30 April 1999
1. From Monday the 24th of May at 10 am to Friday afternoon, May 28, Sr Miriam Duggan will be in Kokstad at the Cathedral hall to conduct a workshop on “Education for life, behaviour change process”.
This will be a very good opportunity to look at the root causes behind the spread of Aids, to look at life styles and see what needs to change.
Preferably the participants should be 18 years and older. It is better if four people can come from the same parish so as to form a team later to give the same workshop. Ideally youth chaplains, youth leaders can come, or a priest,or all who have something to offer to contain this killer which is now estimated to threaten 50% of the youth of our diocese.
Participants to bring a Bible, note book and a pen. It would be also expected that the workshop be residential or for people living close by. This is a process and participants must stay for the duration of the program. You are urgently requested to send small groups of people for the full week as it will provide you with teams to deal with the Aids pandemic.
2. The bishop and the cathechetical team will conduct days of prayer and study for all cathechism teachers on the following dates and in the following places:-
Ntlangwini April 29th at 10 am.
Matatiele in English, 8th of May for Matatiele and Kokstad catechism teachers. This will start at 2 pm.
Flagstaff May 11th at 10 am.
Lusikisiki May 13th at 10 am.
Matatiele for Xhosa speaking people May 20th.
Hardenberg May 22nd.
Bizana August 26th
Mount Frere August 28th
Makhoba July 28th
Ransiki July 31st.
All above at 10 am. It would be good if tea or something is provided for participants.
3. The week of prayer for Christian Unity starts on Ascension Thursday 13th of May and will continue until Pentecost 23rd of May. Please make an effort to have some prayers or sharing with christians during these days. Another intention of the prayers this year will be for a Peaceful Election.
4. Fourth coming events.
a. Day of recollection for diocesan priests Ntlangwini 18th of May.
b. Blessing of New church at Ntsizwa, Mount Ayliff 29th of May.
c. Consultors meeting 31st of May.
d. Bishop away in Glasgow, preaching 3rd to the 14th of June.
15th June to 8th July in Ireland.
e. The Youth Executive with Sister Natalia and Father Giorgio meet at Bishops House, 5th of June.
f. Father Sihlobo is arranging a retreat in each of three deaneries for all men of each area.
g. July the 13th to 17th a Youth training programe for Youth leaders and adults who work with youth. Each parish should send two of their youth and two of adults who work with youth for this intensive training program in youth ministry.
h. Youth festival beginning at 8:30 am on the 17th of July at the Cathedral hall in Kokstad.
i. July the 25th, confirmation in Flagstaff.
j. Next meeting of the committee of the year 2000, May the 15th at the bishop’s house. Convenor Fr Joseph Methanath.
k. Blessing of Eluthuleni church, Bizana,16 May.
l. Bishop in Rantsiki, Hardenberg for confessions and Pentecost.
5. Make sure to contact Fr George at Ntlangwini to invite the vocations committee to make the presentation in your parish in the course of this year. This is very important.
6. After the long discussion at Coolock House regarding the service of the sick, the consultors of the diocese decided to make June the month of the sick in the diocese. Each parish and even each outstation should have a special service for the sick. The service can take many forms. The service could revolve around the blessed Sacrament, or the sick could be anointed, they can be prayed for with the laying of hands. The whole intention is to excite their faith in Jesus Christ and then to intercede with Jesus to change their life, their soul and their health. The sacrament of reconciliation is also concerned with healing and inner cleansing through the direct action of the Holy Spirit.
7. Congratulations to Fr Giorgio in Mount Ayliff on organising a meaningful service of reconciliation between the two villages of eMbuthweni and Nokhatshila where in the last few months 16 people died. This was a service of peace that brought people to cross the river dividing their districts to embrace each other. Whenever a tragedy strikes in our diocese in villages- burning of witches, hurricanes, cattle raids and inter-village killings etc we should make a point of praying in a very pronounced way.
8. We say good bye to Fr Harry from Franklin who has served in Kokstad for 37 years. We thank him for his work and efforts in all those years. May God bless him in the years ahead with the gift of prayer and faith.
We had a warm celebration on the 7th of April with Mass at the Poor Clares and a reception at the Bishops house to say goodbye to Sister Mary Kenney who served the CIE so faithfully in the last three years.
9. Sister Briege McKenna and Fr Kevin Scallon made a profound impression in South Africa during their visit between the 12th and the 26th of April. We especially appreciated their priest retreat in Durban and their visit and healing services in Bizana and in Kokstad Cathedral. These services, characterised by witness and faith brought devotion and renewal to all who came. There were many reports of physical healing and even more of spiritual renewal. Their sense of the immediacy of Jesus in the sacraments, their great commitment in prayer and their love for the church were a gift to us and a joy.
10. Fr Sihlobo has now conducted 10 couples through the Marriage Encounter initial programs. He has now established a unit for our own diocese. Please find some marriage couples for this program with Fr Sihlobo. These people will be enriched in their own lives and make a great contribution to the marriage life of the diocese. At the priests’ meeting in Coolock many were worried that our people were loosing all sense of the Sacramentality of marriage.
11. Congratulations to all priests on their presence at the Chrism Mass on April the 1st at the Cathedral. Thank you also for bringing people representing each parish. This year’s congregation represented the whole diocese in a very compehensive way.
12. Congratulations to sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe for the Children of Mary retreat at the Cathedral on the 6th, 7th and 8th of April. This was a beautiful celebration of fervour.
Hopefully the Leaders of the Amasotshanyana kaKrestu UKumkani and of the Abantwana bakaMaria will meet during May or June to plan holiday programs for all our young people during the Winter and during school holidays. This is very important.
13. Please send in a list of Eucharistic Ministers of your parish as we wish to renew their Ministry each year.
14. In consultation with the seminarians the bishop and vocation committee are in the process of drawing up a guidelines for seminarians in the diocese. This will outline the program for seminarians in the holidays and prepare to live as future priests.
15. Would it be possible to find the names of your youth who are third level Institutes or Universities. We would like the the names as we wish to conduct the special retreat for them during December this year. There is a great ignorance among the youth, even educated youth, regarding the history and meaning of their church and christian commitment.
16. We spoke at length at Coolock regarding the Financial situation of the diocese. It is absolutely clear that there must be more generation of money within the diocese. Last year the diocese raised three hundred and ten thousand rand. This is very little when you think of the enormous expenses which we have. To send a seminarian to seminary for one year cost 20,000 rand alone. And we have eight seminarians.
We will make a collection for the diocese with special envelopes during the course of this year. Please support it.
All buildings which are initiated within the diocese must show a local contribution.
It is diocesan policy to do as little as possible ferrying of passengers. Beyond the insurance risks there is also the wear on our cars.
All parishes should have financial committes. It is laity who should lead in the financing programe of our parishes.
17. Father Bill is convening the diocesan pastoral council in October or November this year. All parishes and outstations should have a committee which represents them. From this committee or parish councils the representatives for the diocesan pastoral council can easily be drawn.
18. Continue to reflect on how we can adequately mark this time of grace, the year 2000. In the rich discussion which took place at Coolock House here are some of the ideas thrown out regarding the theme “Christ Yesterday, Today and beyond the year 2000”.
a. We should organise popular retreats in the parishes.
b. We should have a shrine, a centenary hall or a Jubilee mission.
c. We should have priest exchange for the Sacrament of reconciliation during that year.
d. It should be a year of healing with many healing services and reconcilition and confession.
e. It should be a year to emphasise and renew the family and marriage in our diocese. We should examine the problem of LOBOLA.
f. We should have pilgrimages during this year.
g. It should be the year of Re-evangelization.
h. We should emphasise parish events with the bishop present at all missions on a fixed date during the year.
i. There should be a diocesan shrine where all the sick can go, where confessions are offered, healing services take place, counselling and consolation facilities exist, to which pilgrimages takes place, a place free from evil spirits, where people can find a deep experience of devotion and life. But where?
j. That the nativity scene in the Cathedral should be retained during the year and pilgrimages should be organised to the cathedral.
k. Priests and sisters should all come together for a day of prayer and pray together.
l. It would be good to have an ordination during this year.
m. We should have an olympic flame which should go from parish to parish.
n. It should be ecumenical.
o. We should have a cross which is carried on procession from outstation to outstation or from parish to parish.
p. We should erect a monumental cross in a prominent place.
18. Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kasin attended the Justice and Peace department meeting in preparation for the coming elections. He is training people who will be observers.
19. We discussed how to conscientise people regarding Aids in Coolock House. Suggestions made which might help include the production of a pamphlet, or we should speak to the youth, we can run workshops for the nurses and parents, we must speak and teach children already at the ages of ten to twelve. We should bring the subject into the catechetical programs. We must not be too negative but must intergrate our teaching into a view of life, we should have holiday program in each parish to engage our youth. We should use the sodalities.
20. Congratulations to Bro Erich and Fr Giorgio on the magnificent work rebuilding Mount Ayliff after the Inkanyamba. The mission is beautiful again, thanks to their excellent work and organisation.
We must also thank Brother Erich on the beautiful hall in Ntlangwini and a workroom for the training of local people in skills.
He is now working on a church for Dumarheni. He vetted with Fr Manus the plans for a new hall in Matatiele and has plans for a new hall in Flagstaff.
21. We extent the hand of welcome and hospitality to the Franciscan definitory and Provincial who met here on April the 28th and 29th. We continue to deeply appreciate their presence and the work of the Franciscans in the Diocese.
22. Saturday, the 24th of April the bishop spoke with 23 nurses at Mount Frere on nursing as a vocation. Day of prayer blessing and reflection was appreciated by all. The nurses in our parishes should organise such days.
23. Frances Hogan, well-known lecturer and retreat guide, will be in Kokstad to speak on the scriptures for two days in the middle of July. Frances’ tapes and writings on Scripture have received international acclaim and this is an opportunity for priests, sisters and laity to hear her.
24. May is the month of Mary and an ideal chance to revive the family rosary and devotion to the Mother of God.
June the 6th is the feast of Corpus Christi, a time for processions and Benediction, adoration and praise.
25. The Sisters of the diocese came together to reflect upon the importance of religious life in the local church. Having shared on the religious identity, its specific meaning and mission in the church, the sisters renewed their commitment.
During the holidays, after consultation with the Poor Clares, good girls who may have an interest in vocation might be encouraged to spend a few days with the Poor Clares.
26. Soup for the Winter, see Fr Joseph.