8 NOVEMBER 1998
1. Calender. November the 8th Bishop will attend the consecration of Fr Frank Nubuasah as the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Francistown in Botswana. The new Bishop is from Ghana and is the Missionary of the Divine Word.
November the 9th to the 11th, the meeting of the priests and brothers of the Diocese at Coolock House.
November 14th, prayer meeting with the Bishop and the nurses of Matatiele district at 9 a.m at the church.
17th November, the Feast of St Elizabeth of Hungary. The Bishop will conduct a day of prayer at Lusikisiki Hospital, founded and dedicated to St Elizabeth of Hungary the Patron of the Franciscan Third Order. Bishop was invited by Doctor Thomas, the Medical Superintandent of this hospital which now is a Government Institution. By visiting the hospitals and conducting prayers for patients and Health workers we will reclaim our hospitals. Bizana, Mount Frere, Lusikisiki were all built by church.
On November 23th the Executive of the Children of Mary will meet at the Bishop’s house.
November 24, Kokstad region Nurses guild, St Patrick’s Hall.
November 22nd, Consecration: The Bishop will concecrate the new church at Hombe in the parish of Lusikisiki.
November the 24th, Fr Bonaventure Hinwood ofm will lecture at St Patrick’s Hall at the Cathedral on ” Mary Mother of God”.
November the 26th to the 28th: The bishop will be with the Daughters of the Charity of Sacred Heart of Jesus at Coolock House. This is the Golden Jubilee of the sisters in South Africa and also the 175th year of their foundation. It is a time of recommitment to charism of the congregation.
The Executive of the Sisters of the diocese are arranging a date to meet and celebrate their common religious vocation.
November the 29th Confirmation at Mount Ayliff.
November 30th to December the 3rd the Chapter of Mats of the Franciscans at La Verna.
December the 3rd to the 5th the youth retreat of the diocese at Maria Telgte. It is hoped that the youth will arrive in Kokstad at Midday on the 3rd of December on their own steam. They will then be taken by lorry to Maria Telgte. They will return to Kokstad for the Vigil on Dec 5th. On December the 6th they must find their own way home.
December the 5th the opening of the Holy Year. The Theme, “RETURN TO THE FATHER’S HOUSE”. The service begins in the Town Hall at 7p.m on December the 5th. This year there will be a massed Choir for the service. It will be under the baton of Mr Mokoena, the Choir Master of Bhongweni. Already over 40 choir leaders have met from the diocese to prepare the music.
It is requested that priests come to St Patrick’s hall beside the Cathedral at 5p.m on that Sarturday afternoon to offer the possibility for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
December the 7th to the 10th, the pilgrimage of the people of Kokstad and Matatiele to Ngome shrine. About 45 people are going on this long journey led by Fr Richard who has arranged a full spiritual programme. The 45 participants will visit Maria Ratchitz Mission and Inkamana Abbey.
December the 13th Confirmation at Cedarville.
December the 14th meeting of the consultors at the Bishop’s House.
December 7th to the 13th, the bishop will be on retreat at Inkamana.
December the 18th Sisters Gertrude and Agnes of the Daughters of Charity will celebrate their Silver Jubilee at Matikwe. This is a day of joy for the diocese in that the sisters, born in this diocese, grew up in this church and have served the diocese for most of those 25 years faithfully and diligently. We congratulate them and rejoice with them.
December the 20th Confirmation at Bhongweni.
December 19th, opening and blessing of new church at Saphukanduku in the parish of Tabankulu. Like Hombe this church has been built by Bro Erich. It began about thirteen years ago with Fr Bernadine and is now coming to completion.
2. School for Catechetics at Telgte. Congratulations to Fr John, Patrick Jojo and Sister Anastasia who conducted the catechism school for the Farm children at Telgte from September the 21st to the 24th. As we only invited catholic children this time and children of a particular age only 35 to 40 attended. However, it was an excellent week of prayer and growth in faith, recreation and in community.
3. It was a special day when Sister Nokubonga Annacleta Daki celebrated her final vows, consecrating herself for life to God at Bizana church, on October the 4th. The Choirs of Bizana and Margate combined in a ceremony centering on well chosen readings and prayers to make a beautiful impression. Sister’s own preparation and faith with the joy of her family uplifted the hope and faith for all who were present.
On the same day, October the 4th, Feast of St Francis, Fr Bill led Secular Franciscans from all over Natal and the Diocese of Kokstad in a renewal of commitment at Hardenberg. The Third Order like all Sodalities in the church flourishes with constant spiritual care and encouragement.
4. Welcome back from the Holy Land to Fr Sihlobo and Mrs Nomvethe from Bizana. Fr Sihlobo led a group of 56 people on a pilgrimage to the Holy places and to Rome. They were lucky to be in Rome on a Sunday the 24 when the Holy Father beatified yet another Franciscan, a Brazilian. For the occasion they received excellent tickets and were very near the Holy Father.
The Diocesan priests met for recollection at Maria Telgte on August the 18th, at Ntlangwini on September the 29th, and at the Poor Clares on October the 20th.
5. Fr Manus has done a lot of preliminary work, collecting money and motivating people to start the building of a new hall in Matatiele. He is now working with Fr Erich on the final plans for this much needed facility.
The youth retreat which took place in Bizana and was led by Sister Thandi Moyo and Ms Prisca Radebe was a significant moment for the about 180 attending. The subject under discussion was the life of youth in the church particularly the guidance of the youth in moral issues. Aids, and problems in home and family were also touched upon.
6. Holy year 1999. As stated above this begins at the town hall Kokstad on Saturday night the 5th of December and people from all places are invited and encouraged to attend.
The Committee of the year 2000 in planning this year have decided to remain with the small Christian community. The beauty of these communities is that they draw on God’s Word and bring people together in neighbourhood gospel groups.
However, this year we will try and emphasise step no.6 in the seven step method. That is, we will try and emphasise with the small christian communities the absolute necessity of taking their prayer and gospel sharing into their daily lives. Being the year of the Father all will be encouraged to move from the small Christian communities into works of Mercy, visitation, renewal, instruction, neighborliness, hospital visitation, and works of Mercy of all kinds.
We should insist that in the small christian communities they emphasise step no. 6 by incoporating the methodology of the Legion of Mary. That is, have a report back on the work done by the individual members of the group.
7. Please continue to encourage the sale of the Inkwenkwezi. It is a simple Word of Christian and church life for people who have almost no spiritual reading. The priest should insist in the notices after Mass for many Sundays on the availability of the Inkwenkwezi and refer to some article to get the people and their children to read it.
The sisters also are encouraged to make it a personal task to sell and distribute the Inkwenkwezi.
8. Christmas cards are available from the Poor Clares. These are beautiful cards which can be used to bring the message of Christmas to our friends.
The Poor Clares continue to offer their lives for the diocese. We should try encourage our people to visit there and also to bring little gifts to the sisters. We should also try and make some efforts to support them. Soon work will begin on a Chapel for the Poor Clares.
Recently groups from Hardenberg and Ntlangwini as well as an enormous group of Women of St Ann visited the Poor Clares. All were deeply touched by their visit and left baskets of requests and prayer intentions to keep the sisters busy on their knees for the years ahead.
We don’t expect a lot of vocations, but few and select vocations should be encouraged to consider offering their lives in prayer and faith to build up what the whole church is about- deepening the knowledge of faith and Union with God.
9. A very special word of welcome to Fr Manuel who has come to join the Diocese to work at Mount Frere. Fr has a lot of experience working as a Missionary for God’s people, including 15 years spent in Malawi. Fr Manuel spent 4 years in the Diocese of Witbank and has worked in a Zulu speaking locale. He is very welcome to the team at Mount Frere.
We also welcome with enthusiasm to the parish of Bizana, Sister Patricia of the Precious Blood sisters. Sister is a highly gifted person in all kinds of handwork and training of people. We hope she will visit many areas and build up small development groups of self-help among our needy people.
10. We rejoice to see so many new members of the Amasotshanyana, Abantwana bakaMaria and the youth. However, membership of these societies is simply a potentiality, an opportunity for the priest and sisters and parents to offer real training. This whole Christmas holiday period of December and January offers a chance to invite them into some Apostolic activity and formation. The fact that few go to Durban on holidays is no reason for us to close down our churches in their regard.
11. The parishes of Ntlangwini, Lusiki and Flagstaff organised youth retreats which were very successful.
12. Fr George leads the vocation committee. You will hear from him for we wish to bring together young boys in Form three, four and five or who have passed matric and who are interested in the diocesan priesthood or religious life. We would hope to have a week with them in January. So please contact serious candidates among the boys.
13. Fr Sihlobo continues to encourage marriage encounter groups. We have now about seven couples who have attended some sessions of marriage encounter in various places around Durban. We continue to encourage couples to attend. Also we invite those who have attended to continue with further formation. Thus, we will build up the nucleus of the marriage encounter group for ourselves.
14. Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kasin went to Pretoria around the 20th of October on behalf of the Diocese in the National meeting of the Justice and Peace Commissioners. Fr Richard represented the Diocese with great facility and success. Hopefully we will call together some representatives from each parish to form a Diocesan Justice and Peace Committee. Among the works ahead will be reconciliation and peace, and preparing of our people to participate in the general election.
15. Fr George is attending the National Council of priests November the 2nd to the 6th in Johannesburg.
16. With Advent beginning on Sunday the 29th of November we could plan some service during that period before Christmas. This would be an opportunity to encourage children, the youth, the adults to confession. Perhaps by offering special times we could invite them. We also encourage them to participate in some form of Advent liturgy that will bring out the expectation of the people for Christ.
Congratulations to Bro Erich and his team and Fr George the parish priest for the magnificent work done to the church and priest house of St Xavier in Ntlangwini. Priests are encouraged to visit and see the work. Bro Erich on his own initiative is building a fine room for the people to develop small handwork projects.
17. Children of Mary have begun again in Bhongweni through the work of Fr Tom and sister Paulus Maria. These children around the town need some programme to keep them occupied and focus on the church. Joining the society means little in itself, it is a potentiality for the church to work on.
18. On October the the 21st the Bishop attended the Metropolitan Bishop’s meeting. Here issues were discussed regarding the life of the church in the KwaZulu Natal area. Among the points coming out were the need for a pastoral letter on moral issues to put very briefly, simply and clearly teaching of the church on issues like Aids, Abortion, Divorce, Abondonment and abuse of children, Homosexuality, the responsibility of men for their children etc. Hopefully this letter will be drafted in the near future.
There is interest in a new addition of INKAMBO YABACWEBILEYO, and our bishop has been asked to compile a new edition of this book using the Saints of Africa, Modern Saints who have a message for today.
19. The Bishop, Fr Egbert and Fr George attended the Xhosa regional pastoral meeting which took place at Palotti farm near Queenstown from the 27th to the 29th of October. Eight bishops and representatives of their diocese from Kokstad to Cape Town attended. Reports were made on the pastoral situation in each diocese giving rise to an awareness of common problems, needs and some resources. Among other points made was the need for resource material in Xhosa. It is hoped that the Palotti Press in Queenstown, which already have produced numbers of books in Xhosa will give us a table of contents of materials produced.
We also dealt with healing and aids, questions of Inculturation were also raised, particulary important was the need for training laity who are involved in the ministry. It was decided to re open the Xhosa pastoral region; the first meeting of the revised council will take place in April after Easter 1999, again at Queenstown. It was very strongly stated that the church make itself financially independent locally.
20 Congratulations to the CIE, Catholic Institute of Education in Kokstad, who have been nominated for the Premier’s award for outstanding work in educational services in the Eastern Cape.