14 FEB 1998
1. The opening of the year of the Holy Spirit on the night of the 6th of December 1997 at the Cathedral was a celebration of great joy. Congratulations to all who participated and contributed.
During this year dedicated to the Holy Spirit, we try to concentrate on the Scriptures. We pray the scriptures in small Christian communities.
Over a 100 leaders of small communities met on the 7th of February when the seven step method of sharing God’s word was revised.
Let us encourage our people in every parish to return to the scriptures, to gather in small communities, and to share the word of God on their lives.
In the last edition of the INKWENKWEZI there is a service for the Enthronement of the Bible in individual homes or in outstations.
2. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on the 25th of February. Speaking about the meaning of Lent, we could give some concrete suggestions regarding living more recollected and spiritual lives.
We could ask people to remember Friday abstinence as a possible way of doing something personal for God.
Rememeber the Sacrificium collection for the poor. Last year we gave 22,000 rand. There was not an advance on 1996 in spite of the super-human efforts of Hardenberg. Perhaps, all the parishes could make a serious effort with envelopes in time and reminders. Brother Val is the contact person for the Sacrificium.
3. The Holy Places collection for the Holy Land is taken up on Good Friday. We gave only 300 rand from the diocese in 1997. Perhaps we could give a little more this year. Send directly to Fr Hyacinth or through Brother Val.
4. We welcome two new seminarians who have begun their studies for the diocese of Kokstad. They have gone to St Francis Xavier Seminary in Cape Town. They are Sihle Mbhele and Vusumuzi Cosmas Chagi. Both hail from Bizana. Our other candidates had temporary difficulty with exams. Please God, next year they will be in the seminary too.
We have six diocesan seminarians, three in St John Vianney seminary, one in St Peter’s seminary and two now in St Francis Xavier. We must pray for them continually.
Let us remember to invite Father Arturo, Fr George, Fr Richard and the Vocation committee to our parish sometime in the first half of this year. Invite them to address all the youth. Vocations are a top priority at the moment.
5. Catechetics have begun in the new year. We thank Father Egbert for the wonderful work he did in co ordinating the diocesan catechetical work last year. This year we ask Father Richard Kugbe-Kassin to co-ordinate the work of catechetics.
Over the next few months the bishop or someone from the catechetical team will visit the following parishes.
Flagstaff – February the 22nd.
Makhoba – March the 1st.
Bhongweni – 4th-5th March in the afternoons (Sister Dionys).
Ntlangwini – 15th March.
Matatiele and Pholile – 22nd of March.
Bizana – 28th March.
Lusikisiki – 29th of March.
N.B To be arranged Cathedral, Hardenberg and Franklin.
6. Remember the priests and brothers diocesan meeting at Coolock House from the evening of the 16th March to the 19th of March, morning. Those working with various societies will be asked to make a report i.e Youth, Vocations, Sacred Heart, St Anne’s, Catechetics etc.
7. The bishop is in the process of visiting all parishes making an effort to speak with parish councils. Discussions so far have been very fruitful and helpful. Matters discussed are Catechetics, laity involvement in leadership in the parish, Youth, family life problems, finance etc.
8. To revive the Xhosa pastoral region meetings the bishops and representatives of the diocese will meet at Queenstown on Tuesday the 21st of April. The Bishop will attend with Father Sihlobo and Father George. This is an exploratory meeting to arrange how this pastoral region may revive and go back to its original excellence.
9. The youth had two excellent retreats during December. Both retreats took place from the 4th to the 6th of December. In Bizana over 200 youth met for the weekend, while at the Cathedral 250 young people gathered and had many wonderful sessions on family life, role of the youth in church today, planning for 1998 and liturgy. At the Cathedral the youth prepared a beautiful presentation and worship for the opening of the year of the Holy Spirit. Congratulations to Sr Khumbuzile, Sr Natalia, Fr Giorgio and the other leaders.
The real work of the youth is done not at the diocesan level but at the parish level. Some adults should work for and with the youth so that each parish have its own programme. People like Sister Khumbuzile, who is at Flagstaff, can come if invited to arrange something for your youth.
It important that representatives of parish youth groups come on March the 7th to the Bishop’s House for a planning meeting for this year 1998.
10. We remember the passing of Father Canisius who was parish priest of Mount Ayliff for almost 30 years, working also in Tabankulu. Though he left the diocese in 1965 for Eshowe he frequently returned. Even up to the months preceding his death he often asked about his old mission and its outstations and people.
Father Bernhard and good christians from Mount Ayliff attended his funeral services at Gingindlovu. May he rest in peace. May he pray for us and the diocese in heaven.
11. The first recollection for diocesan priests of this diocese took place at Emmaus Mission on February the 5th. With the four priests Father George, Fr Richard, Fr Jose and Fr Joseph and the bishop, there was also Bongani Mbhele. Bongani is at Flagstaff this year for six months as part of his seminary training. He is now in third year theology and as part of his training spends six months working in a parish. We thank Father Egbert for his hospitality and supervision.
12. We are continually grateful to our Poor Clare sisters who devote their lives to Christ praying for this diocese and all its priests, sisters and people. We need to support them and not only financially.
I request the priests and the sisters to organise small groups of girls, who are ideally in Secondary school, to visit the Poor Clares for a day or two to experience their life. The Poor Clares as enclosed do not have easy contact with this big area. Girls need to see their beautiful way of life. The Contemplative life has always been and still is fundamental for the full maturity of the local church. Adoration and praise of God is part of the first Commandmant.
13. We thank God sincerely for the health of Father John Kerr. Everybody prayed for John during December before his operation.
Confirmation took place at Tabankulu, Khoapa, Hardenberg, Pholile, during the last two months. May the Holy Spirit continue to give them His joy for their whole lives.
Congratulations to Father Arturo and brother Erich for the beautiful church of Siqhengeni which was opened on December the 16th at Mount Frere parish.
The Legion of Mary met on a diocesan level for the retreat and prayer when the members of Hardenberg and Matatiele came to Bizana on December the 20th for a day of prayer.
Brother Erich is building a new church at Hombe near Lusikisiki. It is a big help and encouragement that the people are committed and working with Brother in their own buildings.
Father Peter and Sister Natalia are working with the development agencies to offer people some self-employment. Anything to help the people in any development is surely our duty in this poor area.
15. The Mass of the Oils will take place in Holy week, Wednesday, April the 8th starting at 10:30. This year the choir will be from Flagstaff.
16. We congratulate the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of their presence in South Africa. They came to Besters in 1947. The celebration of the Jubilee was attended by Mother General and her Council and many friends of the sisters. One of her Councillors, Sister Helena visited Kokstad Diocese.
Especial congratulations to Sister Beauty Mkhandlwana who made her final vows at Matikhwe on the day following the Jubilee. Sister Beauty is from Umzongwana and has done important work in the diocese already at Lusikisiki and now in Hardenberg.
17. We welcome six new postulants to the Franciscan House at Kokstad. May they be happy here and grow like Francis and Clare in knowledge and friendship of Jesus and live the life of the gospel.
18. COMING EVENTS
The nurses of the diocese come to a nurses’ day of prayer and commitment at the Cathedral on February the 14th.
The Adults working with the Amasotshanyana and Children of Mary will have a diocesan meeting at the bishop’s house Saturday February the 21st.
The people working in health matters, or who wish to help the youth in marriage preparation, Aids awareness and Christian living meet at the bishop’s house on February the 28th in the morning.
The bishop will give a talk at the cathedral hall on the subject of faith on February 24th at 7pm.
19. In all our meetings priests, sisters and laity councils we come back to the crucial problem of the breakdown of family life. We need to preach and discuss the responsibilities, the joys and the goodness of family life.
20. We congratulate siste Mohlalisi who was born in Hardenberg and celebrated her Golden Jubilee with the Franciscan sisters at Assisi in Port Shepstone at the begining of January. We welcome also to the diocese one of these Franciscan sisters, sister Mary Anne who will work with the CIE. She is welcome.
21. COMING FROM BISHOPS CONFERENCE
The bishops in January at their annual conference discussed a number of important issues. A policy document on ecumenical relations in South Africa was agreed upon and will be published. It deals with important issues like inter-communion. The bishops spoke about a code of professional contact for priests and religious personel. They gave approval for steps towards what may become a Catholic University, St Augustine’s College. Affiliation with other Universities is still been debated
The bishops also approved and will publish a document promulgating complementary Norms for the code of Canon Law in South Africa. Of interest to us immediately may be the following; “In addition to Sundays, the holidays of obligation to be observed are the solemnities of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Ascension of Our Lord Christ and solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.”
“The solemnity of the Epiphany is to be transferred to Sunday between the 2nd and 8th of January.”
“The solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is transferred to the Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and the solemnity of Assumption of Mary and all Saints to the following Sundays.
“The solemnities of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, St Joseph, the Apostles St Peter and Paul shall no longer be observed as Holydays of obligation.”
22 We send hearty congratulations to Sister Immolata on her diamond Jubilee; many of her years were spent among us and all remember her unfailing kindness and prayerfulness. We remember too, Sister Theodata who was 91 recently, and who often spent the whole day travelling via Franklin junction that long journey between Matatiele and Kokstad.