History of Our Lady of Fatima Church – Franklin
C O N T E N T S
i. Situation of Franklin Mission Station – p.1
ii. Franklin Elevated to Mission Station,
First Priest, Church, to 1998 – pp.2-34
iii. Schools and Outstations – pp. 35-51
iv. St Paul’s School, Franklin – pp. 52-53
v. Catechists – pp. 56-60
vi. Resident Priests Until 1999 – p.61
vii. Photos – Church & Priest’s House – p.62
viii. Archivist’s Summary – p.63
ix. Sources of Information – p.64
History of Our Lady of Fatima Mission Franklin 1951- 1999
The village of Franklin is situated about 28 km.North of Kokstad, with Swartberg being 14 km. North of Franklin. The road goes on to Underberg, Bulwer, Boston and Howick to reach Petermaritzburg. It is now a secondary road.
Franklin was founded in 1912 and is the centre of a large dairy farming district and at one time had many factories for milk processing. Franklin was also an important railway junction, with the railway line from Pietermaritzburg to Kokstad passing through.
Some of the farms were owned and farmed by old Catholic families such as the NAPIERS (the Archbishop’s family), DAVIES and HORNSBYS.
The railway line is no longer the main line to Durban and transport trucks which have taken over from the railways in carrying freight between the towns use the N3 road running through Harding to Port Shepstone, thence to Durban. Also the milk and cheese factories have centralised to large towns and cities. Franklin is just a shell of its former self, with many Kokstad workers living in Franklin and commuting to Kokstad daily due to the housing shortage.
Franklin Outstation – Humble Beginnings
These note and the on the beginnings of the early outstations are taken from the Chronicle, written by Fr Reginald Gunn OFM, based on information obtained from Fr Lucas Puerstinger in 1960.
(Fr Lucas was then based at Holy Cross Mission in Gingindlovu in Zululand).
First Priest at the Outstation
Fr Lucas, who was living in Kokstad, opened an outstation at Franklin in 1935. It was Kokstad’s first outstation. The building was made of wood and iron and situated some few hundred metres from the railway station between the railway lines to Matatiele and Pietermaritzburg. In 1960 the site could clearly be seen and was marked by pine trees planted around clearly the church. When the new mission was established in 1951 this humble building was transferred to Middle Water, Wanstead, where it served as a school for African children.
Fr Lucas served Franklin outstation for about 10 years during which time the congregation grew steadily. There were as many as 80 communicants and a Sodality of the Daughters of Sr Anne. A solitary European Catholic was a Mr Mccarthy, barman at the Franklin Hotel, at one time an excellent establishment. Mr McCarthy was a faithful parishioner and was buried in Kokstad.
Mass was celebrated every second Sunday.
Will be dealt with under a separate heading, outstations and schools.
Franklin Elevated to Mission Status, First Priest, Church, to Present – 1999
Franklin Elevated to Mission Status
Originally Newmarket was considered as a Mission station, but later Franklin was chosen. At the time (1951) Fr Cornellius Herrernan was priest in charge of Newmarket, succeeding Fr Gerard Maier who had returned to Germany.
Fr Cornelius thus became priest in charge at the new Franklin Mission.
Purchase of Land at Franklin
Fr Cornelius negotiated the purchase from Mr James Cole and building operations started at once. The house and school were built first, the school temporarily as a church.
Fr Cornelius Becomes First Resident Parish Priest: Church Built
In 1952 Fr Cornelius was moved to Franklin. He undertook the building of the Church, the foundation stone being blessed on the 1st May 1954. Then the grounds were laid out. Unfortunately Fr Cornelius was then transferred away from Franklin in April 1956, shortly after his vacation to Ireland.
Fr Berchmans O’Byrne
Fr Berchmans followed Fr Cornelius as resident priest at Franklin. He had been at Maria Telgte and continued to serve that Mission and its outstations from Franklin.
He remained in Franklin for 2-1/2 years, serving the Franklin and Swartberg district, and made much progress.
During this time the original wood-and-iron church was transferred from Franklin to Middle Water. At Tafeni on the farm of Mr P.C. Strachan, a church-school was erected to replace the mud building formerly used as a school and in 1960 it served as a district clinic.
At Koppies Kraal, the fart of Mr D Stubbs, a currugated iron school was erected, and at Flitwick Grange ( farm of Mr P Fellows) a new farm school was opened.
Unfortunately in the case of High Bank, the management of the school was lost during this period (this will be discussed in greater detail under Outstations).
Land for a Cemetery
During his term of office, Fr. Berchmans also negotiated the addition of a small piece of ground to the present site of the mission for a cemetery.
He added a room to the servants quarters and a store-room behind the garage.
The baptismal register showed that 688 entries were made by Fr Berchmans.
Fr Berchmans Transferred
After his home leave, Fr Berchmans was transferred to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
Arrival of Fr Richard Gunn
Fr Richard was the person who started the Franklin Chronicle, obtaining information from Fr Lucas Puerstinger and other sources. To such history-orientated people we owe a debt of gratitude for their preservation of the past.
I will quote verbatim from the Chronicle at this point.
As the Bantu Education Act (separeate educational facilities for the Africans) was now in force, the main task was to save our small schools scattered over this farm area.
This was done by leasing the school site was acquired and then in the name of the farmer. In the course of a few years all negotiations were completed satistactorily. The only exception was :-
St Paul’s School – Franklin : This was a very difficult case and the life of the school was threatened seriously. For a few years the struggle went on until a final and favourable decision was reached.
Drakensview School was one of the three schools erected in the district, on the farm of Mr Hilton Calder Potts.
Shalom School: on the farm of Mr W Barnard at Swartberg.
Modderfontein : was the third school erected on the farm of Mr Gordon Raw. AS this school is more convenient to Kokstad, it is managed by the Priest – in-charge of Kokstad.
St Elizabeth School : Unfortunately the management of this school was lost to Mr S Muller for a few years, owing to the action of an unfriendly Inspector of Bantu education. It was subsequently regained.
Further references to these schools will be contained in the setion, Outstations and Schools.
Permission to open the cemetery had already been obtained prior to Fr Gunn’s arrival.
The work was mainly done by members of the Coloured Community, who prepared the ground, did the fencing, ploughing and levelling the ground, erecting the cross made by Bro Benignus OFM and erecting the gates. The following gentlemen were stalwarts with regard to the work: Messrs. R Hornsby, T Napier, G Davey and R Davey.
Bishop McBride blessed the grounds.
Arrival of Fr John Kerr at Maria Telgte
Until 1961, when Fr John came to Maria Telgte, Fr Richard served both the Franklin and Swartberg areas. Fr John took over the schools and outstations in the Swartberg area with the European and Coloured Catholics still remaining attached to Franklin.
Spiritual Development of the people
With two priests now serving the area, it was possible to give better service. Efforts were made to organise study groups in the district but not all were successful. The group in Franklin meets regularly every month in private homes. From being catechitical in gradually became a scripture study circle.
Another smaller group meets weekly in the house of the local doctor, Dr Le Grove Smith, who with his family are Methodists.
There is also a group meeting in the library at Swartberg twice a month. From among the white people there have been eleven converts in 6 years.
There is a Praesidium of the Legion of Mary, which helps the Catechist, Petrus Yolwa and they do steady work though most of them are illiterate. The officers and spiritual director of the Legion attend the Curia meeting each month in Kokstad.
Christian Unity Meeting
This was held in March at the Swartbert Memorial Hall.
This was perhaps the most significant event of 1964 in Franklin Mission and was organised by Fr Richard. Its aim was to make the people conscious of he tragedy of disunity and to create an atmosphere in which all would work and pray for unity. A newspaper cutting from the Southern Cross on this event appears below.
Fr Richard epressed his satisfaction at the results, which were encouraging. He summed things up as follows:-
i. There was a new and perceptible spirit of friendship.
ii. Four religious study groups resulted (see extract from The Kokstad Advertiser below).
iii. A monthly non-denominational meeting (Catholic and Protestant clergy) started in various homes. All the Non-Catholic clergy of Kokstad and the Anglican Pastor of Swartberg participate.
Several steps forward on ecumenical progress!
Remember Day, November 1964
In former years the Catholic priest had often been invited to take part in the annual remembrance Day Service.
In 1964 the invitation was again extended and for the first time it became possible to accept. The event is reported on page 6.
Fr Reginald’s Feast Day, 17th February
He celebrated both his feast-day and Silver Jubilee of ordination on the same day. A free day for the schools was sanctioned and there was Mass at 10am at whichthe Bishop presided. Almost all the Catholics who were not working attended , including those in the Swartberg area. After Mass there was a presentation on gifts by the Africans and a sum on there was a presentation of gifts by the Africans and a sum of R50. This was followed by a singing competition among the various schools on the lawn.
A trophy was provided fro the occasion and was presented to the winning school, St Pauls, by the Bishop. The adjudicators were Mrs Le Grove Smith, Mrs T Napier, Mrs G Davis and Mrs P Napier. In future the trophy is to be presented tothe best all round school under the managemeng of the priest at Franklin. Lunch was provided for all present, the priest at Franklin. Lunch was provided for all present , the catering for the aFricans was done by the ladies of St Anne. Mrs A Muir arranged lunch for the Fathers, who were ten.
Ecumenical meeting – February
That month the meeting was held at the priest’s house in Franklin, with seven priests / ministers in all. Ds A Putters’ the Dutch Reformed minister presented the arguments against the Primacy of peter. It was decided that Bishop McBride would present the case for the primacy at the following meeting.
Fr Reginald on Overseas Leave
While Fr Reginald was away, Fr Eric Austin formerly of Lusikisiki, took charge of Franklin mission from March until September.
Visit of Procurator of Irish Franciscan Missions
In March Fr Hugh Daly came to visit the schools under Franklin Mission, then went on to Maria Telgte.
Change in Weeday Masses
In April Fr Eric started saying weekday Masses every Friday, in Xhosa, instead of just on the First Friday of the month. The object was to give the African parishioners an extra occasion for Mass and Confession, as often the time was too short before Sunday Mass to hear all the Confessions. On that occasion about 20 people received Communion.
During Holy week this year, saw the introduction of a great part of the vernacular (English) into the various ceremonies. By request, all plain chant pieces remained in Latin – the prayers and scripture readings being in the vernacular.
The Passion was read in parts, with the celebrant taking the part of Christ. The overall result of the ceremonies was a success and the parishioners hoped that the chants would remain in Latin.
Ecumenical Clergy Meetin – May
It was held at the home of Ds( Dominee) Putter on the morning of the 26th and included Bishop McBride and Fr Eric.
The speaker was Rev Beardall, whose paper was on the Church from the Anglican viewpoint.
Republic Day – 31st May
First heavy fall of snow that winter, in and around Franklin.
May arrival of seven more young pigs at the Mission, bringing the number up to 15, less one that died from the cold.
Pentecost Sunday – June
32 people made their First Communion, 21, of them being from Franklin and the others coming from outstations.
Departure of the Le Grove-Smiths – June
On this day we saw the departure of Dr & Mrs. Le Grove Smith from Franklin. They had been a great boon to the village of the past 5 years and had been the first members of Fr Reginald’s Scripture group. (This group is now temporarily suspended). The new replacements are Dr and Mrs J Wyatt, formerly of Durban.
Archivists’ Note: John and Noel Wyatt were in Franklin for many years, later coming to Kokstad, and as very committed Methodists became pillars of the church in Kokstad. Dr Wyatt maintained a weekly African clinic in Franklin until they left for Durban on retirement in 1999. The became close friends with Fr Larry O’Shea who was based in Franklin in the 1980’s.
June. During a visit of Fr Niall (Tony) Hardiman to Franklin, a very heavy fall of snow enshrounded Franklin and the Mission, which is a short distance from the village.
Parish Mission – July
On the 13th July a Mission conducted by Fr Columbanus Timmons, was opened at Franklin church. Invitations had been sent in English to all the postboxes and private bags of Swartberg and Franklin, 188 in all. The details are contained in the cutting below. On the Friday night a collection for the missioner was taken, amounting to R17,20.
July – The third heavy fall of snow in 7 weeks – good sunshine however, helped to melt in quickly.
Visit of Bro. Wilfrid Napier (Now Archbishop Napier)
A welcome visitor this morning was Bro Wilfrid Napier, who is home to visit his parents for 6 weeks. He returns early in September to complete his priestly studies – he will be ordained DV. In 1969/1970.
Jumble Sale – August
At the advice of two prominent parishioners, it was decided not to have a jumble sale that year.
The snow covered Franklin on 27th August and Fr Eric remarked that it was one of the severest winters ever experienced in the area.
Ecumenical Meeting – August
This was held on the 25th at the home of Rev Beardall in Kokstad. The Presbyterian minister, Rev Venables spoke about Sanctification in the Church, after which followed a lively and friendly discussion ensued on the possibility of attaining perfection in this life, with the various ministers expessing their respective views.
Farewell for Bro. Wilfrid Napier – September
This was held at the home of his parents, Mr and Mrs TD Napier – a very enjoyable evening. Bro Wilfrid then left for Belgium on 8th September to continue his studies.
Overseas Leave for Fr Eric Austin – September
Fr Reginald was expected back within a few days.
Fr Reginald transferred to Cedarville
On his return from overseas, Fr Reginald was told of his transfer to Cedarville.
New Priest for Franklin – October
Fr Seraphim Kennedy arrived to take Fr Reginald’s place at Franklin.
News of Swartberg Scripture Group
Fr Seraphim was advised by Mrs Pauline Gilson that due to the departure of a number of families from Swartberg, the group was temporarily on hold.
A reconditioned Estey reed organ was delivered to the mission, having been purchased from the Tabler Music Company in Durban at a cost of R135.
The only news mention in 1966 was the visit of the visitator, Fr Hermes Peeters in March, who came for a few hours, read through the Chronicle and left his stamp and signature. Then in August a new Pump and Engine to run the Mission lighting plant was installed by Bro. Juniper and Mr O’Reilly of Stewarts and Lloyds at a cost of R400.
On the 9th January work began on the decoration of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and to arrange the sanctuary for Mass facing the people. The interior of the church was also painted. Srs Lydia and Rene of Bizana came to direct operations.
On the 26th July, Fr Wilfrid Napier said his first Mass in the parish, which was attended by a large congregation.
Canonical Visitation – March
Fr Nicholas Egan came to Franklin on a visitation on the 5th March. See his stamp below.
Illness of Fr Seraphim, and Subsequent Departure.
Fr Seraphim was taken to hospital in Durban for examination and when an ulcer was discovered, he decided to go home to Ireland to work there. He returned to Franklin for a few days, where a farewell was given. He celebrated his last Mass on Sunday 7th October and great numbers flocked to the Mass. He left for Ireland on the 12th October. Fr Gerry Griffin was acting priest during Fr Seraphim’s illness and until he left.
New Priest at Franklin
Fr Larry O’Shea was appointed to Franklin, arriving there on the 4th December.
New Gas Geyser Installed
This was installed in the bathroom of the priest’s house by Bro. Juniper and Fr Cosmas (Harry) Houlihan.
In July, being the dry season, the fire swept through the property, destroying some trees and part of the hedge. It came to within a metre of the house.
Escom on the Scene – July
The Electricity Supply Commission came to Franklin mission and started digging holes for electrical poles – soon there would be no need for a power engine. Sure enough, it was sold to Richard Davey and the house was rewired.
Painting of House
In March the interior of the house was painted.
Cedarville Sisters buy a car.
In April, Fr Larry won a Ford Escort in a word-puzzle competion and sold it to the sisters. He allowed them R500 off the price of a new one, but the R1800 received from them was still a very welcome addition to the Mission funds. (Fr Larry, who is now parish priest at Kokstad, is known for his canny financial sense).
May. The first snow of the year, bitterly cold.
October. The first cutting of the lawns after the winter.
Fr Larry Returns from extended leave – September
His leave had been extended because of illness. During his absence, Frs. John Kerr and Gerry Griffin supplied for him.
Mission Car sold, New one bought.
In March Fr Larry, anticipating a price rise, sold his car and bought a new one. The move was justified, he remarked in the Chronicle.
Fire-lines (fire -breaks) were burnt because it was the dry season.
Since Fr Larry had returned from overseas in September 1975, he has been residing in Kokstad. This is for health reasons, and with the Bishop’s approval. However, arrangements in the priest’s house have remained unchanged and everything is ready for occasional or permanent occupancy.
He goes out to Franklin during the week and stays overnight as occasion demands.
July. Housekeeper’s services terminated and replacement not deemed necessary, the teachers having voluntarily offered to attend to household needs.
Change of Mass arrangements
This was to include Braeside as a regular outstation. The first Mass in Franlin remained the same: 8 am. – October to April inclusive, and
8 am. – May to September inclusice
There is now only one second Mass in Franklin, on the second Sunday of each month. The second Sunday was chosen to accommodate the workers, who often go home at month’s end when they are paid.
Annual Dance at Swartberg – 1st January
There was excellent co-operation from the parishioners and a profit of R750 was made.
First Regional Meeting re formation of a Diocesan Consultative Body.
Franklin was grouped together with Kokstad, and when a meeting was held at uganda Martyrs Mission in Kokstad, 6 representatives attended. The results have been inspiring, with a far greater interest being taken by the laity in the affairs of the parish.
Parish Tree-felling operation
The original trees planted about 25 years previously had grown to a dangerous height, and fearing that they would fall on the buildings, a work-party was organised to cut them down.
It was hoped to plant a different type of tree which would not grow so tall.
Confirmation at Franklin – March
Mgr Napier, the Apostolic Administrator gave the Sacrament of Confirmation to 56 children and adults.
Visit of Fr Larry’s Sister
In May Mary….. and her husband, Carroll, came to visit Fr Larry at the Mission.
No Resident Priest for 2-1/2 months
While Fr Larry was supplying in Lusikisiki when Fr Kieran was overseas, there was no priest at Franklin, but Sunday Mass was supplied from Kokstad from May to July.
Converts Received into the Church.
In December four adults, namely: Astrid Stafford, Nicholas Jansen, Mrs Witbooi and Mrs Joyce and four children were received into the church.
Visiting Catechist Helps out
Nicholas Ndlela, a Catechist from Matatiele came with his family for a month over the Christmas holidays and they stayed at the priest’s house. He was very useful.
Annual New Year’s Dance
This took place at Swartberg Farmers’ Hall and was a great success, with a profit of R2200.
This started in February, with both inside and outside being done. Later the priest’s house and outbuildings were also repainted. Rev. Hundley of Kokstad did the job under contract for R4678, with the paint alone costing R1828. It took his team 6 weeks to do.
Letter From Fr Larry to Parishioners – March
See below a copy of his letter.
Holy week Ceremonies
See the typed programme for the Holy Week in Franklin.
This was the last item Fr. Larry put in the Franklin chronicle.
The exact date of his departure is not known.
Arrival of Fr Germain Mannion
He arrived in early 1983, though this date too is uncertain. However he must have been well-known in the area, as the receptions at the various outstations show.
Photographs on the following pages were taken at the reception outside Franklin church.
He died on the 10th April. RIP.
Parish Council Meeting – Franklin, June
Present: Winston and Cookie Napier, Mr & Mrs Lloyd, Joe Davey, Phyllis Rowley, Peter and Mrs Jognes, Mrs Olivier, Faith Napier, Brendan Napier, Rowan Napier, Reinet Hornsby.
Committee Elected: 1. Winston Chairman.
2. Mrs Oliver and Joanita, Secretary.
3. Rowan, Brendan, Mrs Jognes, Cookie , Phyllis, Faith, Andrew, Louis,Mr Jognes.
Items for attention: New organ and new electric polisher.
October . Death of Robert Hornsby RIP
December. Death of Reinet Hornsby RIP
Went on home leave in April for a well-deserved rest.
Death of Alice Hornsby, 1986, mother of Faith Napier. RIP
Confirmation at Franklin 1987, by Bishop Napier.
1 European, Walter Blore, 12 Coloured and 90 Africans.
TOR Established in Franklin
January. Fr Robert Sisk, TOR. President Bro Philip and Sr Anne Wright came for the occasion, and stayed overnight in Kokstad.
The following day Fr Robert celebrated holy Mass in Zulu ( see picture below)
TO Sister Anne Wright was present in Franklin – February.
Death of Mary Napier
The beloved mother of Bishop Wilfrid Napier died on 8th February and her funeral was held at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Kokstad on the 11th February. A funeral service was also held at Franklin. Bishop Napier blessed the grave, assisted by Fr Germain. A great crowd attended.
Church Painting Fund
In May R31 and in August R30 was contributed by parishioners of Franklin towards this fund.
The interior and exterior of both church and priest’s house were again painted by Rev. Hundly’s team at a cost of R7500. Any donations would be appreciated.
First Communion – December
5 children received First Communion.
Fr Germain on Extended home leave – June to October
Leave was extended because of illness.
Mass at Franklin
It was said by Fr Egbert, who came from Matatiele. Fr Stephen said Mass at Matatiele.
Baptisms at Franklin
There were 3 baptisms after Sunday Mass.
Christmas & New Year
There was a very good attendance at Christmas and the Annual Dance at New year was again a great success.
January Third Order
2 people were received into the Third Order,
Daisy Dlamini of Bhongweni, Kokstad
Cathrine Sithole of Bhongweni Kokstad
A Swarm of Bees Invades priest’s House
In February the swarm settled in the kitchen and no-one was able to get inside to make a cup of tea. Mass at Newmarket was cancelled.
All Holy Week services at Franklin were well-attended. A truck full of people from Newmarket came on Good Friday and many people came from the other outstations as well.
The church was crowded for Easter Sunday and a number of Third Order members were present. There were 3 baptisms after Mass.
Third Order Professed Members
Albert Hlenti – President
Henry Nkabane – Vice-President
Anton Mgomeni – Treasurer
Fr Germain and Fr ? With Third Order Members, Below.
Sacred Heart Sodality – 1991
Visiting the sick and poor.
Cleaning the church and graveyard.
Teaching catechism to the small children and adults.
Lanten Appeal – April
Franklin parishioners gave R650 – God bless your generosity. The following week, 5th May there was a great crowd present at Mass. On Ascension Thursday the Bishop was surprised to see so many people at Mass.
Fr Germain sick leave – May
Frs Neil McGovern and Wilfred O’Byrne said the Masses at Franklin and the outstations. One Sunday in June the Bishop said Mass at Franklin. Fr Germain resumed duties in July.
St Anne’s Sodality, 5 New members – September
They were as follows:
Sacred Heart Sodality – New Members
They were as follows:
Canonical Visitation — October
Fr Robert Stewart came to Franklin on a visitation. His stamp appears below:
First Holy communions and Reception into church.
In November there were 6 First Communions and 4 people received into the church.
Baptism of Robyn Ann Blore
She was baptised at Franklin and Jerome (Dr) and Michele Bosman were Godparents. The picture was taken after the Baptism on the 23rd February 1992.
Profession of Members of SFO
On the 9th August three members were professed at Franklin by Albert Hlanti.
Their names were:
A photo was take on that occasion with Fr Germain and a copy appears below:
Farewell for Fr Germain – May
The farewell party was held after Sunday Mass, who was leaving on home leave to Ireland for a long holiday. He was also going to celebrate his Golden Jubilee in Ireland. Fr Germain returned to Franklin in November – the parishioners were very glad to see him back.
Arrival of Fr Bruno on supply
Fr Bruno came to Franklin on the 16th May. Immediately he was plunged into the thick of the work, as after Mass he baptised 79 babies, toddlers and bigger children. This took him all of four hours.
In September a grandchild of Mr & Mrs Tatchell was baptised after Hly Mass.
Tornado Strikes Franklin
A tornado and heavy hailstorm struck Franklin in March, uprooting and breaking large trees at the Mission. One large tree fell on the priest’s house, causing much damage.
Novices make their Profession of third Order of St Francis – February
Their names were:
The Bishop – elect held the church service and assisted at the profession ceremony. The whole service was beautiful and uplifting. A number of people came from Bhongweni, Kokstad.
Ordination of Fr William Slattery as Bishop of Kokstad, 19th February 1994.
Irish Franciscan Fr William Slattery was ordained Bishop at the Kokstad showgrounds. There were 30 Bishops, a great number of priests and many religious, and a crowd of thousands of laity from all parts of the Diocese.
The priests were mostly Franciscans. The Apostolic delegate and the Vice-Provincial of Ireland were present, as well as Bishop William’s parents, also from Ireland, John and Maureen Slattery.
We wish him a happy and long stay in our Diocese.
Picture of Bishop William at His Ordination
Bishop William visits Franklin – October
The Bishop came on a canonical visit and at the same time he said two Masses at Franklin. He also attended a St Anne’s meeting. His stamp appears below.
First Holy Communion
Mirinda Tatchell, grand-daughter of Victor Tatchell, received her First Holy Communion
Depature of Fr Germain from Franklin
Fr Germain had work long and with great devotion in Franklin for 12 years and there was great growth in numbers and spirituality during that time.
Fr Harry Houlihan arrives
He came from Mt Ayliff, where he was replaced by Comboni Father, Fr Bernhard Riegel. Once the extension to the priest’s house at Franklin and the roofing were complete, he moved in.
Fr Harry’s Home leave – June
He went home till September and Sunday Masses were celebrated by Bishop William, Frs. Larry, Bernard Hall (Assistant priest at Kokstad, since left for Brakpan where he is parish priest), and Germain.
Archbishop Wilfrid Napier celebrates His Silver Jubilee – July
It was a day of great jubilation for the people of Franklin and Swartberg when the Archbishop celebrated this occasion with them by saying Mass in the Swartberg Farmers’ Hall (the Franklin church could not accommodate the crowd). Below is a picture taken with Bishop William on that memorable occasion.
Felling of the Trees
Mark Gilson, sawmills , Franklin undertook to fell all the fully grown pine trees at the Mission. He started on 1st April and took 3 weeks, over the school holidays, plus ……. He later paid the Mission+/- R4800 for the timber. This was gratefully accepted and used for some of the many needs.
Ventilators for the church
They were fitted front and back of the church over the ceiling, hoping the walls inside would dry out. The scaffolding was borrowed from Bro Erich Fischnaller, a Comboni from Mt Frere
Garden around the Priests’ House
Mrs Jill Bastard of Valley Farm near Kokstad, helped to lay out and plant this garden.
The tree felling had smashed all the fencing, which needed to be replaced or repaired.
Snow – July
Many millimetres of snow kept people at home from Sunday Mass and the temparature plunged to – 10c in July.
Viewing of Dangerous Road Intersection & Blind Bend.
In September the NPA Roads Superintendent and the Road Safety Officer from Pietermaritzburg both came, as the blind bend led into the school. They proposed supplying visibility signs, rumble bars and widening the road at this intersection to accomodate stationary vehicle loading and unloading passengers outside the school.
In October a group of children from Franklin went to Maria Telgte for catechism.
Church Roof painted
Also in October. This took 3 weeks and cost R3000.
Compassionate Leave for Fr Harry
In June Fr Harry was absent for 3 weeks on compassionate leave.
As usual winter was very cold in Franklin, and plants which survive the winter in Kokstad succumbed to the frost.
Mrs Jill Bastard Continues with the Garden
She supervised the planting of plants and trees in the garden.
She is very capable and knowledgeable.
New Hedge Planted at the Mission – September
The hedge was planted along the roadside fence (Cotoneaster Wardii) and pyracanthra beneath the perimeter of the oak trees, also on two sides of the cemetery. This hedge was a measure to discourage trespassers from the farms who passed through the Mission freely day and night, often driving stock through.
Hedge Plants not Watered in Winter
In September Fr Harry noted that the hedge plants along the roadside towards Swartberg were not watered during winter and died. They had to be replaced.
Mrs Jill Bastard continues to supervise work in the garden.
House for Catechist
Bro Erich advised that our wooden house for catechism needs to be scorched on the outside to waterproof.
This was Fr Harry’s last entry in the Chronicle
Fr Harry Leaves
Sadly Fr Harry left Franklin and the Order in March and went to Durban, where, according to reliable sources he is living in a flat.
Arrival of New priest
Fr Jose Chackalackal of Kerala in India, arrived at Franklin on the 17th April, is living in the priests’ House and sees to the spiritual needs of the parish as well as the outstations. He also assists Bishop William with the Diocesan administrative work.
End of Franklin Chronicle
Outstations and Schools
Newmarket – St Anthony’s (1945).
The first school at Newmarket was held in a hut of a Catholic family, Tshangase.
In 1939 the school was transferred toa newly erected square mud building on the farm of Mr Cameron Young. Later, in 1945 Fr Lucas Puerstinger, then Administrator of the Diocese, with the help of fr Daverin, OMI. Parish priest of Kokstad, purchased from Mr Waterman, father of Mrs Rowley Pringle, the old Newmarket Hotel with 180 acres of land.
The buildings consisted of some mud huts which were converted into a dwelling house, a large stable which was converted by Bro Dositheus (who died in 1962) into the present solid school building and two existing sheds.
School Transferred From Mr Young’s Farm
It was transferred to the newly-erected bulding and in 1960 was still serving the African families on neighbouring farms.
Introduction of the Bantu Education Act, 1950’s
As the school became a private mission school, its existence was threatened by the Bantu Education Act. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way and this was overcome by leasing the farm and school buildings to Mr James Dorning and later to Mrs Hope Davis and applying for registration of the school in the name of the farmer and changing the status of the school to that of a Farm School.
After great difficulty the school was registered on 25th July 1962. (There is no confirmation on the matter of subsidisation of the school).
First Resident Priest at Newmarket – 1946
Fr Gerard Maier OFM was the first resident priest, being accompanied by Bro Octave Lankes, now deseased. Fr Gerard was transferred to Newmarket from Tabankulu, the idea being to establish a central mission station at Newmarket.
In 1947 four African sisters, Daughters of St Francis of Assisi came from their Mother house at Assisi in Kwazulu/Natal (then Natal to establish a convent at Newmarket.
Assistant Priest Arrives
Fr Bernardine Dore was transferred to Newmarket as Fr Gerard’s assistant. A year later he was moved to Hardenberg and Fr Bertrand Keenan replaced him. Unfortunately, Fr Bertrand was at newmarket for a very short time, and returned to Ireland, where he died. RIP.
Summary of Fr Gerard’s work
Fr Gerard worked hard for 5 years in that area. The Baptismal Register shows 289 entries under his signature. He served Franklin outstation and offered Mass on neighbouring farms, travelling on horseback.
Fr Gerard also started a cemetery at Newmarket , directed the St Ann’s Sodality and established the Third Order of St Francis, which was later discountinued.
Newmarket Becomes an outstation
In 1954 when Franklin became a Mission, Newmarket reverted to being an outstation of Franklin. The Daughters of St Francis of Assisi returned from East Griqualand to Natal, after serving at Newmarket since 1947.
Newmarket School Raised to Status of Senior Farm School – 1965
The long awaited news came in March. Two teachers were paid by the Department as from 1st April 1965. The school was then provided with equipment such as benches, desks, blackboards, etc. by the Bantu Education Department.
First Communion – 1965
In June, eight people made their First Communion at Newmarket
1967 – April
Newmarket School Painted
The school was painted inside and out by Richard O’Reilly of Lusikisiki at a cost of R240.
Teacher Transferred from Newmarket School
Also in 1967, Constance Mdladlamba, a Catholic teacher, was transferred to Highbank by the manager.
Upgrading of Newmarket School – 1979
Permission was granted by the Department of Education to upgrade Newmarket school to include Standard 5. The new class was to be added with the re-opening of the school after the Christmas holidays in January 1980.
1979 – July
New Classrooms to be built
R450 was donated by the school manager to Newmarket school, then he insisted that the people and the farmers do everything else themselves.
There were two baptisms after Mass at Newmarket in February.
April. A very good attendance. 3 baptisms next time.
June. A bvery cold day, but a great crowd was present . One baptism was requested.
August. A very good crowd at Mass and 7 baptisms. Teacher to attend Kokstad Seminar. Query on forming Children of Mary – agreed.
December. Rainy day, fairly good crowd at Holy Mass , one baptism. Franz in hospital with tonsils.
February. Large crowd at Mass. 3 babies for baptism, parents to attend instructions. Two promised for next visit.
June. One marriage and two baptisms after Mass.
August. Four applied for baptism.
October. Large crowd for Mass. There were 8 baptisms before Mass and 8 children of Mary were received.
February. Two baptisms after Mass.
June. One little boy baptised after Mass
October. 4 baptisms after Mass.
September. A large crowd present. There were two weddings and four Firs Communions.
April. Many people present, one baptism after Mass.
June. R36 collected toward Church Painting.
August. Very good attendance. One marriage and 2 baptisms.
October. 8 children were baptised at Newmarket.
June. A big crowd was present and Fr Bruno was very pleased to see so many people. There was a clinic at Newmarket.
August. Fourteen Children made their First Confession.
October. 7 girls and 4 boys received their First Holy Communion. A girl was baptised during Mass and an old man was received into the church.
March. Pupil from Newmarket school dived into a dam, struck a stone and died. Reginald was buried at Franklin mission.
There was a large crowd present, including school inspector, Mrs Mjajubana. He was about 12 years old.
March. Another unfortunate death of a pupil, who was drowned in a farm dam – he was buried at Franklin Mission.
High Bank Outstation / School
Highbank school was started in 1948, being erected by Fr Lucas. Between 1956-1958 the management of the High Bank school was lost to the owner of the farm, Mr C Greyling, nephew of the late Mr Calder – Potts who gave the ground for the school. The legal position was difficult, as no legal contract had been signed.
Mr Greyling took over the management of the school and paid the Diocese $300 compensation for the bulding.
A Change For The Better – 1959
However in 1959 Mr Greyling gave permission to Fr. Reginald to use High Bank school for church services.
First Holy Communion – 1965
6 parishioners from High Bank made their First Communion on Pentecost Sunday at the Franklin church.
Fr Seraphim Appointed as Manager of High Bank School
Mrs EA Muir of the Fens, Franklin, who was owner of the property on which the school stands,signed the forms of the Department on Bantu Education appointing Fr Seraphim as manager of the High Bank school.
Mass celebrated at High Bank
At that time it was said on Sundays once every 3 months.
Priestless Services Introduced at all the Outstaions.
People at each outstation had been trained to hold these services on Sundays when the priest was unable to come. Two people were chosen by the congregation as leaders for these services.
July. New Classroom built at High Bank School, where the second classroom was inadequate. Donated R450 towards the buildings but insisted that the people and the farmers do everything else.
September. Sunday Mass was held at High Bank on the 4th Sunday of the month.
March. Good crowd present, both adults and children. There were 10 First Holy Communions.
May. Pentecost Sunday. In spite of a rainy day, there was a great crowd present.
July. A second Holy Mass and 3 baptisms after Mass.
January. A very good attendance. There were 12 baptisms after Mass, 2 promised for the next visit and 1 marriage case.
September. Good crowd present and 3 for baptism.
October. Good crowd present – also nicholas and Henry (catechists) 10 First Holy Communions and 5 were baptised.
June. Two baptisms and one marriage.
August. Many people were present. There were ten baptisms, with 2 postponed till the following visit.
Group of People at High Bank after Mass
Fr Germain was also in the picture.
January. A very cold day and few people. There were two baptisms, Ernest and Laurence.
June. Very large crowd for Mass and 3 baptisms
September. There was no Mass at High Bank, as Fr Stephen had to catch the bus for Ladysmith at 12 o’clock.
As Fr Germain was unable to go to High Bank, Bishop Napier said Mass, where there were over 100 people present. There was a procession with palms around the school building after Holy Mass.
May. A very great crowd was present and there were so many children. There were 13 baptisms after Mass and many people went to Confession and Holy Communion.
May 26th . A very large crowd at Mass, many young people and 12 children were baptised after Mass.
March. Two girls received into the church and 4 First Holy Communions
May. A good crowd of people, as always. The tractor with the people arrived the same time as we did. The senior teacher handed me R45 from High Bank Catholics before we left and said it was towards Fr Germain’s holiday. The Department has put running water and a sink in the classroom at Hight Bank School, much to the teacher’s delight .
November. Five baptisms after Holy Mass.
Foles Hill Outstation/School
In 1965, Fr Reginald wrote: We have the use of a school on the farm of Mrs. Blore.
November: The management of Foles Hill school was accepted on the 28th November. It was always a Mass centre.
February: Mass again of Foles Hill after a long interval. The number attending justified its re-opening as an outstation, but the only suitable day appears to be a Sunday.
Decided that the only feasible way to do so was to have only one Mass in Franklin on the 3rd Sunday of every month, with Mass at Foles Hill at 10 o’clock.
March: Because all the teachers at Foles Hill were non- catholics, Fr Larry decided to take the catechist there by car every Friday morning. The average attendence was 20.
September: The Mass at Foles Hill was every 3rd Sunday of the month.
April: Permission was granted by the Department of Education to upgrade Foles Hill school to Standard 5. Standard 5 class would be added in January 1980 when the new school year started.
July: New classrooms built at Foles Hill. Fr Larry donated R450 towards the building, but insisted that the people and the farmers do everything else themselves.
November: One of the new classrooms at Foles Hill school was given to Fr Larry for the exclusive use for Mass and church services. It was used on the 18th November for the first time and two van-loads of parishioners came from Franklin to give encouragement to the small community.
March: Many people were present and there were 4 baptisms including a pagan lady, Johanna. There were three couples to be married and a mother, Margaret Khasake, 22 years, and a non-Catholic wanted her child Pulani, 3 years old, to be baptised. She was attending church.
July: A cold day, only a few people present; there was 1 person for baptism.
September: Five baptisms after Holy Mass.
March: 2 First Holy Communions and ? (no number) want to be received into the church.
November: Fairly good crowd present and 9 children between the ages of 1-12 years were baptised.
April: Two First Holy Communions
October: Three children received their First Holy Communion
They wore white dresses and veils.
May: Mrs Mavis Putini, second teacher and 5 of her children were baptised (ex-Methodist) and four other babies were also baptised. Mrs Putini is now a Catholic teacher at Foles Hill.
June: Teacher Mavis Putini’s eldest daughter received into the church and Mrs putini and daughter received their First Holy Communion.
April: Many people at Mass. Two of Mavis Putini’s children made their First Holy communion.
February: Mrs Wepener gave a R50 donation towards the painting of the Church.
January: Fr Bill Lovett said Mass at Foles Hill, where there was a great number of people present. Two ladies were received into the Church, Thembeka Gotsha and Margaret Ngqiliva, and they also received First Holy Communion. There was a marriage and a baptism of a young child.
March: Cold and rainy day, with only a few people at Mass. Mrs Wepener was not well. Teacher Mavis Putini was very pleased with the Inspectors’ visit last week.
May: There was no Mass at Foles Hill, as the St Anne’s Sodality had all gone to Bhongweni in Kokstad, so Fr Neil brought Holy Communion to Sharon Blore. On the following visit he took catechist Nicholas with him.
December: One of Walter Blore’s workmen was killed by lighting. I saw him just after the incident, when Walter, soaking wet had just rushed the man to Kokstad hospital in vain. He looked wide-eyed and distraught – Walter is a very caring person.
April: Teacher Mrs Mavis Putini died after a long illness at her home in Port Elizabeth. She was a great help to Mrs Wepener and will be sadly missed by the community at Foles Hill.
Golden Wedding Anniversary of Simon And Cecelia Wepener
13th April 1997
We celebrated the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Simon and Cecilia Wepener of Foles Hill. Bishop William Slattery did the honours admirably and Fr Germain was also present on this auspicious occasion. Due to ill-health Mrs Wepener had to be helped into church and into the house for tea and cake afterwards. It was a wonderful occasion.
Unfortunately, in May Mrs Wepener went to Pietermaritzburg with her family to have medical care and never returned alive to Franklin. She had a fall and died on the 23rd May . A large crowd came for her funeral on 31st May.
Mr Richard Blore paid tribute to the Wepener family and mentioned that he had been responsible for their comith to Franklin 25 years previously to work on his farm. RIP.
Shalom Outstation/ School – Swartberg
The school was in existence in 1965.
Pentecost Sunday – 1965
12 parishioners made their First Holy Communion at Shalom shortly after Pentecost.
April: The interior of Shalom school was painted by Richard O’Reilly of Lusikisiki, as the Inspectors had been advocating it for years.
JulyL An extra 20 metres was fenced in on the site of Shalom school. The owner of the farm, Mr Barnard, gave it and Fr John Kerr’s men did the work.
September: The Masses at Shalom school at that time were on the First Sunday of each month.
April: Permission was granted by the Department of Education to upgrade Shalom school to Std 4. The extra class was to be added in January 1980 at the beginning of the new school year.
July: New classrooms were built at Shalom. An amount was donated towards the building, but the priest insisted that the people and the farmers should do everything else themselves.
March: A good crowd at Mass. 5 ladies want to be baptised. Shalom school had 88 pupils on the roll.
July: Ten baptisms after Holy Mass.
November: 14 First Holy Communions and 9 baptisms.
July: A very large crowd at Mass. 4 Wesleyans present.
January: Good attendance, 4 baptisms.
November: Many present at Mass, 3 baptisms.
May: Very large crowd present, 4 baptisms.
July: Big crowd at Mass, parents of Albert married in church today.
June: Large crowd, 4 baptisms after Mass and 2 First Holy Communions.
April: A nice crowd for Holy Mass with several Methodist ladies present. Albert and the Telgte Sisters went to Tafeni.
June: Bishop Napier said Holy Mass at Shalom.
October: Two young girls were baptised and there were eight children for First Holy Communion.
December: Three children received First Holy Communion.
February: About 50 Methodist members attended Mass at Shalom
August: 9 baptisms at Shalom, four babies and five schoolchildren.
June: At Shalom there was a very big crowd of people present. There is also a clinic at Shalom where the children receive free meals.
October: A large crowd was present, also a number of Methodist members, women and men. Some asked to be baptised, so Albert, the catechist is preparing them.
June: A nice crowd present. Ten baptisms before Holy Mass; 2 adults and 8 children.
Flitwick Grange Outstation/School
In 1965 this school was already in existence. It is situated on the farm of Mr P Fellowes and the first building was made of mud.
April: The New Flitwick School Building was completed that month . Paul Fellowes undertook the expenditure and R100 was donated from church funds. A grant to R160 was applied from the Department of Bantu Education.
January: Mrs Norah Jikumlambo, a teacher at Flitwick school, was transferred as principal of St Paul’s School, Franklin Mission.
September: Mass was now being celebrated at Flitwick on the 1st Sunday of each month.
April: Permission was granted by the Department of Education to upgrade Flitwick school to Std 5. The class would be added in January 1980 at the beginning of the new school year.
July: New classrooms were built at Flitwick school. Fr Larry donated R450 towards the buildings, but insisted that the people and the farmers should do everything else themselves.
February: There are three non-Catholic teachers at the school, so no one teaches catechism.
October: Second Holy Mass, good attendance. 6 preparing for First Confession and Holy Communion.
February: Henry was introduced to the people as Catechist. There were 2 baptisms.
December: Good attendance at Mass and two for baptism.
February: Good attandance at Mass. 8 for baptism and 4 First Holy Communion.
August: A fair crowd and five baptisms.
October: 2 baptisms before Holy Mass.
April: Very good attendance at Mass and 8 baptisms after Mass.
October: A fairly good crowd, 10 baptisms after Mass.
December: Administered 10 baptisms after Holy Mass.
February: One baptism after Holy Mass.
May: A large crowd for Mass, with a few preparing for baptism in July.
June: Only a few people at Mass. There were 4 baptisms after Mass.
July: Two weddings before Mass.
November: As usual, a number of people at Mass, with 4 baptisms.
January: Marriage of Elliot and Paulina.
August: Great crowd present, 2 baptisms. R75 for painting Franklin Church. The money had been held by Catechist Henry.
September: No Holy Mass at Flitwick, as Fr Germain was on home leave which was extended because of ill- health.
March: A very great crowd present – over 100 and quite a number of young and old men. Fr Neil said it is a joy to see so many people at Holy Mass.
May: 5 small children were baptised before Holy Mass
July: A great crowd present at Mass, including a number of young men.
November: 15 baptisms before Holy Mass.
May: Three baptisms at Flitwick.
November: 15 baptisms at Flitwick.
November: A great crowd of people. Four baptisms during Holy Mass.
St Elizabeth’s School /Outstation, Swartberg
The first time St Elizabeth’s was mentioned in the Franklin Chronicle was in March 1965, during the time of Fr Reginald.
March: A new teacher, Ivy Roso Magdalena Qayiso, started at St Elizabeth’s School this term. She is a Catholic from Mt Fletcher district – this brings the number of Catholic teachers up to six in hte parish, a great boon indeed.
26th March: The procurator of Irish Franciscan Missions, Rev Hugh Daly OFM arrived here today. Among the school/outstations he visited was St Elizabeth’s.
February: Fairly good crowd present, but many children are not baptised. A couple, Alphons and Angelina, who are not married, want their two children baptised. One corner of the building is collapsing, so De Klerk’s father gave R120 in 1981 towards the repairs, but nothing has been done.
April: Children of one of the teachers at St Elizabeth’s school received their First Holy Communion.
May: A nice crowd was present, 4 children and 1 adult baptised.
November: A fairly good crowd present. 1 child was baptised.
June: Winter, only a few people at Mass. There were 4 baptisms after Holy Mass.
December: Administered two baptisms.
February: No Holy Mass at St Elizabeth’s, as the road was under water.
Photo of Bro Masseo With Some School-children at St Elizabeth’s , While He was Doing Some Work There.
May: A small number of people, mostly children.
July: A very big crowd was present, at least 100 people, but we had to have Mass at the clinic because the teacher had taken the school key with her and was not present at the time.
Fortunately Mr Smith, who lived just down the road, had the clinic key. Father took Holy Communion to Mr Olivier, who had a heart attack.
June: A teacher from St Elizabeth’s said that there are now a lot of Catholics on the farm, as the clinic gives the children free meals.
November: There was a great crowd for Holy Mass (Christ the King). The children were dressed in their school uniforms and greeted Fr Germain with a welcome home song. After that the parents did a little dance and presented Father with an envelope. The children then changed into tribal dress and did a Zulu dance, which everybody really enjoyed. They were very glad to see Fr Germain back again.
Drakensview Outstation/ School
The first mention of this outstation was in the 1960’s when it was referred to as the old residence of the Dorning family , Heronwood farm.
11th August: I approached Michael Dorning to ask the use of an old European homestead at his farm, Heronwood, as a school and Mass Centre. Mr Hilton Calder-Potts closed the old site as a school in order to house his laboureres at drakensview .
Dorning agreed and appointed Fr Seraphim Manager of the school.
November: Fr Seraphim said Mass there on Sunday 26th.
In 1965 Fr Reginald noted in the Chronicle. We use a kraal on Mrs Cooper’s farm by the kind permission of the Manager, Mr H Van Dyk.
June: Pentecost Sunday First Communion at Franklin Church, 5 of them being from Tramore
September: Masses at Braeside are on the 4th Sunday of each month.
Outstations Transferred to Maria Telgte:
Mentioned Only Once in Chronicle
Bokfontein School. We use the school on the farm of Mr J Cole ( 1965).
St Paul’s School Franklin
August: Since May I have put on a 10 o’clock Mass for the school -children of St Paul’s – they just switch their breaks – it is a chance for the children to receive more often and ease confessions on a Sunday morning. The usefulness of the small innovation can be decided upon by Fr Reginal when he returns to the parish from overseas.
August 30th: A Bantu School Music Festival scheduled to take place at St Paul’s today had to be concelled , as the snow was melting and many roads were impassable. Mr Stone and two inspectors arrived and decided on its cancellation.
August: Received word from the Bantu Education Department that the Mission school would have Farm School status as from the beginning of next year, 1975. To comply with the regulations, that portion of the Mission property embracing the school, playground and garden has been leased to the neighbouring farm owned by James Cole Limited. A 10 year lease (renewable) and rescindable by either party on 3 month’s notice.
January: The school opened today as a Farm School. The new Principal is Mrs Norah Jikumlambo, who has transferred from Flitwick School.
January St Paul’s has been raised from a Std 2 to a Std 4 School and a second teacher’s post has been granted. Mrs Cecilia Makoane, presently teaching at Newmarket, has been given the post.
September: It is a Farm School with a new Std 5 class, a library and second office. The Department of Education paid two thirds of the cost and agreed to a third teacher, Mrs.Ann Mehlomakulu in the new year (1991).
February: St Paul’s school has been raised from Std 4 to Std 5.
March: The papers for the grant of the Std 5 teacher arrived from the Department.
May: The new school building for Stds 6 and 7 was completed with the cost of building being R47,000. Two-thirds of this amount was refunded by the Education Department.
July: Mrs Cecilia Makaone, shown standing outside the school building in the picture below, was killed in a bus accident near Mt Frere on the 29th July. She had been a dedicated teacher at St Paul’s for many years and also looked after the priest’s house. A great crowd attended her funeral at Mt Ayiliff.
Fr Harry Houlihan mentioned in the Chronicle that after much correspondence, St Paul’s Intermediate School was divided into two parts and two separate schools”
1. Franklin High School in Franklin village, from Std 6-10.
2. St Paul’s Primary, Stds 1-5.
However, it was found that dividing the school into two separate parts did not solve the problem of overcrowding at St Paul’s. The Stds 6-8 classes continued to pack into the buildings due to lack of space at the Village High School.
More frustration in connection with the school! Further applications and letters and reminders were sent to the Joint Service Board ( later renamed the Ndlovu Regional Council) requesting they fence off the school for us – we are STILL waiting!!
September; Finally our repeated letters to the JSB to habe the school fenced, paid off.
Without any warning or consultation whatever, they appointed PETER LARRET, a contractor from Swartberg to fence our school and others in the area. Also, at first they were going to build eight new toilets and later they reduced this to four -totally inadequate for approximately 400 pupils.
Franklin Mission – No Names Mentioned.
September: During Fr Larry O’Shea term of office a fire started at Mr Fox’s farm and swept through the Mission. A tremendous wind; caused the fire to jump the road.
The teachers huts were burned down completely. Nothing was saved from Mrs Makaona’s house, however quite a lot saved from that of Mrs Jikumlambo.
The fire entered the Catechists’ room, who was out teaching at the time. Antony Jikumlambo had the presence of mind to break down the door of the Catechists’room and extinguish the fire there, otherwise all the outbuildings would have gone.
All the panes of glass on the west side of the priest’s house cracked with the intense heat. Had they broken, the house would have gone.
The wind turned in peculiar fashion, avoiding the wind-mill and engine, the church and all that section where the school is. Only some of the tall trees on the roadside were burnt, with practically all of the shrubs escaping.
The Brothers came out from Kokstad to repair the damage in the Catechist’room and to fix up the other rooms in the outbuildings to accommodate the teachers.
Now they have electricity, which they never had before!
September: Bro Erich Fischnaller from Mt Frere sent two builders to erect a new house for the Catechist.
We supplied all the materials except the timber. We provided blocks, sand, stones and the labourers, also the transport of all timber from Mt Frere.
Bishop Slattery contributed R15,000 and the Lenten Appeal R2000, the meagre savings at Franklin were depleted and Bro Erich provided the balance.
The old stove from the priests’house was installed and worked poorly till we extended the chimney clear of roof height. (Fr Harry Houlihan).
We were advised that the wooden catechists’ house needs to be scorched on the outside to waterproof it. (Fr Harry)
He was mentioned by Fr Reginald in the early 1960’s. This is what Fr Reginald had to say:
There is one trained Catechists in the Franklin area, Petrus Yolwa. He is good living and diligent and there is good progress in spreading the faith. He is helped by a Praesidium of the Legion of Mary, whose members do steady work though most of them are illiterate. The officers and spiritual director attend the Curia Meeting each month in Kokstad.
March: Fr Seraphim Kennedy also mentioned Petrus in the Chronicle. Eight new arrivals came here today in the form of young pigs – the Catechist, Petrus, built a strong sty off the old garage foundation. Their feed consists of lucerne, growing meal and acorns from Newmarket.
In Fr Larry’s handwriting with no date: In place of the second Mass at Franklin, a service is conducted by Petrus Yolwa, an ex-Catechist.
March: In view of the fact that all the teachers at Fole’s Hill are non-Catholics, I decided to take Joseph the Catechist there by car every Friday morning. The average attendance is about 20.
September: Shortly after the fire, the Catechist, Joseph Makikijela, became very ill and was taken by ambulance to the Kokstad Hospital. Having been discharged, he went home.
February: Joseph Majikijela dies at his home at Farview. RIP. He had been a catechist in Franklin in the mid-1950’s. He did the 2-year training course in Bizana 1958/59; from there he went to Matatiele district. In December 1971 he came to Franklin, where he taught at the schools in the farm area, and at the Mission.
He was a man of prayer, and rendered great service to God and to the people, both by his teaching and example. He was 58 years old when he died.
Joseph was buried at his home in Farview on 20th February 1982. Bishop W Napier, assisted by Fr Larry, performed the burial rites, with a huge crowd attending, some of whom came from Franklin.
Picture Taken at Joseph Majikijela’s Funeral.
Our Beloved Catechist (Fr Larry O’Shea)
February: I introduced Henry Nkobana as Catechist to the people of Flitwick outstatio. (Fr Germain.
January: Catechist Heny was received into the Third Order.
Christmas School Holidays: Nicholas Ndlela came from Matatiele where he was a catechist. He and his family stayed at the priest’s house while he was helping Fr Larry in Franklin. He proved to be of great use.
March: Nicholas Ndlela came to take on the job of permanent Catechist.
Subsequently Fr Larry mentions Nicholas working at various outstations, particularly Foles Hill.
24th May: Fr Germain anointed Nicholas after a short stay in hospital.
25th May: Nicholas died at Northdale Hospital, Pietermaritzburg.
6th June: Nicholas was buried at home in Lugada, Matatiele.
Resident Priests at Franklin Mission
1. Fr Cornelius Heffernan – 1952 – 1956
2. Fr Berchmans O’Byrne – 1956 – 1958
3. Fr Reginald Gunn – 1958 – 1965
4. Fr Seraphim Kennedy – 1965 – 1971
5. Fr Larry (Laurence) O’Shea – 1971 – 1983
6. Fr Germain Mannion – 1983 – 1995
7. Fr Harry Houlihan – 1995 – 1999
8. Fr Jose Chackalackal – 1999 – Even Today
All the priests, with the exception of Fr Jose Chackalackal, are Franciscans.
Again I found this an interesting project. Each mission is as unique as the priests who served/still serve there and people who make up the congregation.
It gave me a great sense of joy to observe the love and dedication put into the work at the Mission, and the individual style of entering the events in the Chronicle, the important things and hte ordinary which make up daily life.
The time and care also put into outstation work, which is described in great detail and this extends the scope and vision of the mission itself.
Catechists are also important people, a special breed, these shown in the Chronicle as being examples tothe laity, an extra pair of hands for the priest and with years of interaction between them, a good friend who could be called our beloved catechist’ and whose death would cause a deep loss in the community.
The pictures interspersed in the text of the Chronicle give reality and capture the People who were cared for by the mission priests. The pictures portray life on a mission, all the emotions of the people – joy , sadness, triumph, moments of intimate conversation, celebration and just being alive!
I wish Fr Jose Chackalackal God’s richest blessings during his time at Franklin and much success in learning the Xhosa language.
Howick – 19th November 1999
Sources of Information
1. Franklin Mission Chronicle to 1998.
2. Transkei for Christ – Fr Marcel Dischl 1982.
3. Fr Lucas Puerstinger ofm.
4. Fr Reginald Gunn ofm.
5. Southern Cross.
6. Kokstad Advertiser.
7. Photos in Text – Probably Fr Bruno (Tom) Byrne.
8. Photos of Franklin Church & Priest’s House.