoming Vicariate. With him was Fr Liam McDermot, president of the Federation of South Africa. Each friar was requested to decide on whether to become a member of the Vicariate or remain a member of the home province. Fr Bob was able to clear up a lot of doubts the friars had about the new entity, and assure us that the home provinces would continue to welcome us and support us.
3rd February 1985: The people of Lugwijini, where we have an outstation and growing Catholic population as well as a Church, have been told that they must move away to another area, as all their lands are needed for further development. Sugar cane is grown there extensively. The people must move after reaping their crops in June or so. An alternative site has been given for a church, but the official approval is awaited. Later we were told by the magistrate’s office that permission to occupy a site was merely transferred and thus approved.
It has rained steadily for four days. There is nearly a foot of water at the gate and around the eastern side of the house ( on the paved path). A three fell down…. one of those in a line alongside the garrage. It fell a few feet short of the priest’s house. There are a number of very high trees near the house and the church. They must be cut down.
The munucipality agreed to send their team to do the job. They came on Saturday with saw (chain) tractor, five men and ten women. The first tree they felled barely missed the house; in fact a branch hit the guttering and damaged a few tiles – and that was a very small tree in comparison to the very tall gum trees alongside it. We could take no chances, so we called a halt to the operation, served HIGH TEA, paid off hte team and dismissed them.
At Mzizi outstation, three members of St Anne’s Sodality brought an elderly ……. before me. They requested that she be enrolled as a catechumen. That puzzled me as she was already wearing the blouse of St Anne’s Sodality. Some light was thrown on the matter when the old lady explained that she held high office in the Methodist church, in fact she was President of her sodality. She said it would be a great loss of face if she were not given a similar position of respect and honour among the amaRoma.
14th February 1985: Fr Pat Young, Definitor from Ireland spent the night with us.
Fr Kevin Egan from Lusikisiki was with him.
03.03. 1985: Bishop Napier called after doing the Sunday Masses at Flagstaff.
11th March: Brother Masseo arrived to replace door on old residence, to put in steel windows in kitchen and old store room.
They were alfo burglar-proofed….. as we had a few break-ins recently.
19th March: Doctor Nathan, as he was known, his full name: Kamalanathan medical Superintendant of St Patrick’s hospital came and requested that the church be again somehow involved with the hospital, as it was their baby, as he put it, and we should be there watching it grow.
There are obvious needs, such as renovations and extensions, which the Government is not as yet able to satisfy.
24th March 1985: Bishop Napier confirmed 215 candidates at Bizana, all of whom were fifteen years and over. Afterwards he was presented with a fat sheep, and a “purse”.
28th March 1985: Acquired a Doberman puppy today.
12th April : Today the Federation of South Africa became the Vice-Province of Our Lady of Peace, and is made up of English, German , Irish, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho friars… and South Africans, of course.
The erection of the Vice-Province took place at Besters in the presence of the Minister General, Fr John Vaughan, the Definitor General, Fr Anselm Moons, the Provincials of Ireland and England, Fr David O’Reilly and Fr Luke Faupel and the two Franciscan Bishops, Bishop W.Napier of Kokstad, and Bishop Pascal Rowland of Dundee. Over eighty friars as well as numerous Sisters and friends attended the historic occasion.
On the following day, what became known as the dreaded “Vicariate Virus” struck, hospitalising about four of the visitors, and keeping many others running for days. The food poisoning was traced to an outbreak of “para-typhoid” which had reached Besters from Ladysmith in good time for the big day.
14th April: Our phone has been out of order for some weeks. The post office people tell us that new cables are being installed. We had god a message that the Minister General would spent the night with us. He failed to turn up, and we had to pass the evening wondering what had happened. Next day Fr Kevin went to Kokstad, and learned about the food poisoning. The Minister General himself was one of the few lucky ones, but his companion Fr Moons, was very ill for some days.
18th April: Fr David O’Reilly, Irish Provincial, Fr Marcellus Murphy, Guardian, Merchant’s Quay, Dublin, and Fr Angellus Lee, Procurator of the Irish Franciscan Missions, dragged themselves away from Kokstad where they had been recuperating, and set out hopefully and prayerfully for Bizana and what could have been a very testing hour in the open. They arrived looking and washed out but thankful for the uninterrupted journey. After giving them some liquid nourishment, we did tempt them into eating again – they had vowed, it seems, never again to eat in Africa. Fr Brunos Spaghetti worked wonders on them.
Took our distinguished visitors to Amanzimtoti and called at the Wild Coast Casino (which is in Bizana parish) on the way.
23rd April: A bad accident at Umfolozi (below khumula store) on the main road. A tractor with trailer full of people went out of control going down the hill, hid the barrier on the corner, spilled people on the road and over the barrier, the trailer capsizing onto some of them. Nine died on the spot, and three died later in hospital. They were sugar cane workers on their way to work.
The police reported that they had found our burglar. They found him in prison. Since the burglary, he had been picked up for another offence – possession of cannabis (intsangu) – and was already sentenced. He was a youth of 17 years or so and lived near the mission. Zwelihle Faku by name. The few things he had stolen, radio, sheets, curtain, Fr Kevin’s pyjamas were recovered as they had been kept by a neighbour of his who informed the police.
4th May: Perfect skies as we had a full eclipse of the moon at 10. 00 pm.
8th May: Fr Bruno accompanied Mr. Jwente of the Agricultural Office Bizana in order to select a site, as an alternative to Lugwijini which has to close this year as all the people in the area there have to move and make way for sugar cane growing. Sites in the area are very scarce as so many people have moved in there recently. The only site that would be central was considered too near the public road by Mr Jwente. We returned to the office in Bizana and saw his superior, who produced maps and declared that we could use the site. He instructed us to fence it immediately, in case somebody else claims it This was done.
During the month, the roof of Bizana church was painted.
14th June : Brother Flannan O’Brien arrived with twenty ten-foot long benches which he had made for us.
16th June: The Sacred Heart Sodality which had more or less disappeared many years ago was resurrected by popular demand. There are many “reformed” people who are barred for one reason or another from the St Anne’s Sodality, and who now wish to walk the straight and narrow path. In the sodality they find acceptance and recognition and the inspiration to work for the church. Fourteen members, including men, were received.
19th June: Fr Bruno left on the usual 90 days overseas leave.
July 1985: Fr Tom arranged to have Mass at the Casino where there is a large number of catholic employees. Only a handful attended. On a couple of previous occasions it was the same result, even though they themselves were asked to choose a suitable time.
Nov: Dr Kamalanathan, A Hindu from Sri Lanka with a Jesuit education, is superintendent of St Patricks Hospital. He lead Tom around the wards to demonstrate the great need for the Children’s Ward, pointing out that there was no isolation ward for children, that a larger children’s ward was needed for the greatly increased number of patients. He said that many children slept under beds in the adults wards and that there was grave misconduct. The purpose of the exercise was to solicit my help in getting funding for a new ward. The Transkei department of health informed them that no funds from official sources would be available for many years.
Tom promised to support the worthy cause, and was hopeful of a good donation from the SUNDAY TRIBUNES hugely successful crossward puzzle from which much of the income is alloted to charity. He forwarded an application with the necessary information.
4th January 1986: Acquired two young dogs (two months old) from Mhlanga. Brought by Ernest Goldsmith. Named FIFI and Bonzo.
11th January: Fr Frank Doyle, Vicar Provincial of the Irish Province called and spent the night in Bizana. A few days later, while he was in Pretoria, tests showed that he was gravely ill, and he was then flown back to Ireland.
19th January: Forty eight made First Communion at Dutyini outstation.
20th January: Tom went to the Bishops Conference in Pretoria in place of hte bishop who had gone to Bangkok.
The escalating violence in the country was discussed as well as the role of the church in such circumstances. The controversial KAIROS DOCUMENT received much attention.
During the Conference word was received that Fr Dick O’Riordan, rector of Zingisa Seminary was detained by the security police in Umtata. Bishop Brook left the Conference immediately and flew back to Umtata, but was not allowed to see Dick who was held incommunicado for 3,5 weeks. A few days later Cardinal McCann tried to intercede on Dick’s behalf. The Matanzimas were in power then. Dick was deported, without any charge being lead. Transkei Radio announced that he had been teaching communism & maligned the President.
13th February: The provincial, Liam McDermott called, and stayed for lunch.
Changes of personnel were announced: Myles to go to Uganda, Kokstad; Egbert to Hardenberg; Kevin Egan to Mt Ayliff: Harry to Mt Frere; Gerry Griffin to Sebokeng. (Myles had been studying Xhosa at Bizana Egbert had spent a year at Uganda Mission, Kevin had been at Lusiki)
14th February: Work commences on the building of Lugwijing church . The people who lived in the locality of the old Church which was near to the Coast, had to move to make way for sugar cane growing. The people used the blocks and timber of the old church to construct a building which replaced the timber one at Rolweni.
Holy Week: Big crowds attended the Services. On Holy Saturday 257 were baptised of whom 114 were over seven years.
9th April – This is Hally Comet Week. Spectacular views were forecast. Tom could not notice any difference in the Bizana sky.
A bomb exploded at the Sigcawu Building in Umtata.
About 200 youths stoned motorists ( about 17 cars) on the N2 near the Umgababa holiday resort.
29th April: Tom visited Mr A Somi’s School for the Blind which he seems to be running on a purely private basis. About sixteen students from different parts of the country attend. They stay at his home where he teaches them after he returns from teaching in the nearby government school. There is a shortage of everything from food to the Braille equipment. Tom helps occasionally with foodstuffs and secondhand clothing ( from Germany). There are only a couple of Catholics among them, but every few months they all came to Bizana on a Sunday where they delight with acontribution or two beautifully sung during the 10 o’clock Mass.
Mr Somi is a very committed person, but unfortunately very disorganized too. He teaches them to the Std 10 level.
26 May: A community chapter was held in Bizana with Kevin Niall, Gerry O’Reilly and Tom present.
7th May: Tom attended Frs Isidore’s & Alexander’s combined funeral and burial at La Verna.
15th May: Bishop W Napier left for a visit to Australia.
16th May: Tom visited Gerry Griffin at Hlangwini.
12th June: A state of emergency has been declared for the whole of South Africa.
2.3.1986: A Guardians meeting was held at Ladysmith. Stress was laid on living in community, working as a team, pooling talents and resources.
26th May: A Regional Community was held in Bizana. Youth work, sodalities and pastoral councils were discussed. Inter-parish meetings with community leaders were favoured.
Appointments were made: Niall to be chronicler and correspondent for Inter Minores; Kevin assisted by Augustine to be vocation promoters: Tom to be bursar. Gerry O’Reilly was nominated as Vicar.
The proposed new statutes of the vice-province were discussed.
15th June: Kevin collapsed twice during the 8 h00 am. Sunday Mass. He was carried into the sacristy by the people. When he revived he insisted on continuing with the Mass, though now flanked by Tom.
28th June: Neil McGovern and a team of Franciscan students ran a Vocations Workshop at Hlwahlwazi in the Flagstaff parish. 48 boys from Bizana attended.
December: A bomb went off at the Wild Coast Sun casino, killing two people, one White, one African ( a child). Later two men were picked up in Bizana during a pre-dawn commando raid by South Africa security forces. The men had rented a room from Elizabeth Yalezo, our cook! (They were tried in Umtata, sentenced to death, by in a few months went scot -free) when amnesty for political prisoners became the vogue).
5th October: An earthquake, registering 4.9 on the Richter scale hit this area. Tom noticed the shaking. It did no damage.
26th October: A tornado hit the Bizana district about 6.45 pm doing much damage to buildings, sweeping away hundreds of corragated roofs as well as some thatched ones. Many trees were knocked down. Accompanying the hurricane wind was a violent thunderstom. St Patrick’s hospital was busy all night handling casualties. Fortunately there were only a few deaths.
Niall ( Tony) Hardiman who was on his way to Bizana from Lusiki that evening, had a scary experience as he found his pick-up immobilized when flying telephone lines wrapped themselves around him. He happened to have a pincers, and was able to free himself when the storm abated. (Later he sent a generous donation to help the victims – and I imagine in thanksgiving for a miraculous escape).
Standing in front of her wrecked home is Mrs Ndzimande of Mhlanga ( which is about 3 kms from Bizana town).
Scores of homes were severely damaged there. The roof of a recently-erected modern type block of classrooms disappeared over the hill.
October: Bruno (Tom) went to Kokstad, saw Kevin Flanagan, the editor of the Kokstad Advertiser who gave the disaster front page publicity.
It was decided to start a Disaster Fund, when Tom had got around the district and seen the extent of the damage. Many people were too poor to replace the roofs which had been taken and smashed by the tornado.
Originally we tried to work through the Magistrate’s and District Commissioner’s offices as well as the Social Welfare office in Bizana. Everybody was most willing to give us a hand.
Transporting the materials ( corrugated iron, rafters, purlins thatching grass) could be a problem. The local authorities told Tom he could have the use of any town council vehicle needed, as well as the seven-ton lorry at the hospital. (When he had large supplies of materials assembled and was ready to do the distribution, he found that there was no council vehicle in working order!
The Government people in Umtata were aware of the work being done. Tom was called to meet some Ministers in the Magistrate’s office, where they voiced their appreciation.
The Department of Transport sent over a lorry from Umtata on five occasions but it had to return there for the week-ends. The Department of Forestry supplied a tractor with trailer on many occasions.
All corrugated iron was bought from CASHBUILD. Tom got in touch with their Managing Director in Johannesburg. He allowed Kokstad to sell it at a Special price. Generally the lorry came with 14 or 10 tons of iron. The biggest load delivered in Bizana constisted of 1200 sheets of corrugated iron in 3.6 and 3.0 metres lengths and costing R18768.00.
Some 600 homes had their roofs blown off. The Disaster Fund enabled us to supply the materilas for a new roof.
The Disaster Fund: The appeal for funds to rebuild damaged homes surpassed all expectations.
R195.748.60 was raised.
Included among the contributors were:
Franciscan Province of Ireland (Fr David O’Reilly)………………………..R59.108.16
Our Vice-Province (Neil) …………………………………………………………… 5.000.00
Bishop Napier of Kokstad………………………………………………………….. 5.000.00
Catholic Bishops Conference …………………………………………………….. 5.000.00
Teba ………………………………………………………………………………….. 1.000.00
Holy Cross Convent, Kokstad …………………………………………………… 3.855.00
Flagstaff Holy Cross Convent ……………………………………………… 500.00
Lions Club of Matatiele ………………………………………………… 500.00
Rotary Club of Kokstad …………………………………………………. 500.00
Joe & Marita Rogers (Ireland) ……………………………………………………. 2.000.00
South Africa Council of Churches (Hunger &Reliedf) ………………….. 50.000.00
Friends in Germany ………………………………………………………………….. 11.345.59
Bishop McBride ofm (Rtd) of Ireland ………………………………………. 1.564.67
TROCAIRE, Ireland …………………………………………………………………. 30.037.80
St Vincend de Paul, Vereeniging (Hugh) …………………………………….. 500.00
FMU, Athlone,Ireland ………………………………………………………………. 304.81
Tom appreciated too a contribution from the Freemanons of Matatiele: R136. 40 from the Worshipful Master.
Our local Sacred Heart Sodality contributed R197. 60.
Supplies of corrugated iron and roofing timber were stocked at the Mission and later delivered to the different villages after a check had been made and damages accessed. Originally we involved the headman or chief, but as the days were hot and humid they usually were called elsewhere!
Some of the big business houses in Kokstad with transport were asked to aid us by giving free transport of iron and thatching grass.
Normally the cost would be R300.00 Champion Milling, EG Cartage
i.e. Nat Food Distributors obliged.
Each did one run free of charge.
Thatched rondavells fared better than the corrugated “flats” though some were badly bettered. As there was no thatching grass whatever available in the Bizana district, we got several thousand bundles from a farm near Kokstad ( Kargpost).
There are many problems connected with assisting the needy whose roofs were blown away in the tornado. The cook (EY) at the Mission, in spite of the precautions and security taken, managed to get 34 of the 3.6m sheets of corrugated iron our to her village, where apparently she hoped to sell it. A neighbout reported the matter, and the iron was recovered.
Others (a few) who were in the process of building a new house, joined the Disaster queue to get their names on the Relief list! There was also the case of the enterprising fellow who pretended that a large roofless home qualified for new roofing. Fortunately the local headman accompanied Tom that day, and informed him that family had left for Durban and abandoned their place to set up home in the Durban area a few years earlier.
Tom and his team visited each village hit by the tornado, assessed the damage and the amount of corrugated iron and timber required, made a signes entry ina receipt book, and gave the duplicate to a member of the family. When distribution /delivery of the material took place, the receipt had to be produced. Then we off-loaded their requirements, and the truck moved on to the next home.
About 600 homes received roofing in this fashion.
13th February: Mr C Mda, member of Parliament called on Tom and said he would request the government in Umtata to send truck(s) to transport the timber and iron to the villages in need.
25th February: A seven ton truck worked from 7. 00 am. To 5.30 pm.
Bringing iron and timber to nearby Didi location.
A big number of local men volunteered their help in loading and unloading. In all, sixty two damaged homes received roofing today.
26th February : Twelve delegates from Bizana went to Flagstaff for a regional (including Lusiki) meeting to hold a discussion with the Bishop on the Pastoral Plan.
27th February: The mayor, Mr Mayaba loaned us his tractor, trailer and driver to transport roofing . We had to pay for the diesel only.
22nd March: Sister Roscelina Candlovu returned to her own parish, Bizana, to celebrate her Silver Jubilee. There was a concelebrated Mass with Bishop Napier, Kevin and Tom. A large crowd attended including Sisters from Umzinto and Seaview.
Sr Roscelina is the first Franciscan Missionary of Mary vocation from Pondoland. She is a nurse at a clinic in Weenen.
10th April: Our dog, Bonzo, has not been eating for a couple of days. His behaviour was unusual. Tom decided to take him to the vet. He bit Kevin on the arm when he reached down to hold him by the collar. Kevin went immediately to the hospital, but changed his mind when he got there and went to Kokstad instead.
The doctor there examined him and said there was no danger of rabies as the skin on his arm was not broken, though was a dark blue mark from the bite. In the meantime Bonzo had gone berserk, biting viciously the gate beside the office. The police were called and shot him. Tom phoned the vet in Kokstad who advised him to bring him the body, which Tom did. The vet.sent the dog’s brain away for investigation. About two weeks later Tom was informed that the dog had rabies. There was a long questionaire to the filled in and returned.
Kevin was fortunate to be wearing a jacket and long-sleeved sweater. Tom who was standing a few metres away at the time the biting took place was bare-armed in a short-sleeved shirt. Had he been bitten simularly, ……… no chance of surviving.
29 February: The friars had a meeting in Kokstad with the Visitator, Fr Campion Murray of Australia. He spent the night of the 7th March in Bizana. Next day Tom took him to Flagstaff.
April: Fr Patrick Canlon, guardian of Athlone friary, was collected by Tom at Durban airport and taken to Bizana where he spent the night. Later he made flying visits to most of our missions, and wrote copiously about them in the Brief and elsewhere.
13th April: A big helicopter belonging to TESCOR flew into Bizana, and did several runs up and down the village. Then it pulled up and hovered over the Mission garden where Tom happened to be. It lingered some fifty meters overhead for ages, while Tom kept signalling the pilot the direction of the town landing strip, but to no avail. Scores of people had gathered, watching this most unusual visitor. Eventually Tom signalled him to land which he did immediately. The pilot jumped out, removed his ear mufflers and asked Tom if he knew where the mayor of Bizana lived, as he had important documents to give him study for A Directors meeting on the following day in Umtata. Tom volunteered to deliver the documents as the mayor lived just across the street from the mission. The pilot handed them over, rushed back tot he helicopter and took off, hoping to make Umtata before sunset. It was then discovered that the mayor had already left for Umtata.
17th March: New Childrens Ward opened at hospital with may dignitaries present including the paramount chief Mpondombini and the Princess. The catholic Church was thanked profusely for its donation, though in fact Tom got the R4500,00 from the Sunday Tribune Charity Fund!
Tom went on overseas leave which included a 16 week residential programme (course) at the Mission Institute, Dalgan Park, Navan. It was called Faith & Mission Programme for missionary personnel. Stall members or guest lecturers included Donal Dorr, Sean Frayne, Vincent McNamara, the notorious Rice week team from Edinburgh and USA. Self-knowledge and personal growth, greater skills in listening and communicating, becoming aware of our patterns of behaviour and our attitudes to authority and responsibility etc…..would hopefully result.
There were 42 doing the course……. from 9 nations, and were serving in 21 countries.
Tom at the end of the course at Dalgan Park.
Peter Wilson ran the mission in Tom’s absence.
29th February: Peter went with Luke to Pretoria to arrange about an overseas Formation course, which he would do.
Dr. “Don” O’Mahony, an Irish doctor, is superintendent of St Patrick’s hospital. Previously he had been superintendent of the hospital at Libode. He is married to an African nurse whom he met when he was working in St Elizabeth’s hospital, Lusikisiki. One of his special interests is the setting up of clinics in the district.
26th February: The church in Bizana was burgled during the night. The tabernacle, a chiming wall clock and a metal flower stand were stolen. Some days previously, Tom had noticed that the tabernacle showed signs of being interfered with, so he removed the Blessed Sacrament to the sacristy where there was burglar proofing on the windows. The chiming wall clock had not been in working order for years. That same night an attempt was made to break into the sacristy.
11th March: For the first time, a Saturday evening Mass was introduced for the few English speakers, ie. The Coloureds and the newly arrived teachers from India. There are also a few from Ghana and Uganda who are doctors, who could avail of an English Mass. The Sunday 8.00 am. Mass was dropped. After consultation with the congregation, the Sunday 10.30 Mass was changed to 10.00.
Tom, deputizing for the bishop who was overseas, went to Lusiki for Niall’s (Tony’s ) Silver Jubilee of ordination celebration. Among the large crowd present was the paramount chief Mpondombini and his wife, a Swazi princess, who is a staunch Catholic.
23rd March: Tom had a phone call from Port St Johns, asking if three tourist from New York could call. One was a young man, (a Jew. Recently married to a Roman Catholiv of Italian descent). The third was a middle aged Dutch woman. They walked around the village (sorry we are officially a town) taking in the local scene while Tom prepared a meal… Spaghetti Bolognese which went down well, literally and figuratively! What’s kosher anyway?
July: Sister Consolata Bambelo of the Precious Blood congregation visits her relatives in Bizana. She is a physiotherapist at the IKHWEZI LOKUSA rehabilitation centre in Umtata. As a teenager of Mvalweni (Mt Ayliff district) she made contact with the Sisters, went to Germany (was sent) for her secondary education where she matriculated through the medium of German. Then she was sent to Canada where she acquired her high qualifications in the nursing profession.
We were having a tridium for the youny girls of the parish. She spent a few hours with them, giving talks and listening to them.
A bad bus accident in which 62 people died. The bus was on its way from Harding to Bizana when – it is said – the driving shaft broke, and the bus plunged 200 metres down the hillside into the valley. A mother and three children from the same family died. The driver jumped off and lived. Most of the dead were Bizana people.
A group of Precious Blood Sisters from the novitiate in Umtata paid their annual visit to Bizana, where the girls of the parish meet them. They speak to the parents in church, involve them as well as the girls. A postulant and novice spoke of their new life and its problems.
31st May: There was a function for the turning of the first sod for the new Nurses’Home. Tome appeared briefly on TV2 with the mayor and others.
June: Peter Wilson has been requested to do the Formation Course at Caryfort in Ireland. Prior to that, he is to go on the Franciscan Shrines Pilgrimage of six weeks, directed and sponsored by the American Franciscans. He had spent about fifteen months in Bizana. There was no replacement for Peter, so Tom is left on his own in Bizana.
25 August: the hospital authorities held a function to thank the donors for R 135 000.00 towards the building of the new Nurses Home. The programme for the event stated that the aim was to thank the Roman Catholic Church for its contribution. The Bishop had donated R R10 000.00, and the superintendent, Dr O’Mahony, arranged that Tom would hand over the cheque on behalf of Bishop Napier who was invited but was unable to attend. The Minister of Local Government & Land Tenure expressed the government’s appreciation of the work the Catholic Church is doing in the educational and social fields in the Transkei. (His name: Chief DD Mlindazwe). Among those present were the Mayor & Chief Magistrate.
The biggest donors were: Anglo American & De Beers C Fund R 34000.00
Wild Coast Sun (Casino) ……………….R 40000.00
Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company……..R 20000.00
The superintendent mentioned that St Patricks’ now has 280 beds and runs seven residential clinics, with an eighth one due to open soon. The hospital trains students in a four year course for a Diploma in nursing. There are seventy nurses in training, doing various courses.
The total estimated cost of the new Nurses Home is R 153000.00
August 4th: Tom has overseas visitors: his sister from Rome, and his niece and her husband from Ireland. The three were together.
5th September: The friars of the guardianate held their Day of Recollection in Flagstaff.
September: Four students from the Bizana district have been accepted to study in the USA. There are sponsored by USA agencies.
The main road between Magusheni and Mzamba (where the Casino is) is being re-made and re -tarred. It had deteriorated badly, was neglected for years, and became a nightmare of pot holes. LTA construction company got the contract, which is worth about sixty five million rand. One of the men on the contract is Maurice Connery who came to S Africa from Ireland over 20 years ago. His uncle, Didacus Connery OFM, who died in 1955, was wellknown to student bodies, as he was chaplain to Wits. University, apart from lecturing at St John Vianney seminary.
Maurice calls frequently. During the duration of the contract, he has a house rented by the Company at Trafalgar on the South Coast. His wife works in Margate. The eldest son goes to school in East London.
September 9th: Tom called at the Vukuzenzele School for the Disabled at Ntsingisi. It is a make-shift affair. The classrooms double up as dormitories. Only the most basic facilities are available. Tom brought the children a supply of samp, mealie-meal, sugar and beans.
26th October: The Superintendent, Dr O’Mahony , resigned from his post at St Patrick’s hospital , and is going into private pratice in Port St John’s. A doctor from Ghana replaces him.
Tom said Mass at Ndunge for the old people in the home of Anastasia Mncwabe. About 30 people were present.
November: Fr Fiachra O’Ceallaigh, Irish Provincial, accompanied by Brendan Scully (Bray) called on their way to Durban.
22 11 1989: A new school was opened at IZININI. Tom was invited by the school committee to bless it. There is a Catholic, Johnson Fodo, on the committee. The Catholics use the school for their Sunday service, and Mass is said there occasionally for the old and infirm, usually on the Saturday morning when the children are free. (It’s a government school). On the same occasion Tom was presented with a sheep b chief Mpendulo, in recognition of the relief work he did after the 1986 tornado.
There was a Methodist minister, Rev Gama, who shared the blessing with Tom. He was a most charming man, and was keenly interested in the political scene. He was young, married with a couple of kids. A few weeks later he took his life in the most spectacular fashion: leaving his care nearby, with an open Bible on the front seat, he walked into the river and went over the Magwa Falls a drop of 137 metres. Some days later, a helicopter from Umtata battled for hours to recover the body. He owned a store in Lusikisiki, some 24 kms. from Magwa Falls, though his home was in Bizana.
24 November 1989: Three members of the ANC called on Tom, one of them being Leornard Mdingi who had been imprisoned six or seven times (he’s now in his fifties) and spent time on Robben Island, though never charged or brought to court. They were collecting funds for a welcoming party in Umtata on 26 Nov for eight newly released prisoners, among them Walter Sisulu and Thabo Mbeki.
18 December 1989: Liam spent the night in Bizana.
20 December: Tom visited Fr Luke Faupel at St Elmo’s , umzumbe, where he is recuperating after a brutal attack. His assailant used a hammer to beat him unconscious when he returned at the end of a prize-giving function in the adjacent convent. It happened in Newcastle. It was considered a miraculous survival and recovery. Evidently, the motive was robbery.
1st January 1991: Lawrence Nomvete, son of Agatha, died in Umtata within a few hours of feeling unwell. Probably he died from heart failure/ exhaustion, though he never complained of heart trouble. He was 31 years and a lawyer. It was not known to his mother or locally in Bizana that he was an active member in the ANC liberation struggle. It was re vealed at his funeral that even as a student in Fort Here University he was an active member of the banned organization.
Two weeks later he was given a hero’s funeral. The ANC from far and wide gathered in Bizana. The all-night vigil (umlindo) turned into a political rally, and was bitterly anti-White. The older generation came to Tom, shaking their heads, and wondering if he should attend the funeral, though the mother gave her whole life in active service to the church. During the night, the leader of the MK, Chris Hani, had preached that nobody, Black or White, had a right to enjoy life until everyone had equal rights.
Tome went there for the interment. There was a huge crowd, maybe 2000, a public adress system, a casket draped in the ANC flag, a Comrades guard of honour. When the body was lowered into the grave, the ANC took over (as previously arranged) and gathered around the grave, and with raised clinched fists made their commitment a new: to fight their way to full freedom.
7-11 January: Vice-Provincial Chapter was held at La Verna.
3 February: Five people killed at Nomlacu in non-political violence. Reason: They crossed a tilled field instead of going round the fence!
Life is becoming very cheap: there was a man killed at Lugwijini because he gave the wrong change.
18 February: Bro Masseo died suddenly in Kokstad after coming in from the workshop and calling into his room before going to the dining room for morning ( 10.30) tea. Laurence anointed him. Tom was close by when he collapsed.
March 1991: At luthulini where he have an outstation there is an undeclared state of war. Nobody can say for sure why there is such enmity among neighbours. Eleven men where killed (all shot) there one Sunday at mid-day. Tom got a message not to go there (it’s 1,25 hours by bakkie) until things settled down. When Tom got the all -clear to go there, he was shown a deserted village: all had fled in fear to the Kanyayo area, leaving their animals and crops behind them.
The army took up residence. Still the torching of homes and maiming of cattle goes on.
7th April: A witchdoctor, dressed to kill in a Highland kilt with traditional embellingshments, called on a Sunday morning with his wife, saying that he gave her freedom to come to church. He informed Tom that he was in the upper ranks of his profession, as he trained those who got the mysterious “call” to witchdoctoring.
31st May: Bro Eugen called in Bizana for the first time- he was on his way to Lusiki.
12 June: Tom left on overseas leave. Various people supplied for him, though there was no one residing at the Mission. Those doing the Sundays were: Bishop Napier, Luke, Rodgers, Peter and Egbert. There were only a couple of Sundays when there was no Mass in Bizana itself. Only the Sunday outstations were done; none were done during the week.
10 October: Luke met Tom at the airport on his return, and took him back to Bizana.
12th June: This year the Methodist Synod was held in Bizana, in their large church hall. Tom was invited to do the official opening prayer. Cameron Mda, MP introduced the guests.
Three of their ministers came to the Mission requesting the use of our church for a morning Communion Service for the members and delegates attending. In the interest of ecumenism, and after they did not think our hall suitable, Tom relented, though he could not understand why they could not use their own new and spacious church /hall. (Tom removed the Blessed Sacrament to the sacristy some time previously for security reasons). It was a men only affair, with over 100 attending, presided over by a bishop in episcopal robes. Scores of cars, many of them expensive ones, were parked in every available space around the church. (Oh, how the good prosper!).
19th June: Bishop Napier reveals that he is to be the new Archdiocese of Durban, replacing retired Archb Hurley. He will be installed on 4th October.
3-5 July: The AGM, the ingqungquthela, of St Anna sodality was held in Bizana. There were visiting members from Lusiki, Flagstaff and Kokstad. A tent had to be hired in anticipation of a large crowd, and erected beside the hall. The opening took place with the 10.00 am. Mass in a packed church. Tom thanked the members for the active roll they take in the work of evangelization and in the development of a caring and welcoming Christian community.
7-9 July: Fourteen boys from Bizana went to Hardenberg mission for a Vocations Workshop conducted by Fr Peter, the diocese director of vocations. They expressed interest, and were keen to attend the follow-up workshop in Kokstad later in the year.
28th – 29th September: I visited Thomas Byrne and Bizana. …………………………………………
28th September: Fr Liam Costello OFM, Definitor of the Irish Province who is guardian of the Friary, Rossnowlagh, spent the night in Bizana.
An application for a church site was made for Dutyini. The existing church there was far too small. It had been built in 1957 in an area which was far away from most of the Catholics. It is said that the Wesleyans vigorously opposed the granting of a site to the AmaRoma. So the church had to be sited as far away from them as possible. In 1991, Tom made a new application for another site, which was readily granted by the chief and the local authorities. The law no longer demanded that he community be consulted. It is sited close to where most of the Catholics live and beside the home of Gilbert Khatywa, now in his seventies.
He has done outstanding work in the evangelizing field.
The Steel structure of the new church came from Pietermaritzburg and was erected by their engineers.
When the building of the new church at Dutyini was near completion, the people of Ludeke requested that they too would have an official church site and building. Tom sent in an application which was speedily granted. The Catholics in that area had been attending services at Isizityaneni where Mass was said in a private house. The site was fenced and the building operation commenced at Ludeke.
4th October: Bishop Napier was installed as Archbishop of Durban.
13th October: Tom was appointed Diocesan Administrator. He continued for a time to serve Bizana parish as well as spending time in Kokstad. Fr Rodgers Sihlobo of St Francis House of Studies, Pretoria, supplied for him when possible for a couple of months while Tom was busy elswhere. Eventually Rodgers stayed in Bizana on supply, while Tom stayed in Kokstad.
In February 1994, after the Vice-Provincial Chapter, Rodgers was appointed parish priest of Bizana.
19th February: Bishop William Slattery ordained Bishop of Kokstad at the Show grounds, Kokstad.
3rd May: The bishop, Brother Eric and Tom visited Bizana and picked on a site for a new church on the Mission in town. Some parishioners were there to offer their suggestions.
On 22nd April 1995: Dutyini Church was officially opened blessed by Bishop Slattery. A large crowd attended. The church is 18 x 15 metres excluding the sacristy / conference room and small porch. It is the largest ( space-wise) church in the diocese at the moment with the exception of St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Rodgers and Tom concelebrated Mass with the Bishop after the blessing of the church.