1st September 2004
1. The bishop has appointed a new team of Consultors as from the first of August. Fr Richard Kugbeh-Kasin will be the Vicar General of the diocese, and Frs Bill Lovett, Rodgers Sihlobo and Fr Antonio Benetti, Fr George Byarugaba, Fr Joseph Methanath and Fr Bongani Mbhele will be the Consultors.
We wish to thank sincerely Fr Sihlobo and the old team who worked so well for so many years. Especially, a word of thanks is due to Fr Tom Byrne who has been administrator and Financial Manager of the diocese for many years.
2. We ask the priests to encourage people to consider Maria Telgte school as a place to send children for a good Catholic Education. The bishop has recently given the school twenty computers to help the children to begin computer studies.
3. The catechetical team of the diocese , Sr Callista , Sr Paulus Maria Mncwabe, and Sr Chrysanta continue to go from parish to parish to upgrade teachers in teaching and passing on the faith. They had an extremely good meeting for people in the Matatiele area from the 16th to the 18th of July. Between 60 and 70 teachers attended for the weekend.
4. Fr Sizwe will represent the diocese at National Liturgical conference to be held in Bethlehem at the beginning of September.
5. We continue to deal with properties. Many people have shown interest in St Patrick’s school, which is now empty, and the Murrey Street, St Anthony Centre. However we have not come to any final agreement yet. Congratulations to Fr Antonio and thanks to the Comboni Missionaries for the beautiful new church centre at Mpoza in Mount Frere.
6. We are also engaged in building a new church at Mqhume in the parish of Flagstaff. Fr Sihlobo and his parish are engaged with a new centre at Shayamoya.
7. The seminarians visited the diocese during July and helped in many places. It is wonderful to see their zeal and their generosity in helping people and priests. Please make sure to encourage boys to consider the priesthood. Invite and encourage them in their vocation.
8. Simon Nala ,who was the catechist for over forty years in Mount Ayliff parish particularly at Lugelweni was laid to rest on the 10th of July at his home. Mr Stanford Gwanisheni in Bizana also went to his rest at the beginning of July. He is the father to Brother Siphelele Gwanisheni OFM. We offer sympathy to Siphelele and his family.
9. Thabang Letsohla was ordained Deacon at his home in St Antons in the parish of Hardenberg. Thabang is now working in Flagstaff. He has generously taken on the task of spiritual director of the children of Mary and of the Legion of Mary in the diocese. It was a wonderful celebration at Makgwaseng and the people contributed most generously. Hopefully, Thabang will be ordained a priest in December.
10. We hope to obtain financial assistance to enable people to establish small agricultural projects. Brother Herman will manage and promote the work as supervisor. So please get in contact with him if you have a family, or a number of families who would like to start plots near their homes. Brother Herman will visit them and see if it is possible to help them fence the plot and lay on water. He and his team will supervise their work during the year. Please select serious people and if possible projects which are relatively close together. Do contact Brother Herman directly yourself. Phone 039 2550149. Poultry and pig projects might also be considered.
11. The priests of the diocese celebrated the feast of St John Vianney with lunch on August the 2nd. He is the patron saint of the diocesan priesthood.
12. The bishops’ conference at Mariannhill considered many questions facing the church at the moment. They encourage medical personal to refuse co-operation with the procuration of abortion. They should refuse to assist abortions.
The bishops also spoke out about Sudan and Zimbabwe.
The bishop’s conference is making 15 million rand available for the helping of Aids’ victims.
The bishop’s conference also hopes through the South African government to make money available for development projects. Please let the bishops office know if you have some ideas and we can apply for funds for some of your people.
13. The bishop will preach at Stutterheim at the end of August on the occasion of Mass of thanksgiving for Mrs Nosimo Balindlela. She has been elected as Primer of Eastern Cape and she is a very devoted catholic. We should pray for her in her difficult situation.
14. The Sinosizo Home-based Care team continue to work with people all over the diocese . There are people dying in great numbers around you and many young people are getting sick everyday. We have a serious moral responsibility before God to do what we can to form our young people and to care for the sick.
We have a Behavior- change programme with Ms Nogabe and her team. This is a team of youth who will go anywhere to speak with their peers in a programme that invites them to reconsider their values and way of life. We also have St Kizito children’s fund which works with orphans and needy children. At the moment Ms Lindelwa Mangisa in Flagstaff is overseeing this programme.
During July we invited 40 orphans to spend one week at the mission where we could care for them, get to know them and try and regularize their situation. In fact, 340 orphans came. They had a wonderful week. Congratulations to Sister Khumalo and Fr Aaron Nakufa in their splendid work. They were ably assisted by the Volunteers who are very committed in the parish of Umzongwana. In many other parishes they are doing almost nothing. As priest we have a serious responsibility to encourage the home-based care people.
Some 11 of our volunteers went to Centocow to train as councillors.
15. In Umzongwana we have now found 807 orphans. Ms Mangisa in Flagstaff has found people registering even their cats and dogs , giving them proper names in order to gain children assistance welfare.
16. Congratulations to Lorna Wicks on the REAP Programme,- Bursary program.. We have 150 applications for bursaries this year. This represents continual effort on the part of Lorna and her team. But only about 15 can really expect bursaries. However, the bursaries are extremely generous.
17. The CIE, the Catholic Institute of Education, continue to work very fervently around the diocese. So far this year they have dealt with teachers who are teaching over ten thousand pupils. They had a number of retreats for teachers , they have an Aids information program. We find that teachers ignorant of certain fundamentals regarding the Aids situation and dying in big numbers.
Congratulations to Fr Bongani and the people of Bizana for the opening of the New church at Nyanisweni on the 25th of July. It was a wonderful celebration. The church was called St Rodger and Wilfrid. Fr Vincent Bwete attended as did the Poor Clares. It was an occasion of great joy. However, the church will have to be expanded as already the community there is very big.
18. Congratulations to the priest of the diocese and all the wonderful activity that has been taking place over the past two or three months. They had retreats everywhere for the St Annes , Sacred Hearts, Children of Mary, the Amajoni and the Youth programme have been also successful.
We are offering great service to the people with these programs and I thank the priests for this excellent work.
19. Please continue to advertise the diocesan pilgrimage of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary which will take place on Saturday evening the 9th of October at Maria Telgte Mission. The program will take us through the night. The diocese will officially open the Year of the Eucharist on this night.
The program will include Mass held by the bishop. There will be a rosary procession motivated by Deacon Thabang, a reconciliation service led by Fr Sihlobo. Fr Bongani and the Bishop will conduct a healing service with laying on of hands, Holy hour. We hope to have a sermon on family and married life. Choirs we have their chance and a general sharing of prayer. We invite the choirs of Hardenberg, Flagstaff, Bhongweni, Matatiele, Bizana to attend. Other choirs wishing to participate should contact Fr Sizwe at Hardenberg as he will be M. C. for the night.
We hope during the night to have a special time to bless and reward our jubilarians. That is, all those who are celebrating jubilees for whatever reason. We want to acknowledge them, encourage them and give an ideal to the rest. A program will be sent around during September.
20. The last week in November as usual we will have the summer theology school at Maria Telgte. Among the programs we wish to have this time will be reflection on the Eucharist, its Dogma, Spirituality , Liturgy and Canon Law. This will take up most of one day . As you know the Year of the Eucharist begins in October this year.
We will spent another day studying care of the sick. We help the people look at the Sacrament of Anointing in the light of their perceptions, needs and alleviation. The skills team will be there to train our leaders, we hope to have many prayer sessions and occasions to ask questions. This is an important week for all leaders in the church. We hope to organise a bus from Kokstad out to Maria Telgte. But we invite only those who have shown a real engagement with the work of the church.
21. The priests must remember that the Coolock meeting runs from the 11th to 14th of October. The afternoon of the 11th to the morning of the 14th. This year we hope to consider priests support for each other. We will also consider how we should celebrate the year of the Eucharist in the diocese, we will look at counseling people and directing their consciences in the whole Aids epidemic. We hope to have time for prayer as well.
22. The bishop will be away during the Month of September, he will be in Ireland with his family.
23. Sr Vianney is Organizing for the Feast of Christ The King, The Jubilee of the Amajoni ka Kristu Ukumkani in the diocese. It will take place at the end of November , the Feast of Christ the King at Bhongweni mission.