1st November 2002
1. The Diocese offers congratulations to Fr Bheki , Fr Solly and Fr Mbulelo on the occasion of their ordination in Johannesburg in September. All three are friends of the Diocese. Bheki has been working in the Kokstad area and Solly in Hardenberg and they have shown a great love for our people and are deeply loved in return. We pray that God may bless them with many years preaching His Word and making the gospel present today..
2. Let us remember that the 7th of December is a special day in the diocese when Deacon Lulama Msongelwa will be ordained a priest at Kokstad at 10 a.m..
3. Forth coming events:
a. Mount Ayliff – The bishop will visit Mt Ayliff to conduct a day of reflection and prayer for the Catechists, PPC members and the Sodality Executives on the 2nd of November.
b. Confirmation at Emakholaneni in Mt Frere on the 3rd of November. This will take place in the newly built church. Fr Antonio is to be congratulated in building up the church both physically and spiritually. We thank brother Erich for his work in the building of the church.
c. Sihle Mbhele and Vus’muzi Chagi from the Diocese will be appointed to the Ministry of Acolyte on November 4th with 36 other seminarians by the Bishop. In the new year both of them will do their internship and work in the diocese. On the same occasion a plaque to honour the contribution of Fr Fergus Barrett ofm to the history of St John Vianney’s Seminary in Pretoria will be blessed..
d. The bishop will be at the Administrative Board meeting of the Bishop’s Conference in Pretoria from 5th to 8th November.
On the 5th of November the Diocesan Aids Team will atttend the Interdiocesan meeting at Chatsworth in Durban.
e. Maria Telgte will have confirmations on November the 10th .
f. The Diocesan Consultors meeting will take place on Monday the 11th of November.
g. We have just h ad 15 counsellors trained in Port Shepstone to work with the dying and the suffering. They will have a day of reflection and prayer in Kokstad on the 11th of November.
Please note, there will be a four day intensive course on the HIV virus and treatment thereof in Kokstad from Morning of Monday 11 of November to 15th November. This is for candidates who will be sent to Durban to do a two week training as Counsellors in January. We invite 2 from each parish. Please Contact Nomvano or Patience at the Bishop’s House.
h. There will be a National Liturgical consultation from the 11th of November.
i. On the 13th of November there will be a Reconciliation service for children to be confirmed and their parents at the Cathedral.
j. Sr Callista will conduct a three day Workshop for all catechism teachers in the parish of Bizana from the 14th to the 17th .
k. From the 18th to the 28th of November the bishop will be away preaching a retreat.
l. Confirmation will take place in Lusikisiki on the 1st of December.
m. The diocesan Aids committee, with its representatives from each parish, will meet in Kokstad on the 2nd of December.
From 4-7 December, Retreat for children of Mary in Kokstad, see Fr Jose.
n. 7th of December Deacon Lulama Msongelwa will be ordained a priest in Kokstad.
o. On the 8th of December there will be confirmations in the parish of Mt Frere.
p. The Kevelaer pilgrimage will take place from the 9th to the 12th of December. The pilgrims should meet in Kokstad on the evening of Monday the 9th of December to sleep over night or else come very early in the morning to begin the pilgrimage from the Cathedral.
They will return on Thursday which is the 12th of December. The cost is R40 per person. They should have good shoes, towels, blanket for sleeping , a bottle for cold water. They will also have to pay their transport to and from Kokstad. Though a bus will be supplied to bring them back from Kevelaer to Kokstad.
q. The Matatiele parish will have a celebration of 70 years since the building of its church
on the 15th of December.
r. The 22nd of December there will be confirmations in Bhongweni.
4. The diocese was represented at the ordination of Fr Jabulani Nxumalo in August. The vestments worn by the 40 bishops present were provided by our Poor Clare sisters.
5. As you know there is an Inculturation committee of the Diocese headed by Sr Chrysanta Mqambi and Ms Thoko Nala. You have received special discussion work-books. The parishes are respected to discuss these work-books and make a report to the committee. This work-book was introduced in Coolock House by Fr Vincent Ndaba.
6. We were very happy to welcome the Children of the school of the Deaf from Nchanga who came to give a perfomance in sychronised dancing. The children were welcomed by the parishes of Matatiele and Bhongweni . We thank those parishes, the children were extremely happy with their welcome and opportunity to perform.
7. The aids committee is now very active in the diocese. The Chairperson of the Aids committee is Miss Nomvano Qwebebe, the Vice is Sr Constantia Khumalo, the Secretary is Ms Nonceba Jele, vice secretary is Ms Lindelwa Mangisi , the treasurer is Ms Patience Nogabe.
For help with financial administration and personel management we have invited Mr John Bosman to guide us. Our organisation is becoming very big with maybe 400 people around the diocese actively engaged and many more in training. John who has just brought the Society of St Vincent de Paul to Kokstad is very happy to serve our needy people in this work. Also on the committee with him are Mrs Joy van Dyk and Mrs Lorna Wicks.
We will soon be training more counsellors in Durban at the expense of SACBC Health Desk. We also will be looking for Volunteer to train as Orphan Carers. Have an eye for talented people who are already working on your Aids programmes for with training they can become very effective in many areas. And in future I’m sure they will get jobs out of this training.
8. I wish to thank many people, the priests, sisters and brothers and so many people of the diocese who came to sympathise with me on the occasion of my fathers’death on the 6th of October. It was a great sense of support to know and receive this sypmpathy which I have communicated to my family also in Ireland.
9. We remember the mother of Silindile Yalezo, Elizabeth, who passed away to her Eternal reward and was laid to rest in Bizana on the 18th of October. Sincere sympathy to Silindile on this sad occasion.
10. We have been engaged in helping various projects to get off the ground. The Technical College in Kokstad is now built with help from Kokstad Municipality and the Peace Initiative. There is a beautiful premises in what was the Showgrounds . This will offer all kinds of skill courses to young people. It is much cheaper than a Teknicon. Of course its Standards are not as high . Yet, it offers a tremendous variety of skills and even academic subjects to a certain extent. There will be computer studies, financial education, electrical, motor and other skills. Registration for 2003 has begun, it costs Rand 200.00, the offices are at the old showgrounds.
The Nolitha school for retarded children is about to experience a great expansion . Fr Bernard Riegel, the bishop and Fr Gunther have been working with the Department of Social Welfare and the local committees to establish the school. It seems that there are plans to give grants of 28 million rand for the establishment of a large school there.
Even Johannes Urban, the Viennese taxi-driver has begun to build his famous creche in Imvenyane.
11. Congratulations to the Catechetical team of the parish of the cathedral in Kokstad and to Fr Joseph. They had a wonderful weekend from 26th to the 28th of October. Mr Michael Merle came to speak with children and give workshops to the teachers. On Sunday all the different classes in the cathedral put on something to show what they had learned during the year. This took the form of presentations in drama, sermons, plays, hymns, recitations, and other events. A great number of parents came to see what their children had learned in catechism during the year. I think this would be and excellent idea for other parishes also.
12. I wish to congratulate in a special way Sr Callista who also spoke in the Kokstad weekend for her work in Flagstaff, Lusikisiki and Bizana. She has also been very helpful in the parish of Mt Ayliff. Sister has great experience in teaching catechism in our diocese, she has a Theological Degree from Cedara. She is resident in Flagstaff and trying to extend the catechetical programme there. She is also working on a catechetical policy for the Diocese so that we have a programme for the whole diocese.
13. The Franciscan Chapter under the chairmanship of its Provincial Fr Vumile Nogemane met in La Verna from the 7th to 11th of October. The Franciscans in establishing their rule of life for South Africa have wanted to bring the Friars together to live in community. Over the years they are withdrawn from various parishes in this diocese and happily our diocesan priests have been able to take them over. This time the Friars are withdrawing from the parish of Bizana. We thank them for seventy years of marvelous work there. They have left a tremendous legacy of faith and tradition and love. There are 18 stations in the parish of Bizana and the people there are noted for their friendliness, their participation in parish life and their faith. This is due to seventy years of work of great friars.
14. We are beginning to build a big new church in Bhongweni. We hope that it will be big enough to accommodated diocesan events when needed. However, it is urgently needed for the parish of Bhongweni. With the addition of Shayamoya there are almost four thousand new families in the area. Every Sunday great crowds are standing outside the present church.
15. Marriage: During the priests discussion from the 14th to the 17th of October in Coolock one of the key issues was that of marriage which was introduced by an excellent presentation Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kasin.
a. We first examined why many people do not come to church to have their marriages blessed. Some don’t want to commit themselves for life. Men are hesitant in coming to church. We do not offer many models of happy Christian married life. Because of poverty many people are unable to complete the lobola.
Sometimes the lobola is partly paid , the cattle have been eaten and so the woman cannot go home. She is now in a fixed relationship and cannot participate in the Sacramental life of the church. We also have problems because we don’t offer enough instruction on the importance of Christian marriage.
a. We recommended the use of Marriage Encounter to build strong marriages. Fr Rodgers Sihlobo is the contact person and he has experience and great success in this apostolate.
b. There is also encounter for single parents. Fr Sihlobo is initiating this programme.
c. We should hold retreats for married people in our parishes.
d. We should get people talking about marriage as a experience of sharing life together.
e. We need to have discussions among the youth and in a particular way help boys to see women in a new light.
f. We must celebrate marriages and marriage anniversaries in our parish. We need to make much of the institution of marriage to celebrate it and make it very visible among our people.
g. Retrove is a movement to help marriages which are in difficulty. There is a team which will come if invited and work with a number of couples. This is headed by Fr Peter Lafferty who can be contacted at the Chancery in Durban.
h. We must go back to traditional resources which can be called upon to repair and build up marriage.
Someone remarked that a man often will know the cows of his brother and of his neighbour but not the names or dates of birth of his children. There is an attitude among men that the house and everything and everybody in it is owned by them and can be disposed of according to their sole wishes.
16. Also at Coolock we spoke about peoples legal and social rights. It was remarked that less than one out of three of our children are able to get childrens’ grants. This is because of poverty, ignorance of their rights, problems with certificates.
We can do a lot to make parents aware that all children can benefit from a monthly grant of R130. Also orphans with an orphan card will get R470.
The first step for our children is to make sure that they have an I. D. The problem sometimes is that the mother does not have an ID. Fr Sizwe who is an expect in social Welfare matters tells us that if the relative of the mother has an ID , that relative can take the mother to the Home Affairs to get her ID. If the child is under five then the child can use it’s baptismal certificate as a help in getting an ID. If the child is over five then the child should be sent to school there the principal has the papers which he can fill in and take to Home Affairs. If the mother has an ID she should take the child to the local clinic to get a birth card.
And with her own ID and a birth card she should get a certificate.
The orphan’s card needs the birth certificate of a child , the death certificate of the mother and of the father. The Guardian of the child, it is better if the Guardians’ surname corresponds to that of the child can be appointed by a letter from the Magistrate explaining the relationship between the guardian and the orphan child.
Let us see what we can do to help our people in this area.
17. We also discussed the questions of having Deacons in the diocese of Kokstad. It was said that having Deacons brings the sense of completeness to the Ministry of bishops and priests. There is a strength in having an institution in that institutions have structures and programmes. Being a Deacon brings a sense of belonging to Christ and to his Ministry.
On the other hand, some people felt the diocese is too small and there will be a confusion of roles between priest , communion ministries and Catechists. A long period of training would be required to prepare Deacons and the travel and finance are difficult. Many pointed out that the education and foundation of many of our catechists is weak. They will be unable for Deacon programmes.
It was then suggested that the present leader in each area be given more training and more formation as christian leaders. As time goes by some will emerge from this group who may be considered as acolytes and then maybe Deacons.
18. The Holy Father has just declared this coming year the year of the Holy Rosary. We want to encurage this initiative and call to prayer. In announcing the theme the Holy Father has introduced the idea of the mysteries of light. These will show the light of Christ breaking into the World and transforming our world. There are meditations on the life of Christ. The five new mysteries are the baptism of Our Lord; The Wedding feast of Cana; The preaching of the Kingdom and Conversion; The Transfiguration on the mountain, and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. It would be a good idea to begin our year of the Holy Rosary on the 8th of December. The Rosary has had tremendous success in bringing people to a sense of belonging to the family of God. The Rosary forms people in contemplative prayer .
19. Above all do try and encourage vocations to the diocesan priesthood in our diocese. For the last two years we have gone relatively dry on vocations . Be in contact with Fr Bongani so that we can organise workshops and programmes during December and January. All young fellows who are seriously interested and in Secondary school must be considered.
20. Note sent to all dioceses from Khanya House, the SACBC secretariat;
Over the past year and a half a good working relationship has been built up between the Department of Home Affairs and ourselves. Many work study permits have been granted, some of them with very little delay.
We want to make sure that nothing is done that might damage the spirit of co operation and the trust in the Bishops’ Conference that now exists. It is for this reason that we wish to mention a few of the things that happened recently:
1. One priest phoned Home Affairs, became quite abusive and slammed down the phone. The lady to whom he was speaking is one of our best contacts there and she was very upset.
2. A letter of support was submitted in our name but it had not been signed by either of us. The application was refused and we were informed.
We wish to inform you of the following:
a. Applications regarding change of purpose stay in the country can now be done without the applicant returning to his country of origin. This means in effect that one who is here on a visitor’s visa may apply for study or work permit without leaving the country.
b. Work/Study Permits are granted for a period of three years for a total of R1,520.00
c. We have been asked to inform applicants that submission of out letters of approval does not automatically guarantee that the permits will be granted. They have asked us to be patient and not to present every case as an urgent exception.
d. Applications by ordained priests and religious in final vows from neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana and Uganda are authorised by the Offices in those countries and do not have to come to Pretoria. It is only in very exceptional circumstances that Pretoria interferes in the working of those offices and therefore it is only in these circumstances that we would request Head Office to do something.
e. Student applications are processed by Pretoria.