10th March 2004
1. With great sadness the diocese learned of the sudden passing away of Archbishop Denis Hurley. Archbishop Hurley often visited us and was a great friend of priests and people. The bishop and Father Tom represented the Diocese at his funeral in Durban.
2. Department for Christian Formation and Liturgy.
From the Bishops Conference.
2.1 The Conference approves the report of the Department for Christian Formation and Liturgy.
2.2 The Conference mandates the Department to produce a simplified directory for implementing the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) in the Conference area. This directory will contain directives to facilitate the celebration of the Eucharist with the aim of ensuring unity and respect for diversity.
2.3 The Conference resolves that a booklet be produced by the Department for use in workshops for diocesan liturgical committees in order to facilitate the implementation of the GIRM.
2.4 The Conference resolves that the following directives be implemented in the Conference territories by each bishop through communication with the priests of the diocese, in accordance with the spirit of the study day which aimed at empowering each bishop to take charge of liturgical celebrations in his diocese.
2.4.1 The congregation stands for the three prayers:
a. The opening prayer
b. After the invitation, “Pray brothers and sisters…”
c. The communion prayer.
2.4.2 The deacon
a. Kneels at the time of the consecration
b. He does not announce the mystery of faith, the celebrant does.
c. He does not call on the congregation to pray the Our Father, the celebrant does.
2.4.3 During the Eucharistic Prayer, other ministers kneel, if that is what is done by the congregation; or, if they stand, it is behind the celebrant, not alongside.
2.4.4 In the following instances, the introductions be done in such a way that the Congregation begins at the same time with;
a. I confess…..”
b. “ I believe….”
c. “ Our Father….”
2.4.5 The way of venerating the altar and the Gospel book remain the kiss while further research into something which may be more culturally fitting is undertaken.
2.4.6 More research is needed before making a final decision as to whether it is appropriate for us in the Conference area to stand or sit during the proclamation of the Gospel.
2.4.7 The procession of the Word with the lectionary is a praiseworthy alternative to the procession with the Gospel book.
2.4.8 It is not right to break the bread at the consecration.
2.4.9. The sign of peace remain where it presently is in the rite with acknowledgment that it can be moved if there is a pastoral reason for doing so, or as occasion may dictate; that the words of invitation to exchange peace attempt to explain why it should be done in a dignified way.
2.4.10 The fraction rite should receive more prominence, and part of the celebrant’s host should be shared with the congregation.
2.4.11 Communication from the chalice is administered in the following way:
After the reception of the Body of Christ, the minister offers the chalice to the communicant who drinks from it.
Or, the minister dips the sacred host in the precious Blood, and puts it on the communicant’s tongue.
2.4.12 Respect for the Eucharist be shown in the following circumstances:
a. When there is a surplus of the precious Blood, it be consumed at the altar;
b. When there is a surplus of the Body of the Lord, it be placed in the tabernacle while all ministers pay attention to its reposition;
c. The purification of the vessels takes place after that, preferably at the side table.
2.4.13 It is not right to celebrate or concelebrate Mass without vestments.
2.4 14 The Department will try to collect the different recipes in use for baking altar bread, will examine them and make further recommendations.
2.5 The Conference mandates the committee on catechetics and Lumko to call together some bishops and other experts as soon as possible, to complete the catechetical series, “Our Christian Heritage: A Journey of Faith”, by rewriting book three and writing two further books.
2.6 The Conference endorses the institution of one specific Sunday in the year as National Catechetical Sunday where the focus will be on the role of the family and the Christian community in catechesis. The Conference leaves it up to individual dioceses to ultimately decide when to celebrate Catechetical Sunday in the diocese. The Conference mandates the Catechetical Committee to produce suitable material for such a celebration.
3. We have 34 girls from the diocese studying sewing and dressmaking at Mariannhill this year. Seven graduated last year and we hope that they will soon have machines and begin producing and selling.
We also have boys at the Technical college in Kokstad. Here there are many excellent courses and they are not so expensive. If you have very promising boys who cannot otherwise go to third level education let us see if we can help them.
4. Sinosizo continues to work with the sick , dying. We are trying to restructure the organisation as it has become ver big for its present form.
A lot of work is being done in training and retraining the volunteers. Hopefully the priests are continuing to support the volunteers in each parish. Please collect food and soup for the sick and the dying and the orphans at the bishops house on Mondays.
We are also trying to develop Education for life in order to make our youth aware of the great dangers and values within sexuality.
We also have appointed Sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe to help us establish a Natural Fertility Program which will introduce again natural means of birth control.
5. We congratulate Fr Egbert and Sister Constantia in providing a holiday for the orphans in Umzongwana in January. It would be a very good idea if many of our parishes who have such facilities would organise a short break for orphan children during Summer or Winter holidays. The idea would be to bring children for three days to the mission, give them food, pray with them and show an interest in them.
6. The Catholic Institute of Education continues to work in Catholic schools in the diocese and also particularly in Government schools. Here the chairperson is Mrs Gloria Napier helped by Ellain Davids and Merle Richards and Shirley. They upgrade teachers and provide training courses for a more professional approach to achool work.
We congratulate them and their report of last year which shows tremendous achievement in reaching teachers who are instructing some sixty-thousand children. They also bring the message of the Church’s interest in the progress and Education of our youth to the minds of the people.
7. We congratulates new seminarians Petros Letsohla who has gone to St Kizito in Oakford to begin orientation and Thomas Njabulo Ngwadla from Mt Frere who begins the bridging year in Port Elizabeth. Let us continue to pray for them.
It is very important that all priests and sisters and laity in the diocese pray and work for diocesan vocations. Last year we did not get around as much as we would liked. Fr Bongani is the Chairperson and working with him are Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kasin , Fr Vincent Bwete, Fr Lulama and many of the sisters. We need to organise workshops, make contact and ensure that the young people are encouraged with the ideal of priesthood and religious life. We need to do more in this area.
8. Hopefully, marriage encounter which has been so successful in many parishes will continue to expand in the diocese this year. Please contact Fr Rodgers Sihlobo and Fr Lulama Msongelwa.
9. Fr Rodgers Sihlobo is the Spiritual Director of St Anne’s during this year. When Fr Richard feels better in the New year he will take over this portfolio. Fr George works with the Amadodana and recently they had an excellent retreat preached by Fr Vumile in Mt Frere. Fr Sizwe is working with the Sacred Heart and has apostolic programs involving them in caring for the sick and the dying. All our apostolic ladies need to be trained and involved in doing something with their faith. Fr Jose continues with Amajoni and Abantwana baka Maria..
10. Confirmation recently took place in the parishes of Matias in Umzongwana, in Hardenberg and in Lusikisiki. The bishop always likes to spend Saturday in retreat with those to be confirmed on the following day.
11. The Cathedral parish is being very busy . They had two fund raising functions with an Indian Evening and pancake evening. Both were financially successful and involved the parishioners in working together.
The bishop came to bless and to mission the catechists. We also congratulate them on the extending of toilet facilities for the parish.
12. On the 23rd of February the bishop welcomed the sisters and priests of the diocese for his feast day. It involved Mass and then lunch together. He is very grateful for all who attended and appreciates their good wishes and prayers.
13. This year we need to make serious decisions about major properties which we hold. St Anthony’s Center is being repaired and readied to lease.
Also the school complex at the cathedral needs to find a new use . The present school is leaving for its new premises in June.
14. The sisters of the diocese, 26 of them, gathered at Coolock for the annual meeting and reflection on religious life and the apostolate in our diocese.
Sister Lucy Bowe FMM led us in prayer and set the mood of the meeting with an emphasis on the importance of discovering God personally in prayer.
The sisters shared their many joys in the diocese. Some commented on the response of people, especially the young, to the call of faith and worship . Sisters are obviously having a deep impact on many Christians and bringing the spirit of the gospel and their own charism to the parishes. Many sisters expressed consolation in seeing people grow in the spirit. Though we are aware of the great sufferings of our people it is wonderful to see how so many respond to any initiative in the diocese.
The sisters isolated the areas of the family, health issues including HIV\AIDS and issues within the church as the main concerns of the diocese at the moment.
The Sisters felt a lot more must be done to prepare young people for family life. They spoke about workshops for youth, proper preparation for Holy Communion, using confirmation instruction as a preparation for marriage, the formation of youth, workshops and retreats for our young people. It was felt that there is very little good example given youth in families today. Many youth speak of never having seen a white marriage in the diocese of Kokstad.
The issue of orphans is becoming ever more demanding and the church is finding itself burdened and struggling to respond. It was emphasized that we should work with the Government but the Catholic motivation for volunteers and help care givers is of importance.
In the area of the church the sisters felt that our leaders need more formation and training. The sisters are very happy that Maria Telgte school of theology has been renewed. They asked for more co-ordination and working together between priests and the sisters. More can be done here if work together. Sisters should be given responsibilities for certain areas in the parish and encouraged to become more involved.
It was felt the catechetical program is advancing. Yet, we need to continue to clarify the policy of the diocese as regards catechetical programs.
15. The diocese says goodbye to Sister Cordelia and Sister Penuel from the community at Maria Telgte . They worked with dedication for our children and now have taken up new appointments. We welcome Sister Henrietta Madlala who came to take over as Boarding Mistress. We also welcome Fr Rigoberto from Mexico, a Comboni Father, who is coming to Mt Ayliff to work in the diocese in that parish.
16. The priests met at the Cathedral on the 18th of January. They discussed many issues and points of importance in our planning for 2004.
Among the points raised were the importance of days of recollection for parishes. We should offer our people some quiet time, time of prayer and instruction in spiritual matters.
They emphasise visitation of the people. This year the bishop will come around to visit all the parishes in the first months.
We need to empower people with skills and leadership, always training them as teams working together.
Exchange of pulpits to allow people opportunity to meet and hear other priests giving them opportunities for confession.
17. Forth coming events
a. March 15th to 18th meeting of the priests at Coolock House.
b. The Chrism Mass will take place on Wednesday , the 7th of April at 11 a.m.. All are invited to the Cathedral. Bring parishioners. Fr Sizwe will arrange the music and ceremony.
c. Brother Simphiwe Kheswa will be ordained priest Saturday the 29th of May at Hardenberg.
d. The 13th of March, a pilgrimage to Emmaus for Lent to pray Mass and do Stations of the Cross at the shrine of Abbot Franz.
e. The Seminary Department will meet in Pretoria on the 8th and the 9th of March.
f. The Bishop will visit Lugada for a day of instruction and prayer on the 10th of March.
g. The Bishop will be on retreat from the 19th to the 29th of March.
h. The Bishop will preside on Palm Sunday at Flagstaff on the 4th of April.
i. The Bishop will baptize and confirm at the cathedral on Saturday night vigil.
j. The bishop will attend a meeting in Cape town as Chairperson of Rural Education Access program on the 17th of April.
k. The Board of the SACBC will meet in Pretoria from the 3rd to the 7th of May.
l. On the 13th of May there will be confirmation in Bhongweni.
m. There will be a renewal course for priests at Coolock House from the 23rd of May to the 4th of June organized nationally by Fr Vincent Brennan.
n. The diocesan priests of the diocese will have the annual retreat together at Botha’s Hill Durban from the 25th of October to the 30th of October. Preacher, Fr Urs Fischer CMM.
o. The next priests day of recollection will take place at Bizana on the 9th of March.