8th December, 1995
1. Congratulations to Father John Kerr at Maria Telgte Mission
for the Cathechetical workshop which took place there from the
2nd – 6th October. Sister Callista with her team of teachers instructed 150 children from the farm areas. The children were very enthusiatic and participated
fully in an excellent course.
Please note that the next such course will take place
again at Maria Telgte in Holy Week from the 2nd – 6th April
1996. Please encourage all the children of these areas to
attend. It will also allow them to attend some of the Easter ceremonies.
Congratulations also to Father John on repairing the Church
which this year has its centenary. Mrs. Jeanette Sandford
wrote a beautiful report on the history of the mission which
was sent to Rome. She is in receipt of an appreciative letter from Archbishop Marchesiani. She has just now completed a work on the convent of Kokstad. She hopes to wrote up all the Parishes as time goes by.
2. Remembering that vocations to the Diocesan Clergy is our
top priority, please remember to advise the young men of
the Parish, those 15 years and over that there are two vocation workshops in January. From 5th January – 7th at
Mt. Frere. And from 12th January – 14th in Hardenburg.
Also there will be three days for those who have already
made a committment regarding becoming Diocesan Priests.
This will be a three day workshop with the Bishop at Maria
Telgte from the 9th – 12th January. Only those who are in forms 3, 4 and 5 and who have expressed a definite desire to become priests and who have attended the workshops should come, we expect just 6 or 8 in all.
We welcome home Lulama Msungelwa, from the seminary in his
summer holidays. We also welcome Lizo Nontshe who has just
joined the Diocese.
It is hoped that the young men who are showing definite
signs of vocation and who we feel need of accompaniment in
their final years at high school will be able to go to
either Hardenburg or Mt. Frere to live and study their
form 4 and form 5. The details of this programme has to
be worked out but hopefully it will come into operation
3. It is with great joy that the Diocese and Church of Kokstad
welcome the Precious Blood Sisters of the Province of Umtata who have come to found a Convent at Bizana. Sisters
Lea Yina and Sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe, arrived in Bizana
on November 17th. Father Rodgers Sihlobo kindly made way
for them and gave them the priest’s house. Father Rodgers
moved back to the old lodgings at the end of the Church.
We hope with Brother Eric’s help to build a new Convent
in 1996 for the Sisters. The massive new Church in Bizana
is at roof level and should be in use early in the new year.
We must thank Brother Eric for his enormous work making this
place of worship available for a large community of some
4. With great sadness in our hearts on 1st December we said goodbye to the last 3 Sisters, Sister Theresa, Sister Gisela and Sister Immolata from the Holy Cross Sisters in Kokstad. The Holy Cross Sisters arrived on the 16th November 1888 and so their departure from the town of Kokstad is deeply felt by the whole community.
Father Larry and the Parish Council had a number of re-
ceptions to express their gratitude and appreciation for
the work of the Sisters. The enormous congregations who
attended bear witness to the fruit of the Sister’s work.
We are certainly going to miss them. It is foreseen that
the Fransicans will use the Convent as a Postulancy, that
the Boarding premises will be used by the Diocese as a
Pastoral Centre or rented as offices, and that the Board
of Governors will continue administering St. Anthony’s
shool and pre-school. The other pre-school, the Holy
Cross pre-school has a lease of another 4 years.
5. The Youth Retreat organised by Sister Natalia and the
Youth Executive, with Spiritual Director Father Giorgio,
will take place at the Convent and Boarding here in Kokstad
from 11th December evening until the morning of Thursday
14th. The Youth are invited and particularly we would like
to see all youth leaders present for these important days.
Also from 7th December – 10th Father Sihlobo is expecting
some 300 young ladies to come for a Retreat and career guidance in Bizana.
6. Two very full buses of dedicated Catholics made the long journey from Kokstad to attend the Papal Mass in Johannesburg in September. We were very well represented.Videos of the event can be purchased.
7. Congratulations to the Cathedral Parish in Kokstad where
Fathers’ Bafana Hlatswayo and Ivan Dawson, both Redemptorists conducted a very successful Parish Mission
which was crowded out every night. A lot of preparatory
work done by the Priests and the Parish Council paid
dividends. Father Larry pointed out to the congregation
that exactly 65 years ago in 1930 a Father Hughes also a
Redemptorist preached a mission in the same Cathedral for
8. We are delighted to have Father Bernard Hall back in the
Diocese of Kokstad after his brief exile in Witbank.
Father Bernard will look after the Diocesan collections
and the bursaries. We thank him for taking on this work
and have full confinence that he will do it with his usual
charm. He has just arrived back also from a two week
one man mission preached in Port Elizabeth. He
came back with orders for 3 new Parish Missions.
9. At the end of September Father Finbar Russell went from
Lusikisiki and took up duties in the Diocese of Witbank. We
deeply appreciate his very hard work in the demanding Parish
of Lusikisiki and his supply work in Flagstaff for 3 months.
We record with sadness and with prayers the burial of Father
Mathias Macsweeney in the local cemetary on 14th November.
Father Mathias and his brother Father Edward worked in the
Diocese of Kokstad for many years. May he rest in peace.
10. We had celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Cathedral in Kokstad on 19th November, Lower Nceba on 26th November, Bhongweni on 3rd December.
Forthcoming Confirmation ceremonies are at Matatiele on
10th December, Tabankulu 17th December, Gogela 3rd February,
Brooks Nek 17th February and Maria Telgte 2nd – 3rd March.
11. Mrs. Daisy Dlamini and members of the Secular Fransican Order request to visit your Parish speaking to the people
regarding their way of life. Please make them welcome.
12. At the moment we are conducting negotiations with the
Eastern Province Department of Education and the R.D.P.
about the possible use of St. Anthony’s Centre in Kokstad
as an Educational Centre. The Eastern Province Region
of North East wish to make Kokstad their centre and hope to have 400 people employed in the town working in educational services. They tell us that there are 574,000 children at school in our area.
13. At a recent consultors meeting in Kokstad it was decided
to set up a Catechetical Core Group of about 10 people. They will meet frequently during the year and draw up proposals for a Diocesan Catechetical programme.
They will also be resource personal for all Parishes or
Stations which need instruction formation and update for
the local teachers. In conjuction with the Priests of the
Diocese it is hope that this Catechetical team will work
out a clear outline of policy for the thousands of children
who are our repsonsibility.
14. Congratulations to Sister Dionys who stepped in at the last
moment to rescue a course in church music for
choir leaders from the Diocese. It was very well attended and arranged by Father Arturo at Mt. Frere. However the
directors of the course did not turn up and Sister stepped in
at the last moment and conducted an excellent experience for
all who attended. Encourage music conductors as we hope to have another such course soon.
15. Sincere gratitude to Brother Eric who has built a beautiful
reception house for visitors to the Poor Clare Convent.
In spite of all the work he has to do Brother Eric found
time to build these beautiful premises for the Sisters.
May their prayers and intercession assure him a great
reward from the good God.
16. We are sorry to loose Sister Callista for a time,she has
done trojan work in the Diocese in the area of Catechetics
for years on end. Sister Callista is going to Cedara to take
a 5 year study in Theology. Then we are very hopeful that
she will come straight back to Kokstad.
In her place we hope to welcome Sister Bridget who has much
experience in Spiritual direction and teaching. Probably
she will be stationed in Flagstaff and we hope that she will
contribute to the area of Catechetical formation. Sister
Caritas also stationed in Flagstaff has worked very hard with the youth in the area to encourage them over the past
17. Dr. Gertrude Solidad of the mission institute in Wurzburg
in Germany visited the Diocese and spoke with the leading
members of the Catholic Nurses Guild on the Aids Apostolate.
It is to be feared that Aids is becoming rampant in our area
and we need to make our people aware of the disease, how it
spreads, of its dangers, and try to remove all superstition
and useless fear in its regard. The Catholic Nurses Guild
hoped to have a special Sunday of prayer in which the nurses
hands will blessed and their apostolate involve a commissioning from the church at Bhongweni on Sunday 28th January. Please encourage all Catholic Nurses to attend on that Sunday at Bhongweni.
18. Over 90 people were commissioned by the Bishop at Mt.Frere
Parish early on the morning of November 26th at Sunday Mass
as members of the P.C.C. and P.F.C. and leaders in the
local outstation communities. Father Arturo is to be highly
commended for the work he has done in instructing the Parish. It is obvious that there are many very willing
people in our area who want to live our their Christian vocation and mission, please encourage them.
Mr. Thomas Ncanisa who is so well known as a Catholic
Formator in the Diocese of Umtata will conduct a course
on the responsibility of the Lay Christian at Flagstaff
16th and 17th December. This course organised by Father
Egbert is highly commended. As the whole future of our
work depends upon the utilization of the laity in their
charisms we all must simply make adult training and formation an absolute priority for 1996. Laboring on alone, doing everything ourselves is exhausing and counter productive.
19. The Council of Religious Sisters of the Diocese met at the
Bishop’s house on the 27th November chaired by Sister Gertrude from Lusikisiki. Here it was decided that the
Sisters would have a Diocesan day in Kokstad on 14th
February 1996 where they will spend a full day in prayer
reflection and planning. It is hoped that the Sisters will
have days together in prayer during the coming year, and also that they will organise in local groups for prayer and
reflection. The Diocese must commit itself to support the
Sisters in this generous endeavour. Father Bernard Reigal will act as Spiritual Advisor to the Religous Sisters for the
20. At present the Catholic Institute of Education is staffed by Brother Jim Murtagh and Sister Mary Kinney resident here in
Kokstad. Brother Jim and Sister Mary have continued to
visit Catholic Schools and Teachers all over Kokstad and
even into Umtata.
During 1995 they conducted a large number of inservice training programmes for teachers, particularly for those
from farm schools. Perhaps over 200 teachers attended in
the course of 1995. They have many plans to help our Catholic teachers during 1996.
In visiting the teachers in schools subsequent to these courses they found a great new enthusiasm among them. The teachers in our area have been badly neglected
by both State and Church for many years. We now have an
excellent opportunity with Brother Jim and Sister Mary to
reach out to these very important Formators of the New
Generation. So I appeal to all Priests and Religious Workers in our Diocese to find out what Brother Jim and
Sister Mary are doing, to work with them and encourage them.
They hope to hold three one day Retreats for Rural teachers
around the theme of “teaching as a ministery and communities
of faith”. They wish to conduct whole
school renewal for schools. Also,Paul Farrer, an expert on
Religious education will visit the Diocese in early February
1996. It is hoped that in particular he will address the
communities of Kokstad and Matatiele.
Brother Jim and Sister Mary will act as education advisors
to the Diocese and to all who need advice.
21. We welcome Siegfried Peppe, a seminarian from Germany to the diocese, to Mount Frere, where he will work with the youth of the parish.It is very good to have him.