8th December 2003
1. Forthcoming events
1.1 December7th Bizana confirmations. At the same ceremony Bro Silindile Yalezo will be installed as an Acolyte.
1.2 . December 14 th Father Sihlobo will celebrate family day for the parish of Bhongweni. This is an effort to bring out the meaning of family life and the importance of marriage and preparation for marriage.
1.3 December 16th Brother Aaron Nakufa ofm will be ordained a priest at Uganda Martyrs Bhongweni . We extend sincere congratulations to Bro Aaron; we pray that the Lord may bless him as he makes the priesthood of Christ present among the people. Brother Aaron has worked in the diocese during this year, at Umzongwana and Makhoba’s.
4 The Bishop will be at Mt Frere for the Sundays preceding, during and after Christmas and New Year. He will also be there for Christmas and New Year.
1.5 Confirmation at Mathias in Umzongwana on Saturday the 3th of January. On the previous day there will be a retreat and confessions.
1.6 The priests are invited to celebrate Christmas together on Monday the 29th of December at the Bishops house.
1.7 January 18th , confirmation at Hardenberg.
1.8 January 24th , Saturday Kokstad Meeting of youth representatives and adult representative from each parish regarding youth formation and work in the diocese. This arises from D.P.C decision. Chairperson, Fr Vincent Bwete.
1. 9 January 28th to February 4th the bishop will be at the Plenary session of the Bishops Conference (SACBC).
1.10 7th and 8th February Lusikisiki for confirmation.
1.11 January 19th Kokstad Catechetical team will meet to plan the year activities. Chairperson , Sister Callista.
1.12 Sunday, 18th of January is the day for commissioning catechism teachers in the parishes. All parishes, if the date is suitable, should mission the catechism teachers for the coming year. This ministry should be recognised in public in the presence of the faithful.
1.13 The religious of the diocese are invited to Coolock House for sharing and reflection on 15th to 18th of February. Please arrange transport in advance so that as many as possible can attend.
1.14 23rd of February the bishop will celebrate the anniversary of his ordination. All the sisters and priests are invited to the Cathedral for Mass and to lunch.
1.15 27th to 29th February there will be a retreat in Kokstad for all catechism teachers. All invited.
Justice an Peace workshop was held at Kokstad 5th to the 7th December. Chairperson Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kasin. Excellent training with over 30 present.
2. Fr Noel Divine Ofm was laid rest in Kokstad after the funeral Mass in the Cathedral . Fr Noel worked in here from 1955 to 1966.
His brother Brendan represented the family. Cardinal Napier presided at the Mass. May he rest in peace.
3. About 120 youth go on the pilgrimage from Franklin to Kevelaer from the 8th to the 12th of December. Thanks to the priests and sisters who makes this possible.
Fr Gunther and Fr Vincent have piloted the program. This is an opportunity for retreat, reflection and prayer for our youth. Meaningful liturgies, prayer and the journey’s contact with holy places is meant to inspire our youth to praise God at the centre of the journey of life.
4. In general it is the intention of the bishop to give a retreat to the confirmandi , if possible, on the Saturday previous to a confirmation in a parish. He hopes to revise with them what they have learned in catechism– the meaning of the Sacrament, to look at the ritual, and to help in confessions.
As Confirmation is often our last word with many I wish to emphasise the great importance of the role of the priests- personally – in the preparation for this sacrament. We should try to meet each candidate and get them to make some kind of a statement drawn from a lived awareness of God.
5. Fr Sihlobo and Fr Lulama worked very hard during 2003 to establish a solid marriage encounter centre in our diocese , all parishes are encouraged to avail of this excellent formation for married couples. As we know the family and marriage is the top priority of the whole church in South Africa during these ten years. Encouraging a few couples from each parish this year to attend marriage encounter will provide a team to form our youth in preparation for marriage. It will also be an opportunity to enrich the family life and to help all to understand the meaning of catholic marriage.
6. During Christmas holidays when Youth are free it would be good to focus them on some wholesome church activity. For example, some might encourage youth to visit the sick around Christmas and the New Year singing hymns, bringing gifts, saying prayers.
Anything that will bring them together — competition, prayer, workshops, vocational reflection days would be of value to them.
7. Fr Gunther at Mt Ayliff organised a day of prayer with the bishop for all the parish leaders on the 1st of November. It was a beautiful day where people came together to reflect on their leadership role in the parish. They felt encouraged and committed. Perhaps, days like this could enliven the faith of our leaders and help them to reflect on the meaning of their apostolate.
8. Sinosizo continues to train many volunteers. In this regard congratulations to Makwaseng and Fr Sizwe for encouraging the members of the Saint Anne’s and the Sacred Heart to take special training. Over 30 were commissioned as volunteers at Makwaseng due to this excellent training led by Nomvano Qwebeba and Patience Nogabe.
Can we help to get food and maize out to parishes so that the volunteers can help those who are dying from hunger?
9. We have various social projects in the diocese to help people. Apart from Justice and Peace we are now engaged with projects to improve skills.
We are training 26 girls in sewing at Mariannhill, we have sent others for tourism training , some for hotel management . Over 60 applied for the REAP bursary this year. We hope some will be successful as this bursary allows them full education at a third level institute.
Bro Herman in Mount Frere is engaged in farming/micro-agricultural projects and is available to advise and help to initiate projects if invited.
Bro Erich has many projects including making windows , benches etc. Also he is producing lovely religious goods. If we wanted to help we should perhaps try and sell some of these goods in our parishes.
11. Fr Sizwe helps people to get documents and be registered so as to benefit from social services for children, orphans and Aids sufferers. Whatever we can do to help is an expression of gospel love. Then our prayers, our services will be more sincere and meaningful and the faith will be deeper.
12. Congratulations to all involved in the Maria Telgte theology school, November 24th to the 29th of 2003. Particular appreciation is due to Father Sihlobo who made an excellent
presentation and submitted many questions on the question of usindiso. Sr Callista, Sr Beauty, Sr Chrysanta, Sr Paulus Maria, Mr Jojo, Mr Godo, Mr Qhwesha all led sessions.
We emphasised the Bible and took the participants through the Credo. They also offered skills development especially in the area of leading services, funerals. We thank Fr John and the team at Maria Telgte for the hospitality and finest catering during the happy days there.
13. As you know the contact person in cases of sexual abuse of any kind is Fr Bill Lovett.
14. A point of particular sorrow for the diocese is the loss of Bro Allan Riley. Bro Allen of the Christian Brothers has been with us for over two years and has made a wonderful contribution to the diocese. Both in his total commitment towards education and in his work in the town of Kokstad among the poor , in the garden and towards all who came to him for help Allan was a source of joy and help. His presence among us was a great blessing. His prayer life, his commitment to the religious life was a great example to all.
His congregation needs him to be part of the team in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We wish him every blessing and are grateful for his presence here.
We can now add that another wonderful friend of the diocese , Brother Val Haran, is being transferred to a formation house in La Rochelle, Johannesburg. His going will be deeply felt by almost everyone in the diocese and town. As Director of the Lenten appeal, Sacristan of the Cathedral, Religious instructor and general factotum his kindly presence was everywhere felt. Picking up students in the middle of the night, shopping, leading Eucharistic devotion were all done with gentleness and great patience. Ni beidh a leitheid ann aris.
We also loose Sr Helena from the Matatiele community. She was a founder member of this community, of the creche and was initiator of so much good that her departure to a new appointment in Mahobe leaves us very sad.
Earlier, and also suddenly we experienced the great loss of Fr Solly who went to Besters. He had just built up close contact with stations in Hardenberg and had started many projects, many people sorely miss him.
And Fr Tony Hardiman, after 45 years in the diocese slipped away without a word to Amanzimtoti. Tony will be fondly remembered in many parishes, Umzumgoana, Matatiele, Lusikisiki, Flagstaff, Makhoba for his great kindness to people, his very peaceful presence and his loyal commitment in every place he worked. The St Anne’s have lost a friend who was at their disposal for years on end.
15.The Poor Clare community is expecting some extra sisters and even a formation program. However, we have no vocations as yet from Kokstad. I encourage all the priests and sisters to speak about the life of prayer, the vocation of the Poor Clares, the importance for the Church of the contemplative vocation, the importance of the people who offer their lives in prayer to make the Prayer of Jesus alive in the world of today. We need vocations for the Poor Clare Monastery. Please let us all encourage them.
16. I thank Fr Joseph who organised days of recollection for priests, they will continue as usual in 2004. Hopefully everyone has done a retreat during this year.
17. The meeting of the priests at Coolock House, October 27th to 30th was very fruitful and enjoyed by all. Fr Desmond Nair presented many ideas on stewardship. He invites us to encourage all laity to dedicate of their time, talents and financial resources to the maintenance of the diocese .
Fr Nair pointed out that Catholics are expected by church law to support the church financially. They must not think that the church is rich, we must not encourage in them a spirit of entitlement by which they think the church must carry them in every way . The Catholic Church is their church to find and to give help.
People are part of the living history of the parish and must share in its vision and dream.
Fr Desmond pointed out that it is 20% of the people who give 80% of help. We cannot go on like this. Everybody must contribute in his own way.
To ensure this every parish must have a parish financial council, this is laid down by Canon Law. Each parish must have census and expect all to give according to their means.
All most invest in their faith. Where our treasure is there is our heart.
The aim of each parish is to become financially independent.
As we know the finances of this diocese of Kokstad are rather poor. We must encourage our people to give more. The diocese hopes to decrease the subsidy from January 2004 in all parishes by 5% this coming year. If impossible for you please come and talk about it.
However, some parishes are poorer that others.
We should expect the people to give R50 if we attend the funeral, R20 at the time of baptism and to give an a appreciable financial contribution every week or month.
18. Program for Sinosizo
Bhongweni 2nd – 6th February Sinosizo
Hardenberg 5th – 9th January Education for life
Bizana 12th – 16th January Education for life
Matatiele 9th – 13th February Sinosizo
Lusikisiki 16th – 20th February Sinosizo
E Mbhobheni 23rd – 27th February Sinosizo
Mt Frere 26th – 30 January Sinosizo
E Sipolweni 1st – 6th March Sinosizo
Cedarville 8th – 12th March Sinosizo
Mt Ayliff 15th – 18th March Sinosizo
Ezitapile 22nd – 26th March Sinosizo
Kwa Makhoba 1st – 5th April Education for life
Saphukanduku 19th– 23rd April Sinosizo
Dutyini 26th – 30th April Sinosizo
Kokstad May 3rd – 7th Education for life
Mantlaneni May 10th – 14th Sinosizo
St Francis May 17th – 21st Education for life
Ezitapile 5th to 9th July Education for life
Flagstaff (Luphondo) 12th – 16th -July Sinosizo
Caba 27th Sept- 1st Oct Education for life.
If there are queries contact Nomvana Qwebebe or Patience Nogabe.
19 We rejoice that on December two young ladies of our diocese, Lusikisiki and Flagstaff will take their first vows as Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart in Matikwe.
May everybody have a peaceful and joyous Christmas. Christmas is the source of our confidence and joy, God is with us, may we be with Him.