1st March 2002
On the 14th of February Fr Wilfrid Byrne OFM was laid to rest at La Verna. Fr Wilfrid came to South Africa in 1947. He spent some 40 years in Kokstad Diocese at Mount Frere, Bizana and in the Cathedral in Kokstad. A warm and jovial person he served this Church and its people with dedication, zeal and humanity. Born in Wexford in Ireland in 1913 Fr Wilfrid joined the Franciscans in1933 and was ordained priest in Rome in 1940. After 7 years apostolic work in Ireland he came to Kokstad.
Fr Wilfrid was a very regular religious, he loved the brothers and was deeply devoted to the Eucharist and to preaching God’s word. He supported the Legion of Mary in those great years when it laid the foundations of the modern Bizana parish. May God grant eternal rest to this stalward of our church.
2. We welcome to the diocese Fr Teddy Lennon who has come as Postulant Master in Kokstad. Staffing the postulancy with him are Peter Wilson and Tony Hardiman.
We welcome Fr Sizwe Nkonza who will be working in Hardenberg.
We welcome back Sister Callista with her degree in Theology. She will be Catechetics secretary for the Diocese but stationed in Flagstaff. Those wishing for catechetical help should consult her there. We also welcome Brother Thabang Letsohla and Brother Sipho Zikhali who will do their pastoral internship.
3. We say congratulations and welcome to Vincent Bwete who was ordained a Deacon on the January 8th at Mount Ayliff. May God bless him in his apostolate and in his service of the people here. He is stationed in Flagstaff.
4. At the bishops plenary session in Pretoria many issues came up for discussion.
a. The Bishops Conference will support Saint Augustine’s as a Catholic University and its move to Victory Park convent. This has been assisted by money from the German church.
b. The Conference will issue a document A journey towards wholeness dealing with Liturgical enculturation.
c. The Conference has requested the Department of Catechetics and the Lumko Institute to co operate in producing a new cathechism series called Our Christian heritage.
d. The Conference intends to sell Khanya House because of lack of office space and will acquire the old Land Bank building in Paul Kruger street if financial agreement can be reached.
e. The department of Justice and Peace of the Conference is taking up the challenge of the Government to participate in the Moral Regeneration process . They will initiate discussion throughout the country in the near future.
f. The conference is interested in purchasing the Oakford Priory and moving Saint Peter’s Philosophy Seminary there.
g. The Conference discussed negotiations with the Department of Education regarding the government’s proposed policy of religious instructions in Government schools.
h. The conference adopted the plans of the Natural Family Planning group who have a new programme which accords with Catholic moral teaching. It should be welcomed to the diocese. They will come on invitation, Ms Pat McGregor.
i. Because of new Government taxations the church is meeting with its legal advisary committee to adopt a plan of action.
J. The conference agreed that the SACOP and the bishops spend some time together to discuss areas of mutual concern between priests and bishops.
4. The Aids committee of the diocese will meet at the bishops house on March the 4th . The supervisors in the parishes find that they are alone in the work they are trying to do. We have trained almost 350 volunteers. Some of these are extremely courageous and doing wonderful work. But unless the priests and sisters of the parish and the agencies of the parish support the supervisors and the volunteers their work will fail. We will have to personally take an interest in the Aids apostolate, to ensure its success.
5. The Xhosa regional pastoral meeting will take place from the 9th to the 11th of April. Representing the diocese will be Father Mawethu , Fr George, the Bishop and a Marriage Encounter couple from Bizana. It will be in Umtata this year.
The Sotho pastoral region will take place from the 24th to the 27th of April at Bethlehem and we will be represented by Fr Bongani and two other delegates.
6. Sister Maria Colette at the Poor Clares will celebrate 25 years Silver Jubilee on the 27th of April. In gratitude for a life of service and humble prayer for the church and for our diocese you’re encouraged to join with Sister in this day of thanksgiving to God.
7. Remember the Chrism Mass with the blessing of the oils and renewal of priestly promises on the 27th of March at 11 in the morning. All priests, religious and parishoners are invited to attend. There will be light lunch for everybody afterwards. Members of the Bhongweni choir will lead the singing with some hymns from the Cathedral people.
8. Let us remind people to pray the stations of the cross during Lent. We must also encourage the Sacrament of reconciliation especially coming up to Holy Week.
9. The new convent in Matatiele will be blessed by the Bishop on the 21st of March at 10 in the morning.
10. Priests, please remember the meeting from 11th. March in the evening until the 14th morning at Coolock. We continue to discuss our pastoral life in the diocese and share together in co-operating and celebrating our priesthood. On the 1st day Fr Stuart Bate, OMI will speak, Fr Vincent Mdabe CMM will speak briefly on inculcuration. We will also discuss the Aids programme, vocations, the sodalities, pastoral practice.
11. The bishops conference has through its Department of Ecumenism initiated an anti-corruption drive. We will have to discuss in Coolock the form this drive will take. The idea is to speak about corruption in public life and get people, especially professionals, to sign a pledge or commitment to avoid all corruption in their profesional duties.
12. The next consultors meeting will take place on the 8th of April and Fr Bongani from the vocations committee and Br Vincent from the Youth will give a short report at the meeting.
13. The religious sisters and brothers of the diocese met at Coolock from the 3rd to the 6th of February to discuss the religious life and their work in the diocese. This was a very wonderful celebration of our common commitment to serve Christ in the Gospel. The sisters and brothers renewed their commitment to the church. Many issues, especially the Aid Crisis were discussed and the document Integrity in Mission was presented to each house. Since then another copy was sent to each house. This Integrity in Mission is compulsory reading for every religious in the diocese as it lays down what the church expects of us in our professional and ethical activity.
In discussing the aids crisis affecting our people many excellent suggestions arose:
a. How to form youth in the avoidance of aids.
b. How to talk to people already suffering from the disease or whose relatives are suffering to the disease, and
c. How to encourage volunteers who have been traumatised by their experience.
Sister Callista was elected as the co ordinator of Religious in the diocese and her assistant will be Sr Chrysanta Mnqambi from Maria Telgte.
14. We welcome the postulants Ruben, Fabian, and Ricky to the postulancy in Kokstad. Fr Vumile the provincial , gave them an inspiring address when receiving them into their new commitment.
15. The diocesan pastoral council met in Kokstad on the 16th of February and was chaired by Fr Bill Lovett. There were 45 delegates from most parishes present. Elections took place and 10 members were elected to be part of a diocesan executive. They will meet again in May to select the various offices of the executive.
16. Nurses of the diocese were invited to the cathedral to pray for health carers and for the sick on February the 9th . About 50 nurses attended and they renewed their nurses pledge, they confessed failures and re- commited themselves to bringing Christ into the lives of the sick. It was an exellent day.
17. Archbishop Spita of Kasama in Zambia came to visit the Poor Clares, some of whom come from his Archdiocese in the very North of Zambia.
18. The Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries came to visit his brothers at Mount Frere and Mount Ayliff and in January paid a courtesy visit to the bishop.
On May the 2nd the Minister General of the Franciscans will meet with all Franciscans 1st , 2nd and Third Order at the Poor Clare convent and celebrate Mass and their common vocation on May the 2nd.
Mother General and her Secretary of the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus called for discussions on a visit to Kokstad on February 27th.
19. The Youth executive will meet in Kokstad on March the 11th, – will be chaired by Bro Vincent.
20. St Patrick’s dance will take place on the 16th of March in Kokstad.
21. The diocese expresses gratitude to Father Liam McDermott who has been recalled to Vereniging to work there. Fr Liam was with us for one year. And we were delighted to have him and appreciated his presence.
22. Remember that our priorities in the diocese are the training of our leaders in the parishes, the improvement of family and marriage institutions, and the formation of Youth.
We want all sodalities to be trained in givng their members tasks each month and being expected to report back on these activities next month. The Glenmore, Lumko team are available for skills training. The parish pastoral council need to have a parish vision and real responsibility in caring for the people.
The next Priests day of recollection will take place on the 16th of April at Franklin.