20 April 1997
1.On the 15th of March the new church dedicated to Blessed Daniel Comboni and built by Brother Eric was opened by the Bishop at Lugangeni. A joyful crowd was present for the blessing of this very beautiful church. Crowds of children were present as Brother has already built a new school for them. The church has been painted representing scenes from the life of Jesus and Blessed Comboni and local artists give the work an inculturated atmosphere. In one unit Brother has designed a church, a hall and a clinic.
2.On the 7th of April the Franciscan Postulancy of St Mary of the Angels was opened at the Cathedral. Father David Bernard, the Vicar Provincial of the South African Province, led the prayers after the Bishop had expressed the joy of the diocese and people of Kokstad to welcome the friars. Many Friars and friends gathered and were led by Brother Sydney into the new house. Though new the house has a long tradition. The Holy Cross sisters came here in 1887. Special guests were the 10 novices from Besters. The people of Kokstad are thrilled to have this house of prayer.
3. 25 Cathecism teachers were missioned by the Bishop at the evening Mass of Cathedral parish on the 12th of April. Congratulations must go to these excellent people committed to formation of the youth.
4. St Anthony’s centre has finally achieved a useful purpose. Through the trojan work of Fr Tom the Eastern Cape Educational authorities rent it as their regional headquarters. Teachers from the northern region of the Eastern Cape come for planning and renewal courses.
The boarding at the convent is being used by C.I.E; it is being used by St Patrick’s school as a library and Computer centre; the Catechetical team of the Cathedral Parish have classes there and a Video programme. The youth club led by Warren Napier also meet at the old convent.
5. Congratulations to Simon and Cecilia Wepener of Franklin on their Golden wedding anniversary. Outstanding Catholics, both were born in Mariazell and have a long history of service to the church. Cecilia was a manager of the school and taught catechism for all her years in Kokstad diocese. Father Harry and the parish council arranged the liturgy and a celebratory reception for them.
6. With sadness we learn that Lusikisiki’s St Elizabeth hospital has been designated as an abortion facility. The bishop appealed to the nurses and doctors to remember that this hospital was founded by the Franciscan brothers and sisters. It was founded for life and not for death. The bishop offered all mothers thinking of abortion to rather bring their child to the diocese. we will receive the little ones. How?
7. Education matters. Brother Jim and the bishop attended a meeting of owners of Catholic Schools in Johannesburg on the 4th and 5th of April. We will now have to negotiate with two provinces regarding the future of our schools.
We have schools in different categories. Schools which are totally owned by the church like Maria Telgte and Flagstaff. Churches which are partly owned by the church like Hardenburg and Makhoba. Schools which were built by the church but on farmers lands etc.
It is crucial that the priests speak to parents regarding responsibility for the future education system of South Africa.
By the new education act it is the parents who will govern the schools. They are the new managers of the schools. Unless our catholic parents play a role, we will be sidelined in an area where we onbce contrbuted most to the people of South Africa.
Governing bodies will have a great say in the religious education content of government schools. It is absolutely necessary to push our catholic parents to take their lay vocation in this area seriously.
We were delighted to welcome Professor Sister Theodula, of the University of Transkei who lectured a few R. E. teachers. Her books on religious education have been approved for use in all Eastern Cape schools and many government schools use her material. This material would be ideal for catholic children. Could we push our catholic teachers to make sure that they give preference to Sister Theodula’s material in their government schools.
8. Father Bill at Hardenburg and Brother Eric in Mount Frere have both invited NGO’s to assist villages get clean water. These organisations cost us nothing but render a great service to Community putting them into contact with finance people who help them install water through government finance. Others interested can contact Fr Bill or Brother Eric.
9. May the 5th, the feastday of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers is an optional memorial in this diocese.
10. We welcome with great joy Sister Helena of the Little Servants of May Immaculate to the diocese. She will live with her community in Matatiele. We welcome sister and ask God to bless her work with us.
The parish and diocese welcomed Sisters Hilda and Winifred, to the convent of the Precious Blood in Bizana. Sister Winifred comes from Hardenburg.
11. The Poor Clares now have facilities for girls to go there on retreat, to meet the sisters, and to pray with them. Encourage our young girls to think about the Contemplative vocation. Religious are also welcome to the convent for their own retreats.
12. We are in the process of setting up a Fellowship of Churches in Kokstad. People who are interested in Ecumenism –after all it was the final prayer of Jesus that His disciples be one– are invited to contact the bishop to work on this committee. Lay people from the Cathedral parish and Bhongweni would be welcome.
13. We congratulate the new Eucharistic ministers appointed by the Bishop for the Cathedral; Brother Val, Richard Bishof Mrs Olive Maccario and Edward Van Schalwyk.
14. A special visitor to the diocese was Bishop Kunnacherry of Kottayam who came from Kerala to visit us. He celebrated Mass in the Syro-Malabar Rite in the Cathedral. He has promised us two priests who have applied to the Government for the permits to work in Kokstad.
We also wait the approval of the application of Fr Richard Kugbe-Kassan from Ghana to come for four years to the diocese. Getting permits is extremely difficult now.
15. Sr Ambrose Tshabalala, is available to help our youth in family, sex and marriage questions. Sister will meet here in Kokstad on May 17th at the Bishop’s House and invites nurses and doctors to come. They will plan a campaign to conscientise youth also about the danger of the Aids. Aids is making a hugh entrance in our diocese.
Sister Lucia Rei, Diminican sister will come to the diocese, to Kokstad on two occasions, July the 21st to the 25th and September the 3rd to the 7th to train a group of people to become counsellors on marriage. Please find some people who can attend these courses. She is not looking for couples but individual adult people who can sit down and help people experiencing difficulties in marriage to understand themselves and their relationships and responsibilities. About 10 or twelve people are ideal for each course.
16. This Sunday, the 20th of April is vocation Sunday. Make sure to pray and speak about vocations. The seminarians and those doing Form V, that is about ten or twelve young man will meet in July from the 16th to 20th and go to Melville to spend sometime with the Bishop and Fr Arturo. Please pray for them.
Please remember to invite to your parish for a week-end, the vocation team. Contact either Fr Arturo, Fr George, Sister Paulus Maria, Sister Khumbuzile or Sister Anastasia. They will arrange the vocation workshop.
17. We thank the Bhongweni choir who led the celebration on Wednesday of Holy Week. Thanks to all the priests and people who came for this diocesan celebration.
There was a good turn out for a talk on the meaning of Lent and the suffering of Jesus at the Hall on the 13th of March.
18. The Bishop represented the Diocese at the Golden Jubilee of the Episcopal Ordination of Archbishop Hurley in Durban. The Archbishop remembers a visit to Kokstad. As he approached the town he felt that the people were extremely friendly and welcoming for all flashed their car lights at him as he approached Kokstad. As he drew near the town he found, however, a traffic police trap.
19. Brother Eric is drawing plans for the renewal and reconstruction of the convent at Lusikisiki. He is also working on a new church at Hombe from material left over from an old church. Brother is waiting to go ahead to build a new convent in Bizana for the Precious Blood Sisters.
20. We had our three day session at Coolock House when the priests of the diocese met to discuss the life and work of our diocese.
(a) It was decided that we must make serious representations to the people to support the diocese better financially. It was decided that people should pay R50 on the occasion of a funeral, R20 of the occasion of a marriage and the R10 of the occasion of the Baptism, R5 for certificates.
It is also felt that poor people who earn less than R450 rand per month should not be forced to pay any financial contribution to the church. However, they should be couraged to make a gift.
Those earning over four hundred and fifty and less that a thousand should give R5 per month to the church. And those earning more than a thousand rand should give 1% of their earnings church per month.
22. We agreed that a uniform be made available for funeral leaders and another for those who conduct Sunday service. The teachers of the catechism have their own simple scapular uniform. The idea is to issue this uniform annually so that the people understand that their vocation and work comes from the community of the church.
23. Seven youth from the diocese; two from Bizana, one from Lusiki, Mount Frere, Flagstaff, Matatiele and Hardenburg will go to meet the Pope in August in Paris. They will also spent a week in London. Each Parish should try raise R2700 for the ticket.
24. The Bishop will be on the Ad Limina visit to Rome May 1-24 and then in Ireland until his return on July 4th. Don’t forget the V.G.!
25. The motivation\theology course for leaders which was last held in Telgte in January this year will take place again in Telgte from evening of September 23-27. Better send a group from one outstation, 4 people per parish in all.
26. At the Consultors’ meeting it was decided to celebrate the years of preparation for the great jubilee with parish missions, in every parish. We will get a team together to conduct these missions, which will include preaching for men, youth , parents, children and also healing services, processions,confessions and para-liturgies. We will begin from August. They are meant as revival and re-commitment.
The year dedicated to the Holy Spirit will open at the Cathedral in December with a Night vigil.
27. Note the next Cathechism teachers meet at St Patrick’s Hall on May 12 at 10.am. Fr Egbert in the chair.