1.At the South African Bishops meeting in Mariannhill,3rd- 11th of August, special time was set aside for consideration of Seminary problems. One problem is that the Seminary of St Francis Xavier in Cape Town can only accommodate 30 students. Last year already the applications exceeded this number, so there is a question of finding adequate accommodation. Again a lot of questions were asked about the importance of English in the Seminary. At the moment there is a special English examination for all those proposing to go to the Seminary. This is a rather stiff test, and quite a number of students failed last year. There were many questions from the Bishops on these issues. Also discussion took place on psychological testing for Seminaries and criteria to be followed.
A new Society, the St Augustine Young Priest Society, modelled on the Irish St Joseph Young Priest Society, was established by the Bishops. This Society is open to anyone who is interested in vocations and in getting and encouraging young men in their studies for the priesthood. Each parish will have its own branches. It is hoped that the branch will set up a small committee to make as its special intention care and work for vocations. Also each Parish member will contribute a small fee each month,this money will go towards the education of young priests.
Again a committee was established to examine the future of St John Vianney and St Peters Seminaries. If numbers were to increase rather suddenly there would not be enough accommodation at these residences for our students. And so a committee was established which will examine the future of Seminary training in South Africa, and the establishment of a theological institute, perhaps. A lot of insistence was put on the importance of visitation of their students in the Seminary by Bishops and Diocesan priests. Students need to sense that they belong to a Diocese and to a Bishop.
The People of God Catechetical series is being rewritten in Zulu by Prisca Hadebe, of Lumko. She is writing in Zulu and hopefully it will be translated into the other languages. The work is well in progress.
The Catholic Church donated over R250,000, to Rwanda. The Holy Sea has asked Catholics of the world to pray for Rwanda. A Sunday may be taken as a special day of prayer for that country using the Mass for refugees, or exiles.
The Bishops recieved a presentation of the reconstruction and development programme of the Government, and noted many favorable points made. It is obvious that the intention of this programme-to help in a particular way the lower 40% of our economic population- is laudable and truly christian.
2.While in Mariannhill I had Brother Sturmius, the printer, give an estimate for the production of Christmas cards based on the coloured photograph of St Patricks Cathedral covered in snow,as suggested by Lawrence. I was happy to learn that a single card could be produced for 60c. So hopefully we will have a lot of these cards available for Christmas this year.
3.From Mariannhill I went on to St John Vianney Seminary, Pretoria for the Ordination at the Cathedral of 17 Deacons. It was a marvelous day, with Deacons from all over the country, with one Stigmatine and one Franciscan ordained. (Brother Vincent Zungo O.F.M). There was a tremendous congregation present, with each student allowed a certain number of family members. This is an endeavour by the Bishops to reduce the extent and quantity of ordination celebrations throughout the country. Deaconate Ordination takes place in Pretoria and the individual priestly ordinations then take place in the home Diocese.
4.The whole Diocese was shocked to learn of the serious accident in which Brother Jim Murtagh was involved. Jim escaped miraculously when his car went out of control a few kilometres beyond Barkley East on the road to Bloemfontein. After extensive medical examinations he was happy to learn that he was simply bruised and not injured. However it will take some time for him to recover from the shock.
In his absence on August the 20th, at the Convent Hall, the Catholic Teachers belonging to C.I.E, and from the Diocese of Umtata and Kokstad held their meeting. Between 50 and 60 were present and the meeting was lead by Sister Anne Patricia. It is obvious that Jim’s hard work has produced fruits, and it was encouraging to see many teachers from around the Diocese who are committed to Catholic education, present to share and to pray together. However, it is also obvious that many of our Catholic teachers were not present. I think we have a glorious opportunity with Brother Jim so active and moving around the Diocese, to encourage our Catholic Teachers to come together. The Church depends a lot upon these teachers, and if we fail to motivate them, if we fail to encourage their faith, then we are leaving a great gap in the formation of youth and failing with an opportunity.
5.The Catholic Nurses guild is raising its head again after a dormition. A small number of nurses, all former