1.The annual world day for vocations will be Sunday April 28th this year. Please get all our communities to pray for vocations, particularly Priestly Diocesan Vocations. We are happy that Lulama Msungelwa from Bizana is now in his first year at St. Peter’s Seminary in Pretoria. We are also delighted that Bongani Mbhele has gone into first year of Theology at St. John Vianney Seminary. Bongani is from Hardenburg but had been with the Archdiocese of Durban until now. Also Lizo Nontshe is spending a year doing pastoral work in the Diocese before going to St. John Vianney Seminary,1997.
We had excellent vocation days at Mt. Frere and Hardenburg when some 30 young men came. Also we thank Father John at Maria Telgte Mission for the hospitality for the group of 14 who are seriously considering Priestly vocation. Three days were spent at the mission together preparing for the service of the Lord in this Diocese. Please continue to pray for Vocations and encourage the young.
The Diocessan Vocation Committee is chaired by Father Arturo of Mt. Frere, and with him on the committee are Fathers Rodgers, Vincent, and Brother Lizo with Sisters Paulus Maria and Helga. Do invite them to speak to the youth sometime during the year.
2.The Mass of the Oils and Renewal of Priestly promises will be at the Cathedral on Wednesday April 3rd at 11.00am. The choir from Bizana will sing, all are invited, bring some of your Parish people. We hope to have a lunch for all who come.
3.Please remember the annual meeting of the Clergy of the Diocese which will take place at Coolock from the evening of Sunday March 17th until the morning of Wednesday 20th. Part of the time will be spent in spiritual reflection and recollection. We will have a speaker in the person of Father Buti Thlagale, who will speak on making the Church interesting for our people and inculturation. We will have reports from all the spiritual directors of the Sodalities of the Diocese. We will also have the report of the Diocese, it’s financial position, and the report from the South African Council of Priests.
4.Please fill in the census forms as soon as possible, with an eye on the copy of your returns for 1995.
5.We thank God that Father Larry is well again after his painful operation and recuperation in Durban. We welcome him back to the Diocese and pray that his health will return to its former strength.
6.Nurses from all over the Diocese and groups from Mariannhill and Durban attended a special Mass praying for their Ministry. In a ceremony they were sent in the name of the Church to work among Christ’s sick and poor at the Cathedral on Sunday January 28th. Father Tom’s new choir at Bhongweni played and sang beautiful music for the occasion. The Cathedral was full and hopefully this service will make the nurses more aware of their ministery.
7.During the month of December alone two hundred and fifty young people were confirmed in the Parishes of Bhongweni, Matatiele, and Tabankulu. Recently another thirty were received and elected as candidates for Catechumenate in Mt. Frere. Many of these young people are enthusiastic and wish to give themselves to the Church. Unfortunately, however, the majority have probably already begun to say goodbye to the community. We must continue to strive for a policy for the youth.
In the light of this we are very grateful for the work being done by Sister Natalia and her youth executive of the Diocese. They have three excellent days of retreat from the 11th – 14th December at the old Holy Cross Convent in Kokstad. This was a great success for the ninety young people who attended from all over the Diocese. They also have plans for a programme for the year of 1996. Please make sure that some representatives of your youth make contact with them and become part of the Diocessan programme with Retreats, Educational inputs, and formation. The next youth executive meeting will take place on February 17th at St.Patrick,s Hall in Kokstad.
8.The Cathechism teachers coordinators of the Diocese. Some sixty of them met to coordinate policy and to plan the year 1996, at St Patrick’s hall on Wednesday 30th January. It was an excellent meeting in which problems and responses were discussed at large. An executive for the Diocese was elected, with members from each individual Parish, and a central executive. The Chairman of the commission will be Father Egbert. They have their next meeting, the Executive, on February 19th, Monday, at St.Patricks Hall. This meeting will try and map out a policy to help Catechism teachers in their work. We need to address many problems and to coordinate our activities, because at the moment we are failing to make contact with at least 60% of those Baptised in the Diocese.
We also need to plan in this committee to facilitate those who run the R.C.I.A. programme. Again we need to have programmes to offer some kind of Theological formation for those who are interested, and many have made requests. Again we need to have training for the leaders of the various communities throughout the Diocese, for station services, for funeral services etc. Encourage your catechism coordinator to attend as a member of the executive.
9.The religious Sisters of the Diocese met in Kokstad on Wednesday 14th February. An execellent meeting attended by many Sisters looked at the up-coming meeting of the Joint Witness group. They also planned spiritual exercises, spiritual reflection together and recollection for the year. The spiritual advisor for the Diocese is Father Bernard Riegall. The Joint Witness 111 programme which will take place in May this year, involving all the Bishops and the Provincial Superiors of the Religious Congregations will take place in Johannesburg. There is a local meeting at Palotti Farm near Queenstown in February this month. The idea is to coordinate all our efforts in the work of the Church in South Africa.
10The proposed farm-childrens Catechism course for Maria Telgte in Holy Week will have to be postponed. This is because the children are not available at that time. New dates will be issued later.
11.Forthcoming events; on March 7th in St Patricks Hall the Bishop will give a talk on the subject of Conversion.
On March 9th all the Catholic teachers of the area are invited for a day of reflection at Flagstaff. This is organised by the C.I.E. Again on the 16th March another teacher’s day will held for Catholic teachers in the Kokstad area.
The next Consultors of the Diocese meeting will take place on March 11th.
The annual general of the Cathedral Parish will take place on March 26th.
12.The Polish Sisters, now working at Mahobe, have told us that they will establish a community in the Diocese of Kokstad in October or November this year. We say welcome to them.
At Maria Telgte mission on the 2nd and 3rd March there will
be an official opening of the school year. Father John has 300 children at the school this year. It will also mark the completion of the Renewal of the beautiful church at Telgte, a job John has been exercising himself on for the last 12 months. As well there will be Confirmations for the Parish, and enrolment and renewal of all the sodalities.
13.Paul Faller, on invitation of C.I.E. Father Brother Jim and Sister Mary, came to give a number of days on the subject of Religious education in Schools in the area. He spent two of the days in Kokstad, where he addressed the teachers of St. Patrick’s School, and the Catholic teachers of the area at St. Anthony’s hall.
14. It would be good to emphasise Confession for all our people this Lent, and also to set aside a special occasion for children’s confessions.
15. July this year, Fr Bernadine’s diamond Jubilee of priesthood.
THE PROJECTS OFFICE,
I come to you to make application for the Diocesan project in the Parish of Bizana. That is I am making application for R15,000 for the work of the Precious Blood Sisters newly established in that Parish. Sister Leah , recently of Lumko in Germiston has moved to the Parish and is establishing a small projects centre at the Parish hall. Already a number of people have got together and started the work on various small industries. Sister is trying to coordinate these, and make materials and instruments available. She is starting a sewing centre , a knitting centre, a crotchet centre, tapestry making. And to establish this we need to buy some machines and materials. Sister Leah will overseethe project, which involves the community.
The idea is to train poor but young married women of the area in self support. The group have already formed themselves into a community project. It is not invisaged that we would have to continue funding them. Once they begin they will generate their
own income, but they need some money to get started. I fully encourage this project in an area which is extremely poor and has the biggest teacher pupil ratio in the country.
The project will involve training people, and in turn trainers so that this work of the community will expand and allow people to help themselves. It comes from the desire of the people, it is an urgent and obvious need; it is viable, once it begins, and we have a leader in Sister Leah who will coordinate the whole project. I request that at the March meeting you consider this project and make R15.000 available under the Diocesan Projects Scheme.
Yours Faithfully in Christ,
BISHOP OF KOKSTAD.