15 July 2002
1. In the last month we have lost two wonderful friends of the diocese. On June the 8th Brother Jim Murtagh past away suddenly in Kokstad. The previous day Bro Jim had been in Matatiele awarding certificates to teachers who had completed courses with the Catholic Institute of Education. The previous Monday he had been in Maria Telgte explaining regarding the procedure for Bursaries. During the week he had gone to a number of schools offering the opportunity for a Bursary to the children. Brother Jim, a member of the Irish Christian Brothers will be deeply missed for he was a committed, friendly, sociable man. He had worked in Kokstad Diocese for 16 years. His first seven years was spent at Flagstaff at Sacred Heart School where he encouraged a generation of pupils in studies. We offer sincere sympathy to the congregation of the Christian Brothers and to Brother Alan and Brother Val still with us in Kokstad.
We are also sad to hear of the death of John Hanley ofm. Fr John was the director of the Franciscan Missionary Union in Dublin. As such he was a tremendous supporter financially, spiritually and in every way. We ask God to give eternal rest to this man who made our work possible and who brought the generosity of the Irish church to Kokstad. He visited here on a number of occasions and through his writings, his office work and his commitment to the individual Friars made our lives much easier. May God give him eternal rest.
The bishop attended the funeral of Bishop Reginald Orsmond, the bishop of Johannesburg on the 29th of May.
2. The diocese had the great privilege of welcoming Fr Giacamo Bini ofm the Minister General of the Franciscan Order to the diocese on May the 2nd. Fr Giacamo celebrated Mass for the whole Franciscan family gathered in the beautiful church of the Poor Clares. Mother Lilato the Sisters and the choir from Bhongweni made the liturgy a very memorable one. After Mass Fr Giacamo met Franciscans from all over South Africa .
We were honoured to have present NoNdlunkulu from Qawukeni who welcomed Fr Bini to South Africa . In the afternoon Fr Giacamo spoke with the Friars and had an evening meal here. It is a great honour to have the successor of St Francis among us. May the Franciscan family continue to grow and be blessed with many vocations.
3. One of the great occasions for the diocese this year took place in Bizana on May the 25th when Fr Vincent Bwete was ordained priest and Brother Lulama Msongelwa a deacon. There was palpable joy in the congregation in Bizana for the beautiful liturgy. Vincent had with him his Father and uncle from Uganda, while Lulama had the whole parish of Bizana behind him. It was a great day for the diocese and I thank all priests who gave such support and were present . A special word for the appreciation must go to Fr Mawethu who organised the choirs and oversaw the elaborate preparations of this great and memorable occasion. It was wonderful that Fr Rodgers Sihlobo who had always encouraged Lulama and who had just arrived back from his studies in the Holy land was present for the occasion.
4. The Bible team from Durban will give an intensive course in Bible to the leaders and people of the parish of Flagstaff from the 1st to the 3rd of August. Later in the month for a week end they will also come to Mount Ayliff. I encourage parish priests to invite this group. The diocese will help with the expenses. Our people are continually asking for help with the Bible. This is a glorious opportunity to present a Bible in an ordered way with suitable supporting texts to our people.
5. We wish to extend sincere gratitute to Bro Tabang Gabriel Letsohla and Bro SiphoZikhali ofm who did their internship in the parishes of Bhongweni and Bizana. Both had a great success and did wonderful work visiting the people, praying with them and encouraging them. The people expressed gratitude to have such young enthusiastic and dedicated men working among them. May they hurry back from their studies to the diocese.
We wish to welcome Brother Solly ofm to Hardenberg and Brothers Bheki ofm and Aaron ofm to Kokstad . They have completed their studies at St John Vianney Seminary they are now deacons and they have come to help us serve our people in the diocese. We are delighted to have them and say to them WELCOME BROTHERS!. We pray that God may continue to bless them and help them in their preparations for ordination.
6. Sister Callista is the co-ordinator of the Catechetical Department of the diocese. Sister is resident in Flagstaff and is doing wonderful work in the villages of that parish.
Sister also visited Mount Ayliff and other parishes to help them with their catechetical formation. She will be happy to help any parish who wants to assist its teachers in this most important Apostolate. Please get in contact with Sister Callista.
7. Fr Vincent Bwete conducted a youth retreat and concert at Kokstad, the 12th to the 14th of July. Fr Bwete is the spiritual director for the youth of the diocese. This is an area that until now has been somewhat neglected . We must do something to bring our youth into the church offer them guidance and formation , offer them an opportunity to play their role in church. The youth are our future, they are the children of God, and they are often the people most in need of God’s help. Congratulations to Fr Vincent for his work.
The diocese wishes to employ a fulltime youth worker . Can you suggest a lively , strong , confident and faithful, catholic person , between the ages of 29 an 49 who would have the charism to dedicate him/herself fully to the youth of the diocese. It will be a payed job. Could you suggest somebody? Is there a sister?
8. Congratulations to Fr Jose of Franklin who organised an excellent leadership course for the leaders of the children of Mary from July the 9th to the 11th in Kokstad. 47 young people came and the team from Mariannhill offered them workshops and formation in leadership. This very successful meeting of the youth was a great joy for the diocese.
9. The Amadodana with their spiritual director, Fr George, will meet in Kokstad, Saturday the 20 of July.
10. Fr Florian , Fr Gunther of Mount Ayliff will bring 70 altar servers to the parish for the retreat on the 21st and 22nd of July. This is an excellent initiative and brings our young people into contact with the church. This is an opportunity to teach the central importance of the Eucharist , of love for the things of God, to make them participate in the life of the church and to encourage them in their christian vocation.
11. The Health committee looking after Aids sufferers in the diocese is alive and well . Fr Mawethu is the Chairperson, Miss Nogabe and Miss Qwebeba are on the team and Sr Mary Anthony looks after Sinosizo in Lusikisiki, Lerato Makhetha of Matatiele is secretary of the diocesan team . Please, priests and sisters, offer all the encouragement you can to our home-based care people. In the near future we will be offering courses for counsellors from which people may be able to get Government work in the future. Our people are suffering, do not abandon them, support our Home-based care workers.
12. The South African Catholic church has made Marriage and the Family its top priority for the next 10 years. With this in mind we have a glorious opportunity in that we have an excellent Marriage Encounter unit in our diocese. Fr Sihlobo has now returned after his extensive studies in the Holy land. Fr did wonderful work for our families and marriages with Marriage Encounter for many years. In fact, the Xhosa regional conference of bishops has requested that he foster the Encounter in our region from Bizana to Cape Town.
Could we assist him in finding couples who would be suitable candidates to attend marriage encounter. Remember that marriage encounter is not so much for solving marriage problems but to enrich all marriages and family life and sharing.
13. Remember the youth pilgrimage to Kevelear. This will take place between the 10th and the 13th of December this year. Chairperson of the organising committee is Fr Gunther. With him on the committee, Fr Bongani Mbhele , Fr Joseph, Fr Vincent, Sr Helena from Matatiele, Sr Gertrude, Sr Margaret and Mrs Setsubi.
Also remember the first Sunday after the 15th of August is the Kevelear pilgrimage each year. Many of our people like to go.
14. Recently, a parishioner of Kokstad made enquiries about becoming a Deacon in tghe diocese. This is a question we will have to discuss. Diaconate is a Sacrament, deacons must be offered full-time training. They are totally dedicated to the service of the church. They must get on-going formation. Some of our excellent catechists could be considered candidates for training for deacon, what do you think about it? Without the structure and Order of diaconate do we offer sufficient training for our catechists?
15. Through the initiative of Fr Antonio , the Bishop and Fr Antonio concecrated the parish of Mount Frere to the Sacred Heart on June the 9th . It brought a spirit of renewal and fervour. to our people. May the Sacred Heart continue to be the light and consolation of the people. There are 45 villages in Mount Frere, an area of much suffering from poverty and unemployment.
16. Thanks to the priests who promoted candidates to apply for the Bursaries offered through the Bishop’s office here in Kokstad. Mrs Lorna Wicks and Brother Jim introduced the programme at Maria Telgte . Application forms can be had from Lorna Wicks. Please encourage, promising young people who show signs of leadership, catholic and nnon-catholic to apply. There is very little time left.
17. The bishop with some of the principals of the schools in Kokstad has discussed the future of the school at the Cathedral. As you know St Patrick’s is gradually moving to a new premises being built by Governing body. What should we do with the old premises. Already the University of Port Elizabeth and University of Rhodes are using part of the building on Saturdays. Suggestions?
18. The next consultors’ meeting will take place on Monday morning the 29th of July.
19. The bishop will be away from the 21st to the 28th, August, at Mariannhill for the plenary session of the SACBC.
The bishop will also be away from the 3rd of September to the 3rd of October in Ireland. He will be on holiday and also preaching a retreat.
20. The New Technical College in Kokstad at the Showgrounds is opening on the 29th of July. Pupils and also teachers who are intrested should go there during this month of July and apply. Courses will be offered in most practical subjects as well as in Secretarial and computor work.
21. As you know Fr Bongani Mbhele is the Chairperson of the Vocations committee. Please ask young people if they are interested in the Diocesan priesthood. And if they are promising please put them in contact with Fr Bongani or Fr Vincent Bwete. It is hoped that during December and January we will have workshops and various occasions for them. But a simple question by Sister or a priest may set a young man’s mind on a decision that may be of great importance for the work of the church.
The next vocations committee meeting take place on October the 7th .
22. Please remember that the next Coolock House meeting for the priests of the diocese and deacons will take place from the 14th to the 17th of October. We gather on the afternoon of the 14th and come home on Thursday Morning the 17th.
23. As you know Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kasin, the parish priest of Matatiele is Head of the marriage tribunal for the diocese of Kokstad. People who are experiencing great problems in their marriages and have questions regading their validity should contact Fr Richard in Matatiele. All complaints if any regarding sexual abuse by church personel should be conveyed to Fr Bill Lovett who is our delegate in this diocese.
24. Congratulations to Bro Alan who has gone to help out Mariazell Secondary School with Science and Maths lecturing. They have no teachers since the beginning of the year so the work load on Alan is very heavy. Congratulations to him too in his involvement in the establishment of the home, Peter Pierce Home, near Shayamoya, for the street children. This will provide Shelter and food. The Bishop is on the Board of Kokstad Child Welfare.
25. On a wet, wild and cold day, 30th of May, Mr Jacob Zuma, Vice- President of the Republic opened a new maximum security jail in Kokstad. They are over sixty very dangerous inmates and this number will rise to one thousand four hundred and forty. It will employ about six hundred and fifty officials. It should bring a lot of money into the town. Anyone interested in getting into spiritual conversations with these fellows? There is no chapel or common refectory or hall. It is truly a penal institution based on solitary confinement. I made many representations over the years during the construction period about the danger of such a method and the need of strict control of its administration. One top official told me that they “ intend to bend them straight”.
26. Veritas radio will bring you Catholic news each day for an hour from midday, and for 3 hours- 6 to 9 each night. It can be found on short wave radio.
27. The bishop met with the Legion of Mary of Bizana, Matatiele, Hardenberg on a number of occasions . This organisation is not to be overlooked. It has been a foundational instrument in the hands of God in building up our church. It still has wonderful power in it to strengthen the faith of our people and make them into Apostoles. The Junior Legion has especially great potentiality. Please encourage the Legion and help them if you can.
27. The great work of Fr Egbert in Ntlangwini with the Amarhamente was visible in hundred members who participated in the retreat with the bishop on June the 1st. These ladies have tremendous potential, tremendous ability and commitment if we can engage them in Christ’s work. This was a day enjoyed by everybody. And we encourage our parishes to offer retreats and renewals, even for a day, for our people.
This time of Winter is also time for healing services.
28. The Catholic church continues to be attacked in the Kokstad Advertiser. However, this is an opportunity for us to rejoice in the expression of our faith.
29. Fr Jabulani Nxumalo OMI, has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Durban to assist Cardinal Napier.
30 August 19. Celebration of the Assumption at Cathedral with lunch afterwards in the Bishop’s House. All priests, religious brothers and sisters, are invited to attend. Would the Sisters’ executive choose and lead the singing?