(From: Hardenberg Chronicle)

The first four Precious Blood Sisters arrived at Hardenberg in March 1898 and their names were:
Sr Bernarda (Superior)
Sr Edeltraud (Teacher)
Sr Lamberta (Teacher)
Sr Cordula   (Seanstress and Organist)
A house for them was attached to the old church towards the west. Two weeks later the school was started with 30 children, mostly girls. A month later Sr Edeltraud was transfered to Lourdes and Sr Cassiane came as housekeeper, while Sr. Cordula taught at the school. Initially the people helped the Sisters to get on their feet and they supplied them with food. Sadly, Sr. Cassiane died in November 1899.

In January 1900 Sr. Liberata replaced her as housekeeper. Later that year Sr Donata came to Hardenberg as cook.
Once the new church was built, the Brothers started building a Convent for the Sisters, assisted by Bro. Lambert, a stonemason. There were many comings and goings among the Sisters in those days and in January 1901 Sr. Donata left Hardenberg, while Sr. Achatia from Mariannhill came as teacher and organist. In February Sr. Cordula, one of the original sisters, was transferred to Mariazell.

In April 1901, the original superior, Sr. Bernarda, left Hardenberg and Sr Godoleva took her place. September that year saw the arrival of Sr Adalberta as seamstress. In December Sr Lamberta was also transferred to Mariazell – that meant the departure of the last “pioneer” Sister from Hardenberg. Sr Junipera came from Mariazell as school principal.

After Bro Oswald from Lourdes mission had finished the carpentry, the Convent was ready for occupation. On the 9th June Fr Huss blessed the Convent and the sisters moved in the following day. Another transfer: Sr Genoveva was moved and Sr Adalberta was acting superior in the interim.

The Sisters were not idle in their spare time, but planted a vegetable garden and an orchard and also vines. Also the German sisters were studying further so they could more ably teach in English. Imagine the joy of Sr Junipera Rewitzer in 1901 on receiving the news that she had passed her third teacher’s examination and the Sotho teacher, Roboan, his first.


This Precious Blood sister who came from Mokhoaseng (outstation of Hardenberg) was buried in Glen Avent, Umtata, aged about 70 years.

Sr Monica was transferred from Marialinden to Hardenberg in September 1904 as cook. Then in December Sr Victoriana went to Durban for an operation and Sr Liberata came on supply from Mariazell.


Sr Febronia, a teacher left Hardenberg that year and was replaced by Sr Thodota. Then in 1920 Sr Julietta, the Superior, was transferred. Her successors were first Sr Miltredis, then Sr Peregrina. One of the earlier sisters, Sr Cordula, retired in 1923 and left Hardenberg after many years of service there. She was replaced by Sr Michaelis.

In 1921 Sr Quirina came to Hardenberg to teach sewing, but as the thing would not work, she was moved away in 1924.


At that time Sr Leocadia was superior of the sisters at Hardenberg, but was transferred in April the same year to Farview, while the superior from there, Sr Leopoldina took her place at Hardenberg.

When the Franciscans took over the Mission, the Precious Blood Sisters left in 1937. They had done much in the field of education in that area, but it must have been sad to have to leave Hardenberg.


The Sisters of Assisi (Mariannhill)

After the depature of the Precious Blood Sisters, the African Sister of Assisi (Mariannhill) carried on working on the Mission, but were withdrawn to KwaZulu/Natal in 1954.


In January 1957 Fr Bernardine Dore invited sisters of this order, which is based in Lesotho, to Hardenberg. Later that month 3 sisters arrived: Sr Anthyme, Sr Pauline and Sr Agatha.


CANISIA MTABENI: She was a local person and had been on the Mission since 1954 and had been trained in cooking and housekeeping, went to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


SR MARIA THERESE: She joined the Convent community for some months and helped in the work of the Clinic and visiting the sick. Sr Ignatia came to reside at the Mission and she came as a very welcome and good cook.


VISIT ON SISTER PROVINCIAL: Probably for financial reasons, the Provincial informed the priests that the sisters were no longer prepared to cook meals for the Missionaries, so unfortunately Sr. Ignatia’s good cooking could not be enjoyed any longer, and the priests had to fend for themselves.


SR ELIZABETH AND SR CALLISTA: Threw themselves into the difficult but rewarding work of supervising and organising Catechism Classes in the homes. They did this under the supervision of Fr. Kevin O’Byrne, who was still known locally as Callistus”, his original name under profession.

Four days each week they went from village to village and house to house trying to get the parents to face up to their responsibilities of sending their children to Catechism classes. They also trained volunteer instructors in every village. They were doing a wonderful but sometimes discouraging task.


SR MARIA JOSEFO: She was the Std 2 teacher at the Hardenberg school. In 1978 she resigned from teaching to study for her matriculation at Mariazell.


SEWING SCHOOL: Sr. Clara started this school in mid-1979 and by 1980 it was thriving. 3 days a week 6-8 industrious women learned sewing, thus improving their job skills. This is a new venture on the part of African women, as nearly all of them are content with buying readymades and rarely or never turn their hands to stitching or mending their children’s clothes.



Their Superior-General, Vice-General, Superior and driver made a visit to them at Hardenberg.

JULY 1986

AGREEMENT BETWEEN FR EGBERT AND THE SISTERS: The following entry appeared in the Chronicle with Fr Egbert’s signature beneath:
All the outside rooms in the Convent area, opposite Bro.Sydney’s workroom, were handed over to the control of the Sacred Heart sisters for their use until such time as I, Fr Egbert O’Dea, or my successor, revoke this permission.



When the livestock at the Mission were dispersed in January that year, Sr Maria Josefo found herself the owner of a pig.



Among her other talents, Sr Clothilde, made altar boys cassocks, but she was transferred to KwaMzongwana in December.


The Sisters get a phone.
(This was the last entry in the Hardenberg chronicle when Fr Bill kindly lent me the book).

(From: Hardenberg Chronicle)



Sr Louise Potlemka     – Polish-American
Sr Madeline Brophy     – Irish

Sr Augustine Conway    – Irish

They came in response to a request from the Transkei Department of Education to joined the staff of the Maluti Teachers Training School, which is near Hardenberg.



She had taught General School Method of Maluti in 1979, but was put on permanent leave by her medical doctor because of an ongoing condition of tinnitus. She retired in a blaze of glory and praise.
In the public final year examination in 1979, 3 of her pupils received distrinction in General method, being the FIRST EVER student teachers in the Transkei to obtain such a distinction.

TYPING SCHOOL: Sr Madeline, however, was much too active and motivated to rest on her laurels, so started a typing school at the Mission for pupils who had passed Standard 8. Typewriters were donated by the Kokstad Holy Cross convent and some Catholic ladies from Durban as a result of an article put in the Durban Mercury. Ten pupils started the course.

SUCCESS FOR SOME TYPING STUDENTS: 3 of her students went at the end of the year to Umtata, accompanied by Sr Madeline, for a special test set by the Department for young women applying for jobs in the Government typing pool. All three passed.


FAREWELL TO THE SISTERS: A concert was held to thank Srs. Madeline and Louise, who left the Mission in December, together with their housekeeper, FRANCINA MNXASANA.


START OF THE SCHOOL: The Precious Blood Sisters started the school in March 1898, 2 weeks after their arrival, with 30 pupils – most of them girls. By November there were 40 pupils.

HARMONIUM FOR THE SCHOOL: In January 1901, two harmoniums arrival at the Mission, the smaller one being for the school, for learing and practising. I bought it in Maritzburg for L10.

Fr Huss taught catechism at the school everyday. By December 1901 there were 103 children at the Hardenberg school.


START OF NEW SCHOOL YEAR:  The school started on the 22nd January that year. A young man named ROBOAM TOBO from Durban, whom Fr. Huss had taught at Mariannhill and later had him as an assistant teacher, came looking for work and Fr. Huss took him on immediately as a teacher for L3 a quarter, with board.


OUTBREAK OF SMALLPOX: In June and July there was an outbreak of smallpox in the area and Fr Huss stopped anyone with smallpox from attending school (or church). Some of the chiefs then prevented anyone at all from going to school, so Fr Huss had to resort to consulting the Magistrate of Matatiele, Mr JFC. Rein on the matter. Apparently rumours were doing the rounds that Fr Huss was making the children with smallpox attend the school.
Once the chiefs were advised on their wrong assumptions, the children went back to school again.


MEASURING OUT THE NEW SCHOOL: At Pentecost Fr Salesius, Bro. Nivard and Fr Cornelius came to measure out the new school, then in June Bro. Cornelius, the builder, Bro.Candidus the stone-mason and Bro Ulfo, a quarryman, came to start the actual building. By February 1905 the building was complete apart from the carpentry, which was then done by Bro. Jacob. He made the rafters, doors and windows, put in the flooring, built two staircases, 3 teacher’s desks, 5 blackboards and supports, 2 cupboards and some school desks. That wa certainly a large task, but done to perfection. By July the work on the school was finished.



It was a joyful occasion on that day in August when Fr Huss blessed the new school in the presence of the Sisters, school-pupils, invited guests and crowds from around the Mission.


HARDENBERG SCHOOL: Since the introduction of Bantu Education in 1954 and in consequence of the decision of the S.A Bishops’Conference, our primary schools in the Diocese of Kokstrad were subsidises by the Diocese. In 1955 were aiding 9 such schools. One by one, however, most of them were closed or the buildings thereof were rented to the Department of Education.

By January of this year the only two schools in our hands and aided by us were Hardenberg and St. Anton’s Makhoaseng, Sibi. (St. Anton’s will be dealt with under the heading Outstations). There were 6 teachers in Hardenberg:
Mrs Jeannette Mapena
Mrs Mabel Faro
Mrs Mary Ralake
Mrs Casita Sengolo
Mrs Blantina Nyokana
Mrs Humiliana Dubazana

Towards the end of 1978, it was felt that we could no longer continue to maintain Hardenberg primary as a private school for the benefit of our Catholic school children, since we were paying our teachers only one-third of the amount they would be entitled to receive in a Government- aided school and the Bishop could not see his way towards increasing the subsidy.

The primary school was therefore leased to the Department of Works and Energy of the Transkei as from 16th November 1978 for a period of 10 years at the nominal rental of R1 per annum – this is known in legal circles as peppercorn rent. This buildings must be kept by the lessee (Dept. of Education) in the same good order as they are at the Commencement of the lease”.

Four of the classrooms are reserved by the mission, i.e the Bishop on Sunday only and two on Saturdays for the purpose of religious instruction.

All the teachers were assured of their posts under the Department of Educatio. Furthermore, the buildings were to be used exclusively to school purposes during daylight hours.




The indefatiguable Bro.Johann started catechism lessons in 1900 at St. Bernards on Sunday mornings. When Fr Huss arrived at Hardenberg, he changed the time of catechism to Wednesdays at noon. Bro. Johann had done his work well: there were already 4 Catholics and 1 catechumen at St Bernard’s.

ABIATHAR: Abiathar had been a preacher at the Protestant mission at Hebron, but had converted to Catholicism during the time of Bro.Johann and catechism was already being held at his spacious stone house when Fr Huss came to St Bernard’s Abiathar they generously offered his house to the priest for conversion into a chapel. With Abiathar’s help, Fr Huss renovated the house and by Christimas it was ready to use.

ST BERNARD’S SCHOOL AND LUISA LUPHEANA: Luisa was the daughter of Chief Sibi, who was a powerful chief in that area and she had converted to Catholicism. Chief Sibi had instructed the building of a Protestant church and school at Hebron some 30 years previously and was greatly angered that his daughter had defected from the Protestant church. What was worse in his eyes was the fact that she had been very active in her previous church and he was losing face by her actions.

A school was planned at St Bernards and Luisa had offered her services as a teacher in 1902, but Chief Sibi put all kinds of obstacles in her way to prevent her from going there. He even resorted to going to Court about the matter, but Luisa was determined and Fr Huss also, and eventually started teaching there. In 1903, however, she got married and St.Bernard’s closed down.

MASS AT ST BERNARD’S Fr Huss was by now (1903) saying Mass every Wednesday at the converted chapel and catechism instruction was held the same day. The bell was put up at St. Bernard’s in 1905.

ST BERNARD’S SCHOOL, 1962. Nothing was mentioned in the chronicle between 1903 and 1962, but obviously it had survived thus far. Since 1940 the St Bernard’s school had been under the principalship of JOSEPH SILWANE until 1956, then from January 1956-1958 under NICODEMUS TENZA, was closed by the Department of Bantu Affairs, (South African) on the ground that there was another Banto (African) school across the fence. The enrolment on closing date was 110, of whom 63 were Catholics.

ST ANTHONY’S This outstation was first mentioned in 1903 by Fr Huss, who was then teaching catechism every Friday at noon.

(On perusal through all items on the outstaions, I have reason to think that perhaps the name St Anthony’s was eventually changed to St Anton’s which is one of the most active outstations of Hardenberg. I will from this point refer to the outstation as St Anton’s).



The school was re opened in 1952, but closed in December 1953. January 1956 the school was again re opened under the principalship of Regina Sobantu. The principals from 1957 onwards were as follows:
1957/8 – Eglet Nyokana
1958/9 – Miss M Khombi (Assistant)
1959/60 – Miss Dlamini
1961/2 – Berlina Tsiu
1963/4   – Miss A Maliela
Blantina Ntone (Assistant)
Blantina Ntone (Assistant)


CHURCH FOUNDATION STONE LAID Bishop McBride laid the foundation stone of St.Anton’s church in January 1957. The building was completed and blessed on the 7th September 1957.

CHURCH EXTENSION At the instigation of Fr. Vianney the church was then enlarged by the addition of another 13 metre section in January 1962. BRO. MASSEO was the contractor. The bishop visited and blessed the renewed building on the 15th August the same year.

ASSISTANT PRIESTFr Harry Houlihan, who came to study Xhosa at Hardenberg for 6 months, had the care of St Anton’s church where Mass has been said every Sunday since January 1958.



The foundation stone of St. Anton’s church was laid by Bishop McBride. When the building was completed, it was blessed on the 7th September 1957.



St. Anton’s church contributed R5,20.

1968, June
THE CHURCH Fr Bernardine and Bro. Masseo laid floor-tiles in the sanctuary of the church at St. Anton’s. Also a small sacristy was added to the church, which cost R170.


TEACHER’S WEDDING MISS BLANTINA NTONE, Teacher at St Anton’s school was married to ANDREAS NYOKANA.


SMALL CLINIC OPENED A small clinic was built at St Anton’s at a cost of about R400. The district nurse of AdamEve clinic visited there every Wednesday.

1969, November.
FR KHUMALO VISITS ST ANTON’S After he had conducted a retreat at Hardenberg, he visited St Anton’s for 3 days.

SACRIFICIUM COLLECTION During Lent the Sacrificium Collection realise approximately R36.
PRAISING THE TEACHERS As Fr Bernardin mentioned in the chronicle: It will not be out of place here to menton the names of our teachers who have served the church and the mission faithfully and with distinction for many years, for a mere pittance.
The taught At St Anton’s school at that time:
Mrs Blantina Nyokana (Nee Ntone) – Principal
Mrs Sylvia Mosiroe               – Assistant

DRAWBACKS   We are limited by Departmental regulations to a quota of 100 pupils at this school.

RESERVATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT In 1967 the Bishop authorised the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Anton’s church. This was the first outstation in the diocese where this privilege was availed of. It has been of immense spiritual benefit to the community and reduces tension for the priest who has to ensure that he makes an exact count of hands and the Offertory when he has no Blessed Sacrament reserved to fall back on in case of miscount.


CHURCH SCHOOL BUILT AT ST MATTHEWS Bro. Dosith lived at Hardenberg Mission from Februay to July 1947 while he built the church school at St Matthews. The school was opened for Catholic children in January 1948. The first teacher was MISS CORNELIA THELYANE. The building was extended in October 1949 just after the arrival of Bishop McBride as Bishop of the Vicariate, as it then was.

1952 – January

ST MATTHEWS NOW AN INDIVIDUAL OUTSTATION From the inception of St.Matthews untill 1952, it was under the care of Hardenberg. In 1952 it became an individual outstation.

1975 – HOLY YEAR

St. Matthews (Makhoba’s) also participated in the Holy Year ceremonies and procession with the cross.


There were big crowds for the Stations of the Cross at Makhoba’s.
GOOD FRIDAY.    The Second service that day was at Makhoba.
HOLY SATURDAY   The service started at 6 pm and there were 9 baptisms.
EASTER SUNDAY. Day Mass at Makhoba – there was a big crowd and 60 babies were baptises.


Bro. Jimmy started painting the school, using a rust remover first because of all the rusty nails, then two coats of natural grey ferrocote. He used 70 litres altogether. Between labour, petrol food and paint, it cost about R800. Rent for the school was R122.49 per quarter.

In September, a request came to build rondavels for teachers on the site of the school, as they had to travel very far to school. Mr Talane, Chairman of the School Committee said they were going to go ahead. I said: “Hold it”.

MISSION AT ST MATTHEWS, MAKHOBA. Fr E Shangase gave a 2 day mission for the people at St Matthews.



70 people made their First Communion at St Matthews, where Mass started at 10.30. They had made their confessions on Saturday. We had a sheep for the occasion. Most people cleared away immediately after Mass, as I’m sure there was plenty of food this year. Not a great crowd.



1958 – JANUARY
OBTAINING A SITE FOR THE CHURCH Once the site was found, a small building 8m x 4m was erected in February. The first congregations at Sunday Mass numbered approximately 40. The Stations of the Cross were performed in the open, for which wooden crosses were suitable places in position. The site was fenced by Catechist SG VALASHIYA.

The building of St Francis’ church was started in April and built in 15 days. The tower was erected at a cost of L97, a gift from an Irish benefactor MR O’SHEA, father of FR LARRY O’SHEA. The students from Mariazell High School and the Training College, who were on holiday, helped to lay the concrete floor under the supervision of Bro Masseo in July.

On the 7th December the CHURCH WAS BLESSED BY BISHOP MCBRIDE on his return from the USA. The Magistrate of Matatiele, Mr Borquin, attended the ceremony.

FR HARRY HOULIHAN, who assisted at Hardenberg for 6 months while learning Xhosa, said of St Francis’church that it was one of the two outstation churches where Mass had been said continuously every Sunday since 1958.

GOOD FRIDAY This service was held at St Francis at 12.30 that year – it was the first time Holy Week services had been held at the outstaions. The response was very favourable and the church was packed to the doors.
In June the Sr Peter’s Pence collection realised R4.90 at St Francis.

FR GERMAIN MANNION GIVES ST FRANCIS A CONFESSIONAL. The Hardenberg parish priest was delighted at this gift, used, but in good condition, for the St Francis’ church.


VISIT BY FR KHUMALO: In November, after giving a retreat at Hardenberg, Fr. Khumalo paid a spiritual visit to St. Francis’church.

SACRIFICIUM COLLECTION The people at St. Francis gave R35 towards this collection.

1975 – HOLY YEAR The people of St. Francis also took part in the procession of the cross, as other outstations had, and also observed special services during Lent, May and October.