1ST APRIL, 1996
1.Father Egbert O’Dea of Flagstaff has been appointed as Vicar General of the Diocese. He and has made a wonderful contribution to the people and family of Kokstad over 40 years of service. The new Chancellor is Father Tom O’Byrne.
Father Tom was Vicar General for 15 years and held the fort
especially when Bishops were absent. Father Germaine was Chancellor since 1962 and he is to be congratulated on dedicated service in this Office. Both himself and Father Tom were very approachable for all the Priests of the Diocese. May God Bless them. Father Bill Lovett has been appointed as Councillor to replace Father Germaine.
2.From March 17 – 20th we had three useful days at Coolock House. This allowed us to pray together as Priests of the Diocese, to share the tasks of the Diocese, to listen to the reports for all who have responsibilites and to reflect on the question of Inculturation. We were very fortunate in having the services of Father Buti Thlagali who is the General Secretary of the Bishops Conference and an expert in this field. Later in the year, we hope in October, we will have the first meeting of a Diocesan Pastoral Council. During the course of the year we will elect members priests, sisters and laity to this Council.
3.We had two diocesan Catechetical meetings in the past two months. In February over 60 co-ordinators of Catechism teachers met to discuss the situation of Catechetics. They elected an executive committee which met in March to make plans for the formation of our Catechism teachers, who in many cases have had no introduction to teaching. It was felt we would continue to use the” People of God” Series 1,2, and 3 ; while of course the R.C.I.A. would be the program we would follow for adult formation. The Catechism books mentioned are available from the Office as we bought out the rest of the stock in the Xhosa language. We have had meetings, formation sessions for Catechism teachers in Mt. Ayliff on the 8th March, in Bizana on the same day and in Lusikisiki on the 23rd March. We are very fortunate in having an excellent team of Sisters to call upon in the Catechetical field.
4.The Bishop attended sessions of the Joint Witness 3 program which will convene in Johannesburg in May this year. This is a meeting of the Bishops and Religious Provincials to discuss a common pastoral strategy for the country and to strengthen co-operation. The meeting for the Eastern Province was held in Queenstown.
5.Sister Paulus Maria from Bizana attended the Pastoral Plan commision at Lumko in Germiston in March this year, representing Kokstad. Much of the discussion was on the build up and Spiritual preparation for the Jubilee year 2000. I have appointed Sister Paulos Maria as convenor, we hope to appoint 3 or 4 laity to be on her committee. They will visit the parishes informing people and helping them to focus on the Jubilee. The theme for the year 1997 will be Jesus Christ. The question is ” Who do you say I am?” In 1998 the theme will be the Holy Spirit. The question is “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” And in 1999 the theme will be the Father. The Jubilee will be celebrated in the year 2000 in Rome.
6.Let us congratulate Father Jim Murtagh who has celebrated 50 years of service in the Christian Brothers last month. Everybody in the Diocese appreciates his friendly personality and his real commitment to educational matters.
7.We are delighted that Sister Marvika of Tabankulu has got better again. Sister was suffering from Cellulitis and spent some time in a hospital in Eshowe with her Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Childhood. She returns this weekend and we welcome with great joy Sister Lucelle who will live with Sister Marvika in Tabankulu.
8.Again we say a very special word of welcome to Sister Bridgit of the Daughters of Charity who comes to work in Flagstaff. Bridget has just completed her theology degree with the Urbanianum through Cedara Seminary. She has much experience in formation and spiritual direction.
9.We were delighted to welcomem Mother General Collett who came to visit the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart at the end of February. She was a friendly maternal woman who went everywhere encouraging the Sisters in the excellent work they are doing for our people. It is a very special joy that so many of them are daughters of the church of Kokstad.
10.The Diocessan vocation committee has held meetings and has made a plan for work in 1996. The members of the committee are Father Arturo, Father Sihlobo, Father Zungu, Sister Paulus Maria and Sister Helga.
Please note and underline the date, April 28th is World Vocations day.Let us make a very special effort this year to celebrate this day and get all our people to beg the Lord for Diocesan Vocations. The fact that we have no Pastor for the enormous Parish of Lusikisiki is a heartbreak at the moment. So please pray that our Seminarians, all three of them will persevere in their vocation, and also the many young men who have expressed interest in joining the Diocesan Clergy may do so.
Let us also encourage vocations to the religious life. And let us make e special effort to point out the beauty of contemplative life for we rejoice in the presence of our Poor Clare Contemplative Sisters among us. As they do not go out to the Parishes we need now and again to speak on their behalf and remind them and people of the greatest of all vocations, remaining united with the Lord in praise.
11.The Catholic Institute of Education, ably led by Brother Jim and Sister Mary are very busy visiting schools. There are 47 schools with which they have regular contact and the teachers and therefore the children are benefitting enormously. There have been joined now by Mrs. Nakin from Hardenburg and Mrs. Gloria Napier from Kokstad who travel with them and help the teachers to revise what they learn at special courses organised by the Catholic Institute. They had a course at Kokstad organised by Read which was very successful especially in helping teachers in farm school situations. It has been a joy to them to visit these schools and find what a difference their work contributes to the teachers and their teaching.
We had a Catholic teachers day of prayer in Flagstaff on the 9th March. It was a days program of prayer and talks involving Sister Bridgett, Sister Mary and Brother Jim and the Bishop. We hope to have other meetings at Hardenburg on May 25 and in Kokstad on the 11th May. Do encourage all Catholic teachers at what ever school they teach to try and attend these days of motivation and renewal.
12.Congratulations to Father Giorgio who had an excellent choir competition for the 9 choirs in the Parish of Mt. Ayliff.
13.The youth at Mt. Frere are very active and they had an unusual weekend in the middle of March. Sigibert and Lizo, led the youth in a night vigil of prayer. This involved processions and hymns and readings and prayers to the local Jail, the hospital and the Magistrate Court and of course back to the Church where prayers were said for all the people of the area in their various needs.
14.The Secular Franciscan Order had a meeting for the three Diocese of Umzimkulu, Kokstad and Umtata at Kokstad on the 15th – 17 th March. Father Bernard, erstwhile National Spiritual Director was at hand to instruct them.
15.Confirmation at Brooks Nek was a day of joy at the Church on the mountains.
16.St. Patricks Ball was again a great success with Lorna Wicks and the Parish Council of St. Patricks organising everything. The profits from the night were in the region of R7,000.00 and it was an evening of celebration, dancing and comraderie. Congratulations to Lorna and her Parish Council for the excellent work in Catechetics, Youth Liturgy and Bible groups.
17.At Coolock on Monday morning 18th March we had the joy of a Liturgy led by Father Bernard the Vicar Provincial of the Comboni Congregation in South Africa. It was a great joy on this occasion because on the previous day, March 17th, Bishop Daniel Comboni was Beatified in Rome. We congratulate our Comboni Brothers on this wonderful occasion. Daniel Comboni, the Apostle of Africa, the Apostle of African Apostles, is a challenge to us all. Congratulation to Giorgio for his article in the Southern Cross.
18. The Bishop will be away in Uganda from 10th-24th April. He has some contact with the Bishops in Uganda and would hope to find a few clergy to come and work in the Diocese while our seminarians are preparing themselves.
19.The farm Catechetical program usually held at Maria Telgte, will take place from the 18th – 21st July this year. Please advise the children.
20.Do remember the mass of the Chrism at 11.00 am on Wednesday April 3rd. Also remember if you can, Good Friday collection for the Holy Land.
21.Father Sihlobo will have the joy of celebrating the Easter Litury in the New Church which is approaching completion this year. We congratulate him on the wonderful work he is doing energising his people who are very happy about the new construction.
22.Sr Natalia and Her Youth committee conducted a well attended and enthusiastic seminar for youth leaders from 1-3 of April.
23. Next Meeting of Catechetical diocesan committee, Kokstad, Monday, May 6th.