1 May 2002
1. Forthcoming Events
a. The Bishop will attend the SACBC Board meeting in Pretoria from the 6th to 11th May.
b. The Minister General of the Franciscans, Fr Giacomo Bini, will visit Kokstad on the 2nd of May. Accompanuying him will be Fr Vumile the Provincial and Fr Peter Williams the Definitor General. He will meet with the Franciscans, the Poor Clares and the SFO.
c. Fr Antonio in Mount Frere will remember his Silver Jubilee of Priesthood on May the 8th .
d. There will be recollection for the diocesan priests on May the 14th. Contact Fr Joseph at the Cathedral.
e. The week of prayer for Christian unity runs from May the 9th to the 19th this year. Please encourage the Christians to pray for the unity of the Christian Churches, it was one of the great desires of Jesus.
f. Bro. Lulama Msongelwa will return to the diocese on May the 4th from St John Vianney Seminary having completed his studies.
g. Deacon Vincent Bwete, will be ordained priest at Bizana on the 25th May at 10. a.m.
Bro. Lulama Msongelwa will be ordained a Deacon on the same day in the same ceremony.
All are invited to attend in the church in Bizana starting at 10 am. Those who wish the new Fr Vincent to say Mass for their parish please contact him at Flagstaff.
h. The Bishop will meet with the Amarhamente in Ntlangwini on June the 1st for a parish meeting.
i. All the priests of the diocese are invited to a meeting of Priests at Maria Telgte at 9:30 in the morning on June the 3rd . This is the general meeting in the line and Spirit of Coolock House
j. On June the 8th the bishop will celebrate with the Comboni Fathers and the Umhlangano
weNtliziyo at Mount Ayliff. Fr Antonio is building a church in Emakoloneni and a shrine to Our Lady beside the dam.
k. On June the 9th the bishop with Fr Antonio will consecrate the parish of Mount Frere to the Sacred Heart.
2. We say goodbye to Fr Peter Wilson who has laboured so generously in our diocese for many years. Peter has been transferred to Sebokeng.
We congratulate and welcome two New Consultors to the diocese, they are Fr Mawethu Potolwana OFM and Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kassin.
The next meeting of the Consultors will take place at the bishop’s Office on Monday the 27th of May at 9:30 am.
We welcome back from his studies in Jerusalem, Fr Rodgers Sihlobo, and thank God that he came home safely from that strife torn land..
3. We congratulate Fr Tom Byrne and Catechist Patrick Mkafane on their celebration of their Jubilees at Bongweni in an occasion of great joy with a very appreciative congregation.
Tom is over 50 years a priest and has worked that length of time in Kokstad diocese in dedicated service. He may not now leave having been married to the parish and annointed with inyongo.
Mr Mkafane has worked as a catechist since 1946. He related with great kindness with all. He is a man of peace, a trustworthy man, a man who has served the people and is held deservedly in very high regard by everybody.
4. The diocese congratulates Sr Marie Colette of the Poor Clare Monastery who celebrated her Silver Jubilee of Profession on the 27th April. It was a deeply meaningful celebration in the new church underlining the power of a well prepared liturgy to touch our hearts. She renewed her vows in the hands of Sr Veronica- who received her originally into the Order. The music and words of the contemplative hymns taken from the writing of St Clare made a deep impresssion. The sisters’ use of a liturgy to uplift people to God is exemplary.
5. We congratulate the parish and people of Makhoba on the transfer to them of twelve thousand hectores of land by the President of the Republic of South Africa , Thabo Mbeki.
This was the righting of an ancient wrong with restitution of land taken forcibly some forty to fifty years ago. The move will make significant changes in two of our parishes , New Makhoba and Maria Telgte. It seems that villages will be built around the houses of the farmers.
6. The diocese was represented at the Xhosa Pastoral Regional meeting held at Umtata from the 9th to the 11th of April by Fr George Byarugaba, Fr Mawethu Potolwana, and Mr and Mrs Denge of Marriage Encounter and by the bishop. Mr and Mrs Denge gave a clear and inspiring account of the work done by Marriage encounter in parts of the diocese of Kokstad. It is obvious that this is a tremendous opportunity for us to strengthen and renew family life. Please contact the couple or Fr George or Fr Mawethu about having married couples in your parish join marriage encounter.
The movement can transform lives and homes bringing faith, peace and charity into homes. It is the intention of Marriage Encounter to make their homes, homes also for our priests. This is an excellent way to build up parishes. I highly encourage our priests to avail of this possibility.
Fr Sihlobo who initiated this process in diocese is to be congratulated.
7. On the 21st March the new convent of the Little Servants of the Immaculate at Matatiele was blessed. This building allows the sisters to use the old convent for their very successful childrens creche. The sisters, who are committed to the people, work in the parish in many ways and have now built this new building which will enable them to pursue their aostolate more readily. The diocese welcomes them with joy.
8. Remember the youth this year. We have a diocesan youth Executive. Please contact Deacon Vincent Bwete about the Youth Programes for your parish . The youth feel neglected in many areas, and there are little programmes for them after confirmation, we need to engage them and to form them as Christians.
9. There are thirteen girls and young woman from the diocese attending an excellent dress making school which offers many subjects and skills run by the Postulant Mistress at Mariannhill. This course lasts for two years. We are subsidising their presence there. Congratulations to the parish priests who were able to send girls for this course. It will enable them to earn their own living rather than remain at home in the villages. This is particularly helpful for girls whose matric results were not strong enough to allow them to continue studies.
10. Visitors: We were very happy to welcome the Mother General of the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart, Mother Genevieve from France who came to visit the sisters in four convents in the diocese. The bishop was able to express his gratitute and appreciation of the diocese for the committed, dedicated work done by the sisters , many of them daughters of this church.
Other visitors were Br Terry Dowling, the Provincial Superior of the Christian brothers.
Sister Dominic, the Provincial Sister of the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart came on the 29th of April.
A Special visitor was Sister Theodata, now aged 95 who came accompanied by Sister Melvina. Sister Theodata has been working in South Africa for 69 years. She came from Pretoria to visit her old convent of Kokstad. She also ministered in Matatiele in 1941.
A very special visitor for the Profession of Sister Maria Coletta was Mother Veronica , the Foundress of Our Monastery in Kokstad. We were very happy to have her here for a short while. And we express great gratitude to her and the Mother Monastery of Lusaka fro the sacrifices they made in sending sisters amongst us to witness to contemplative life.
11. The bishop has already been able to visit more than half the parishes regarding the parish pastoral plan for this year. Reflection with the parish priest and the parish workers is very fruitful. It allows priests, sisters and people leaders to plan together, to get a common focus and to reflect and evaluate their work. While every parish has many workers, unless we reflect with them on the Christian dimension of their work it can become simply automatic and unreflective.
We must renew the faith and the understanding of the Apostolate among our Christians.
12. The Aids committee of the diocese met on the 4th of March in a meeting chaired by Fr Mawethu. They discussed the question of financial incentives for the home-based care workers, there are 350 of them and some are truly heroic. The evaluated the work and reports of the Aids committees in the diocese. We also need to offer further training, especially in the area of counselling for those able to benefit. We are begining to examine the orphan problem.
We hope that during this year some of the better volunteer workers will be sent for counselling training. The priests’ support for this whole programme is essential. A lot of our workers spoke of stress involved in caring for dying people and in caring for the families. It would be a great act of apostolic service to spend some time each month with the group of volunteers, even if only simply listeneing to them and praying with them briefly. This would be an ideal work for religious sisters, and would be truly in line with the will of founders who did all they could to alleviate the poor of their time.
There is soup available from the bishops house and this should be distributed by the people. However, it is very expensive, about 170 rand per 25 kilo bag. The person in charge must be responsible.
13. It is extremely important that young people be invited to serve the diocese as priests, brothers and sisters. Reference should also be made to contemplative vocation. There are young men who if encouraged and if their vocation is nursed will become great Ministers of the church in this diocese.
Our young people are very generous but we meet to pay attention to them. There is a group of yongboys in Bongweni who go around the area praying and singing and witnessing. Father Bongani is the chairperson of Vocation committee in the diocese.
There will be a program by which young people will be invited to come and meet the Seminarians through the vocations committee in Kokstad. Please keep contact with Fr Bongani..
14. May is the month of Mary, it is an excellent time to encourage people to pray the Rosary in the family . We have to support the family in every possible way, spiritually and physically.
Congratulations to the parishes which have the pilgrim statue and who are taking it from place to place. This is also a way to renew the faith and devotion of people regarding the role of Mary in the church.
15. We have continued to assist in the erection of a Technical college for Kokstad. Because of building delays it will only now open in September this year. It is hoped that by August those who want to do various trades like motor mechanics, computors, Secretarial work, Electrical training will be able to enrole.
16. The bishop hopes to visit Hardenberg, Makhoba, Bizana, in order to discuss with the leaders and the priests the pastoral vision for the year. We have yet to fix dates for these meetings.
17. The tremendous role that confession can play in the spiritual life of people was again evident in the ceremony of the Last Words in Bizana. The parish was crowded with enormous numbers of people wanting to go to confession. This Sacrament is a healing Sacrament. Many of our people feel that they are not being cared for personally in their own spiritual difficulties and in their health problems. We should really emphasise the sacrament of confession and make it available , we should also offer some kind of healing especially now as we approach Winter and while people are terrified by Aids. With so many people sick we have to show that the Christian faith is more than just words. We must listen for our peoples needs and lay hands on them in healing. God will listen to our prayers without doubt.
18. Catechetics continues to be top priority. The chief responsibility is on the parish priest in his parish. If there is no catechetical programme or motivation of the catechism teachers then many of our young people will simply join other churches or leave all faith behind. This continues to be one of the most important responsibilities of a parish priest. Some parishes are already availing of the help of the sisters. Priests must get all the help they can. With many excellent sisters and religious in our diocese we can call on help. Of particular mention is Sister Callista in Flagstaff who diocesan secretary of Catechetics and is available to advise, visit and motivate our catechism teachers. The RCIA for adults is of fundamental importance.
19. Radio Varitas is now broadcasting in South Africa for three to four hours a day . This is a catholic radio station from Johannesburg for catholics and is on short wave.
We should bring it to the attention of our people and from the media, especially the Southern Cross, find out the times and the wave-lengths.
20. Tha Amadodana had their election under the baton of Fr George and chose Mr Denge as president and Mr Mthuthayana as vice president.
Now that Fr Peter has gone it is hope that Fr Antonio, in spite of all his work, will act as Spiritual Director of the Umhlangano weNhliziyo. Fr Mawethu will look after the SFO in Pondoland and Fr Teddy in the rest of the diocese.
21. The INKWENKWEZI is now selling very well, very few copies left unsold. However, in some parishes we are not making a full scale effort to get this catholic news into the hands of our people. Please try and get parishioners involved in selling it. The ‘Lives of the saints’ are also available in XHOSA and it would be a very important thing that each sodality in the parish have one copy of this book. It cost R30 from the diocese.