29th JUNE 1994.
1.It is with great joy that we welcome Father Giorgio MCCJ who has come to the Diocese and taken up residence in Mount Frere. At the moment Giorgio is learning “Xhosa”. Benvenuto !
Congratulations to the Vocations committee on organizing an excellent week-end for Diocesan vocations at Mount Frere. I thank the committee and Father Arturo and Brother Eric for their work in making everyone welcome for the week-end. About 50 young men attended, of whom 17 indicated that they had interest in going ahead for the Diocesan Priesthood. Most have quiet some time to complete studies. At a follow up vocations committee meeting in Kokstad on June the 27th the following points were made.
a. A Brochure would be printed in Xhosa and Sotho in the near future.
b. A newsletter would be sent out to keep contact with the young men who attend our vocation workshops. These will be distributed through the priests. The newsletter would be issued every 2 months and would contain news about the Diocese, information on vocations, scripture reflections, and questions for discussion.
c. It was suggested that a quiz be organized on Biblical themes to engage the young people in the various youth clubs.
d. Sister Natalia of the Daughters of Charity in Hardenburg was appointed as resource person for vocations in the Diocese.
e. It was suggested that there be Parish vocation workshops in the next six months. Sister Natalia if given sufficient notice would attend in the parishes. These should perhaps take place on a Saturday or a Sunday from about 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.
f. It was decided that there would be another Diocesan vocation workshop during the December holidays, at a place and time to be decided later. As well we would endeavour to have a live-in with those in form 5 and form 4 who are expressing serious intention . This would be in Bizana.
3.Sister Natalia was asked to act as youth co-ordinator for the Diocese. This week-end Sister is in Flagstaff where a large number of youth from the Parish and neighboring Parishes will attend general workshop. She will also be available for other parishes again if given invitation in sufficient time.
Sister Natalia will call a meeting for July, Saturday the 30th for youth organizers, or adults who wish to work with youth,in the various Parishes. If each Parish could send 1 or 2 persons to this meeting we might be able to begin a concerted Diocesan policy for youth.
4.It is hoped to have a Diocesan choir competition for our youth choirs throughout the Diocese during the coming Christmas holidays. The idea would be that the Parishes in the meantime organize a youth competition for the outstations of the individual Parishes. The winners would then hopefully take part in a Diocesan final in January. This is necessary to get the youth involved in the Parish, with each other, to give them a programme and to encourage on-going contact with the church. Many of our youth are drifting, they have no real challenge within the church and it is hoped that this initial contact would lead to greater opportunity for work among them.
5.The Diocese wishes to send greetings for the Feast day of the Sacred Heart to those congregations in the Diocese dedicated to the Heart of Christ. We congratulate in a particular way the Sacred Heart Sisters in Hardenburg, Taylorville and Lusikisiki. We also send special Feast day greetings to the Comboni Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
6.It is with great joy that we realize that the Poor Clares of the Monastery of St Clare in Lusaka in Zambia will send a founding community to Kokstad later in this year. Mother Veronica the foundress of the Monasteries of Lilongwe and Lusaka and Sister Intulo from the same community came to look at various sites in the Diocese during this month of June. We have decided on a site which they like very much and which we are in the process of buying. We welcome the contemplative Sisters in a special way for we know their tremendous importance in the spiritual life of the church. Their witness is to the first and great law, to love God with all our hearts, our souls, our minds and our strength. All of us are working for the glory of God and his Kingdom, but we continually need to be reminded that it is faith which is the root of our vocation and it is God who is the goal of our work. The presence of these Sisters among us will not only be a source of great spiritual energy, they will be a reminder to us to continually purify our work so that it is work flowing out of and building up faith. Sincere tahnks to the Holy Cross sisters who offered warm hospitality.
7.Happenings in these months of June and July:
Sister Natalia will be meeting with the youth of the area in Flagstaff on the week-end of the 1st to the 3rd July.
We are happy that the youth mass on Sunday evenings has begun once again in Kokstad.
We try to have vigils in the Cathedrtals before the Major feasts. People are coming.
We thank God for the very successful vocation workshop in Mount Frere.
We thank Father Francis Mlaba of the Diocese of Mariannhill who gave the young men great input on the first day.
We thank in a special way Father Rodgers who organized the meeting, Father Arturo and Brother Eric who offered hospitality and Father Peter and Sister Natalia who worked with the youth during the time.
Church unity week took place in Kokstad during May and a great crowd of Catholics attended at the Methodist and Anglican churches. We played host to the other communities on the Wednesday of Unity week.
The St Annes Retreat at Bongweni was very well attended this year. Father Tony as Spiritual Assistant guided proceedings. These annual retreats are of great importance in offering formation to the laity to make them our sincere co-workers.
The Faith alive course is very well attended in the Parish of Kokstad with up to 25 present every Tuesday evening. Sister Ambrose from the Precious Blood Community in Mount Frere attended the Lunko course on healing during the month of May on behalf of the Diocese.
Confirmation in Maria Telgte was a wonderful experience with people coming from all the neighboring farms to be confirmed. The ceremony was at midday, as the people are very busy all Sunday mornings. Unfortunately they had to leave immediately after the service to get back to their work on the farms. The liturgical dance and the singing conducted by the children of the school at Maria Telgte gave a great lustre to the occasion.
Confirmation in Flagstaff was an occasion of great Parish joy. The people who came forward for confirmation were examined 3 weeks previously by the Bishop on the wise instructions of the parish priest. And so those who came on the day of confirmation itself were very well prepared in the tradition of that local Pastor. One felt a great sense of unity and devotion, and willingness to work for the church among many people in Flagstaff and in Telgte. Again it is our challenge in the diocese of Kokstad to enable our people to contribute their enormous gifts for the building up of Gods family here.
We had two wonderful days of prayer and devotion in Hillside in the Parish of Tlangwini, tremendous crowds came from all the small neighboring out – stations and gathered for a day of prayer, liturgy, confession and celebration. Again later in the month we went to Thembukazi where people who live very far away from any of the bigger centres of the Parish had occasion to come together and celebrate their own day. It was a day of wonderful joy with the people. They had prayed the whole night previously preparing spiritually for the day. In the tents erected on top of the hills looking down over the great valleys of Lusikisiki we prayed for the needs of the community.
Sister Dionys of the Precious Blood Sisters in Mount Frere is running a week-end 1st to the 3rd of July, in Mount Frere for all the Catechism teachers. Those of the whole Parish and indeed from Tabankulu hope to attend. We deeply appreciate Sister’s work in the Diocese and hope that more and more people will avail of her wonderful gifts.
As Sister Theodata has gone on holidays to Germany with Sister Teresilla Franklin has lost is curate. At 87 Sister is an inspiration for her zeal and devotion to her work. The work done in catechetics in the parish of Kokstad by the sisters is untiring and exemplary.
Sister Clara in Hardenberg has gathered a group of people who wish to develop a project to make clothes, school uniforms etc on the local level.
8.Augustine Njovane has decided to go ahead for teaching.
9.We were very happy in the Diocese to welcome the National Director of the C.I.E who came with Brother Murtagh to see the Catholic schools of the Diocese. Sister Brigid Rose spoke about the various policies of C.I.E. and how they wish to contribute to the catholic schools. They will act as Advisors, offer inservice training and upgrading, they will help in the area of religious education and advise regarding the policies of local school boards. Brother Murtagh of the Christian Brothers is our local representative and he has been very busy trying to contact catholic teachers all over the Diocese. I encourage the Priests to help Brother Murtagh in every way to make contact with teachers. Many of these teachers actually have received great help from the church in the past, even financially, and now we seem to be loosing contact with most of them. We seriously need to call on these people and allow them to be christian teachers, catholic teachers dedicated to the church and to the good of the children. It is hoped that at the next clergy meeting at the end of September Brother Murtagh will speak about the C.I.E.
10.A faxed document came from the South African Catholic Bishops conference encouraging us in our Diocese to take up a collection for the victims of violence in Rwanda. If some Parishes will be so kind as to offer their people the opportunity of making a financial contribution for our Brothers and Sisters in the Catholic church in Rwanda, this money could be forwarded to help. The majority of people of this tragic land are catholics. We continually see and read of people being slaughtered on Catholic Missions and in Catholic Churches. Up to 40 Priests seem to have been killed and many Sisters have disappeared. If we could contribute something for our Brothers and Sisters if will be an act of great charity.
11.The Catholic Bishops at their May meeting in Pretoria issued a Pastoral letter expressing their gratitude for the success of the South African elections. The Bishops in a special way expressed appreciation for all those who work for justice and for a peaceful election. I would want to add my words in particular to these expressions of appreciation, and to express our gratitude and to congratulate those in our Diocese of Kokstad who worked so generously for the education of our people in election procedures and who acted as Monitors and helpers in any capacity during that traumatic yet blessed time in our country’s history.
12.The Bishops go on to encourage all christians now that we are aware of new-found rights and freedoms, to engage ourselves in new responsibilities. We are particularly challenged to contribute to the common good of society, through activities inspired by the gospel. Some Catholics have already taken up the burden of public office at National or Provincial level. The bishops congratulate them and urge them to work for the good of all. We cannot remain aloof and criticise. We must work for a more just society. Our congratulation then goes out to those people, catholic people of our Diocese who have worked and who will continue to work for the good of the New South Africa.
13.Brother Eric MCCJ of the Comboni Fathers in Mount Frere has very kindly agreed to act as small projects officer for the Diocese. By small projects we mean social and economic projects which might help the people in our areas. There is quiet a lot of money available for such small projects, but we must work through a small projects officer. Those who donate such monies want their money to be spent wisely. They want assessment before and after the project. They want the local community to be engaged fully. They basically want projects to aim at the education of people in self-help. Projects can include anything from small farm projects, poultry projects, sewing projects, educational projects, skills projects e.t.c. I encourage the Priests,as we can see in our Diocese enormous numbers of people are unemployed, to watch for some way we may be able to help.
14.This is the International Year of the Family chosen by both the United Nations and the Pope as a year for helping communication in Family life. Again we are very vividly aware of the enormous breakdown in family values in our land. During the course of this year we should make plans to offer a greater religious service to families. We can do so by preparing young people for married life. We can preach continually about the necessity of seriousness when it comes to sexual and family matters. We can prepare people, good married couples in our parishes to become guidance couples for those preparing for marriage. Indeed in some parts of the Diocese, Flagstaff, Lusiksiki and Bizana couples are being prepared through marriage encounter groups to take over this enormously important Apostalate. We could also have liturgical services in which people renew their marriage vows, or we could have days of prayer dedicated to the family. Preaching and insistence upon family prayer and family values is of the utmost importance. This is a special year of grace for the catholic family. We can scarcely offer a better service to our people then to offer them the support, the religious support necessary for happily married life.
15.Sister Dionys of the Precious Blood Sisters in Mount Frere attended the Lumko discussion “Ministry in the year 2000”, on behalf of the Diocese. Its report has now come to hand assessing the South African situation.
Among the many points of interest are the following:
a. The church is not meeting the needs of the people.
The sodalities are owned by the people but they are not moving forward. There is serious question regarding the quality of the training and ongoing formation of the laity.
Inculturation, we need more public reflection on the roll of women.
There is no common vision among priests in ministry and problems arise when one priest succeeds another.
Training programmes often fail to train the participants to be trainers in their own local community. Priests and Sisters take over the work of the laity and feel insecure when laity want to do what their baptism sends them to do.
Small christian communities often do not come into existence because of Pastoral Paternalism “They will not work among my people”, and Pastoral dominance.
There seems to be great confusion between Priestless service and the Mass.
Catechesis is hindered by conflicts over content, method and books etc.
All over the country youth ministry seems to be dead- locked.
16.The United Nations International day against drug abuse was June the 26th 1994. While we were not able to observe that day for various reasons, we should not for that reason abstain from helping this campaign. There is no doubt that alcohol abuse is one of the great problems of our diocese. Perhaps during the course of this year we might have a Sunday dedicated to that theme. This will make the people aware, invite the people to pray, maybe establish some organisation which will help us to deal with this problem.
If any Parish does some work for drug abuse or alcohol abuse please let this office know, as we wish to try and initiate something in this area.
17.The Lenten appeal this year is higher than ever. For the first time we have received over R20 000,00. I wish to congratulate all the priests and people of the diocese and in a particular way our co-ordinator of the appeal Father Lawrences O’Shea. Not only were the people very generous in their giving but they also seemed to ask for nothing back. Most Dioceses send in many applications for assistance coming from the Lenten collections. We don’t seem to need anything! Do we want nothing?
18.It is with great joy the Diocese expresses our congratulations to Father Fiachra ofm, Provincial of the Irish Province of Franciscans on his appointment as auxiliary for Dublin in Ireland. The contribution of the Irish Province and its Provincials to the building up of the church in Kokstad is a outstanding. And surely we in Kokstad rejoice on this great day when for the first time in 170 years an Irish Franciscan has been appointed as Bishop in Ireland. We rejoice with the Franciscans of Ireland, we offer our congratulations and the assurance of our prayers to Father Fiachra ofm in his new ministry.
19.We continue to support Father Finbarr Russell in his prayers for his mother. She is very sick and we appreciate the sacrifice of Finbarr in living here among us while his mother lies ill in Ireland, we assure him of our prayers and support and we continue to pray for his mother.
20.. Many nurses in our diocese are Catholics, taking over a tradition which for decades was the field of labour of religious in caring for the sick. It would be good if we had some diocesan guild where they would have opportunity for spiritual reflection, sharing and formation.
Such a guild could deal with circulars coming from Khanya house etc and avail of services offered by the Health department of the Bishops’ conference.
21. Is there anybody interested in liturgical texts? Again we get new suggested texts for evaluation. It would be good if someone would read over these and make suggestions.
22. We have also had a reminder from Rome regarding our cultural treasures, need for libraries and archives! Do any parishes keep chronicles? It would be good if photoes, films, books, chronicles of historic interest be carefully annotated and preserved.
23. Delighted with a visit from Fr Sandri, Provincial of Comboni missionaries. When Fr Bernard comes back in July the community in Mount Frere will take on the pastoral care of Tabankulu.