August 27, 1999
1. Congratulations to Fr Bill who celebrated his Silver Jubilee of Priesthood in July this year. We congratulate Brother Sydney who celebrated his Silver Jubilee of Franciscan Profession, he was one of the third people to make profession in the Franciscan Order in South Africa.
2. The Bishops Conference at Mariannhill:
a. Fr Richard Menatsi of Umtata was appointed a Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference. Archbishop Napier was elected as President of the Conference for the next three years with Bishops Coleman and Archbishop Thlagale as vice presidents.
b. The Lenten appeal this year of Kokstad diocese was up two percent and realized over 30,000 rand.
Next year the money we collect for the Lenten appeal will be sent to Fr Noel Coughlin as normal. He will take the usual amount for church and formation purposes. The remaining money- that of the poor- will be used for distribution in Kokstad diocese.
c. The Lawyers from the Land Development are examining what to do to upgrade our present church sites from PTO, i.e Permission to Occupy to the Status of Title deeds.
d. The SACBC Offices was the nerve centre of organising observers in the elections in June. Eight thousand observers were co ordinated around the country.
e. The bishops are involved helping the Church in Sudan, Rwanda and Angola because of the crises in those countries.
f. Professor Joy Brain is about to publish a history of the Catholic Church in South Africa 1950-2000. This will continue the work of the late Fr Brown.
g. The Catholic development Agency is established in the Bishops Conference and will accept applications through the bishops for development work.
h. Fr Anselm Prior OFM was saluted by the bishops for his trojan work as the leader of Lumko for the past ten years.
The Bishops asked that November the 14th be a National day of prayer for members of the Defence, Police and Prison forces.
i. The bishops are looking at Ixopo as a possible site of one of the Seminary Colleges- replacing Cape Town. They are also looking at other sites in Durban and Pretoria.
j. The Bishops continue to review the implication of the agreement with the Department of Education regarding Catholic schools which have now become public. In our diocese we are looking at Maria Telgte, Franklin, Tigervlei, Glen Edward, Tafeni, Flagstaff, Hardenberg and Makhoba.
k. This year 1999, 1100 tertiary and 800 Secondary students benefited from bishops’ bursary schemes. We will apply next year through the Education Assistance scheme of CIE that they help us access loan funding from NGOs.
l. Also discussed at the bishops’ Conference was the establishment of the new college of the Catholic University in Johannesburg. The first lecture delivered was by Fr Bonaventure OFM. Archbishop Buti Tlahali, was inducted as Chancellor. It will offer MA and Doctorates. Those who wish to do an M.A. can do so by attending seven weeks of lectures spread out over two years. Two assignments are then attached to each of those sessions for home work. Finally a thesis is presented for the completion of the MA.
3. Excellent catechism teachers’ days were held in Matatiele (two days), Flagstaff May the 11th, Hardenberg May the 22nd, Makhoba July the 28th, Ransiki July the 30th, Bizana August the 26th and Mount Frere August the 28th to enhance and motivate our catechism teachers. So far almost 400 catechism teachers have attended these days.
b. At the Cathechetics Co-ordinators meeting held in Kokstad on Monday the 23rd of August 30 co-ordinators attended. Our ideal is to have about three co ordinators for each parish. They will attend monthly meetings in Kokstad. Their task is to assist the priest in motivating and visiting the catechism teachers. They should call for days of retreat a few times a year for the catechism teachers of their own parish, they should see that the catechism teachers are registered, that the catechism teachers register their students, that their books and materials are available, etc. Please try and see that your parish has at least three co ordinators.
c. The catechism kit for Confession and Holy Communion is available from the diocesan office from Fr Joseph at R 65 each. Please get copies for your teachers.
4. Now that the Aids Pandemic has begun to strike very hard in our diocese. Doctors calculate that 50% of the youth in many villages are carrying the virus, we must respond with our full strength to save, protect and nurse our youth and sick.
We had four days in Kokstad at which Doctor Miriam Duggan, a Franciscan sister and four assistants proposed a program for behaviour change for youth, May the 24th to the 28th.
It is obvious that the Aids Apostolate must work on 2 levels.
a. Work on information and behaviour change.
b. We must prepare our people to care for those who are dying from Aids in their homes. For this Mrs Towell of “SINOSIZO”, will come to give a course 24th to 28th of October.
If you have two people who understand English, who could train other women in your parish, please send them to this four day course. It will be free. Their work will be volunteer work.
It would help if the nurses came together in the parishes now and again for instruction and prayer. Alternatively please let the diocesan office know and we can arrange something.
On Saturday October the 30th we hope to have a Diocesan pastoral council meeting in Kokstad. Fr Bill is chairing a committee to organise this event. It is hoped that all the priests with representatives of their parish councils and some of the sisters will attend.
5. The Coolock House meeting of all priests of the diocese will take place from Monday evening October the 11th to Thursday morning October the 14th. Please try and come. these
6. Some past events:
a. Two new churches were opened and blessed during May.
At ELuthulini the new church was opened with celebrations and joy. May 29 Fr Giorgio led the climb to Ntsizwa mountain for the blessing of the new church.
b. Brother Erich brought the charity of God into the disaster villages in Mount Frere strucck by runaway fires. He brought food, clothing and shelter.
c. Big crowd from the diocese were present on a beautiful fine evening August 14th-15th to celebrate the Assumption of Our Lady to Heaven, South African patronal feast.
d. Mens’ retreats at Mount Ayliff June the 6th-7th and Tabankulu August 21st-22nd had very good numbers in attendance demanding to do more for the church! The men expressed a need and desire to participate in the life of the church. They ask for encouragement. They made remarks about the dominance of women in the church.
e. We note with sorrow the passing of a great Legionary of Mary, Miss Humiliana Dubazana at Hardenberg. For many years a teacher in the catholic school, she was a member of Legion of Mary all her life and a devoted catechism teacher for many years. In later years she helped Fr Bernadine in Cedarville. May she rest in peace.
7. Vocations: Please communicate with dthe vocation team of Fr George, Fr Richard in Lusikisiki, Sister Beauty, Sister Patricia in Bizana and Sister Margaret regarding vocation workshops.
We have two applications for the Seminary this year. Pray for and encourage vocations. Thanks to the priests who offer hospitality to our seminarians during holiday months. Our seminarians are very important to the diocese and a part of our family.
Frances Hogan lectured on the scriptures, remembering the theme of this year “Abba, Father”. She attracted good crowds.
Confirmation in Flagstaff had 65 young people in July.
8. The youth: Youth have been very active over the last few months. The executive organised a very successful festival in which 11 parishes took part on July the 18th.
A training course for the adults interested in youthwork and youth leaders from July the 13th to the 17th was organised by Sister Natalia assisted by Sisters Beauty and Gertrude with the help of Fr Giorgio.
The youth may attempt a pilgrimage by foot to Kevealer in December, walking to Malenge mission to spend the night there, then to Centocow for another night stop with a final march to Kevealer. We will come back by bus.
9. Childrens’ societies, the Holy Childhood, the Amasotshanyana, and the Children of the Child Jesus, may soon organise a common programme. Fr Jose in Franklin, brought seven of our leaders , seven women to Umtata to attend a special course of the Pontifical Mission Society. They hope to have a weekend in Kokstad 17th to the 19th of September for adults who have a gift of working with children. Encourage some adults to attend this important session.
10. The Poor Clares celebrated their feast on August the 11th. Again on August 14th a visiting group of the young girls from Bongweni with and Franciscan First, Second and Third Order participated and meditated on the life of St Clare. To assist people, especially young girls, to visit and spend time at the Poor Clares will encourage vocations.
The Diocese is extremely grateful to the Great Place at Lusikisiki who offer hospitality to our Poor Clares to perfect their Xhosa and to experience the atmosphere and culture of South African life.
We welcome Sister Mary Leo from Lusaka who will live in the Monastery for a few months. Mother Lilato, Abbess from Lusaka, came to show us again the care the founding monastery in Lusaka has for our foundation.
11. The Catholic Institute of Education, Sister Mary Anne, Brother Jim , Mrs Nakin and Mrs Gloria Napier have been upgrading teachers from Bizana to Matatiele and beyond. Is there a retired teacher with energy, initiate and knowledge who might consider jjoining this team?
12. Buildings: Brother Erich with his contructors have completed the renovation of Umzongwana mission. There is now a beautiful church there, while the priest’s house has been renovated. There is a magnificant new hall, a work room for the ladies, and a new garage. Brother Erich may also help with a mill.
The Flagstaff hall is roofed; Matatiele hall will start soon, and a creche which the sisters wish to open.
Plans to build a new township at Shayamoya, Bongweni of 4000 houses may involve us building a big church at Shayamoya. This will avoid extending the church at Bongweni and provide one big church for diocesan events in Kokstad.
13. Fr Peter with the Sacred Heart and Fr Tony with St Annes are doing much work this year with the leaders in formation and renewal.
14. Coming events: The bishop will attend a meeting of the bishops with the major religious superiors of Durban Metropolitan area on September 1. On September the 2nd it will be the meeting of the bishops of the same area.
The Sacred Heart Society will have a retreat at Kokstad on the 3rd to the 5th of September.
Annual general meeting of the Mount Currie fellowship will take place in September the 7th.
There will be confirmation at Bizana on the 12th of September and at the Cathedral in Kokstad on the 31st of October.
The next meeting of the consultors will be on the 20th of September.
On the 25th there will be a weekend led by sister Dionys for funeral leaders at Mount Frere.
The annual retreat for the St Annes women and leaders will take place at Kokstad 24 th to the 26th of September.
The bishops of South Africa with the teachers at the seminaries will spend three days in Pretoria considering the future of our seminaries. We need a new seminary for the spiritual year, there is need to consider the expansion of seminaries as the number of students continues to rise. Concerns have been expressed about training, formation etc.
The new church at Mfinisweni will be opened and blessed on the 17th of October.
The next meeting for catechetical co ordinators is October the 18th.
A day for the catechism teachers of Tabankulu and Mount Ayliff will take place at Tabankulu on the 24th of October. Sister Bridget and the bishop will attend.
15. The INkwenkwezi is selling quite well. Please get the paper into the hands of the people. The bi-monthly magazine Worldwide is selling over 100 copies per issue in Mount Frere because of promotion.
16. Congratulations to the sisters in Matatiele of the Congregation of the Little Servant of Blessed Virgin Mary on the beatification of their founder, Blessed Edmund Bojanowski.
17. Please continue to plan for the celebration of the Year 2000. Themes suggested centre around a torch of Faith carried from parish to parish and house to house; celebrations centering on strengthening family life, celebrations on the parish level; a shrine or a place of pilgrimages for those who are sick and in need of renewal. Brother Erich has designed symbols which people could be encouraged to buy representing their commitment to the year 2000. The making of symbols would give employument to 8 women in Mount Frere.