13th April 2003
1. South African Catholic Bishop’s Conference, Pretoria, from 28th January to the 5th of February 2003 discussed many issues;
a. The Conference will issue a pastoral statement on Catechetics during this year.
b. Oakford Priory will be leased for three years and used as orientation seminary, St Kizito.
c. The Conference will support bishop Louis Ndlovu of Manzini at this difficult time of transition in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
d. A Family Life desk with a part time secretary at Khanya House will work at Family apostolate in the Conference area.
e. A part-time co- ordinator of Education for Life program to offer youth formation was established.
f. Students for priesthood must be accompanied in their home diocese for at least two years before entry to the Orientation Seminary.
g. Applicants failing to obtain at least 17 points for matric examination and at least an E symbol for English will all do a bridging year to upgrade these results before they can be accepted in the Seminary. The local Bridging year is at former Nazareth House , P.E.
h. Instead of raising the matric minimum points required for admission to the seminary, students must do a special UNISA English course; only those who pass will be allowed to proceed to St Peter’s seminary.
i. The Seminary Department will establish an on- going program of formation to help formators with a shared vision of their role as formators in the seminary.
J. The Conference discussed at length the structuring of its seminaries in Pretoria. It decided unanimously, in consultation with the Seminary staffs, to hold on to St John Vianney’s and St Peter’s seminaries.
However, a task team was established to consider how to expand the facilities at St John Vianney seminary for more accommodation. This task team will look at the future of Mnganga House and plan for the future.
k. Fr Lionel Sham was appointed Rector of St Kizito’s Orientation seminary .
l. The Conference appointed a committee to prepare a pastoral letter on the life and ministry of priests. The Bishops are concerned to help and strengthen priestly life in the Conference area. Our priests need support, more opportunities for formation and renewal.
m. In order to meet disaster situations in the country the conference will renew its status as a member of Caritas International.
n. Bishop’s Conference has sold Khanya House to the Archdiocese of Pretoria. In its place they have purchased the Land Bank Building on Kruger Street, right in the centre of Pretoria as their new premises. This is an enormous building and will be of great benefit for the smooth running of the conference.
o. The conference issued the long awaited Directory on ecumenism. May I bring to your attention Article 6 which deals with the reception of Sacraments by non-Catholics, for instance, at funeral masses.
Section 5. 6. 3 . If non- catholics desire to communicate we may lead them in the practise of making a spiritual communion there and then.
Another response to this spiritual need of non- Catholics is to invite them to come forward at the same time as catholics and when they approach the altar instruct them to cross their arms over their chest as a sign that they wish to receive a blessing.
2. The catechetical team of the diocese, Sr Callista, Sr Paulus Maria and Sr Chrysanta have now visited many parishes and worked week- ends with the catechism teachers. Please invite them a number of times this year to offer your catechism teachers renewal and personal formation with guidance and skill in sharing the faith.
3. The diocese congratulates Bro Aaron Nakufa OFM who was ordained Deacon by the Bishop at the Poor Clares Monastery 26th of January 2003. Although his family in Malawi was unable to be present the sisters and a large community offered Bro Aaron spiritual and personal support.
Brother Aaron will work with Fr Tony at Makhoba.
4. The Bishop attended the Lesotho Catholic Bishop’s Conference from the 18th to the 21st of February. One report of their Justice and peace commission was the problem of rustling cattle from their side of the border.
5. The sisters of the diocese met at Coolock House to discuss many issues of life and ministry in our diocese, 23rd to the 26th of February. Fr Tom Byrne is the religious assistant to the Sisters. Sisters on days of recollection can invite Fr Tom to say Mass with them and to assist them with confession.
6. The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary celebrated 100 years in South Africa at Gingindlovu in a special Mass and ceremony on March the 1st . Vicar General Fr Rodgers Sihlobo represented the diocese. There was a double celebration in that their foundress, Mother Mary of the Passion, was beatified recently. The sisters worked for many years at Bizana and many of their members are from Bizana.
7. The Diocese extends sincere sympathies to our seminarian Silindile Yalezo on the sudden death of his sister. She was laid rest on March the 1st . Coming on the recent death of his mother, this has been a difficult time for the family and we promise them our prayers.
8. The bishop and the health desk team of the diocese ; Miss Nomvano Qwebeba, Miss Patience Nogabe, Mr John Bosman have visited many parishes to share with the Home Based Carers on their work and Ministry. They visited Tabankulu on the 17th of January, Mount Ayliff the 21st of January , Hardenberg the 13th of February , Ntlangwini on the 7th of March, Flagstaff the 10th of March, Lusikisiki the 25th of March, Matatiele the 8th of April, Dutyini the 9th of April and Bhongweni on the 11th of April.
Much committed work is being done by these Carers who have been trained by the Sinosizo team. The problems all over are common. There are many orphans in all our villages , in Flagstaff we were presented with 103 orphans. The lady from the small village of Goxe in Ntlangwini brought 13 young orphans to the meeting. I invite priests and sisters to offer what assistance they can to our Home-based Carers. These excellent Carers if properly motivated and spiritually appreciated will do work of great mercy for our people. Now is a very good time to encourage our sodalities to do something with their uniforms and go amongst the sick. Often, it is non-catholics who volunteer for training and not our own people!
We do offer small incentives to our carers. They are given a uniform, a pair of shoes, and an umbrella. We give them R150 three times a year and their transport money. This is very little but it can enable them to do something.
In addition, the diocese will offer packets of 2,5 kilograms maize and soup to all the sick and needy. Would the priests see John Bosman to collect their supplies and make them available to their carers for distribution. There is a supervisor in each parish and this is the person you might work through.
Among the supervisors we have now trained 18 counsellors . These are available in all parishes to visit and strengthen those who are dying.
9. You have received a draft of the statutes for ministers in the diocese of Kokstad. Please look over these thirty pages. Most of this you know as well and is direct Canon Law. But in Coolock in October we will have time to discuss this document.
10. The priests met in Coolock House from the 17th of March to the 20th of March. And after many lively discussions these resolutions were agreed upo;
a. It was resolved that Church leadership must challenge the Government on corruption and health care.
b. It was resolved that we as a diocese work with the school at Maria Telgte to provide as many orphans as possible with the opportunity to study there. Fr John to follow up.
c. It was resolved that each parish have a Pastoral Council by the end of July 2003.
d. It was resolved that each parish have a Parish Financial committee in place by the end of July 2003. The parish financial committee be linked with and responsible to the parish Pastoral Council.
e. It was resolved that Frs Bill and Bongani in arrangement with the parish pastoral executives organise the next meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral council for the second half of this year 2003.
The theme will be the role and function of the diocesan pastoral council.
f. It was resolved that the diocese present the draft statement of its statutes.
g. It was resolved that parishs work towards self financing so that the present subsidies be reviewed towards their gradual reduction and elimination.
h. It was resolved to register domestic workers for Unemployment Insurance Fund before April the 1st .
i. It was resolved to appoint a religious sister to co- work with Fr Vincent Bwete in Youth co- ordination within the diocese.
It was requested that Fr Sihlobo continue to train-in replacements from the priests and religious to support and encourage Marriage Encounter in the diocese.
11. The parish at Flagstaff performed the Ukukhuza ceremony for the bishop to console him on the death of his father. This was a beautiful occasion for the bishop and his family and took place on April the 6th .
12. Those who wish to use the house in Franklin as a retreat centre or for rest or study should contact Fr Tom. The house and place is beautifully quiet, and fitted with all that is necessary.
13. A fine group of the faithful from Kokstad and Bhongweni made the prilgrimage of the seven churches on March 29. They travelled to Cederville, Matatiele, Hardenberg where they had Mass, on to Umzongwana and Maria Telgte where there was another picnic. Then on to Franklin and the Poor Clares. They read from the Passion of Christ , prayed the pilgrim Psalms and shared on the work and history of each mission.
14. The Bishop attended the Zulu Regional Pastoral meeting and the meeting of the bIshops with major Superiors in Durban during March.
15. St Patrick’s Ball place at the Town Hall once again on the 14th of March. There was a great crowd , and funds were raised for the Cathedral parish.
16. Many of the parishes, including the cathedral, had a special ceremony commissioning the catechism teachers for this year. This is a meaningful ceremony in which catechists are linked with the Evangelical work of the Church.
Bhongweni Church is almost complete, hopefully in the middle of the year we will be able to bless the church. It will be in use in May.
17. We congratulate New seminarians, Petros Letsohla who is involved with the bridging course in Port Elizabeth, Ayanda Mfene from Cedarville who has gone to the orientation stage at Oakford and Lizo Nontshe who will go to Third Year Theology at St John Vianney.
18. Fortcoming Events.
a) Please remember the Mass of Oils on the 16th of April at 11 am at the Cathedral.
b)There will be a paschal meal organised by the youth in Kokstad on the 15th of April in the Hall.
c)The Seven last Words will be celebrated in Bizana and Lusikisiki on the 18th of April. This occasion offers a glorious opportunity to bring our people to confession. Going on past experience people find it very meaningful to be reconciled with God on such an occasion.
d)There will be a supervisors meeting of the Health Care program in Bizana on the 23rd of April.
The Catholic teachers will meet at Umtata on the 24th of April.
e)The Acies of the Legion of Mary will take place at Matatiele on the 26th of April.
f). The Bishop, Fr George, Fr Bongani and Sr Callista will attend the Xhosa Regional Pastoral Conference with the other Bishops in Port Elizabeth from 29th of April to the 1st of May.
g). The bishop will attend the National meeting of Bishops and Principals of Catholic Schools at Bronkhorstspruit from the 2nd to the 4th of May.
The bishop will attend the Seminary Department meeting in Pretoria, 5th of May .
The Board meeting of the Bishop’s Conference will be May 6th to the 10th.
h). The young priests, those ordained in the last five years are encouraged strongly to attend the AGROP meeting at Glenmore, the 28th of April to the 2nd of May.
The diocese will pay. Please attend.
i). We welcome Sister Maria Kolbe and Sr Nawela who came in January from the monastery of Lusaka to join the Poor Clare community at Santa Chiara.
We are also very happy to have as guests for three months, Mother Catherine and Sister Rosa Mystica of Songea Monastery, Tanzania. It is lovely to have Prisca back from Zambia.
Poor Clares in English language monasteries in East and Southern Africa will have their federation meeting at Coolock House from the 11th to the 25th of May. They come from the monastery of Kenya, from Mbarara in Uganda, from Songea, Bukhoba, and Mwanza in Tanzania, from Lusaka in Zambia, Lilongwe in Malawi, Harare in Zimbabwe, Windhoek in Namibia, Melville and of course Santa Chiara in Kokstad.
j) A very important event will take place on the 18th of May. All the diocese is invited to attend, priests and sisters and people. On the 18th of May, at 10.30 a.m the Sisters’ Chapel will be consecrated . Also on that day the Papal Enclosure will be established in Santa Chiara.
The Franciscans will meet the Poor Clares on the 16th of May, encouraged by the Superior Generals of the Franciscans, to have a liturgical celebration with the Poor Clares, at Melville. This year they celebrate the 750th Anniversary of the death of St Clare.
k) The bishop would like to meet with the young priests of this diocese on Monday afternoon the 26th of May. Next day, Tuesday the 27th, will be the day of recollection for the diocesan priests here in Kokstad..
l) The Diocesan Health team will meet with the Home-Based Carers in Makhoba on the 15th of May.
m) The Pilgrimage to Emmaus, in the Diocese of Umzimkulu, where Abbot Francis Pfanner died, will take place on the 24th of May. The bishop will be the preacher. This is the special day of the Precious Blood Sisters and Mariannhill Fathers on the Anniversary of the death of their Founder. Abbot Francis is surely one of the founders of our diocese, we remember Hardenberg, Maria Telgte , and all that area along the mountains. Bizana sprung from Lourdes, Kokstad’s cathedral and Matatiele Church we blessed by the sons of Abbot Franz.
n). Confirmation will take place at Cedarville on the 8th of June.
o). The Bishop will be at Coolock for the National Diocesan Priests renewal program from the 9th to the 15th June.
p). Catechetical meeting will take place at the Bishop’s house on the 16th of June.
q). The bishop will preach the Seminary retreat in Roma, Lesotho from the 15th to the 19th of July.
r). The bishop has been elected as co- ordinator with REAP program and will be in Cape Town on the 31st of May for the meeting.
18. The very special occasion the bishop will open and bless the Church of St Agnes on the 28th of April. St Agnes is at Mansions in the parish of Hardenberg. Congrats to Fr Bill and the people who laboured alone to complete this house for the Lord.
19. Have we done anything for the special year of the rosary, this year.
20. We thank God to have Fr Richard back and recovering amongst us. Please keep him in your prayers. Though suffering greviously and moving from place to place for recuperation the Lionhearted valiantly exercises himself back to black- belt fitness in Matatiele each day. We Thank God indeed.
Happy Easter to all.