1 MARCH 200
At the SACBC in January this year the bishops discussed the difficulties experienced in dealing with the Department of Home Affairs regarding VISAS, Work Permits etc. The Conference decided to prepare a Dossier on applications not dealt or refused and to present these to the Director General of Home Affairs.
The Apostolic Nuncio will dialogue with the Government authorities, Foreign Affairs regarding applications of Catholic priests, brothers, sisters and lay missionaries .
The bishops will send a delegation of bishops to the Department of Home Affairs to see the Minister and Secretary General regarding the Catholic church having direct access to the central offices of the department regarding such applications. It was pointed out that we will draw up a document showing that we are not depriving local people of jobs but creating job opportunities and assisting in the education, training and formation of South African personal.
2. The SACBC has serious questions to resolve regarding the future training of diocesan priests in South Africa. They are over 300 students for the diocesan priesthood in this year 2000 and next year our present facilities will be totally inadequate to deal with the numbers. We have very few formation personal , our building accommodations are too small. So plans must be made regarding the future.
3. Let us continue to mention the problems connected with HIV Aids in our parishes and in our Sermons. Every parish must be involved in this appostolate. 56% of those being tested within the area of our diocese are proving positive. We have a disaster already .
Over the last two years we have prepared certain people to work in these areas. Many parishes are now training home -careers. On the diocesan level Fr Joseph and Brother Sydney can be contacted about the establishment and training of personal. This year Sr Miriam Duggan will come to speak about behaviour change . Sinosizo and NGO will come to continue with training of Home Carers.
There are moneys available on application to initiate Aids Programmes. Every parish must simply get involved immediately.
4. After many years of fragmented work the Bishops Conference has established the development Welfare Agency. I have asked Fr Richard Kugbeh to act as our Officer in the diocese. Please suggest names of people sisters and laity who would work on such a committee. There are moneys available for development. Please contact Fr Richard.
Brother Erich and Herman are also available for development projects. The sisters of the diocese meeting in Coolock made a resolution to involve themselves in micro projects.
5. Let us make a whole-hearted effort this Lent to collect moneys for the poor. The envelopes are here, preach about Sacrificium and how the money is used. Contact Brother Val . And know that a large percentage of the money collected will be available to the diocese for the poor after Easter.
6. We hope that in May there will be Diocesan Pastoral Council. Fr Bill is co- ordinating this. We should have four delegates from each parish.
7. On August the 5th at the Mariannhill session of the Bishops Conference we will have a full National Pastoral Forum.
We must prepare for this now by electing delegates to represent our diocese. These must include priests, religious and laity.
The theme of our Pastoral Forum will be “OUR TASK IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM” The idea is to ask , how will the Church face the future? It will involve the review of the Pastoral plan and the selection of the theme around which the churches pastoral activity will be organised in the years ahead.
8. The Catholic University of South Africa is now in operation and is offering Masters programmes in Canon Law, Catechetics ,Philosophy. Priests who wish to avail of these studies could contact the bishop and will receive some financial assistance.
Please consider bringing the priests to priest Ministry to our diocese. The National director is Fr Joseph Slattery and he will introduce this programme which helps priests to minister to each other in areas of spirituality , personal care ,recreation.
During this year we will have two sessions of theology especially for our lay leaders. This will take place in Kokstad. Please pick out four or five people who can avail of such programs. They will offer personal formation, skills, theology, reflection on pastoral problems.
9. There are books available in English, Xhosa and Sotho from Bishop Hirmer in Umtata which provide texts for healing ministry and another publication with Holy Year celebrations.
10. At the recent meeting of the priests in Kokstad on February the 7th it was decided that the Youth pilgrimage, by foot, to Kevelear will take place from December the 11th to the 15th. The youth should now enrol. It will cost R40 per person. Most of this money goes into food and return transport. As usual transport to and from Kokstad from the home parishes must be found by each individual or parish.
11. Fr Giorgio outlined the rest of the Youth Programme for the Year 2000.
a. In September a workshop will be held for Youth leaders from each parish, approximately five from each parish will meet to improve the liturgical skills of our youth.
b. In June youth are invited to prepare and practice singing the songs and choruses most commonly used at Mass. If they do this well a tape will be prepared and will be for sale.
c. In May the choir leaders will meet to choose the hymns for the June get -together
d. Can our Youth respond to the violence in our diocese by holding peace marches in areas traditionally marred by violence.
a. Every opportunity must be used to insist of the importance of teaching and forming our children, and our youth. For example we must ask members of St Annes and other societies and specially prospective new members if their children are coming to church, attending catechism, receiving the Sacraments etc.
b. We must transfer the responsibility to the youth themselves. They must get the blue card and show that they are attending catechism.
c. Children should be asked before receiving the Sacraments, what do you request? They must show that they have decided and chosen to follow Christ.
d. Sunday school should be introduced with instructions for the children in the liturgy of the Word.
e. We should make a syllabus of what in necessary.
f. The children must be examined during the year for knowledge of faith and prayers.
When the people receive a blouse they must be examined for knowledge of their faith.
When people apply for baptism we must inquire; have the other children started to receive the Sacraments.
The priest must teach the teachers.
13. It is hoped that we will established pastoral zones in the diocese this year. There will three pastoral zones corresponding with the traditional deaneries. The convenors will be Fr Sihlobo, Fr Giorgio and Fr Bill. At the pastoral zone meetings we will discuss questions of catechetics. We should bring on board some sisters and lay leaders who form part of this pastoral zone planning. We would not bring our catechism teachers to Kokstad this year, hopefully these pastoral zones give them the support they need. However, the bishop will visit all parishes to speak with catechism teachers during the course of this year. Please make arrangements.
14. It was agreed that when we go to Coolock House March the 13th to the 17th we will bring and display all catechism books in English ,Sotho and Xhosa which are available.
15. The bishop will list a syllabus of the basic points necessary for the catechetical formation. Fr John Kerr will bring the outline he has prepared over the years and also Hardenberg will bring the four basic lesson and thirty-six pages from the UHAMBO LWETHU which can be helpful.
16. Sisters meeting at Coolock House January 31 to February 3 was an extremely valuable encounter . The second of February was a day of specially celebration of their religious life in the church.
The sisters reflected on the real meaning of religious life and expressed their confidence and love for their vocation. Among the reasons for the importance of religious life the sisters underlined that they share the journey of the people of God. They give Christ a new humanity among his people, they are a sign, reflection of the presence of the gospel. They are free as religious to serve God’s people. Religious life is there because God loves it. The religious are links between the people and God. They are the Sacraments of Christ presence. They deepen the love of Christ in their own lives by this way of life. Religious life brings among the people more powerful spirits that the evil spirits presently at work among them. They are a prolongation of the life of the Gospel through prayer, through service, through commitment to the poor and the needy.
The sisters discussed the problems of Youth and the problems of the family and marriage in our diocese. They analysed the causes of these problems -due to family breakdown, single parents state, the influence of the media, the influence of peers, Youth are confused today by the environment, by their culture , by their schools. Parents are afraid and there is a break down of communication between children and parents. Young people are given no direction either by the church or by their home. There is no authority in the home and the church is not where the youth are. There is not enough teaching or evangelisation done by the church.
The church is also failing to prepare Youth for the Sacrament of Marriage. There is little guidance , there is little explanation of the real meaning of interrelationship in marriage. The church is not where the youth are.