1st January 2005
Notice to priests. General Meeting in Kokstad on Monday, January 17, to discuss priorities of diocese and parish for 2005. Confer No 14 below for a statement of some of the challenges we face in working with our religious and people in encountering Christ, in becoming the community called Church and in engaging together in faith-based apostolic service. Meeting to begin after tea at 10 a.m.
1. Congratulations to all the priests for the success of the pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary at Maria Telgte on October the 9th . It was a great team effort and I am sure many people will come this year on Saturday , 8TH of October.
2. Congratulations to Sister Vianney and all the Amajoni. Almost 900 were present in Bhongweni on November the 21st to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Umhlangano in the Diocese of Kokstad.
Even though many children may join the umhlangano because of the uniform it does offer us another opportunity to instruct them in the catholic faith. The intention of this sodality is to teach the children to pray, to have a spiritual program for them during the year, to give them apostolic work in the church and to bring them together as Catholics. We have an opportunity here to deepen the commitment of our children to Christ.
3. The Abantwana ba kaMaria led by Sister Paulus Maria Mncwabe had their retreat at Bhongweni from the 8th until the 11th of December.
The Youth facilitated by Fr Vincent Bwete had their talent day on the first day of December at Kokstad. Youth processions in Mount Ayliff and Hardenberg during Christmas were a great success in inspiring the Youth and centering them on worthwhile projects.
4. We had a very encouraging week in Maria Telgte from the 29th of November to the 1st of December when 107 of the Abaphathi from all the parishes attended our theology week. A lot of credit goes to Fr Sihlobo who led the people in some excellent talks on the Eucharist.
Fr Bongani Mbhele conducted a healing service and Fr Sizwe spent a lot of time dealing with caring and consoling the sick. The Bishop also spoke about the finances in the diocese.
5. Maria Telgte also played host, 6th to the 8th of December, offering some inspiring days to 150 Volunteers from the Sinosizo program. The team were present for the whole encounter and our volunteers had opportunity to share regarding their problems and joys in serving the sick. It is obvious that this apostolic work is having a spiritual influence on many of our Christians. Of the 150 present, 80 were non-Catholics. We seem to be unable to get many of our Catholics to lend a hand in caring for the sick and dying and guarding the orphans . This is an area we need to investigate.
6. It was a very exciting day on 10th of December at Umzongwana mission when Mrs Nosimo Balindlela, the Premier, came to bring gifts for our 800 orphans and Christmas food for the poor and needy.
Congratulations to Sister Constantia , Fr Egbert Rabasotho and Fr Aaron for the wonderful work done. This was a day of joy in an area where people are very poor and in great need. We also congratulate the Sinosizo team.
7. On the 20th of November we give thanks to God for the ten years of the Monastery of Santa Chiara of the Poor Clares . We thank God deeply for their presence of prayer, calling us to faith, reminding us that the great law is love of God; we appreciate their praying for our people, their interest in the Church life of our diocese, their hospitality, their love of their vocation.
Encourage girls whom you think may have a vocation to visit the monastery and consider it as an option for their religious life.
8. We have now offered the Respite program in seven different places in the diocese. This means bringing orphan children together for four to six days at a church or a school. The program provides teachers, cooks and guards. The Sinosizo team conducts the weeks and our volunteers contact the children. The aim is to make contact with orphan children and offer what aid we can, we show them that someone is concerned. We talk with them we see their situation and we hope to build up relationships which will allow us to continue to help them with Social Welfare, with Christian life, and with care.
9. The Bishop attended the Pontifical Council for Culture from the 26 to the 30th of October and gave a talk there on the subject; “ Reconciliation of Cultures a Christian necessity”. Chairperson of the meeting was Cardinal Poupard. The attendance included bishops and presidents of Bishops Conferences from many countries in Africa.
10. Brother Herman continues his work opening many small projects to allow people to grow vegetables in gardens around their homes to make sure that they have some foods on the table in the year ahead.
11. The Bishop hopes to visit with the priests of each parish during January and February. He would ask the priest to have already prepared a plan for the parish for 2005. The bishop would hope to discuss this plan with the priests and see how it best can be implemented and supported. We need to have some basic focus as we begin our work. Our work is very scattered for we have many outstations, many demands, little time and few personal. Therefore we have to rationalise and to make long term plans.
12. We remember of course that 2005 is the year of the Eucharist. Each parish will have plans to emphasise the importance of the Eucharist. If our people believe in this medicine which is the very person of God himself then as the years goes by other medicines will fall away and they will build up a personal and life-giving relationship with Jesus which will stand by them in all sufferings. Please remember No 15 below. (From Coolock discussions).
13. Forthcoming Events
a. Remember that February the 13th, Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, is the a time in the RCIA program when all those who are to be baptised as adults at Easter must should be elected by their parishes . Each parish should receive our catechumens on that day.
b. There is a Youth planing meeting led by Fr Vincent on the Third of January .
c. The catechetical committee will meet on January the 17th to make a plan for their program for the year.
d. On the 22nd of January Fr Bill would like to meet with one representative of each parish council in the diocese to plan the Diocesan Pastoral Council meetings for 2005.
e. On the 24th of January there will be a Consultors meeting in Kokstad.
f. The bishop will be away at the SACBC from the 24th of January until the 2nd of February.
g. The bishop will attend the Franciscan continental meeting at La Verna from the 9th to the 12th of February.
h. Please note from the 14th to the 16th of March the priests will meet at Coolock .
i. There will be confirmation at Flagstaff on the 13th of February, Sunday.
j. There will be the Catechetical Deanery of Pondoland, Bizana, Flagstaff, and Lusikisiki, will meet at Flagstaff from the 11th to the 13th of February.
k. The Central Deanery catechetical teachers will meet from the 18th to the 20th of February.
Priests will remember that at Coolock Sister Callista , the Chairperson of the catechetical commission in the diocese, made the following points.
a. While there is good work being done in catechetics the team finds that there is decline of faith in families.
There is very little family prayer and very little support for the living faith of the church in the home.
b. Christians have not encountered the foundations of our faith. Any distraction, for example, and they will not come to Mass on a Sunday. They do not grasp the central importance of Sunday Eucharist in the life of the Christian Church.
c. The children are only interested in Sacraments. So therefore they are not really interested in the life of the church.
d. Our teachers are not competent. Hardworking, and zealous many of them are, but they lack formation as followers of Jesus Christ. There is a lot of singing but one has to ask if they have personally encountered Jesus in any real personal sense.
e. Confirmation is taken as the license to sit down. They do not want to hear f ongoing formation. So we have a very loose Catholic identity. And this is augmented sometimes by ecumenism which leads to a lot of confusion with so many churches. All churches are seen as clubs. Enculturation causes confusion. People say if everything is good and beautiful then what is the vlue of the Christian symbol.
15. The year of the Eucharist
The priest will remember that they made the following suggestions in Coolock regarding the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist in their parishes.
a. There should be an opening of this year in the individual parishes. This will bring it to the attention of the people.
b. We will have benediction on occasion as many people have not experienced it.
c. We will endeavor to encourage the people to have holy hours. There are beautiful prayers in the Bongani iNkosi Hymn Book.
d. We should do something special for Corpus Christi in parishes and perhaps also in the diocese e. We should give sermons on the Eucharist and the Real Presence during the year.
f. The people on occasion should be encouraged to receive under both species.
g. There should be a letter from the Bishop to explain this as a special time and to help our people understand.
h. The sodalities must be formed to understand the Eucharist and Service. The Eucharist is the source of service and Ministry in the church. If it does not express itself in service then we have to ask if the Eucharist is alive in the lives of our people.
i. People should be encouraged to pray together after Mass with prayers directed towards the Eucharist.
j. We as priests and the religious should try to pray the Office or lead meditations and reflections before the Blessed Sacrament on occasion.