3RD JANUARY 1999
1. Coming events: January 4th to the 8th: Maria Telgte Theology school. Fr Simon Ngcobo and Sister Callista will conduct theology for leaders at Maria Telgte from the 4th to the 8th of January. All parishes should send groups of 3 to 4 who can come as a team. The cost is R20 per person.
January 7th: Meeting of the bishops reg. the seminaries.
January 8th to the 11th: Children of Mary retreat led by Sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe at the Cathedral, Kokstad.
January 8th to the 10th: At Mount Frere led by Sister Mary Dionys Ngcobo a catechetics retreat and blessing of catechism
January the 9th; Legion Curia in Matatiele.
January the 1Oth: Confirmation in Hardenberg.
January the 11th: Bishop’s house Kokstad: The youth executive will meet. We are reminded to draw up a list of four or six promising young christians who can be trained as youth leaders. They should be active and enthusiastic.
January the 15th: Catechetical diocesan committee to meet.
January the 15th to the 17th: Marriage encounter weekend at Bizana. Please contact Fr Rodgers. Fee couple is R150 rand.
January th 19th: Mount Currie fellowship meeting in Kokstad. This is the interchurch meeting of church leaders.
January the 20th to the 28th: Bishops conference in Pretoria. January the 30th: Retreat in Matatiele for catechism teachers and children.
February the 1st: Meeting of the diocesan consultors.
February the 6th: Meeting of the diocesan sisters and bishop.
February the 8th: The arrival of postulants to the Franciscan postulancy at Kokstad.
February the 14th: Taylorville, Ntlangwini confirmations.
February the 17th: Ash Wednesday.
February the 20th: Meeting of the committee for the year 2000 to review and to draw up plans for its full celebration.
2. The focus of our work in the diocese this year is formation. We try to offer formation to those christians who are committed, who are in leadership roles, who are enthusiastic for their faith. In a special way all these sodalities; and St Anne’s, Sacred Heart, Amadodana, Abantwana bakaMaria, AmaSotshanyana, St Franciscans Third Order, Youth; Choir leaders need faith formation.
3. Please remind our students who study at University, Technikon and Third level institutions that there is a National movement for Catholic tertiary students (ACTS). Our students will be strongly encouraged to make themselves known to the spiritual directors and become members.
4. We say welcome to Fr Manuel who has come to Mt Frere and Fr Gunther who has come to replace Fr Bernard in Mt Ayliff.
5. We have to say goodbye to two outstanding priests of the diocese who recently left us. At the beginning of December Fr Egbert O’Dea after 46 years magnificence service to the people of this church, was appointed by the Franciscans to be parish priest of Amanzimtoti. This will also become the provincial house. He will be deeply missed by the people all over the diocese and by all priests and the bishop. His contribution, self-commitment and generosity cannot be over estimated.
On the 28th of December, Fr Bernard Reigel, parish priest of Mt Ayliff has moved to Johannesburg to take up his new appointment as Provincial Superior of the Comboni Fathers.
Father Bernard worked for five years in the diocese with great fruit. His kindness, his concern for the people left a deep impression upon all. We wish him God’s blessing.
6. We also say goodbye, at least for a short while, to Sisters Khumbuzile and Sibulelo who go to the Mother-house at Matikwe to prepare for Final vows. Their work among the youth and with the children was very valuable. We ask God to bless them. We hope they come back to us.
7. Nursing: November the 17th the bishop went to St Elizabeth hospital in Lusikisiki to celebrate the Feast of Patroness. The Medical Superintendant, Doctor Thomas who has great devotion to the Saint and is a devout catholic invited the bishop to remind the hospital of its catholic origins.
In his address the bishop reminded the people of the history of the hospital and the history of the Saint to whom it is dedicated. They continue the Ministry of Jesus Christ. They care for the sick and the poor and those who are loosing hope. He encouraged the sisters to bring the Catholic spirit to Lusikisiki.
On November the 14th the Catholic Nurses Guild of Matatiele met at the church to reflect and pray together for inspiration in their Ministry. 12 nurses attended led by Mrs Setsubi. The nurses raised many questions of a moral nature which they face in family life and in the practise of their ministry.
Members of the Nurses Guild of Kokstad met the bishop at St Patrick’s hall to discuss the revival of their Guild.
It is strongly encouraged that all the hospitals be encouraged to contact the bishop to arrange days of prayer and healing at their hospitals during 1999.
8. On the 19th and 20th of December Fr Rodgers Sihlobo in Bizana invited Fr Victor Phalana, professor at St Peter’s Seminary in Pretoria to conduct a major healing service at Bizana. On both days the church was packed with all kinds of spiritual suffering, physical ailments and claims of evil possession. Ably assisted by our seminarians Lulama Msongelwa, Bongani Mbhele, and Gabriel Letsohla Fr Victor and Fr Rodgers led the people in intercessory prayer. The meeting was an enormous success with many claim of physical healing and spiritual renewal. It was an exhausting weekend but something deeply needed by our people. Hopefully these healing services will move to other parishes on invitation.
9. On 22nd November the bishop blessed the new church at Hombe, Lusikisiki. This was a marvellous day with the Undlunkulu and the local chief present. The church was built using an older steel construction taken from a former church. Brother Erich created out of this doubtful material a church of which the people are very proud.
The people were very active in the building helping Brother Erich and his team. The altar, the lectern, the stations of the Cross, the benches, the etching on wood of the figure of Mary were all done by brother Erich.
10. 19th of December the New church of St Mathias Mulumba was opened at Saphukanduku by the Bishop. Originally started by Fr Wilfred Napier in 1984, the church has been completed with simplicity and style by brother Erich and Fr Giorgio. The arrangements for the day by Fr Giorgio and sister Marviga were excellent. Even though it is a small catholic community the church was crammed for the celebration.
11. Events: The secular Franciscan Order continues to grow. Since the Feast of St Francis in Hardenberg Fr Vincent Zungu has continued the formation of the tertiaries with the weekend retreat at Bhongweni on the 14th of November. A very welcome development is the Jufra. This is a meeting for the young Franciscans. It’s value is that the youth in joining thus belong to a National and International movement.
Extensive repairs have been effected to the church of Mount Ayliff. This was a very expensive job, as the church is big and old and the depredations of time and water had caused serious problems. Brother Erich and the Comboni Fathers are to be thanked sincerely for this timeous work.
24th of November: Fr Bonaventure lectured on the role of Mary in Christian life at the St Patricks hall Kokstad.
The chapter of Mats, an informal Franciscan meeting took place at La Verna in Johannesberg from November the 30th to the 3rd of December. 7 Friars from the diocese attended.
Fr Schneider, the International spiritual assistant to the Poor Clares came from the General Curia in Rome to visit Our Poor Clares from the 7th to the 9th of December. Fr Heribert was very pleased and encouraged the Poor Clares for their faithfulness to their vocation and commitment to the church.
Ten young people were confirmed to the church in Cedarville on Sunday the 13th of December. Fr Bernadine, Sister Angela and Mrs Mfene worked very hard to prepare the young people. The church was full, singing and participation was excellent. Hopefully this young group will be unit which will build up our church.
12. The Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, met at Coolock House from November the 26th to the 28th to consider and re-visit the foundations of their Order. The congregation is 50 years in South Africa this year, and it is 175 years old. In the discussions and prayers at Coolock House the sisters saw the charism of their congregation as living out the charity of Christ among the Poor, forming them especially in faith and charity.
280 of our youth went to Maria Telgte mission from December, 3rd to the 5th for the annual youth retreat. This was guided by the Diocesan youth executive led by Fr Giorgio, Sister Natalia, Sister Khumbuzile, Sister Gertrude and Sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe. The young people were committed, respectful, prayerful and keen to participate in every event.
The theme of the retreat was young people in the church. Many speakers pointed out aspects of life where the youth are crucial to the life of the church. They were invited to fully participate as witnesses of Christ. Night vigils, liturgies, sharing, question times and concerts all made up a wonderful two days in Telgte mission. They then came by bus to the town hall in Kokstad for the opening of the holy year.
13. On the night of December 5th, Saturday night, people from all over the diocese gathered at the Town Hall to celebrate the holy year dedicated to the Father, 1999. The choir was a massed, drawn from the diocese. The singing was excellent. The programme included a candle-light, rosary procession in the town, a youth presentation of the parable of the Prodigal Son, sermon from Fr Sihlobo, praise of the gifts of the Father through a para-liturgy with processions and gifts, presentation of excellent talks on God’s enemies, e.g violence, abortion, Aids, abuse, drink and drugs, sin, evil and envy. This was followed by an Imvuselelo.
The service had opened with an English segment led by Fr Larry O’Shea. The bishop said the concluding Mass at 4 o’clock. The excellent master of ceremonies was Fr Vincent Zungu who had unified the programme moving moving with style and pace.
14. On the 16th of December Fr Sihlobo met with the diocesan executive of the Amadodana. Certain points were discussed which had come from the priest meeting at Coolock house. As spiritual director of the movement Fr Sihlobo reflected on many problems and set up a time-table for on-going formation for the Amadodana.
15. 47 people from Kokstad made a long ten hour journed to Ngome to the shrine of Mary Tabernacle of the Most High, 7th to the 10th of December. Led by Fr Richard who was accompanied by parents, and Bro Sydney who was accompanied by his mother the people found the pilgrimage spiritually rejuvenating. They called at Inkamana and at Maria Ratchitz. People from Harding and Matatiele also came.
16. The bishop attended the Silver Jubilees of Sister Gertrude and Sr Agnes on the 18th of December. Both sisters are daughters of this church of Kokstad, and have worked very diligently and faithfully for this diocese for most 25 years. Congratulations to them. We wish them many more years work and fruitful Apostolate among the people.
Congratulations and good wishes to Sr Dominic of the Besters community who has been appointed the new Provincial of the Daughters of Charity and also to Sr Agnes and Sr Florentia who will be Provincial Counsellors.
17. Fr Rodger invited Miss Prisca Hadebe from Lumko to offer retreats to single people and married couples on the life and spirituality of family and marriage. Our marriage couples need much more help, we all agree that the state of marriages is a disaster. The Marriage Encounter movement which is beginning in our diocese under the inspiration of Fr Sihlobo is fully encouraged. Good couples who could participate in this programme should be encouraged to apply.
18. The Masotshanyana kaKrestu uKumkani are flourishing. Thanks to the Sisters and parents involved in the movement. On his last Sunday in Flagstaff Fr Egbert’s 300 members brought the town to a standstill. We have a wonderful opportunity here to offer formation to our children, to make them belong to the church, to give them an Apostolate, to help them spiritually and to deepen their prayer.
19. Coolock house was the scene of the annual priest’s meeting, November the 9th to the 11th. Reports were given on the work of all sodalities in the diocese. Fr Manus spoke on the Code for Professional conduct and give a comprehensive report on the procedure regarding abuse issues.
Fr Richard Kugbeh as Chairperson of Justice and Peace Commission, reported on the work being done in the country. We have started a Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission. Certain people have been asked to be involved. With the elections coming we can offer assistance to the people. Fr Richard also directed our attention to the new Labour Relations Act and the responsibility of employers regarding employees. Copies of this document has been made available to all priests.
The marriage Apostolate was discussed at length. Things which the diocese might do to strengthen the status of marriage emerged from the meeting at Coolock House;
(a). Youth preparation programmes.
(b). Retreats for married people of the parish.
(c). Thanks giving and celebration for parents and couples celebrating Jubilees.
(d). Use the marriage encounter couples to speak and guide parents and people. Discussions with men and their problems.
20. February 11th is the World Day of the Sick. Is a time to offer something special to our sick, to direct the attention of parishioners to care for them and to help the sick themselves to understand their suffering and their own peculiar apostolate. Our people are begging that we should pray for them in their illnesses, anxieties, fears. God has given us both the task and the power to help them. Sisters too, should make hospitals and sick homes the subject of their apostolate.
21. This Year of the Father, we continue to promote the Small Christian Community. We use the seven step method of Scripture sharing. However, we emphasise step no. 6, which has to do with bringing the fruit of sharing and prayer into life. We decided to do this by having the members share on their work of mercy at this point- in the manner of the Legion of Mary report back. Sr Paulus Maria of Mount Frere will visit the parishes during the year help.
22. The Vocation committee, under Fr George Byarubaga, wish to visit each parish this year. They await an inviation.
The Youth committee, under Fr Giorgio and Sr Natalia, will help each parish Youth group to organise their own retreat.
23. Catechetics. Normally, this is organised by the parish and the priest. To offer some help to the motivation and formation of the local catechism teacher the diocesan committee will comprise a representative of each parish, usually a sister, who can act as co-ordinator for the area. She will call the teachers together, arrange an occasional retreat, invite the diocesan team to visit and help.