(ALSO REFERRED TO AS MORNING STAR)
THE BEGINNING When the Provincial of the Irish Province, FR CELSUS O’BRIAIN and FR DAVID O’REILLY, the Definitor of the Irish Provice made a visitation to Hardenberg in 1968, Fr David staying on for 6 weeks.
He gave a donation of R1700 towards the erection a church of ST BRIDE at the newly-acquired site at KHOAPA’S LOCATION, 6km from Matatiele.
SMALL BUILDING BOUGHT At the end of December a small, serviceable 8 metres x 3 metres was erected at the Khoapa’s site. It cost approximately R350 and of this amount Bishop McBride contributed R50. This building served as a chapel for the interim and later as a catechetical room.
BRO MASSEO ERECTED A PREFAB CHURCH Between September and December Bro. Masseo erected the prefab building at Khoapa’s administrative area, which would serve the local people as a church.
This new church was about 8 km from the Holy Trinity Church at Matatiele and from Hardenberg. Fr Kevin O’Byrne was the architect and supplied all the necessary materials. When Fr David O’Reilly was director of the FMU had sent L1000 for this purpose. The actual site for the church was procured by the late Fr Vianney O’Kelly way back in 1967.
SOLEMN BLESSING AND OPENING OF THE CHURCH: Bishop McBride blessed and opened the new church (no date is mentioned) in the presence of a large and representative gathering of priests and people. The Headman, Chief Khoapa, had the honour of turning the key in the door.
The church is commonly called the church at Khoapa’s by the local people, as no one seemed to know the saint’s name. Fr. Vianney originally conferred the name of St Bridget on the site, then Fr Bernardine vernacularised it to ST BRIDE as a bait on the Bishop’s purse; Fr Kevin renamed in Morning Star. On the day of dedication the Bishop invoked a large section of the Litany of the Saints. So take your pick!
HOLY YEAR – 1975 The cross that was taken in pilgrimage to all the outstations and churches reached Khoapa’s after it started its journey at St Joseph’s Sigoga. The Cross rested for a few days in each place and during its stay night vigils and prayer meetings were held. Generally the people seemed to benefit from this spiritual exercise. Other special devotions were also instituted for that year, particularly in May, June, October and November.