1ST APRIL, 1996
1.The annual world day for vocations will be Sunday April 28th this year. Please get all our communities to pray for vocations, particularly Priestly Diocesan Vocations. We are happy that Lulama Msungelwa from Bizana is now in his first year at St. Peter’s Seminary in Pretoria. We are also delighted that Bongani Mbhele has gone into first year of Theology at St. John Vianney Seminary. Bongani is from Hardenburg but had been with the Archdiocese of Durban until now. Also Lizo Nontshe is spending a year doing pastoral work in the Diocese before going to St. John Vianney Seminary,1997.
We had excellent vocation days at Mt. Frere and Hardenburg when some 30 young men came. Also we thank Father John at Maria Telgte Mission for the hospitality for the group of 14 who are seriously considering Priestly vocation. Three days were spent at the mission together preparing for the service of the Lord in this Diocese. Please continue to pray for Vocations and encourage the young.
The Diocessan Vocation Committee is chaired by Father Arturo of Mt. Frere, and with him on the committee are Fathers Rodgers, Vincent, and Brother Lizo with Sisters Paulus Maria and Helga. Do invite them to speak to the youth sometime during the year.
2.The Mass of the Oils and Renewal of Priestly promises will be at the Cathedral on Wednesday April 3rd at 11.00am. The choir from Bizana will sing, all are invited, bring some of your Parish people. We hope to have a lunch for all who come.
3.Please remember the annual meeting of the Clergy of the Diocese which will take place at Coolock from the evening of Sunday March 17th until the morning of Wednesday 20th. Part of the time will be spent in spiritual reflection and recollection. We will have a speaker in the person of Father Buti Thlagale, who will speak on making the Church interesting for our people and inculturation. We will have reports from all the spiritual directors of the Sodalities of the Diocese. We will also have the report of the Diocese, it’s financial position, and the report from the South African Council of Priests.
4.Please fill in the census forms as soon as possible, with an eye on the copy of your returns for 1995.
5.We thank God that Father Larry is well again after his painful operation and recuperation in Durban. We welcome him back to the Diocese and pray that his health will return to its former strength.
6.Nurses from all over the Diocese and groups from Mariannhill and Durban attended a special Mass praying for their Ministry. In a ceremony they were sent in the name of the Church to work among Christ’s sick and poor at the Cathedral on Sunday January 28th. Father Tom’s new choir at Bhongweni played and sang beautiful music for the occasion. The Cathedral was full and hopefully this service will make the nurses more aware of their ministery.
7.During the month of December alone two hundred and fifty young people were confirmed in the Parishes of Bhongweni, Matatiele, and Tabankulu. Recently another thirty were received and elected as candidates for Catechumenate in Mt. Frere. Many of these young people are enthusiastic and wish to give themselves to the Church. Unfortunately, however, the majority have probably already begun to say goodbye to the community. We must continue to strive for a policy for the youth.
In the light of this we are very grateful for the work being done by Sister Natalia and her youth executive of the Diocese. They have three excellent days of retreat from the 11th – 14th December at the old Holy Cross Convent in Kokstad. This was a great success for the ninety young people who attended from all over the Diocese. They also have plans for a programme for the year of 1996. Please make sure that some representatives of your youth make contact with them and become part of the Diocessan programme with Retreats, Educational inputs, and formation. The next youth executive meeting will take place on February 17th at St.Patrick,s Hall in Kokstad.
8.The Cathechism teachers coordinators of the Diocese. Some sixty of them met to coordinate policy and to plan the year 1996, at St Patrick’s hall on Wednesday 30th January. It was an excellent meeting in which problems and responses were discussed at large. An executive for the Diocese was elected, with members from each individual Parish, and a central executive. The Chairman of the commission will be Father Egbert. They have their next meeting, the Executive, on February 19th, Monday, at St.Patricks Hall. This meeting will try and map out a policy to help Catechism teachers in their work. We need to address many problems and to coordinate our activities, because at the moment we are failing to make contact with at least 60% of those Baptised in the Diocese.
We also need to plan in this committee to facilitate those who run the R.C.I.A. programme. Again we need to have programmes to offer some kind of Theological formation for those who are interested, and many have made requests. Again we need to have training for the leaders of the various communities throughout the Diocese, for station services, for funeral services etc. Encourage your catechism coordinator to attend as a member of the executive.
9.The religious Sisters of the Diocese met in Kokstad on Wednesday 14th February. An execellent meeting attended by many Sisters looked at the up-coming meeting of the Joint Witness group. They also planned spiritual exercises, spiritual reflection together and recollection for the year. The spiritual advisor for the Diocese is Father Bernard Riegall. The Joint Witness 111 programme which will take place in May this year, involving all the Bishops and the Provincial Superiors of the Religious Congregations will take place in Johannesburg. There is a local meeting at Palotti Farm near Queenstown in February this month. The idea is to coordinate all our efforts in the work of the Church in South Africa.
10The proposed farm-childrens Catechism course for Maria Telgte in Holy Week will have to be postponed. This is because the children are not available at that time. New dates will be issued later.
11.Forthcoming events; on March 7th in St Patricks Hall the Bishop will give a talk on the subject of Conversion.
On March 9th all the Catholic teachers of the area are invited for a day of reflection at Flagstaff. This is organised by the C.I.E. Again on the 16th March another teacher’s day will held for Catholic teachers in the Kokstad area.
The next Consultors of the Diocese meeting will take place on March 11th.
The annual general of the Cathedral Parish will take place on March 26th.
12.The Polish Sisters, now working at Mahobe, have told us that they will establish a community in the Diocese of Kokstad in October or November this year. We say welcome to them.
At Maria Telgte mission on the 2nd and 3rd March there will
be an official opening of the school year. Father John has 300 children at the school this year. It will also mark the completion of the Renewal of the beautiful church at Telgte, a job John has been exercising himself on for the last 12 months. As well there will be Confirmations for the Parish, and enrolment and renewal of all the sodalities.
13.Paul Faller, on invitation of C.I.E. Father Brother Jim and Sister Mary, came to give a number of days on the subject of Religious education in Schools in the area. He spent two of the days in Kokstad, where he addressed the teachers of St. Patrick’s School, and the Catholic teachers of the area at St. Anthony’s hall.
14. It would be good to emphasise Confession for all our people this Lent, and also to set aside a special occasion for children’s confessions.
15. July this year, Fr Bernadine’s diamond Jubilee of priesthood.
THE PROJECTS OFFICE,
I come to you to make application for the Diocesan project in the Parish of Bizana. That is I am making application for R15,000 for the work of the Precious Blood Sisters newly established in that Parish. Sister Leah , recently of Lumko in Germiston has moved to the Parish and is establishing a small projects centre at the Parish hall. Already a number of people have got together and started the work on various small industries. Sister is trying to coordinate these, and make materials and instruments available. She is starting a sewing centre , a knitting centre, a crotchet centre, tapestry making. And to establish this we need to buy some machines and materials. Sister Leah will overseethe project, which involves the community.
The idea is to train poor but young married women of the area in self support. The group have already formed themselves into a community project. It is not invisaged that we would have to continue funding them. Once they begin they will generate their
own income, but they need some money to get started. I fully encourage this project in an area which is extremely poor and has the biggest teacher pupil ratio in the country.
The project will involve training people, and in turn trainers so that this work of the community will expand and allow people to help themselves. It comes from the desire of the people, it is an urgent and obvious need; it is viable, once it begins, and we have a leader in Sister Leah who will coordinate the whole project. I request that at the March meeting you consider this project and make R15.000 available under the Diocesan Projects Scheme.
Yours Faithfully in Christ,
BISHOP OF KOKSTAD.
8th December, 1995
1. Congratulations to Father John Kerr at Maria Telgte Mission
for the Cathechetical workshop which took place there from the
2nd – 6th October. Sister Callista with her team of teachers instructed 150 children from the farm areas. The children were very enthusiatic and participated
fully in an excellent course.
Please note that the next such course will take place
again at Maria Telgte in Holy Week from the 2nd – 6th April
1996. Please encourage all the children of these areas to
attend. It will also allow them to attend some of the Easter ceremonies.
Congratulations also to Father John on repairing the Church
which this year has its centenary. Mrs. Jeanette Sandford
wrote a beautiful report on the history of the mission which
was sent to Rome. She is in receipt of an appreciative letter from Archbishop Marchesiani. She has just now completed a work on the convent of Kokstad. She hopes to wrote up all the Parishes as time goes by.
2. Remembering that vocations to the Diocesan Clergy is our
top priority, please remember to advise the young men of
the Parish, those 15 years and over that there are two vocation workshops in January. From 5th January – 7th at
Mt. Frere. And from 12th January – 14th in Hardenburg.
Also there will be three days for those who have already
made a committment regarding becoming Diocesan Priests.
This will be a three day workshop with the Bishop at Maria
Telgte from the 9th – 12th January. Only those who are in forms 3, 4 and 5 and who have expressed a definite desire to become priests and who have attended the workshops should come, we expect just 6 or 8 in all.
We welcome home Lulama Msungelwa, from the seminary in his
summer holidays. We also welcome Lizo Nontshe who has just
joined the Diocese.
It is hoped that the young men who are showing definite
signs of vocation and who we feel need of accompaniment in
their final years at high school will be able to go to
either Hardenburg or Mt. Frere to live and study their
form 4 and form 5. The details of this programme has to
be worked out but hopefully it will come into operation
3. It is with great joy that the Diocese and Church of Kokstad
welcome the Precious Blood Sisters of the Province of Umtata who have come to found a Convent at Bizana. Sisters
Lea Yina and Sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe, arrived in Bizana
on November 17th. Father Rodgers Sihlobo kindly made way
for them and gave them the priest’s house. Father Rodgers
moved back to the old lodgings at the end of the Church.
We hope with Brother Eric’s help to build a new Convent
in 1996 for the Sisters. The massive new Church in Bizana
is at roof level and should be in use early in the new year.
We must thank Brother Eric for his enormous work making this
place of worship available for a large community of some
4. With great sadness in our hearts on 1st December we said goodbye to the last 3 Sisters, Sister Theresa, Sister Gisela and Sister Immolata from the Holy Cross Sisters in Kokstad. The Holy Cross Sisters arrived on the 16th November 1888 and so their departure from the town of Kokstad is deeply felt by the whole community.
Father Larry and the Parish Council had a number of re-
ceptions to express their gratitude and appreciation for
the work of the Sisters. The enormous congregations who
attended bear witness to the fruit of the Sister’s work.
We are certainly going to miss them. It is foreseen that
the Fransicans will use the Convent as a Postulancy, that
the Boarding premises will be used by the Diocese as a
Pastoral Centre or rented as offices, and that the Board
of Governors will continue administering St. Anthony’s
shool and pre-school. The other pre-school, the Holy
Cross pre-school has a lease of another 4 years.
5. The Youth Retreat organised by Sister Natalia and the
Youth Executive, with Spiritual Director Father Giorgio,
will take place at the Convent and Boarding here in Kokstad
from 11th December evening until the morning of Thursday
14th. The Youth are invited and particularly we would like
to see all youth leaders present for these important days.
Also from 7th December – 10th Father Sihlobo is expecting
some 300 young ladies to come for a Retreat and career guidance in Bizana.
6. Two very full buses of dedicated Catholics made the long journey from Kokstad to attend the Papal Mass in Johannesburg in September. We were very well represented.Videos of the event can be purchased.
7. Congratulations to the Cathedral Parish in Kokstad where
Fathers’ Bafana Hlatswayo and Ivan Dawson, both Redemptorists conducted a very successful Parish Mission
which was crowded out every night. A lot of preparatory
work done by the Priests and the Parish Council paid
dividends. Father Larry pointed out to the congregation
that exactly 65 years ago in 1930 a Father Hughes also a
Redemptorist preached a mission in the same Cathedral for
8. We are delighted to have Father Bernard Hall back in the
Diocese of Kokstad after his brief exile in Witbank.
Father Bernard will look after the Diocesan collections
and the bursaries. We thank him for taking on this work
and have full confinence that he will do it with his usual
charm. He has just arrived back also from a two week
one man mission preached in Port Elizabeth. He
came back with orders for 3 new Parish Missions.
9. At the end of September Father Finbar Russell went from
Lusikisiki and took up duties in the Diocese of Witbank. We
deeply appreciate his very hard work in the demanding Parish
of Lusikisiki and his supply work in Flagstaff for 3 months.
We record with sadness and with prayers the burial of Father
Mathias Macsweeney in the local cemetary on 14th November.
Father Mathias and his brother Father Edward worked in the
Diocese of Kokstad for many years. May he rest in peace.
10. We had celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Cathedral in Kokstad on 19th November, Lower Nceba on 26th November, Bhongweni on 3rd December.
Forthcoming Confirmation ceremonies are at Matatiele on
10th December, Tabankulu 17th December, Gogela 3rd February,
Brooks Nek 17th February and Maria Telgte 2nd – 3rd March.
11. Mrs. Daisy Dlamini and members of the Secular Fransican Order request to visit your Parish speaking to the people
regarding their way of life. Please make them welcome.
12. At the moment we are conducting negotiations with the
Eastern Province Department of Education and the R.D.P.
about the possible use of St. Anthony’s Centre in Kokstad
as an Educational Centre. The Eastern Province Region
of North East wish to make Kokstad their centre and hope to have 400 people employed in the town working in educational services. They tell us that there are 574,000 children at school in our area.
13. At a recent consultors meeting in Kokstad it was decided
to set up a Catechetical Core Group of about 10 people. They will meet frequently during the year and draw up proposals for a Diocesan Catechetical programme.
They will also be resource personal for all Parishes or
Stations which need instruction formation and update for
the local teachers. In conjuction with the Priests of the
Diocese it is hope that this Catechetical team will work
out a clear outline of policy for the thousands of children
who are our repsonsibility.
14. Congratulations to Sister Dionys who stepped in at the last
moment to rescue a course in church music for
choir leaders from the Diocese. It was very well attended and arranged by Father Arturo at Mt. Frere. However the
directors of the course did not turn up and Sister stepped in
at the last moment and conducted an excellent experience for
all who attended. Encourage music conductors as we hope to have another such course soon.
15. Sincere gratitude to Brother Eric who has built a beautiful
reception house for visitors to the Poor Clare Convent.
In spite of all the work he has to do Brother Eric found
time to build these beautiful premises for the Sisters.
May their prayers and intercession assure him a great
reward from the good God.
16. We are sorry to loose Sister Callista for a time,she has
done trojan work in the Diocese in the area of Catechetics
for years on end. Sister Callista is going to Cedara to take
a 5 year study in Theology. Then we are very hopeful that
she will come straight back to Kokstad.
In her place we hope to welcome Sister Bridget who has much
experience in Spiritual direction and teaching. Probably
she will be stationed in Flagstaff and we hope that she will
contribute to the area of Catechetical formation. Sister
Caritas also stationed in Flagstaff has worked very hard with the youth in the area to encourage them over the past
17. Dr. Gertrude Solidad of the mission institute in Wurzburg
in Germany visited the Diocese and spoke with the leading
members of the Catholic Nurses Guild on the Aids Apostolate.
It is to be feared that Aids is becoming rampant in our area
and we need to make our people aware of the disease, how it
spreads, of its dangers, and try to remove all superstition
and useless fear in its regard. The Catholic Nurses Guild
hoped to have a special Sunday of prayer in which the nurses
hands will blessed and their apostolate involve a commissioning from the church at Bhongweni on Sunday 28th January. Please encourage all Catholic Nurses to attend on that Sunday at Bhongweni.
18. Over 90 people were commissioned by the Bishop at Mt.Frere
Parish early on the morning of November 26th at Sunday Mass
as members of the P.C.C. and P.F.C. and leaders in the
local outstation communities. Father Arturo is to be highly
commended for the work he has done in instructing the Parish. It is obvious that there are many very willing
people in our area who want to live our their Christian vocation and mission, please encourage them.
Mr. Thomas Ncanisa who is so well known as a Catholic
Formator in the Diocese of Umtata will conduct a course
on the responsibility of the Lay Christian at Flagstaff
16th and 17th December. This course organised by Father
Egbert is highly commended. As the whole future of our
work depends upon the utilization of the laity in their
charisms we all must simply make adult training and formation an absolute priority for 1996. Laboring on alone, doing everything ourselves is exhausing and counter productive.
19. The Council of Religious Sisters of the Diocese met at the
Bishop’s house on the 27th November chaired by Sister Gertrude from Lusikisiki. Here it was decided that the
Sisters would have a Diocesan day in Kokstad on 14th
February 1996 where they will spend a full day in prayer
reflection and planning. It is hoped that the Sisters will
have days together in prayer during the coming year, and also that they will organise in local groups for prayer and
reflection. The Diocese must commit itself to support the
Sisters in this generous endeavour. Father Bernard Reigal will act as Spiritual Advisor to the Religous Sisters for the
20. At present the Catholic Institute of Education is staffed by Brother Jim Murtagh and Sister Mary Kinney resident here in
Kokstad. Brother Jim and Sister Mary have continued to
visit Catholic Schools and Teachers all over Kokstad and
even into Umtata.
During 1995 they conducted a large number of inservice training programmes for teachers, particularly for those
from farm schools. Perhaps over 200 teachers attended in
the course of 1995. They have many plans to help our Catholic teachers during 1996.
In visiting the teachers in schools subsequent to these courses they found a great new enthusiasm among them. The teachers in our area have been badly neglected
by both State and Church for many years. We now have an
excellent opportunity with Brother Jim and Sister Mary to
reach out to these very important Formators of the New
Generation. So I appeal to all Priests and Religious Workers in our Diocese to find out what Brother Jim and
Sister Mary are doing, to work with them and encourage them.
They hope to hold three one day Retreats for Rural teachers
around the theme of “teaching as a ministery and communities
of faith”. They wish to conduct whole
school renewal for schools. Also,Paul Farrer, an expert on
Religious education will visit the Diocese in early February
1996. It is hoped that in particular he will address the
communities of Kokstad and Matatiele.
Brother Jim and Sister Mary will act as education advisors
to the Diocese and to all who need advice.
21. We welcome Siegfried Peppe, a seminarian from Germany to the diocese, to Mount Frere, where he will work with the youth of the parish.It is very good to have him.
15 September 1995
AUGUST 2 1995
1.Regarding the Papal visit in September. Please bring to the attention of the people the fact that the Holy Father will celebrate Mass at Gosford Park on September the 17th, Sunday. Those who would like to go should be encouraged. Perhaps, a few representative members of the Parish might be sent. Bring to the attention of the people the times of the television coverage.I have sent out with this newsletter some of the faxes which arrived from the organising committee, regarding the details for participation in this event.
Encourage the people to pray for the success of the Pope’s visit and use it as an opportunity to focus the people on the role of the Pope and the centrality of the Church in their lives. The organising committee has sent around some pages which I will leave at the Presbytery in Kokstad and which contain themes and suggestions for preaching in the Sundays leading up to the event. Among the things emphasized are the role of Peter in the Gospel, the role of Peter in the Church, the fact that the Pope is Peter among us today, the servant of the servants of God, sent to strengthen his brethren in the faith. He is the symbol of unity, the vicar of Christ, his role is to proclaim the Gospel, to guard faith, to witness to the life of Jesus and to be the teacher discussing with the Church Universal the questions of today in the light of the Gospel. We could also speak about the Pope’s interest in Southern Africa and his many statements over the years. As Peter spoke to defend the acceptance of the gentiles into the Church against strong Jewish opinion, so too this Pope speaks for the countless voiceless excluded from the benefits of a decent life by others, the workers, child labourers, women in many parts of the world, and above all the unborn and their right to life. We can make this an opportunity for renewal.
2Congratulations to the 12 choirs from all over the Diocese which participated in the Youth Choir Competition at Kokstad on Saturday the 22nd of July. It was a very successful event, the judges commented on the high standard of talent among the choirs in the Diocese. As this is only a beginning it gives promise for real effoert in the Liturgy in the future. Please remember that Father Paul Manci will be in Mount Frere from Friday the 17th to Sunday the 19th of November to work with conductors of choirs.
Congratulations in particular to the Senior Choir of Matatiele, Holy Trinity, who were adjudicated the best choir at the moment in the Diocese. In the other category, for choirs under 40 members, the choir of Mount Frere came out first over 7 competing choirs.
Congratulations in a very special way to Sister Natalia, the sister from Lufefeni, who played a major role in organising the whole competition. Thanks to Brother Eric who was able to supply so many excellent trophies.
3All during the month of July, five of our Youth leaders studied leadership at the Bosco Centre in Johannesburg. They came back full of enthusiasm to attend the Youth Executive meeting on Saturday the 29th. Almost 30 Youth Leaders from around the Diocese gathered on that day in Kokstad to plan the programme for Youth Development in our Diocese over the next year. Please give your full support to the Youth, encourage them, push them and invite them to participate in the activities of the Diocese.
4It was great to welcome Father Vincent Zungu back from his home, newly Ordained. Vincent, we all prayed for you on the wonderful day of your Ordination, we congratulate you and your family, we promise you our support and our prayers, and we assure you of our delight that you are working with the people of this Diocese.
5The girls of the Diocese, especially those in secondary school, are invited to visit the Santa Chiara Convent of the Poor Clares here in Kokstad on August the 19th, Saturday. On this day the girls will be introduced to the contemplative life of the Sisters. It is hoped that they arrive around half past nine to begin a days programme starting at ten. I strongly encourage the girls to come and meet the Poor Clare Sisters, for this is a most precious vocation which with God’s blessing we will see flourish in our Diocese. Let us offer the girls of the Diocese the possibility of this beautiful life.
6On June 29th and 30th Sister Callista, accompanied by Mrs Yolwa and Mrs J Nakin, went to Saint Xavier Mission Mzongwana to help all the Catechism Teachers of the Parish. Eventually over 50 teachers came together to be introduced once more to the use of the Catechism books which are at present in use. It was a wonderful 3 days together, days of reflection, problem solving, teacher practise and prayer. On the evenings from after the evening meals to midnight,a vigil took place reflecting on Saint Peter’s first Epistle Chapter 5 from verse 1. The next session at the same Mission will take place from the 24th to the 26th of August. Congratulations to this team from Hardenburg who are available to other Parishes in the Diocese who want to revive, strengthen and support their Catechism teachers.
7Please note that the Maria Telgte Catechetical School for the farm children will meet again from October the 2nd until October the 5th. There is a full team of Sisters and Teachers available to help our farm children in an intensive course for these few days. Make every effort to have a large number present.
8The day of sanctification for Priests and Brothers, requested by the Holy Father for all the Dioceses of the world, will take place at Maria Telgte Mission on Monday, August 28th. We should be there for the first talk at 10am.
9We were happy with the turn out of young men interested in the Diocesan Priesthood who attended at Bizana for a weekend in July. However, many Parishes did not have representatives there. During these months let us make every effort to encourage the young men to think about the Priesthood, ask them if they are interested in the Priesthood. Those who are writing Form 5 should be encouraged to see the Bishop immediately. We were very happy to welcome to the Diocese for his July holidays, our Seminarian, Lulama Msungelwa. He has now returned to continue his studies in Cape Town. Please get the various societies to continue to pray for vocations, especially to hold periodic Holy hours before the Blessed Sacrament for this intention. We must get vocations for the Diocese, and get them immediately with God’s grace.
10We had a wonderful occasion to encourage vocations on the 8th July, organised by Father Sihlobo at Bizana. He had the excellent idea of inviting back for a special ceremony of thanks-giving all the religious Sisters and Brothers from Bizana to their home Parish. It was a marvellous event. Eighteen Religious born in this Parish were present to be received in the traditional way. It was a day of joy for the Religious, for their families and great encouragement for young people to think about the call to serve God in His Church. It was also graced by the presence of the Paramount Chief and his wife.
The big new church for Bizana has dug down its roots and will soon rise to shelter the people of the Lord.
11The next Consultors meeting will take place at the Bishops house on September the 4th, Monday.
12The Bishop will be away at the August Plenary Session of the South African Bishops Conference at Mariannhill from Wednesday the 9th to the 16th of August.
13The Department of Home Affairs has sent a letter informing us that the papers sent to the government office concerned for the registration of marriages should be stamped by the marriage officer. We can no longer send them freely under Government Service.
14Please continue to put before the people the importance of the local government elections. We should encourage them to participate both as voters and as candidates. In recent discussion regarding the future of the RDP in the country, it was very obvious that groups like the Muslims are going to participate very fully in these financial considerations. We must encourage our people to participate and be decision makers.
Please encourage our people especially those who have influence, like nurses, doctors and teachers, to participate in the formulation of the new constitution. We should make explicit mention of the proposed legislation regarding abortion. Unless we speak now, or rather unless our people speak now, we will have foistered upon us an abortion law which will open all doors for the future.
15Confirmation was celebrated over the last month at Luphondo, and Hlwahlwazi, both in the Parish of Flagstaff. They were great spiritual moments. There is no doubt that if the children are properly trained, as they were here by Father Egbert, it results in a ceremony of devotion, commitment and joy.
At Nomkolokoto of the mountains, in the Parish of Mount Frere, we climbed for the opening of the revolutionary new Church designed and built by Brother Eric. Although he himself did not attend the people were loud in their praise for his wonderful initiatives and help. They now have a beautiful Church and hall where they can gather and form themselves as the Lord’s community. I had a very friendly reception at the Parishs of Mount Ayliff, at Dante and at Matatiele, Holy Trinity, to say the Masses and to meet the people.
16We express our sincere gratitude to the Franciscan Brothers Zane, Mark, and Lizo who worked at the Poor Clares during the month of July. They worked very hard and gave themselves completely to making the place more habitable. We are indebted to them and loved having them in the Diocese for that month. God Bless them and grant them success in their studies back in Pretoria.
17On the 12th of July I attended the Parish Pastoral Committee of Flagstaff Parish. There was a very good attendance from most of the stations of this big area. The delegates expressed their successes and failures in trying to live as the people of the Church. They spoke of their successes; in many places how the Priest and the people are visiting the homes, how Catechism is going very well and teachers are enthusiastic, how the Youth Choirs are beginning to function, how the men come to Church in a few areas. They spent most of their time speaking however about the problems common to their area, indeed common to the whole Diocese. They spoke about the need of training for their Catechism and group leaders. They spoke about encouraging the Youth to come to Church. They underlined how many of the Youth are drawn from our services which are lifeless and go to attend the lively services of the Zionists and the Pentecostals. They spoke about the problems of men not attending Church, especially the problem of drinking. They spoke about the lack of Catechism teachers in some areas. They spoke about individual problems in particular stations due to personalities. They found that in certain areas many people do not do anything for the Church after Sunday service. In general the people were asking the Diocese to help them to renew themselves spiritually, to communicate enthusiasm, guidance in knowledge and skills-training, they were begging us to do more for their children and their youth. They expressed their need for unity, sometimes fractured in various outstations due to personalities. It was an excellent experience of where the Church really is in this Diocese.
18It has been a time for the annual parish sodality retreats, particularly for the St Annes and the Sacred Heart. It is hard to know if Fr Peter Wilson works more by day or by night. Another night operator is Fr Arturo, known in Mt Frere as Mvelase(Velasquez) who has four men covering areas of theology, scripture, spirituality,church history and pastoral. They begin lectures at 8 p.m.on Sunday evenings and go on until 4 a.m.,Monday,fortified only by the Holy Spirit and cups of coffee.
19.Miss Pat McGregor from the Catholic Bishops’s secretariate in Pretoria gave a week of lectures, classes,sermons and instructions on Fertility Mastering at the invitation of Fr Larry in Kokstad. It was a week of great value, much apreciated by the good attendances. From November Sr Priscilla Dlamini OSB will be here in the diocese to offer this information and formation for youth,please let me know if you wish her to visit your parish.
20. Monsignor Clifford Stokes of Canon Law fame in Cape Town writes to say that Goue Vallei Wines of Citrusdal are now producing Mass wine under their own label at R6.00 a bottle, including Vat. This wine meets the specifications for Church Law. They have a depot in Durban,while the contact person for larger consignments is Mr Johnny Fourie, Box 41, Citrusdal,7340; phone 022-9212233.
21. Fr Bernard Hall will be on supply for two months in Middelburg,Transvaal.
1On the 27th of May, 70 youth from all over the Diocese met at the hall in the Cathedral. Sister Natalia led the meeting which discussed the coming choir competition. Sister also discussed problems in local youth groups and had the youth to report on what they have achieved in their areas. She also demonstrated prayer-sharing at a youth meeting. It was decided that the Diocese choir competition for Youth would take place at the Cathedral on July the 22nd this year. Already many youth choirs are putting a great effort into practice.
It is hoped that we will have a full Youth meeting here in Kokstad during December this year. We would invite all the youth from all over the Diocese to come for 3 or 4 days and we would present them with a full programme of work. So they should prepare for this event.
The Youth Mass at the Cathedral has been very successful, with sometimes over 150 youth participating.
2The Diocese has acquired The Holy Cross Convent in Kokstad. Hopefully we will be able to retain the Catholic ethos of the Holy Cross School which for a hundred years flourished at this site. With God’s help and as the years go by this large property will be developed and used as a Diocesan pastoral and training center. We also felt the necessity of acquiring it because of the complications involved in dividing a property of this nature. The left aisle and the side chapel of the Cathedral are already on Convent property. Again, the Franciscan Postulancy will be based in the convent as from 1996. By owning the property and using it for the benefit of the Church we hope that its long tradition of service to the Diocese of Kokstad will continue, and indeed flourish.
3We were delighted to welcome for a weeks visitation Sister Lilato, the Abbess of the Poor Clare Monastary at Lusaka. On the same day that Mother Lilato arrived we received the following communication through the General Delegate to the Poor Clares in Rome. “Today I can send you the permission of the Holy See for the new foundation of the Poor Clares in Kokstad. After having got all the documents necessary they were soon given the permission. I thank you in the name of our order of Friars Minor for your invitation of the Poor Clares to live the roots of the Church, especially of your Diocese. May the life of the Sisters be a Blessing to your Pastoral endevours. With fraternal greetings, Father Herbert Schneider OFM.” Enclosed was a communication given at Rome on the 11th of May, approving the establishment of foundation for the Poor Clares in the Diocese. We thank God for this grace and continue to pray for the Sisters who are our founding community.
Sister Mary renewed her temporary vows at the end of May. We hope that on August,19th,a Saturday we will have a vocation day for girls at the Poor Clare foundation here in Kokstad. I encourage you to canvass among the good girls of the parishes that they should consider this beautiful vocation.
We are planning to build a guest room and two parlours at the Monastery. This will allow the Sisters to meet visitors without the whole routine of the Monastery being disturbed.
4. We welcome the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart who have come to take up residence at Flagstaff and assure them of our prayers and assistance. It is hoped that as the years go by they will be able to contribute their own peculiar charism to the parish, to the school and to the whole community of Flagstaff.
5Let me again remind you of the vocation day for young men which will take place at Bizana, 14th to the 16th of July. Let us do everything in our power to get all the young men who have shown some zeal in the life of the Church to attend this seminar, the aim of which is to encourage in the first place vocations to the Diocesan clergy of Kokstad.
6You will remember the very successful catechism week held at Maria Telgte in January. The follow-up course will be held again during the school holiday period. So we are calling all Catholic children living in farm areas to prepare to spend a week at Maria Telgte in September.
We were very anxious to hear that an attempted arson attack was made upon a dwelling house and a classroom at Telgte on the morning of June the 18th, while the community were at Mass. It was a very cold day and John did not preach long, so the school left the Church in time to put out what could have been a disastrous fire. Once again we learned the lesson which Saint Francis put before his friars, that their sermons should be short.
7On July the 1st the family of Archbishop Napier invite the clergy of the Diocese to his Silver Jubilee celebration. There will be a Mass followed by a reception at Swartberg Hall. The contribution of the Archbishop, both as Priest and Bishop, in the Diocese of Kokstad was enormous. So those who can be there to express our appreciation for him should try and be present. Unfortunately, not all can attend, it is a Saturday, and we heard of the arrangements a little late.
Already an important celebration had been planned in the Parish of Mount Frere for the opening of a new Church at Nomkolokotho. The new Church is the artistic creation of Brother Eric and we congratulate him and Fr Arturo on the work.
8The next consultors meeting will be at the Bishops house on Monday the 3rd of July at the usual time.
9We all assure Deacon Vincent Zungu of our prayers on the occasion of his ordination on July the 8th. We are very happy to have Vincent working in the Diocese and we appreciate what he has done in Hardenberg. We pray that God may Bless him and his family on July the 8th at Holy Cross Mission, Gingindlovu. We pray that God may give him many many fruitful years of service and joy in the Church and in the Fransciscan order. We hope to, that many of these years will be spent in the Diocese of Kokstad.
10 On the same day, July the 8th, Father Sihlobo has organised a special Mass for religious born in the parish of Bizana. The celebration will take place at Bizana Parish Church and will be an encouragement to young people to give serious consideration to serving God in religous life and in the Diocesan clergy. Religous, now scattered in many parts of South Africa, will return to share with their families this day of jubilee and joy.
11It was wonderful to see 52 teachers, most of them from small Catholic schools around the Diocese, present for a 4 day session at Glenthorne here in Kokstad. This course is the result of the hard work of the C.I.E., here in the Diocese in the person of Sister Melvina and Sister Mary. The contacts of Brother Jim and Sister Melvina over the last 18 months are beginning to bear fruit. The teachers were delighted with the course presented and are very keen to return for more. The course focused on child centered education and was aimed at principals and teachers who want to upgrade their teaching skills. The diocese financed the course,supplementing the fees paid by the teachers; it was directed by ITEC from East London. It is a service the Diocese wishes to give to all teachers in the Diocese to make them even better and to encourage them to put more into their ministry and vocation- teaching.
It is hoped as the years go by, that in co-operation with the parish priests, the C.I.E. and diocese may be able to organise short seminars for secondary school students of Form V vintage during a week of the July holidays and to give courses to the children on subjects which are particularly demanding on teachers viz Maths, Biology, Geography, and Science subjects.
12The Catholic Nurses Guild continues to meet. I encourage the Priests to invite the Catholic Nurses to join the guild and to attend its meetings. Some of our Nurses attended the annual national meeting at Marianhill on the weekend of the 18th of June. The Nurses also had a meeting in Bongweni on the 27th May. We have many Catholic Nurses and we can contribute a lot to their spiritual and professional work by bringing them together and inspiring them.
13Continue to remind the people of the Pope’s visit to South Africa and remind them that on September the 17th he will say a public Mass at Gosforth Park in Johannesburg. There will be plenty of accomodation, the organisation is well planned and the Pope will drive around and so get close to everyone who attends. Maybe as time goes by our people may become interested. Also encourage them to pray and use this as a time of grace prior to the Pope’s visit to Johannesburg.
All enquiries concerning brochures and tickets should be addressed to Box 94185, Yeoville. 2143.
All enquiries concerning souvenirs should be addressed to Mr Muller, Director of Publicity, Box 94185, Yeoville. 2143.
All other enquiries to Mr J Fox. Papal Visit Office. Tel 011 8829555. He will also address applications for VIP invitations and assist pilgrim groups. Ecumenical VIP invitations should go through Archbishop Daniel in Pretoria.
It is recommended that a special collection be taken up in all parishes on Sunday 20 August, to assist with expenses of Papal visit, special envelopes will be made available.
14. On June the 4th the WWF World Environment Day kicked of at Kokstad. As you will have seen in the newspapers, around 4 000 people attended. The guest speakers included Archbishop Tutu and government ministers Kadar Asmal and Bantu Holomisa. There was a certain amount of controversy pertaining to the event as a number of Christian Churches objected to recognising the prayers of Hindus, Buddists etc. However, it was a delightful day. The Organising Secretary was Mrs Terrie Brown and the Catholic Womens League played a large role in the catering.
We were delighted to welcome Father Kevin Egan on his visit to Kokstad where once he laboured. He made a pilgrimage to Mantlaneni where he inspected the Church premises for dagga. The people were delighted to see Kevin again.
The Cathedral hosted the Churches for the Church unity day of prayer on May the 31st. It was organised in haste by Father Bernard Hall after other churches renaged at the last moment.
We had a vigil in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost at the Cathedral on Friday the 2nd of June.
Father Finbarr had the misfortune of losing his passport and breviary and valuables while parked in Durban.
Father Peter Wilson organised the feast for Saint Anthony at Saint Anton’s Mission, celebrating the 8th centenary of the birth of the Saint. Though it was a very cold day it brought many people and priests together.
Sister Calista is running a number of teacher renewal courses in Catechetics and has been to Flagstaff, Hardenberg and Tlangwini. She is very willing and keen to help our Catechism teachers renew themselves spiritually and prepare to introduce the children to the things of God.
RCIA Programme in Mount Frere and Mount Ayliff is beginning to take off. This is a realistic community based formation for Catholics. We really must all move in the direction of a formal programme of training and formation of our Christians. Unless we do this we are simply forming Zionists.
We are delighted here that Sister Dionys at Mount Frere has come out of hospital and is feeling in very good form again.
Sister Marwiga has begun to put together her own Xhosa Catachetical Programme. Continually the youth and the children come to Tabankulu Church and Sister is forming them in the liturgy and in Catachetics.
Congratulations to Father Harry Houlihan who has received a special tribute from the South African Blood Transfusion Service on the occasion of his donation of his 125th pint of blood.
Old days were here again when some 20 horsemen led by the chief came to the church at Manthusini. Finbarr had organised a vigil of prayer on Saturday and this was led by Egbert and Vincent. Sunday was the liturgical celebration and this was graced by the King and Queen and a great throng, a day of great joy, with majorettes and three enormous groups of traditional dancers.
MARCH 1995. No 1
1We expect a large group of youth and leaders for the diocesan meeting March 18 at St Patricks hall in Kokstad. Sister Natalia will be facilitator. It is hoped that the youth will make plans for their work and spiritual development during this year. As you know St Natalia and her helpers will be available for youth retreats during this year. Please encourage the local youth groups to organise a retreat for themselves or a work-shop some time during the course of this year.
2The clergy meeting of priests and brothers of the diocese will take place at Kokstad on Monday the 27 at 10:30. The meeting will discuss finance in the diocese, particularly with emphasis on contributions from the faithful and finance committees. The discussion will be facilitated by Father Egbert and Finbara. I include in this envelope a sample finance constitution for finance committees for our diocese. Please read and bring to the meeting.
It is hoped that once this matter is cleared up and this department of finance is in order we can go ahead to our main priority, pastoral parish councils.
Please do bear in mind that it is general accepted officially by the church itself that the R.C.I.A. programme is the best for the formation of adult christians. This programme is designed primarily for adults who join the church, but actually it is an excellent renewal programme for all adults. It is sincerely hoped that with time it will be introduced everywhere and it will become the formation programme for older youth and adults everywhere in the diocese.
3The Mass of the oils and renewal of priestly promises will take place at the cathedral of Wednesday April 12 at 11 o’clock in the morning. You are all encouraged to come. Do bring as many people as you can. Tea will be served for the people after Mass.
4There will be sewing classes at the uMzintlava Centre here in Kokstad for three weeks beginning on April 3. The cost of the course is R 100 while the students are expected to also buy R 200 worth of material. This course will be given by skilled instructors. Boarding can be arranged at the centre for R 4 a day, but the students must provide their own food. If you have ladies who wish to study sewing please make application as soon as possible through the office here in Kokstad.
5The Sisters of the diocese had their first meeting at the parish hall in Kokstad on February 18. It was a wonderful, joyful and helpful meeting. I include a copy of the minutes in this envelope. One of the things the Sisters asked was for more spiritual help for their communities. To meet that request I have asked Father Bernard Hall to go to each community once during Lent and to provide instruction, opportunity for prayer and confession and renewal.
6I extent a very hearty welcome to Father Bernard Hall who will be at the Cathedral for three months while Father Larry is away.
7Sister Callista and her team, who did such wonderful work for this summer school at Maria Telgte in January is available on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month during the course of this year to help Cathecism teachers or children courses. It is an excellent idea to bring the children together once or twice during the year for a special spiritual opportunity. There are even funds available to help such endeavours. And Sister Callista, if informed in time, will be happy to be of service through out the diocese.
8Sister Mary Dionys is also available for teaching of teachers and their formation. Sister Mary Dionys is an expert in training the laity and in adult formation. Again if you contact her in time she will be happy to come to help with the formation with the adult leaders male and female in your parish.
9Lumko in the person of Prisca Hadebe is writing a new catechism for the children of South Africa. It is still at the experimental stage. They have completed work on a text for confession and first communion. They ask help from us in the parishes. They are willing to send the present text for trial use of a period of a year. Please let them know if you will help them to assess the value of their material before its eventual printing for general use. Any cathecism teacher who would like to work along with Lumko in getting their material better and more usable please contact them.
10We were very happy that the national president of the Catholic Women’s League, Mrs Andy Piper, from Durban and her national executive came to visit the Kokstad branch. They were delighted with the enthusiasm, the reception and the work of the Kokstad Catholic Women’s League. In the last few months they have acquired 15 new members. We congratulate them. We also congratulate Mrs Lorna Wicks who is new president of the Parish Council in Kokstad.
11I invited the Mother General of the congregation of the Little Servants of the Mother of God, who work in Port Shepstone and at Mohobe to come to visit Kokstad. She came with an entourage of 7 Sister, many of them from their provincial and general councils. It is very likely that these excellent Sisters will come to work in Kokstad in the near future. Please pray that they will come to work with us. There is high praise for their work everywhere.
12The Secular Franciscan Order is coming to new life in Kokstad. You will remember that last year they had their first regional meeting and now wish to extent their order right through this diocese. Let us cooperate with those fervent christians who want to belong to this branch of the Franciscan family. The local leaders have already begun visiting many parishes. Unfortunately, Benedict Dlamini, the husband of Mrs Daisy Dlamini, who is the leading light of the Franciscan Third Order was killed in a car accident at the weekend. May he rest in peace.
13The diocese extends a sincere sympathy to the family of Father Vumile whose father, who was a catechist for many years in Umtata diocese, has passed away. We ensure Vumile of our prayers on this sad occasion for his family. We also extent sympathy and prayers to Brother Lizo Nontse, OFM, whose brother died tragically in a train accident in Cape Town. He was laid to rest at his home in Bizana after a service conducted by Father Sihlobo.
14Congratulations to Father Finbar and Father Egbert on arranging a Marriage Encounter weekend for some couples in the diocese. The season will be at the Big Fisherman at Melville from March 24 to 26.
15It was wonderful to have confirmations in Bizana, where so many people cooperated to form the youth for this decisive step in their lives. 72 were confirmed, but many more await confirmation in the outstations. Congratulations to Father Sihlobo on a wonderful occasion.
16The Bishop preached the annual priests retreat for the diocese for Umzimkulu at the house of the Capuchin Sisters in Melville. It was wonderful to see 17 priests of the diocese present, almost the whole number. And very wonderful to notice that the average age of the priests is around 40 – 45.
17We extent a very warm welcome to Father Joee Sandri who is the provincial of the Comboni Congregation who has come to visit Kokstad. He is very welcome now and always. We congratulate the Comboni Fathers on the celebration on the birthday of their founder on March 15. We also welcome back Brother Eric from Malawi and Zambia where he went to have a look at Africa Art. We congratulate him on his wonderful initiative for social development and building of schools creches and of churches. We hope that the African experience will allow us through him to introduce African culture into our architecture and especially eventually into our liturgy. It is hoped that our dear Poor Clare Sisters will encourage us and be a light and model for us in the creation of beautiful liturgies according to the mind of the culture of this great Continent.
18The Pope will celebrate his 75 th birthday on May 18 this year. If someone should feel inspired to send him a birthday card then write to Pope John Paul
Vatican City Rome Italy. Who knows he might invite you to the party.
19I do hope that we use the time of Lent to offer people opportunities for confession and reconciliation. We might particularly concentrate on the children and the youth, sme of whom go to confession once and once only. It is no harm to encourage them to come as a class for confession sometime even during the week. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to have some kind of spiritual direction and spiritual reminder of the role of God in their lives. Perhaps we could help each other with confessions.
20…Congratulations to Fr Canisius on the diamond jubilee of his priestly ordination, many of those years were spent working in this diocese.
1Congratulations and gratitude to Father John at Maria Telgte Mission for the wonderful week provided for the farm children. John reports that 93 boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 16 took part in the catechetical course. The instruction team was composed of Sister Callista as leader and seven assistant teachers. Children were divided into age groups for instruction. The theme was the faith in general. The instructions began each day at 7:30 after prayers and continued until one o’clock midday. There was recreation and games for the children between 2:30 and 5:00. The children were delighted–it was their first holiday and their first deeper exposure to the faith. John says that the instructions were very well delivered and received. Each one got a catechism book. Among the teachers were Mrs Ngxobe and Mrs Lupindo both from Maria Telgte Mission. Father Bernardine sent Mrs Mkhanyiswa. While Sister Callista brought Mrs Maboea, Mrs Ntsenyeho, Mrs Kwababa and Mrs Sibi from Hardenburg.
2The coordinators in the various parishes for catechetics came together in Kokstad on Saturday, January 14. Over 50 people attended- we had expected about 15. Father Lawrence did a repeat of the wedding feast at Cana and multiplied not only the water but the cooldrinks, the meat, the rice and the vegetables.
This was a wonderful morning of discussion on the problems facing teachers in the diocese. Most people attributed the great difficulties we experience to the non-participation and lack of interest on the part of parents and families. The teachers asked that the priest continually remind the parents of their responsibility for catechetics. They also insisted that the sacraments should not be given easily. Children must attend and children who come at the last minute and who fail to attend the proper instruction should be refused by the priest. Rather they should be told to wait for the next time and in the mean time to come frequently for instruction.
We registered the coordinators of the various parishes and will contact them frequently during this year. The plan now is that Sister Callista and other experts with helpers visit a number of the parishes during the course of this year. Sister will communicate with the coordinator whose responsibility it will be to call the teachers together for a particular weekend. The weekend will consist of motivation and retreat. Then there will be a discussion of catechetical problems and Sister will give some practical help in teaching. The bishop also hopes to attend many of the parish sessions and meet all of the catechism teachers and participate in the motivational programme.
3Father Finbar in Lusikisiki in introducing the RCIA programme for the formation of adult christians. This seems to be the programme now favored by the universal church and even canon law makes provision for its implementation. It is hoped that this excellent programme of formation will gradually be introduced into all our parishes and become the chief means of christian formation for adults. While Finbar pushes the programme in his parish this year we hope that as time goes on we become familiar with it.
4The world day of the sick is Sunday the 12th February. Please offer an opportunity for prayers for the sick in some of our Sunday services this year. If you can not keep that Sunday then choose another. Approaching the cold weather it is good to set a Sunday aside for prayers and even anointing for the sick in church. I think you will find a great response to such services.
5One January 29 of this year at Bhongweni we had the service of blessing the nurses for their work and ministry during this year. A marvelous number of nurses of all churches attended. The second reading of the day, St Paul’s famous discourse on charity was particularly suitable as a theme for reflection. The nurses, many of whom are catholic, seem to be dispirited and disorganized at this present time. They find it difficult to make their faith an inspiration for their vocation.
At Bhongweni Patrick Mkhafana came forward and thanked the nurses publicly for the wonderful way he had been treated when he was sick in hospital. Prayers and litanies were offered for the sick and for all who help them. This was followed by the anointing of the nurses’ hands with a holy oil. Then they were given a little beads of the Sacred Heart to remind them of the love which should inspire all their service for the sick. The nurses renewed their Pledge which they originally took when they graduated, promising to serve God in His sick. They promised to work on behalf of life.
6It would also be very useful in the parishes if we had a service of blessing of school teachers. They have a particular important ministry to play for the church for God and for the new society. The church’s support with prayers and instruction would be a modest contribution to the better fulfillment of this important ministry.
7I invite all the women religious of the diocese for a diocesan meeting on February 18. This meeting will take place at St Patrick’s Hall beginning at 10 o’clock.Lunch will be served. If this date is not suitable please tell me as soon as possible.
8On March 18, at St Patrick’s Hall , at 10.a.m. we will have the next Youth Leaders’ meeting. Could we have 4 or 5 leaders from the biggger parishes. We would hope to look at the their constitution and organise a program for the year. They are often over-looked. Yet the youth at confirmation have shown great enthusiasm and desire to grow in the faith. If each parish could during the course of this year help the youth organize one weekend of prayer, recreation and instruction. Given sufficient notice Sister Natalia would be happy to conduct these events. If she is unable we can look around to find people who may be available.
9Wonderful work was done in the diocese during the time of the elections. Now the new process has begun for voter education for the local elections. The first task in the next 90 days is registration and enrolment of voters. We could encourage our people to begin immediately to enrol. We might try to explain the importance of local participation in democracy. The future of some of our villages depends upon their having a voice in decisions.
10Lumku has prepared some Lenten reflections for parishioners during that holy time. If you are interested please contact me and I will try and make some available.
11There will be a three week course in Youth Leadership in Daleside in July this year. Could we nominate a few especially talented people for this ministry.
12Congratulation to Father Sihlobo on the wonderful day for youth career guidance early in December. The tremendous and enthusiastic participation of the youth was a joy. There are five girls from Bizana going to religious life this year. This must be a record and it just points out the great generosity of our youth. Lulama Msungelwa also from Bizana will go to the seminary in Cape Town to study for the diocese.
13It was a joy to attend the Jubilee and Profession ceremonies in Matikwe and Glen Avent. What a joy it is to find so many ladies of our diocese who have committed themselves to the Lord in religious life! We were delighted to have two golden jubilees in Kokstad, three silver jubilarians, three solemn professions and four simple professions this year. God is surely blessing the diocese and your work! Please keep contact with any young men showing interest, bring their names and address to the office here in Kokstad and we will circulate them with spiritual material during the course of the year.
14Let us not forget to send some little money for the Good Friday collection for the Holy Places. This is something close to the work of the Fransican Order for seven centuries. And many of us have enjoyed the hospitality of the Friars in the Holy land when we went on pilgrimage. A few bob from the Good Friday collection would be appreciated for Father Fergus.
We had two splendid Advent services in the Cathedral and in Bhongweni. There was a good attendance in both places for a liturgy of carols, readings, sermons and confessions. Lent would offer another opportunity for such rites. These services need not, perhaps should not be, eucharistic. Centered on the word, they would psychologically and spiritually prepare our people for the Church year.
The diamond jubilee of Sister Theodata at the Cathedral was a beautiful and joyful day, We thank Sister for her wonderful work which is deeply appreciated by the diocese.
Confirmation was celebrated in scenes of joy and enthusiasm at Makhoba, St Antons, St Callistus and Mt Frere.
16Please send in the parish statistics as soon as possible which have to be forwarded to the Nuncio for Rome. Try to keep them as accurate as possible. Before filling them in have a look at last years statistics.
17 It is with great joy that we welcome Sister Marvega to Tabankulu. Sister hopefully will be joined by more Sisters later in the year but in the meantime she will live with some Christian women. Her presence there visiting the people, calling them to prayer, encouraging children and the youth, praying for the sick, looking in on the creche, helping people with sewing and various skills will be a great boost for the parish.
18From the Poor Clare Sisters
As we begin our first new year, her in Kokstad, we want to sincerely thank each one of you our new family; friends, brothers and sisters of the Cathedral Parish and from the places we have visited around the diocese. First of all we are grateful to God, who, through Bishop William Slattery, ofm. and his Diocesan Council have invited us to this diocese. We owe a lot of thanks and appreciation to the Bishop, priests, religious and the laity for the warm and loving welcome you accorded us. We feel privileged and can only thank God for each one of you; individually and as parish diocese, especially those we have already met; Bhongweni, St. Matthews, St. Patrick Cathedral, St. Anthony, Flagstaff, Mount Frere and other neighboring diocesan parishes.
We have been touched and enthralled by the kindness and generosity from many of you in providing our first needs at our Monastery of Santa Chiara. We would like to mention here, in a special way, the Catholic Women’s League, individual families, priests and religious who have provided us with household ware, kitchen utensils and other stuff. It was our wish to write and thank each of you personally, but some of you did not want to be known, and like the Gospel exhortation, preferred only the Father who sees what is done in secret to know. May He then grant you His own blessings and reward! We pray for you all and mention your intentions to the Lord especially in our liturgical worship and adoration.
In the process of our tour within the diocese, someone asked “What is your mission her?” We are happily settling down and it has been a great joy for us to meet most of you. Though we desire very much first to know the language and be able to communicate with you.
Our mission here is to implant contemplative life in this diocese; to found a new Monastery of Poor Clares; a House of Prayers and Peace following the holy Rule and traditions of our Order. We want to learn the culture, customs and traditions of this country and to live their desires which harmonize with true Franciscan contemplative life, to provide and to offer to all who want to seek God alone, the place and best conditions for prayer and silence; where priests, religious and lay people may also find meaningful liturgies and an environment which facilitates personal prayer and retreats.
We hope and pray that many young girls of this country will join us and be trained as Poor Clares. The future of this new Monastery depends on the response to God’s call of those who desire our life. For further information about our life, please contact us at our Monastery or postal address:
Sisters of St. Clare
Monastery of Santa Chiara
PO Box 1638
May the Lord grant you all a grace-filled New Year!
With joy we welcome Mother Veronica, Abbess of the Poor Clare monastery in Lusaka in Zambia. She has been so generous to our church by sending five of her daughters to live at Santa Chiara. Though Mother’s health is very frail she made the great journey in order to encourage and confirm her Sister. Her presense is deeply appreciated, she is always welcome. Immediately on arrival she began work.
I attended the Bishops conference this year at St Peter’s Seminary in Garsfontein, Pretoria from January 17 to 24. It was a very full meeting with work covering a range of subjects. Among some of the events were the following:
On Sunday we went for the blessing of the new Chapel and wing at Lumko.
The conference in one of its resolutions took strong exception to the wide-spread habit of political parties and civic associations calling meetings on Sunday mornings and will try to persuade parties etc to hold their meetings on Sunday afternoons or at other more appropriate times.
The conference finally agreed to apply for membership of the South African Council of Churches. It seems this council of churches,in disarray to some extent, is being reorganized and procedures regarding decision making have been clarified.
It was agreed after a long discussion about the future of the seminaries to expand St Francis Xavier Seminary in Cape Town for the accommodation of more first year students. There will be 34 new students for the diocesan clergy in the seminary this year. The Seminaries are indeed a big area of concern especially in the financial domain. Now each seminarian costs R14 000 per year and this excludes the R8 000 which is subsidized from Rome.
The conference approved Father Bonaventure Hinwood and Mrs Else Strivens, both catholics be officially appointed to the independent forum for religious broadcasting.
The conference spent quite a bit of time discussing those particular aspects of the code of Canon Law which must be adapted for use in South Africa. If the Bishop’s requests are approved by Rome the only Holy Day of obligation which will always be retained for its actual date, will be Christmas day, on December 25. The other great religious holidays, Ascention, the Assumption, Corpus Christi, etc will be celebrated on the following Sunday. However, this awaits approval by Rome.
Bishop Peter Sarpong, from Ghana addressed the Bishops on enculturation and showed how the gospel can be expressed in ways more appropriate in peoples’ lives and culture.
The conference challenged the government on the sale of arms to the Sudanese government. There is a full scale genocidal war taking place there with serious suspicions that South African arms are being supplied and used.
The conference also considered the question of illegal immigrants and their entry and detention in South Africa.
The conference discussed some of the parameters of the commission for truth and reconciliation. The Bishops conveyed to the Minister of Justice their concern with a particular paragraph in the Act which provides for the publication of names and information relating to acts for which amnesty is granted, for this could lead to vengeance and further violence.
The conference also approved setting up of a Lenten programme as proposed by the department of pastoral plan. This will begin in 1996. The idea is to have a theme which parishes all over the country will discuss in small communities.
The Bishops discussed community radio and whether we should or could afford to become financially involved in these new outlets for evangelisation.
After long discussions the Bishops conference did not agree on a common AIDS policy, that is regarding AIDS testing for applicants to the seminaries. It is up to the individual Bishop to conduct such tests if he wishes.
It seems from the Xhosa regional conference that the new lectionary for the language should be available during the course of this year.
21. We welcome Sister Melvina, a Holy Cross Sister- well known in Kokstad-to the diocese,who comes to join Bro. Jim in the work of C.I.E..They will be involved in INSET-inservice training as requested by parents and teachers last year. Jim says; “we will be working in conjunction with ITEC, the East London based Independent Teachers enrichment centre. Our outreach includes State Schools. We will invite Principals and teachers to workshops at different centres to establish what teachers’ greatest needs are. If we cannot meet a particular need we will bring in people who can. We are presently offering the following courses; School Readiness, Classroom organisation, teaching as a ministry, School Boards of Management and Staff development. We may need the help of the priest in using parish facilities in places but the priests have been very supportive in this respect in the past”.
1.It was with great joy that we welcomed the Poor Clares to the diocese on the 18th of November. They left Lusaka early morning Tuesday the 15th November by van. They travelled through Harare where they met the Poor Clares of that city. After a short break of two hours they continued down to Beit Bridge and into Messina for the night. Next day they came as far as St Francis House of Studies in Pretoria. On Thursday they came to Besters with Father Liam who was coming to a meeting. And on Friday they left Besters and travelled to Kokstad. On the way they went to Kevelaer to dedicate their lives and themselves and their new comtempative house to Our Lady. It was a joy to see so many priests and people present for the opening Mass on the 21 of November, the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady. The Sisters are very welcome.
2.Father Harry is extending the house at Franklin for habitation. He hopes to move there soon. Fathers Bernard and Giorgio will move to Mt Ayliff. Brother Eric and Father Arturo will remain in Mt Frere. The Mt Frere community hopes to have a new member in the new year. They will look after Mt Frere, Tabankulu and Mt Ayliff.
3.We extend sincere sympathies to Father Finbarr on the death of his mother. It was a great consolation for him to be present with her, he had just finished saying mass in the room when his mother died. May she rest in peace.
4.From the 10th to the 13th of November the Secular Franciscans of the dioceses of Kokstad and Umzimkulu with the leaders of the fraternity in South Africa celebrated their annual retreat at Bhongweni. In the process they set up a new diocesan structure for Kokstad. The chairperson will be Mrs Daisy Dlamini. Kokstad will with Umzimkulu form a new Region. Mr Majola, also of the congregation of Bhongweni, will be the regional president.
5.Nurses from all over the Kokstad diocese met on Saturday the 19 November to reestablish the Catholic Nurses Guild. Mrs Cecelia Molantoa from the Health Department of the Catholic Bishops conference in Pretoria addressed the delegates from many parts of the diocese. Mrs Molantoa challenged the nurses to become involved in the whole society. She challenged them to be self reliant, to disseminate education and knowledge in health care, she challenged them to educate our people in the care for the sick, to be involved in community empowerment programmes, to help in the Aids ministry, to collaborate with other members of the parishes in training them for health work. They will also cooperate, she says, with other health care professionals both Catholic and others in this work. The Nurses underlined areas which may need their help in the diocese. They mentioned care of the mentally retarded children, caring for street children, old age homes for the aged, after school care centres in parishes. Nurses present elected the following as a steering committee in the establishment of the guild. Mrs Gana, as president. Mrs Jwarha as vice president. Mrs Fortein as secretary, and Mrs Mnxhakaza as vice secretary. Mrs Tobiya was elected as treasurer and three additional members were elected. It is hoped the priests will encourage their local nurses to join and become involved in the community as they should.
6.It would also be no harm if we informed Brother Jim Murtagh regarding the presense of Catholic teachers. It could be hoped that they, with Brother Jim, might arrange some spiritual exercises for themselves in the course of a year. This might deepen their religious and human motivation in their work.
7.It is very important that we tell the young men of our parishes of the vocation workshop which takes place at Flagstaff from the afternoon of the 8th December until the morning of the 12th of December. This live-in vocation workshop will have a full programme and we encourage those who are 15 years and more to attend. Continue to emphasise prayer for vocations, tell and ask the young fellows to consider becoming priests for the diocese. It is hoped that Lulama Msungelwa, from Bizana will be going tothe seminary in Cape Town in the New Year. He has still to have his application accepted.
8.The St Ann’s met over the weekend of the 21-24 Oct at Bhongweni. Fr Tony reports that the meeting was very well attended with representatives fdrom all the parishes in the diocese. They paraded as usual through the town going and coming from the cathedral. Besides reports they pointed out difficulties such as elopements, broken homes, loosing tthier blouses, getting involved in traditional religion, selling beer, etc. Wise counsel was offered and it may be summed up in the advice of Mrs Agatha Nomvete who would simply send them back to their local priest and pastoral council.
There were over 200 present and since the meeting was supposed to be for abaPhathi only it does look as if that term is very widely used. In an apparent effort to seperate the chiefs from the Indians they will have another meeting of presidents only towards the end of January.
Before these local presidents met, the top brass 9diocesan executive0 intend to visit each parish. The Powerful ladies will be around the diocese in November, December and January. Give them a good welcome.
Fr Tony thanks Fr Bruno for the warm reception and all his people there for their help and co-operation and Fr Lawrence for the use of the Cathedral on Saturday.
9.Sincere congratulations to the youth and their leaders in Hardenburg. In the third weekend in September over 80 of them paid quite a substantial sum of money to travel to Mariannhill for their annual retreat. Sister Callista and the youth leaders conducted the retreat at the monastery.
10.On January the 14th, 1995, at the cathedral we would have a special day for catachetical co-ordinators from around the diocese. This is a Saturday and the meeting would begin in the morning at 10am. By co-ordinators we mean two or preferably three really committed Christians and Catechism teachers who will discuss the situation in each parish and who will debate how we might move with much more direction and assistance in this field. It is hoped that these people, committed totally to the work,- not necessarily the bright ones but the right ones-will animate this apostolate during the coming year. They will call frequent meetings of the local teachers and during the coming year the Bishop and a team of animators will attend these meetings around the diocese. To put it bluntly catechetics is more important than sacrament administration at our particular moment of evangelisation here. It is the most pressing job of the diocese. It is further envisaged that in their local stations all the catechism teachers be blessed by the local priest and publicly appointed to this important task for the new year. So please underline the date January the 14, Saturday morning at 10am in the Cathedral.
11.Miss Prisca Hadebe, from the cathecetical department of Lumko in Johannesburg came to give three days of guided reflection, 24th to the 27th of November, to a big number of couples from Bizana, Flagstaff and Lusikisiki. Prisca spoke to them on marriage and marriage preparation. It is hoped that these couples will in turn become the instructors for those preparing for marriage in our diocese. This is a small contribution from our diocese to the Holy Father’s year of the family. It is hoped that these leaders in turn will train people all over the diocese to prepare our young people.
12On December the 4th the local community of the Holy Cross Sisters will celebrate the hundred and fiftieth year jubilee of the congregation. The congregation of Holy Cross has made an enormous contribution to the church of the diocese. Not only have they committed themselves to education over generations, but they have supported the priests and the parish work in all kinds of ways. I invite all the priest and people of the diocese to pray in a special way for the Sisters of this congregation and for the congregation itself on this happy occasion. We extend our congratulations and sincere gratitude to the Sisters for all they have been for us.
13The meeting of the priests and brothers of the diocese took place here in Kokstad on Monday the 21st of November. Most of the time was spent discussing catechetics and the training of adult leadership in the church. The outcome was the setting up of a committee to plan this programme for 1995. Already in Mt Frere and in Hardenburg there are courses for the training of adult leaders. Sister Dionys has also travelled to other parishes to facilitate training programmes. Sister is available on request to visit a parish at a weekend and conduct training for adult leaders. We hope that the local communities will avail of her great expertise in this field. We hope to have a team to support her work which will be available to the parishes of the diocese. It is envisaged that training of teachers and of adult leaders in the church will take place on the parish rather than on the diocesan level.
14There are funds available for small development projects throughout the diocese. Certain bishops conferences, like the Australian and the Belgium will make money available for certain projects though these must be properly documented and assessed. We think that we will cooperate with the new centre here in Kokstad established by the Anglican bishop, Bishop Davies. He has build a small development centre, which can accommodate up to 30 people and provide skills training in various projects. Courses have not started yet as funds are scarce. But we would hope to fund some of the skills training. We would very much like that priests would know that young men could be sent for these courses. As the centre has not yet provided a syllabus we do not know exactly what will be offered. But if we have a number of people interested in one particular course, then funds can be raised to train them in this particular skill. So give some thought to using these services for the training of your people.
We are also helping two sewing centres in Hardenberg and in Bizana. In Bizana about thrity women are acquiring skills to wish to do so and are using he little hall at the parish.
Around Mount Frere parish and in Mount Ayliff Bro Eric has sunk 10 water holes for villages
1.At the South African Bishops meeting in Mariannhill,3rd- 11th of August, special time was set aside for consideration of Seminary problems. One problem is that the Seminary of St Francis Xavier in Cape Town can only accommodate 30 students. Last year already the applications exceeded this number, so there is a question of finding adequate accommodation. Again a lot of questions were asked about the importance of English in the Seminary. At the moment there is a special English examination for all those proposing to go to the Seminary. This is a rather stiff test, and quite a number of students failed last year. There were many questions from the Bishops on these issues. Also discussion took place on psychological testing for Seminaries and criteria to be followed.
A new Society, the St Augustine Young Priest Society, modelled on the Irish St Joseph Young Priest Society, was established by the Bishops. This Society is open to anyone who is interested in vocations and in getting and encouraging young men in their studies for the priesthood. Each parish will have its own branches. It is hoped that the branch will set up a small committee to make as its special intention care and work for vocations. Also each Parish member will contribute a small fee each month,this money will go towards the education of young priests.
Again a committee was established to examine the future of St John Vianney and St Peters Seminaries. If numbers were to increase rather suddenly there would not be enough accommodation at these residences for our students. And so a committee was established which will examine the future of Seminary training in South Africa, and the establishment of a theological institute, perhaps. A lot of insistence was put on the importance of visitation of their students in the Seminary by Bishops and Diocesan priests. Students need to sense that they belong to a Diocese and to a Bishop.
The People of God Catechetical series is being rewritten in Zulu by Prisca Hadebe, of Lumko. She is writing in Zulu and hopefully it will be translated into the other languages. The work is well in progress.
The Catholic Church donated over R250,000, to Rwanda. The Holy Sea has asked Catholics of the world to pray for Rwanda. A Sunday may be taken as a special day of prayer for that country using the Mass for refugees, or exiles.
The Bishops recieved a presentation of the reconstruction and development programme of the Government, and noted many favorable points made. It is obvious that the intention of this programme-to help in a particular way the lower 40% of our economic population- is laudable and truly christian.
2.While in Mariannhill I had Brother Sturmius, the printer, give an estimate for the production of Christmas cards based on the coloured photograph of St Patricks Cathedral covered in snow,as suggested by Lawrence. I was happy to learn that a single card could be produced for 60c. So hopefully we will have a lot of these cards available for Christmas this year.
3.From Mariannhill I went on to St John Vianney Seminary, Pretoria for the Ordination at the Cathedral of 17 Deacons. It was a marvelous day, with Deacons from all over the country, with one Stigmatine and one Franciscan ordained. (Brother Vincent Zungo O.F.M). There was a tremendous congregation present, with each student allowed a certain number of family members. This is an endeavour by the Bishops to reduce the extent and quantity of ordination celebrations throughout the country. Deaconate Ordination takes place in Pretoria and the individual priestly ordinations then take place in the home Diocese.
4.The whole Diocese was shocked to learn of the serious accident in which Brother Jim Murtagh was involved. Jim escaped miraculously when his car went out of control a few kilometres beyond Barkley East on the road to Bloemfontein. After extensive medical examinations he was happy to learn that he was simply bruised and not injured. However it will take some time for him to recover from the shock.
In his absence on August the 20th, at the Convent Hall, the Catholic Teachers belonging to C.I.E, and from the Diocese of Umtata and Kokstad held their meeting. Between 50 and 60 were present and the meeting was lead by Sister Anne Patricia. It is obvious that Jim’s hard work has produced fruits, and it was encouraging to see many teachers from around the Diocese who are committed to Catholic education, present to share and to pray together. However, it is also obvious that many of our Catholic teachers were not present. I think we have a glorious opportunity with Brother Jim so active and moving around the Diocese, to encourage our Catholic Teachers to come together. The Church depends a lot upon these teachers, and if we fail to motivate them, if we fail to encourage their faith, then we are leaving a great gap in the formation of youth and failing with an opportunity.
5.The Catholic Nurses guild is raising its head again after a dormition. A small number of nurses, all former