8 December 2000
1. The celebration of the Jubilee of the Diocese on November the 26th was a day of great joy. Thanks to all the priests, the choirs and Fr Joseph and the Parish council of St Patrick’s
It is with great joy we welcome to the priesthood of the diocese, Fr Bongani Dominic Mbhele. As the first diocesan priest born in Kokstad and ordained for the diocese of Kokstad we welcome him with particular joy. His ordination was an occasion of historic importance for the whole diocese. It marks a new stage in the maturity of our church. Bongani will be available to visit various parishes and say Mass for the people on invitation.
On December the 3rd in scenes of great celebration and joy Bongani celebrated his first Mass at his home parish of Hardenburg.
2. We welcome seminarians back to the diocese for their Christmas holidays. During January they will be available to visit your parish and speak on vocations at various stations. Vocations to the diocesan priesthood and to the religious life are a very high priority in our diocese. Please encourage the vocation committee, invite them to speak every year in your parish. Also, invite and welcome the seminarians
3. Diocesan youth pilgrimage by foot to Kevelear will take place between the 12th and the 16 of December. We have not encouraged the large group this year. We find smaller group easier to organise. However, it is an occassion for religious experience for our youth. Leaders and those with real potential for Christian role should be sent on this pilgrimage or encourage to go. It gives a sense of church, a sense of joy , a sense of pilgrimage, a sense of commitment to Christ.
4. The children of Mary have the retreat for diocesan leadership during December. Sr Paulus Maria and her team are to be congratulated. Holiday periods are a special time for the children of Mary and Masotshanyana kaKrestu uKumkani. Our youth, we must take a particular care for them during holiday time. During this time the youth are sitting around, they have little work to do, they are available to meet and to pray.
5. We congratulate Fr Giorgio and Fr Gunther with Brother Erich for the construction of a beautiful new church at Mazeni. It is being opened on the 11th of December.
6. We had joyful beautiful celebrations of Confirmations in a number of parishes. In Makhoba’s we had 240 for confirmation. The children at the Cathedral had been very well prepared over a two year Catechetical period . The young people in Telgte came with their own characteristic joy for the Confirmation and for first Holy Communion. And in Lower Mnceba at Tabankulu Sr Marwega and Lucella had prepared the people with care for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
7. Fr John Kerr, thank God, is recovering and back in Maria Telgte. His health gave great concerned to the whole diocese and all of us remembered him in our prayers. We welcome him back with joy and hope he gets well soon.
8. The collection with the diocesan envelopes should be brought to the Bishop’s office during this month of December. Otherwise, get the envelopes from Fr Joseph.
We want to invite the people to support the diocese as such.
9. The Poor Clares have begun the construction of their chapel and the extention of the Monastery at Santa Chiara. This Monastery is a place of prayer for us. Do encourage girls who are serious about Christian life to visit during holidays. We expect with joy the coming of the Abbess of the Monastery of Lusaka, Sister Lilato, to join the community here. But please pray for vocations.
10. Our team, trained by Lumko gave a special course for funeral leaders and priestless service leaders from the 25th to the 28th of October. One hundred and twenty people attended this excellent session. We will have another have another training session in February in 2001. The team of Sr Chrysanta, Sr Constantia, Sr Beauty, Sr Helena, Mr Dweba, Mr Qhwesha, Mr Ncedo, Mr Jojo, are now a team which will help to deepen the skills and the spirituality of our leaders in the diocese. They will complete their Lumko training in Glenmore in 2001 from June 3 for four weeks. They will be joined by Mr Michael Kumalo from Bhongweni. If you have a suggestion of other experienced local leaders who would benefit from training please suggest them. The idea is that they become with their priests the trainers of others.
11. For the past two weeks in Kokstad we have seen an football-field size tent which offered Assembly of God kind services. Someone who attended noted that they attacked the catholic church with particular venom and other main line churches. The fact that the tent was flattened by lightening and wind on Saturday was noted by Fr Bruno and his parishioners. While one deplores the negative elements of their message we do see the opportunity which they afford young people to pray and sing. If we could have at least one renewal session during holidays for our youth!
12. It is very encouraging to see the work done by our Aids group headed by Fr Joe as Chairperson, with Brother Sydney and Sister Anthony on its board. The two operation officers, Ms Nogabe and Miss Nomvano Qwebeba are excellent presenters of behaviour change and home care training for our sick. They have already conducted very inspiring courses in Flagstaff, Bhongweni, Hardenburg, Lusikisiki, Umzongwana and soon they will be going to Mount Ayliff. In each place they have trained zealous, young people who are now visiting and encouraging the sick. This is a wonderful work that needs the support of the full church, the parish and the priests. Here is an opportunity to get our St Annes doing something really useful and being skilled and trained for it. The Sacred Heart Society and all Societies should be trained. Aids will take half of our young people over the next seven years and leave 5,000,000 orphans in South Africa.
13. Re the various collections in the church during the year.
Holy Childhood – First Sunday in February
Lenten Appeal – Sacrificium – Every Sunday of Lent
Holy places – Good Friday
Peter’s Pence – Sunday, nearest 29 June
Peter the Apostle – Opus Sancti Petri. First Sunday of August.
Mission Month – in October
Only Kokstad and Matatiele have been required to take up the collections for Holy Childhood and Peter the Apostle.
The main Church of each parish is asked to contribute to Peter’s Pence.
The intentions for Holy Childhood and Peter the Apostle are included in the Mission Month Collection for the other parishes.
Holy Childhood is directed to needy children
Sacrificium supports many projects e.g diocesan seminaries, feeding schemes, CIE, Lumko Institute – at least 40 different charities.
Mission Month helps the mission work of the Church especially major seminaries.
Peter the Apostle helps in the education of local clergy
Holy Places: helps in the upkeep of holy places in the Holy Land as well as maintenance of pastoral activities there.
Peter’s Pence: supports the Pope’s special charities. (Bro Val).
14. The Catholic Institute of Education, CIE had an extremely fruitful year in the area of the diocese. We thank sincerely Bro Jim and Sister Mary Anne Ndzimande, Mr Bereng , Mrs Nakin and Mrs Napier for their outstanding work.
During this year they conducted many Whole School Development programmes. This involves all teachers , training and planning together. They offered workshops for teachers in various subjects like Mathematics, languages sciences etc..
They invited NGOs to deepen the skills training of our teachers. Their National office sent a team to conduct courses for teachers on HIV and Sexuality. The religious Education courses were presented by Paul Faller , the author of an excellent book for teaching the faith in schools. The CIE are also involved in training Governing bodies of schools. Here we could encourage catholics to join Governing bodies as they will have a very direct say in the future content and Education in all schools. They also train school management teams.
Early in the year 2001 the bishop will go with the CIE to conduct motivational and prayer days for all teachers, Catholic and non- Catholic. We generally go to six centres, Hardenburg, Kokstad, Bizana, Mount Frere, Flagstaff and Lusikisiki.
15. In January, Tuesday 16, we will have a meeting of all the priests of the diocese. This will be a follow up on the Coolock programmes. Among the issues we must discuss is how to benefit from the good experience of the Holy Year Programmes. Where the Cross was taken from house to house many people came back to the church, prayer and devotion were encouraged. People felt lonely when the Cross left them, they felt a new desire for Christ. We also need to follow up on pastoral policy and practice.
16. Fr George Byarugaba has graciously agreed to become chaplain for the Amadodana. He will plan training and organisation for the year 2001.
17. During March we intend to have a diocesan pastoral council meeting . This will discuss the issues raised by the Mariannhill National Convention in August. High on the Agenda will be the state of families and the programmes regarding the reconstitution of marriage and the family. Please have parish councils in every parish so that representatives are easily available for these various encounters. The laity too must feel the ownership of the diocese and that their voices are necessary for the future of the diocese. Fr Bill will continue to chair the pastoral councils.
18.To help with retreat facilities and meetings of the societies we have constructed a shower\ toilet block at the cathedral premises.
19. At Coolock House in relation to marriages we spoke about the situation of Sanatio in Radice for cases where one partner absolutely refuses to co-operate in celebration of Church marriage. This is dealt with in Canons 1161 to 1165. In the present Canon Law it is called Rectroactive Validation. It says that Rectoactive Validation of an invalid marriage is its validation without renewal of consent, granted by the competent authority. It involves a despensation from an inpediment if there is one and from canonical form if it had not been observed.
Sanatio takes place from the moment the favour is granted. It must be probable that the parties intended to persevere in conjugal life. Again it is granted even if one or both parties is unaware of it. It is granted only for a grave reason. And it can be granted by the diocesan bishop in individual cases.
20. From Coolock House; applicants for the St Annes, Udodana, Sacred Heart etc must have their marriages blessed in church before reception into the Society.
21. The payment of people involved in the pastoral apostolate is controlled by the parish priest. Expenses incurred in this ministry, e.g. travel, can be paid. The usual stipend can be accepted by the minister from the family involved. Nothing however will be paid by the diocese. If the minister uses his own vehicle then petrol money should be given him.
22. Priests’ meetings during the year;
A). We will celebrate two diocesan feast days together during the year. The bishop’s day of concecration, February the 21s,t and another day. We can also use these days for reflection together.
B). We will make a list of dates for recollection for the year. It is essential that all diocesan priests have a monthly day of recollection except on the month of their annual retreat. The religious priests and brothers have their own arrangements.
C) The bishop will invite diocesan priests for special celebrations each year, for example, St John Vianney, and other such days at the bishop’s house. .
23. Regarding infant baptism the meeting in June at Kokstad came up with following resolutions.
Regarding children up to the age of seven. Before baptising such a child the Minister must ascertain that there is real hope of a catholic up-bringing for this child. The mother and the father if possible and even the grandmother should be interviewed before the child is accepted for the baptism. If there are no parents present for some reason then the child can only be baptised if there is a demonstrably strong family attachment to the faith and to the church.
When adults comes asking for a child to be baptised we must see if the other children in that family have been baptised, if they are now making confession, if they have received Holy Communion and are preparing for Confirmation etc. If the other children of the family are not been sent to church then it is almost impossible to have security in baptising yet another child.
We should take our time before baptising and ensure that people attend instructions and prepare for the sacrament and it’s obligations.
If a priest is on supply in a parish he should not change parish policy or baptise unless the resident priest has already approved.
In the case of outstations there must be somebody apart from the parent who is seen as responsible or in charge and who is prepared to recommend the child for baptism.
When a priest is transferred he must as out going priest pass on all the information to the incoming priest who must note the policy regarding sacraments. Confusion appears sometimes in that some priests are strict regarding baptism while others baptise everybody.
In instructions parents must understand something about the person of Jesus, his death and resurrection and his sending of the Holy Spirit. The must know how baptism clothes us in Christ. (Romans 6) The absolute demands of Christian living, the commandments of Christ, love of God and love of neighbour are absolute. They must know and pray the Our Father and the Creed.
We are now working on a Catechetical syllabus for the diocese.
As regarding adults.
They should be prepared for baptism and confirmation at the same time.
Converts can be instructed with Catechumens in preparation for baptism or reception in the church.
We follow the RCIA program. Though Catechumens may be received or ready by June of the previous year before the following Easter’s baptism. They must attend every week in the mean time.
24. On December 18 the diocesan priests will celebrate Fr Bongani’s ordination at the Bishop’s House. The 19th will be a day of Recollection.
A very Happy Christmas to everybody. May God bless all the dedicated work done by all priests and sisters in this diocese this year.