11 FEBRUARY 1997
1. The opening of the preparatory years for the great Jubilee of the year 2000 took place at the Cathedral on the night of December the 7th. A great crowd participated with choirs from most of the Parishes. The people were enthusiastic about their night and participated with joy and fervour. Thanks is due to Father Vincent Zungu, Father Egbert O’Dea, Father Lawrence O’Shea who gave excellent sermons.
The committee will continue to plan some events for 1997 in the Parishes. Each parish should do something so that people reflect on the question of Jesus, “Who do you say I am?”. Hopefully the committee will get a team which will offer itself to the parishes to run vigil\week-end prayer sessions.
The committee which met on February 8 asked parishes to discuss how they would like to celebrate this year in a worthy manner. They came up with the following suggestions;
a. Use 1997 as a year to re-launch the S.C.C. so that people pray together, use the scriptures,and bring Christ into life.
b. Conduct Healing services in the parishes. Jesus spent much time healing, people are very troubled, why go to Zionists. It was suggested that Fr Ngcamu of Reichenau be invited.
c. To do again the service of the Cross as was done in the Holy Year of 1975, bringing the cross from station to station.
d. Push Family prayer and the Rosary.
e. Each parish have a parish-day when all the stations come together in pilgrimage and prayer within the parish. etc.
2. The Youth concert which took place on the 14th of December was a great success. Choirs from many parishes took place and the Judges had difficulty in making the decisions. A lot of innovative work was done as the youth executive of the diocese gave a project which invited creativity and originality. Congratulations to the winners.
World youth meeting with the Pope, Paris, August 15-30. Pilgrimage going with Durban Youth, cost R.4000,- can any parish youth raise a few thousand, diocese will help a little. Let me know before the end of this month.
3. The Carol service at the Cathedral on the 22nd of December was well attended in spite of a great deluge of rain. The choirs of the Cathedral and Bhongweni participated.
4. With great joy the diocese welcomes Father George William Byarugaba from Masaka in Uganda who has come as a Fidei Donum priest for our diocese. We thank his Bishops and people for freeing him to help us in our need. May God bless Masaka with many more vocations. Father George is learning Xhosa, he is staying at Bizana at the moment, and will look after the Parish of Ntlangwini. Father Tony has moved to Lusikisiki.
5. How happy we are in the diocese to welcome the Little Servants of the Immaculate who have come to reside in the convent of Matatiele. Three sisters, Srs Angela, Helen and Magdalena, have been sent by the Mother General and will work in the Parish and be a presence among the people. They are well-known for their Apostolic zeal. We ask God to protect and bless them.
V E R Y W E L C O M E.
6. It is also a time of joy when we welcome the Franciscan Postulancy to the Holy Cross Convent at Kokstad. We welcome in a special way Sydney who has come as Guardian of the Kokstad community; we welcome Richard and Vincent – who will share himself between Kokstad and Parish work in Hardenberg. We wish them every blessing in their important work building up the church and the Franciscan order in South Africa. A number of postulants are expected on Saturday, February the 8th. May they come to the gospel with St Francis.
7. We welcome Brother George Flitcroft who has come to the community and Parish of Kokstad. We welcome you, George. Kokstad will become a lively place.
8. The workshop for leaders in the diocese which took place at Maria Telgte Mission in early January was attended by over 50 people. Father Sonwabiso Zilindile led the first two days and invited great participation. The four days in Telgte were keen and enthusiastic, people are very willing to become apostles if we can encourage them.
We hope to have another in the September school holidays.
9. It is left to the priest and parish staff to train our leaders for services, funeral and cathecetical ministries. However, the diocese will try and help in whatever way it can.
We thank Father John Kerr and the staff at Maria Telgte for making everybody welcome and so that the week was such an enjoyable experience.
10. The following week at Maria Telgte, January the 14th, Sister Natalia from Hardenburg took in the farm children. Over seventy attended and sister felt very happy with the participation and joy evident. This allows children who get little care during the year on the farms to learn the Christian prayers and experience Catholic and community life.
11. At confirmation in Hardenburg on Jan 12, enthusiasm and singing were palpable. Father Bill and sisters and teachers had worked very hard to pull together these young people, 62 of them. Many of them walked miles everyday to the Mission for the instruction. They were rewarded by the Lord when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
12. The vocation team under Father Arturo and sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe invited those who were seriously interested in Diocesan vocation to a workshop and live-in at Mount Frere from December the 30th to January the 3rd. It was a very rich experience. Twelve participants shared on christian vocation in classes, discussion and liturgy. They are seriously interested in our Diocese. We must encourage them by showing interest, praying for them, getting the people to pray for them, and make them part of our family.
We are happy that Gabriel Thabang Lesohla will be studying in St Francis Xaviour Seminary in Cape Town this year, he is from Makhoaseng. Lulama Msongelwa will be in St Peters Seminary and Lizo Nontshe and Bongani Mbhele be at St John Vianney.
We have a very active and excellent vocation team. Please invite them to your parish, sometime this year, preferably early in the year. If there are people, boys or girls interested in vocation put them into contact with this team comprising Father Arturo and Fr George William, Srs Paulus Maria, Anastasia and Sr Khumbuzile Mathe.
13. We congratulate Bizana parish on the retreat for the Abantwana bakaMaria led by Sister Paulos Maria. We are also happy for the work being done there by Sister Leah in the training of the St Annes. 500 members of St Anne are being formed with the use of the R.C.I.A programme. It would be a great idea if all societies adopt this program for the formation of their members. It brings them to prayer sharing, reflection, life together and knowledge of the Bible. Otherwise their meetings turn into financial contributions interspersed with choruses.
Church leaders and the Bishop led a prayer meeting in the town hall for the Mayor and the people giving thanks for God’s peace during 1996 in spite of the threats of division and violence.
14. Catechetics: Father Jack is the chairman of the catechetical commission of the diocese. In January 14th, 50 members met at Kokstad. These are the co-ordinators for the Parishes and outstations. By sharing together they are motivated and instructed and try to co ordinate the work of the Catechetics among the youth in the diocese. Please see that there are some members who represent you each month.
We very much emphasise the use of the R.C.I.A programme for converts and all people in formation in the diocese. The book is available from the Diocese at the cost of R15 only. We are subsidizing it by R8 a copy.
It is good to bless the catechism teachers of the parish at the beginning of this year. By appointing them in the Sunday celebration we emphasise the importance of their work. They are preparing a simple scapular uniform for their Ministry.
It is hoped that those members who attend diocesan catechetical meetings will organise an opportunity for all catechism teachers to have sessions for instruction, motivation and prayer. We would like to have retreat days for them in their own parishes.
15. The nurses had their day of prayer and blessing at Bhongweni on January the 25th. Only 30 nurses took part as the meeting was not properly advertised.
We hope to have nurses’ days during the year in various places. Please contact Sister Ambrose in Mount Frere. Sister Ambrose will care for a home and family desk in the diocese. Soon she will be full time on this job and wishes to gather a team around her. She will also be able to avail of personel from other dioceses and from Pretoria. She would wish visit the diocese speaking on preparation for and enrichment of marriage and family, natural fertility planning, aids etc.
16. C.I.E: As you know Brother Jim, Sister Mary, Mrs Napier and Mrs Naken are available for the formation and help of catholic teachers working in all schools.
The New Education Act means that responsibility is now passing into the hands of Parents. We have an opportunity to influence all schools in which our children study. But parents need help. Brother Jim and Sister Mary and team are available if you wish to invite them to address your parents.
They have a religious education session at Kokstad on the 17th and 18th of February led by Mr Paul Faller.
Brother Jim will himself conduct courses in Maths, English and language skills for teachers of Standard 2 to Standard 5 in Kokstad from the 2nd to the 5th of March in two separate groups. Please contact the C.I.E office for further information.
17. We congratulate Brother Eric on the completion of the Poor Clare extension.
Hopefully it will be a little bit warmer this Winter. If we speak about the Poor Clare contemplative vocation and encourage young girls to visit them it would be a blessing.
18. The Bishops conference took place in Pretoria, 15th to the 23rd of January. Minister Aziz Pahad spoke of the church in international affairs and Mrs Duarte of Gauteng on safety and security. Brother Neil McGurk spoke of the crisis facing education -mentioning the problems of Kokstad. We are requested to stress in our sermons the importance of the culture of learning for pupils and teachers.
The Bishops discontinued the programme on M Net. It cost 30 thousand rand a programme and was close-time only.
Father Richard Menatse of Umtata was elected as New Associate Secretary General of the Conference.
Father Peter John Pearson has taken charge of an office in Parliament to keep contact with Catholic members of Parliament and raise Catholic issues. The Bishops now have a National Co ordinator for the Aids problem, Doctor Linda Maepa from Swaziland, who gave an excellent presentation on the pandemic in the country. By the year 2003 there will be two million orphans of Aids in South Africa. Youth must be warned of the danger of destroying themselves.
The Bishops continue to oppose abortion though there seems to be no chance of a successful challenge against it in the constitutional court. We will fight provisions of the Department of Health which disregard in any way the provisions regarding the freedom of conscience of Nurses and Doctors.
19. LENT: As lent begins on Wednesday the 12th of February please remember the usual collections. Many people can give much more than they are doing at the present.
20. We wish to go ahead in the formation of our diocesan pastoral council. In the first seven months of the year the Bishop intends speaking with all parish councils regarding finance, vocations, catechetics etc. Each parish also has finance committees as arranged at the priest meetings in 1995.
Brother Val Haran will take responsibility regarding the collections. Father Manus will look after the Bursaries.
21. The whole diocese expresses its sympathy and sorrow on death of Fr Peter’s mother in Port Elizabeth. Mrs Wilson had been sick for a long time and though not ultimately a surprise her death was an experience of real sadness and loss. May she rest in peace. Frs Egbert and Bill flew to P.E. for the funeral.
22. Buildings go ahead at the Bishops House, Bizana convent.
March 15, opening of new church at Luyengweni, built by Erich.
Youth to Emmaus, March 24-25.
Mass of oils,March 26, Wednesday, Choir Lusikisiki.
March 2. Installation of Eucharistic Ministers, Cathedral.
Committee for Year 2000 meeting, Kokstad March 22.