1st July 2003
1. Congratulations to the people of Mansions in Hardenberg parish on the completion and blessing of their church of St Agnes on the 24th of April.
Fr Bill and the community have worked very hard over a number of years to build this church with their own resources. We had a wonderful day of celebration. The only shadow was that Fr Bill was quite ill on the day and unable to attend. However, the celebrations led by Frs Sizwe and Solly were a triumph.
2. The bishop with Frs George and Fr Bongani with Sr Callista attended the Xhosa Regional Pastoral meeting held at Port Elizabeth from the 29th of April to the 1st of May. The Lumko team made a presentationon catechetics. They are preparing a seven book series of new catechisms. You have book one and two already. But from now they will have a bigger team working on the materials and there will be more consultation.
3. From the 11th to the 25th of May Poor Clares from 12 Monasteries in English speaking countries in Africa met at Coolock for their Federation meeting. The meeting was opened by the bishop. Fr Liam presided and the sisters elected new officers for the next three years. They discussed their charism and also formation in the order.
4. On the 15th of May the diocese was absolutely shocked to receive the news of the sudden death of Seminarian, Vus’muzi Chagi at Silangwe, his home. Vus’muzi this year was doing internship at Lusikisiki. There he was very popular with parishioners and youth and was very dedicated to his work. His passing is a great loss to the diocese. In all his student years he showed himself a committed and zealous student. He was an ardent Kaiser Chiefs fan, was interested in life, concerned for his family. He was buried at home on the 24th of May. The funeral was attended by seminarians from all over the country and a great crowd of young people. May he rest in peace.
5. On the 17th of May we laid to rest the father of Fr Bongani Mbhele at Hardenberg. Bongani’s father died in his son’s arms on the way to the doctor the previous Saturday in Matatiele. He had not been ill for a long time. We offer sympathy to Fr Bongani and his family. Thanks to all the clergy who attended.
6. On the 18th of May the New Monastery and Chapel was blessed at Santa Chiara for the Poor Clares. A fine crowd attended a very beautiful liturgy. At the end of the ceremony the papal enclosure was erected . The sisters who are contemplatives will live within this enclosure for the rest of their lives at the service of God and praying for the diocese and people. Please tell our people about the sisters who pray for them. Encourage vocations. And go there for prayer because the witness of a life lived totally for God in enclosure should inspire all of us.
7. The diocese was again rocked to its foundations with the news that Fr Manus Campbell was murdered at Amanzimtoti during the night of the 21st of May. Fr Manus had worked in this diocese for 40 years. The funeral Mass took place at Amanzimtoti and he was laid rest in Kokstad. The diocese pays tribute to a loyal and hardworking missionary. Fr Manus came here in 1958 and worked in particular in Bizana and Matatiele. In both places his dedication to the service of his people was enormous. Today many people are committed Catholics due to his faith and ministry.
He was a man of many talents who dedicated his life to building up God’s Kingdom. He loved the church and cared for his people with great commitment. It is heart-breaking that such a heroic life should end in tragedy. But the Lord has seen the ministry of his servant and will not be outdone in generosity. We extended both gratitude and sympathy to the Franciscan Order who gave us such a servant and loyal colleague.
8. On the 24th of May the bishop presided at the celebrations for the feast of Abbot Franz at Emmaus Mission. On this day the African Sisters of the Precious Blood Congregation celebrated their 70 years of religious life . The Bishop and the diocese congratulates and expresses gratitude to the Precious Blood Sisters particularly in Bizana and in Mount Frere for their contribution the life of the people of this church. We pray that they may have many vocations. Many sisters come from Kokstad diocese.
9. The week of prayers for Christian unity took place as usual between Ascension day, May the 29th and Pentecost, 9th of June. The bishop preached at the final night at the Griqua church. A new feature this year was the entrance of the Dutch Reformed community across the road from the cathedral in the celebrations. They extended a very warm welcome to us. May the desire of Christ for the unity of the church be part of our prayers and may His wish soon be realised.
10. Fr Vincent Bwete as Youth Chaplain has organised two successful week-ends at Flagstaff and in Kokstad. These days offered concerts, sport and prayer. Invite Fr Vincent and try and support his initiatives in helping our youth.
11. The Technical college which we helped get started here in Kokstad is now running quite well. It is a Government college and a campus of Port Shepstone Technical College. It offers many courses and is also a finishing school for those who want to upgrade their matric results. It offer skills training and also Secretarial and Computer courses. And the cost is not very high.
12. The Consultors meeting took place at the bishops house on the 23rd of June.
a. The consultors discussed the issue of the difficulties with finance in the diocese. It is more and more difficult to get funds overseas, and the exchange rate is becoming less favourable to us. All parishes are encouraged to support their priests more generously so that subsides nay be gradually eliminated. Parishes must also care for the priests transport and car service. No priest should allow others to drive his car. Cars are for ministry of the diocese and should not be taken on long personal trips elsewhere.
b. The report on the catechetical team was received and the sisters were congratulated on the work in various parishes. This Iindaba will also contain a list of dates in which the team will visit parishes in the second half of the year. Please encourage them and get as many people as possible to attend.
c. Sister Callista, Chairperson of the Catechetical committee, will set up a Bible course from the Catholic Biblical Institute in Durban for any parish which wants to introduce its people to the Bible. Please organise these courses in consultation with Sister. The diocese will try and help finance the cost of these events.
d. We will revive the Theology week in December in Maria Telgte. This is for people who are interested in Theology and are involved in the life and work of the church. Dates will be announced later.
e. A very important date; it is proposed that the diocesan pastoral council take place on the 29th of November. The Chairpersons are Fr Bill and Fr Bongani.
f. As you know the family and marriage is the top priority of the church in South Africa at this time. Fr Sihlobo has arranged that Fr Bongani and Fr Lulama will continue with Marriage Encounter. If you have couples who can engage in this excellent organisation please contact the priests.
g. Prisca Hadebe has run a weekend with resounding results on marriage and the family in Bhongweni. This is her fourth visit to the diocese. Here is an opportunity to renew family life in the form of a very short day retreat or weekend retreat in your parish.
13. Fr Germain Mannion celebrated his Diamond Jubilee on the 24th of June in Boksburg. We congratulate Fr Germain who spent over 50 years working in Kokstad diocese. He is particularly associated with Bizana and with Kokstad parishes. We pray that God may bless him and give him a restful retirement.
Fr Germains cousins, two religious sisters came to visit Bizana and Kokstad subsequent to the celebration in Boksburg.
14. Fr Solly in Hardenberg has agreed to act as Chaplain for the Amasotshanyana in the diocese.
15. Nurses: The bishop would like to meet the nurses of the diocese. Would the priests where there are numbers of nurses arrange with the local nurses for a meeting or a half day of reflection and prayer at their place of work or in their local parish during the second half of the year.
The Bishop will also come with the CIE team to the teachers in your area.
16. Ikhala Trust. Ikhala Trust is an organisation established under the church and working with the Eastern Cape Government which raises money for projects in the province. At the moment there is quite some money available for projects in our area. These are aimed particularly at rural areas and anything that the people have been engaged in. Please get the application forms and criteria for funding from the bishop’s office. You can get money for a project in your parish by just filling in some forms. These must be community based projects. The money comes from the Eastern Cape provincial structures and not from the diocese which has no money.
17. Fr Gallagher workshop. This will take place on the 11th and 12th of August at Glenmore Pastoral Centre.
The organiser is Mgr Paul Nadal. Fr Gallagher will cover the following topics:-
a. Vocation as a moral response for God’s call.
b. Sexual development and the life of a priest.
c. Celibacy gift and task.
d. The church and the climate of abuse.
e. Moral responsibility and Ministry.
f. The Scandal of the Cross , the scandal of abuse.
g. The moral life is also for priests.
The price of the course, breakfast, lunch and supper and a person staying over night is R136.80.
Father Gallagher is a Redemptorist from Ireland. He has a degree from the National University, from Rome, from Bonn and from Paris. He has a Doctorate in moral Theology . He thought at Milltown school of Theology in Ireland and has been invited lecturer for five years at Maynooth and for three years at Trinity College Dublin. Since 1985 he has been a professor at the Alphonsianum in Rome. He was also Provincial of the Redemporists in 1986 to 1993 and a parish priest in Paris at certain stages. All priests are highly encouraged to attend.
18. The bishop would like to meet the priests with their parish councils in their parishes over the next three months. Please let me know the next dates for your parish council meetings.
19. Fourth Coming Events:
a. The bishop will be preaching a retreat in Roma Seminary, Lesotho from the 14th to the 18th of July.
b. The Bishops Conference takes place at Mariannhill from the 6th to the 13th of August.
c. Oakford Seminary will be blessed on Sunday the 10th of August.
d. The next Consultors meeting of the diocese takes place on the 18th of August.
e. Bishop’s talk to the parish of Kokstad on the 20th of August.
f. September 21st there will be Confirmation in Tabankulu.
20. We wish to revive the Deaneries of the diocese. The bishop would like to attend a meeting of the deanery of Pondoland in Flagstaff at a date Fr Francis will arrange. To meet the deanery in Matatiele at a date Fr Jose will arrange and a meeting of central deanery in Kokstad at a date Fr Antonio will arrange.