16th December 2001
1. I wish everyone working in the Diocese a very happy Christmas.
During this year I was filled with admiration and appreciation for the apostolic commitment of the personel of Kokstad diocese. How often the poor turned in desperation to the Church and you were there for them. In you they found welcome and hope, God’s presence.
I realise that almost everybody in the diocese is overstretched and overworked. So I hope you have a peaceful and restful Christmas and New Year.
Then we can strive to train our people to share with us the joyful labour of serving Christ.
2. Financial matters: The diocese of Kokstad is not a wealthy diocese in resources and finance. The only regular income we have is the money sent annually from the Pontifical Mission Societies in Rome. This amounts to US $ 32,000.00. When you realise that a large percentage of this is consumed paying for the education of our seminarians, you can appreciate how little money the diocese actually has. The cost of seminary training for a student per annum is Rand 23,000.00.
When your know that the diocese must subsidize almost every parish, buy all cars, pay wages, invest in medical aid, help the poor through development, provide money for insurance, buildings and holidays, finance Aids ministry, provide educational assistance and minister its own affairs then you see how little money there is.
Admittedly, many of our people are poor. But it must be said that we could and must do more to make the diocese self-supporting. We simply cannot continue much longer financially at our present pace.
Using conservative estimates let me say that for each kilometer we travel by car we cost the diocese R1,20. Thus a return trip to Harding would cost in the region of 140.00 rand. A round trip to Durban, 500 Kilometers, would cost the diocese 600.00 rand. In the light of this it must be emphasised that diocesan vehicles are for the pastoral ministry. Long car trips outside the diocese for personal reasons can only be tolerated at all when paid for out of our own personal money. Trips for pastoral reasons, of course, will be funded by the diocese.
Having cellphones and other expensive equipment, though admittedly common amongst our non-functioning civil servants who regard it as part of their unifrom, is something that we must pay for ourselves.
I just want to emphasise again that the diocese is struggling financially and we must be very honest in our use of money . All income should be faithfully accounted for and sent in quarterly returns. The faithful should be encouraged continually to finance the parish and the diocese. I do hope that over the next four year subsidies will gradually melt away.
3. Youth: We need to do something to help our youth. It is true that we are helping the smaller children and some of the girls with the Children of Mary and the Amasotshanyana. There is also the Jufra and Choirs and some Youth groups. There is a large group between the ages of 18 and 30 who define themselves as youth and who need to partcipate in the life of the church. A small, very small, executive of youth leaders, encouraged by the priest can do a lot to make these good people belong.
Thirty five youth participated in the leadership course from the 3rd to the 7th of December. They were facilitated by the Home and Family Youth National Team. This National team is available to come to parishes or diocese to help.
That diocesan youth executive is also a small group who hopefully will help the priest with this work. Their first meeting will be at the bishop’s house on January the 16th .
4. Diocesan Pastoral council: The next DPC will be at Kokstad on February the 16th . Three members of the parish Pastoral councils are invited to attend. The religious of the diocese should select two representatives. Each deanery will have a priest representative.
The meeting will be attended also by the chairpersons of the St Anne’s, the Catholic Women’s League, the Sacred Heart society, Amadodana, Franciscans, two members of the Diocesan Youth Executive. Would the spiritual directors inform the relevant persons.
The main task of the first meeting will be the election of a diocesan executive. We will elect a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson, Secretary and Vice Secretary, and treasurer.
Also to be debated will be the topic for the DPC meeting of October 2002. We will select a priority issue within the life of the diocese as a subject for reflection and planning together.
5. The next Coolock meeting will take place from the 11th to the 14th of March 2002. Fr Steward Bate, Professor of Pastoral Theology at Cedara, will be the guest lecturer. On the second day we will finalise statutes for pastoral policy of the diocese. Drafts will be circulated in the next few weeks for reflection.
6. Fr Mawethu from Bizana will conduct a day on Aids counselling for priests at Kokstad on January the 21st . We will begin in the afternoon at 3 pm.
7. Br Vincent Bwete will be ordained a Deacon in Mount Ayliff on the 8th of January.
Encourage youth who may be interested in priestly vocation to attend, at 10 a.m. Br Vincent will be appointed to assist Fr Lemau in Flagstaff.
8. There will be a Christmas lunch at the bishop’s house for priests and brothers on December the 31st .
9. The priorities of the diocese for the year 2002 can be gleaned from the Inkwenkwezi, December issue, page 4.
10. Catechetics: Sister Callista of the Daughters of the Charity of the Sacred Heart will be the diocesan secretary for catechetics. She has just completed a Theology Degree at Cedara. As diocesan secretary Sister will visit parishes to see where she can be of help for your programmes. She will work within the programmes already in operation in your parishes. However, I do encourage you to invite her to offer motivation, prayer opportunities and reflection with all your Catechism teachers. Like everybody else they need a formation, recognition and prayer.
11. The Catholic community of Bizana have taken a decision to establish a school on the mission. This is not a diocesan Catholic school as such but its ethos will be catholic. Fund raising, wages etc will be the responsibility of the parents and Governing body. The diocese however, has helped in providing two classrooms. The Catholic Institute of Education will also work with teachers in establishing a program.
12. Ecumenical Anti-corruption campaign: The Catholic Bishops Department for Ecumenism, headed by Bishop Hirmer of Umtata, will supply material for an Anticorruption campaign to be launched on February the 3rd, 2002. This material will be distributed in all parishes and to all parish priests.
a. They ask pastors to introduce the project from the pulpit and in meetings.
b. They ask us to encourage teachers, officials, policemen, business men and church leaders to take part in this anticorruption commitment service.
c. They ask us to get in contact with the pastors of other Christian communities in the area and get members of all denominations to celebrate the proposed commitment service together. The whole campaign should show the country of South Africa how Christians from different traditions have an important contribution to make in restructuring the moral fibre of the Nation. Launching, Sunday the 3rd of February.
13. Suggestions for a ceremony to commission catechists during January or February 2002.
You will find at the back of this Iindaba a draft ceremony for commissioning catechists at Sunday Mass. Of course, you can formulate your own ceremony from the hymn book “Bongani Inkosi”.
14. The Government wishes to bring in new laws governing income tax. This will also affect the church during the year 2002. As you know anybody earning 1200.00 rand a month or above is taxable. Overseas money will not be taxed, all local income will. It is also possible that even church collections will be of interest to the government taxman.
15. During this year please try and do the following:–
a. Make sure that we look for vocations. There is a vocation team and hopefully during January the seminarians will be available to speak on vocation.
Young man in form 4 or 5 and have real interest in vocations should come to the bishop’s house and live with the seminarians from the 6th to the 12th of January. The seminarians will be available to parishes for the rest of that month.
b. Do also invite the Aids team to train your Youth and volunteer workers.
c. Brother Herman can offer assistance with micro Agricultural projects.
d. The Glenmore team can also come if you invite them to motivate and train the local church leaders, funeral leaders, those who lead the services on Sundays.
e. Buy religious objects, cheaply, from Bro Erich.
16. On the 11th of December the CIE National Office came to salute Brother Jim Murtagh for his wonderful work in Education at this office in Kokstad. During the year 2001 the team dealt with teachers who are teaching 70,000 children in our area. They offer many different courses and in-service training.
Brother Jim is retiring as a full time member of the CIE office in Kokstad. However, he will continue in a part- time capacity to facilitate the present team. Their concentration in the year 2002 will be particularly in Bizana area where they are working with 10 schools.
The National team also came to express the appreciation for Mrs Nakin from Hardenberg who worked so zealously for the last five years as a member of the team.They gave her an award of Rand 10,000,00. The whole diocese appreciates their achievemnets.
17. Please pray for Felicitas Nomsolwana who is quite ill. She has worked for the diocese 50 years and offered hospitality to all of us in different forms over these years in a most hospitable, friendly and faithful manner.
18. Fort coming events:
a. December 23rd , Confirmation – St Callistus.
b. December 25th, Midnight Mass – Cathedral.
c. December 31st Christmas lunch with priests – Bishop’s house.
d. 8th of January , Diaconate Ordination , Bro Vincent Bwete – Mount Ayliff.
e. 13th of January , Confirmation – Hardenberg.
f. 20th of January, Day of appointment of Catechism teachers in each parish.
g. 21st of January, Study day for priests with Father Mawethu on Aids.
h. 23rd to 31st of January, Bishop at SACBC, Pretoria.
i. 27th of January, Witbank Ordination of Bishop Paul Khumalo.
j. February the 9th , Catholic Nurses meet at the Cathedral for day of prayer, 9 am.
k. February 10th , The World Day of the sick. On this Sunday have a service for the sick in all churches if possible.
19. On December 18 at Matikwe convent Sr Jane Nomvulo Mtambo from Flagstaff will take her vows as a Daughter of Charity. Two other girls f rom the diocese, Nosisa from Lusiki and Nomsa from Flagstaff will enter the novitiate.
We congratulate Sr Paulus Maria Mngcwabe who will celebrate her silver jubilee on January 5 at Glen Avent. Sr Paulus has done a great lot for our children and youth and we pray God to bless her now and always.