1Congratulations and gratitude to Father John at Maria Telgte Mission for the wonderful week provided for the farm children. John reports that 93 boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 16 took part in the catechetical course. The instruction team was composed of Sister Callista as leader and seven assistant teachers. Children were divided into age groups for instruction. The theme was the faith in general. The instructions began each day at 7:30 after prayers and continued until one o’clock midday. There was recreation and games for the children between 2:30 and 5:00. The children were delighted–it was their first holiday and their first deeper exposure to the faith. John says that the instructions were very well delivered and received. Each one got a catechism book. Among the teachers were Mrs Ngxobe and Mrs Lupindo both from Maria Telgte Mission. Father Bernardine sent Mrs Mkhanyiswa. While Sister Callista brought Mrs Maboea, Mrs Ntsenyeho, Mrs Kwababa and Mrs Sibi from Hardenburg.
2The coordinators in the various parishes for catechetics came together in Kokstad on Saturday, January 14. Over 50 people attended- we had expected about 15. Father Lawrence did a repeat of the wedding feast at Cana and multiplied not only the water but the cooldrinks, the meat, the rice and the vegetables.
This was a wonderful morning of discussion on the problems facing teachers in the diocese. Most people attributed the great difficulties we experience to the non-participation and lack of interest on the part of parents and families. The teachers asked that the priest continually remind the parents of their responsibility for catechetics. They also insisted that the sacraments should not be given easily. Children must attend and children who come at the last minute and who fail to attend the proper instruction should be refused by the priest. Rather they should be told to wait for the next time and in the mean time to come frequently for instruction.
We registered the coordinators of the various parishes and will contact them frequently during this year. The plan now is that Sister Callista and other experts with helpers visit a number of the parishes during the course of this year. Sister will communicate with the coordinator whose responsibility it will be to call the teachers together for a particular weekend. The weekend will consist of motivation and retreat. Then there will be a discussion of catechetical problems and Sister will give some practical help in teaching. The bishop also hopes to attend many of the parish sessions and meet all of the catechism teachers and participate in the motivational programme.
3Father Finbar in Lusikisiki in introducing the RCIA programme for the formation of adult christians. This seems to be the programme now favored by the universal church and even canon law makes provision for its implementation. It is hoped that this excellent programme of formation will gradually be introduced into all our parishes and become the chief means of christian formation for adults. While Finbar pushes the programme in his parish this year we hope that as time goes on we become familiar with it.
4The world day of the sick is Sunday the 12th February. Please offer an opportunity for prayers for the sick in some of our Sunday services this year. If you can not keep that Sunday then choose another. Approaching the cold weather it is good to set a Sunday aside for prayers and even anointing for the sick in church. I think you will find a great response to such services.
5One January 29 of this year at Bhongweni we had the service of blessing the nurses for their work and ministry during this year. A marvelous number of nurses of all churches attended. The second reading of the day, St Paul’s famous discourse on charity was particularly suitable as a theme for reflection. The nurses, many of whom are catholic, seem to be dispirited and disorganized at this present time. They find it difficult to make their faith an inspiration for their vocation.
At Bhongweni Patrick Mkhafana came forward and thanked the nurses publicly for the wonderful way he had been treated when he was sick in hospital. Prayers and litanies were offered for the sick and for all who help them. This was followed by the anointing of the nurses’ hands with a holy oil. Then they were given a little beads of the Sacred Heart to remind them of the love which should inspire all their service for the sick. The nurses renewed their Pledge which they originally took when they graduated, promising to serve God in His sick. They promised to work on behalf of life.
6It would also be very useful in the parishes if we had a service of blessing of school teachers. They have a particular important ministry to play for the church for God and for the new society. The church’s support with prayers and instruction would be a modest contribution to the better fulfillment of this important ministry.
7I invite all the women religious of the diocese for a diocesan meeting on February 18. This meeting will take place at St Patrick’s Hall beginning at 10 o’clock.Lunch will be served. If this date is not suitable please tell me as soon as possible.
8On March 18, at St Patrick’s Hall , at 10.a.m. we will have the next Youth Leaders’ meeting. Could we have 4 or 5 leaders from the biggger parishes. We would hope to look at the their constitution and organise a program for the year. They are often over-looked. Yet the youth at confirmation have shown great enthusiasm and desire to grow in the faith. If each parish could during the course of this year help the youth organize one weekend of prayer, recreation and instruction. Given sufficient notice Sister Natalia would be happy to conduct these events. If she is unable we can look around to find people who may be available.
9Wonderful work was done in the diocese during the time of the elections. Now the new process has begun for voter education for the local elections. The first task in the next 90 days is registration and enrolment of voters. We could encourage our people to begin immediately to enrol. We might try to explain the importance of local participation in democracy. The future of some of our villages depends upon their having a voice in decisions.
10Lumku has prepared some Lenten reflections for parishioners during that holy time. If you are interested please contact me and I will try and make some available.
11There will be a three week course in Youth Leadership in Daleside in July this year. Could we nominate a few especially talented people for this ministry.
12Congratulation to Father Sihlobo on the wonderful day for youth career guidance early in December. The tremendous and enthusiastic participation of the youth was a joy. There are five girls from Bizana going to religious life this year. This must be a record and it just points out the great generosity of our youth. Lulama Msungelwa also from Bizana will go to the seminary in Cape Town to study for the diocese.
13It was a joy to attend the Jubilee and Profession ceremonies in Matikwe and Glen Avent. What a joy it is to find so many ladies of our diocese who have committed themselves to the Lord in religious life! We were delighted to have two golden jubilees in Kokstad, three silver jubilarians, three solemn professions and four simple professions this year. God is surely blessing the diocese and your work! Please keep contact with any young men showing interest, bring their names and address to the office here in Kokstad and we will circulate them with spiritual material during the course of the year.
14Let us not forget to send some little money for the Good Friday collection for the Holy Places. This is something close to the work of the Fransican Order for seven centuries. And many of us have enjoyed the hospitality of the Friars in the Holy land when we went on pilgrimage. A few bob from the Good Friday collection would be appreciated for Father Fergus.
We had two splendid Advent services in the Cathedral and in Bhongweni. There was a good attendance in both places for a liturgy of carols, readings, sermons and confessions. Lent would offer another opportunity for such rites. These services need not, perhaps should not be, eucharistic. Centered on the word, they would psychologically and spiritually prepare our people for the Church year.
The diamond jubilee of Sister Theodata at the Cathedral was a beautiful and joyful day, We thank Sister for her wonderful work which is deeply appreciated by the diocese.
Confirmation was celebrated in scenes of joy and enthusiasm at Makhoba, St Antons, St Callistus and Mt Frere.
16Please send in the parish statistics as soon as possible which have to be forwarded to the Nuncio for Rome. Try to keep them as accurate as possible. Before filling them in have a look at last years statistics.
17 It is with great joy that we welcome Sister Marvega to Tabankulu. Sister hopefully will be joined by more Sisters later in the year but in the meantime she will live with some Christian women. Her presence there visiting the people, calling them to prayer, encouraging children and the youth, praying for the sick, looking in on the creche, helping people with sewing and various skills will be a great boost for the parish.
18From the Poor Clare Sisters
As we begin our first new year, her in Kokstad, we want to sincerely thank each one of you our new family; friends, brothers and sisters of the Cathedral Parish and from the places we have visited around the diocese. First of all we are grateful to God, who, through Bishop William Slattery, ofm. and his Diocesan Council have invited us to this diocese. We owe a lot of thanks and appreciation to the Bishop, priests, religious and the laity for the warm and loving welcome you accorded us. We feel privileged and can only thank God for each one of you; individually and as parish diocese, especially those we have already met; Bhongweni, St. Matthews, St. Patrick Cathedral, St. Anthony, Flagstaff, Mount Frere and other neighboring diocesan parishes.
We have been touched and enthralled by the kindness and generosity from many of you in providing our first needs at our Monastery of Santa Chiara. We would like to mention here, in a special way, the Catholic Women’s League, individual families, priests and religious who have provided us with household ware, kitchen utensils and other stuff. It was our wish to write and thank each of you personally, but some of you did not want to be known, and like the Gospel exhortation, preferred only the Father who sees what is done in secret to know. May He then grant you His own blessings and reward! We pray for you all and mention your intentions to the Lord especially in our liturgical worship and adoration.
In the process of our tour within the diocese, someone asked “What is your mission her?” We are happily settling down and it has been a great joy for us to meet most of you. Though we desire very much first to know the language and be able to communicate with you.
Our mission here is to implant contemplative life in this diocese; to found a new Monastery of Poor Clares; a House of Prayers and Peace following the holy Rule and traditions of our Order. We want to learn the culture, customs and traditions of this country and to live their desires which harmonize with true Franciscan contemplative life, to provide and to offer to all who want to seek God alone, the place and best conditions for prayer and silence; where priests, religious and lay people may also find meaningful liturgies and an environment which facilitates personal prayer and retreats.
We hope and pray that many young girls of this country will join us and be trained as Poor Clares. The future of this new Monastery depends on the response to God’s call of those who desire our life. For further information about our life, please contact us at our Monastery or postal address:
Sisters of St. Clare
Monastery of Santa Chiara
PO Box 1638
May the Lord grant you all a grace-filled New Year!
With joy we welcome Mother Veronica, Abbess of the Poor Clare monastery in Lusaka in Zambia. She has been so generous to our church by sending five of her daughters to live at Santa Chiara. Though Mother’s health is very frail she made the great journey in order to encourage and confirm her Sister. Her presense is deeply appreciated, she is always welcome. Immediately on arrival she began work.
I attended the Bishops conference this year at St Peter’s Seminary in Garsfontein, Pretoria from January 17 to 24. It was a very full meeting with work covering a range of subjects. Among some of the events were the following:
On Sunday we went for the blessing of the new Chapel and wing at Lumko.
The conference in one of its resolutions took strong exception to the wide-spread habit of political parties and civic associations calling meetings on Sunday mornings and will try to persuade parties etc to hold their meetings on Sunday afternoons or at other more appropriate times.
The conference finally agreed to apply for membership of the South African Council of Churches. It seems this council of churches,in disarray to some extent, is being reorganized and procedures regarding decision making have been clarified.
It was agreed after a long discussion about the future of the seminaries to expand St Francis Xavier Seminary in Cape Town for the accommodation of more first year students. There will be 34 new students for the diocesan clergy in the seminary this year. The Seminaries are indeed a big area of concern especially in the financial domain. Now each seminarian costs R14 000 per year and this excludes the R8 000 which is subsidized from Rome.
The conference approved Father Bonaventure Hinwood and Mrs Else Strivens, both catholics be officially appointed to the independent forum for religious broadcasting.
The conference spent quite a bit of time discussing those particular aspects of the code of Canon Law which must be adapted for use in South Africa. If the Bishop’s requests are approved by Rome the only Holy Day of obligation which will always be retained for its actual date, will be Christmas day, on December 25. The other great religious holidays, Ascention, the Assumption, Corpus Christi, etc will be celebrated on the following Sunday. However, this awaits approval by Rome.
Bishop Peter Sarpong, from Ghana addressed the Bishops on enculturation and showed how the gospel can be expressed in ways more appropriate in peoples’ lives and culture.
The conference challenged the government on the sale of arms to the Sudanese government. There is a full scale genocidal war taking place there with serious suspicions that South African arms are being supplied and used.
The conference also considered the question of illegal immigrants and their entry and detention in South Africa.
The conference discussed some of the parameters of the commission for truth and reconciliation. The Bishops conveyed to the Minister of Justice their concern with a particular paragraph in the Act which provides for the publication of names and information relating to acts for which amnesty is granted, for this could lead to vengeance and further violence.
The conference also approved setting up of a Lenten programme as proposed by the department of pastoral plan. This will begin in 1996. The idea is to have a theme which parishes all over the country will discuss in small communities.
The Bishops discussed community radio and whether we should or could afford to become financially involved in these new outlets for evangelisation.
After long discussions the Bishops conference did not agree on a common AIDS policy, that is regarding AIDS testing for applicants to the seminaries. It is up to the individual Bishop to conduct such tests if he wishes.
It seems from the Xhosa regional conference that the new lectionary for the language should be available during the course of this year.
21. We welcome Sister Melvina, a Holy Cross Sister- well known in Kokstad-to the diocese,who comes to join Bro. Jim in the work of C.I.E..They will be involved in INSET-inservice training as requested by parents and teachers last year. Jim says; “we will be working in conjunction with ITEC, the East London based Independent Teachers enrichment centre. Our outreach includes State Schools. We will invite Principals and teachers to workshops at different centres to establish what teachers’ greatest needs are. If we cannot meet a particular need we will bring in people who can. We are presently offering the following courses; School Readiness, Classroom organisation, teaching as a ministry, School Boards of Management and Staff development. We may need the help of the priest in using parish facilities in places but the priests have been very supportive in this respect in the past”.