03 JUNE 2007
1. We congratulate Fr. Sihle Mbhele on his ordination to the priesthood on the 14thApril 2007 at the Cathedral. This was a very well prepared ceremony with youth coming from many parishes under the direction of Fr. Melese and Sr. Natalia. The many practices in preparation gave us a beautiful liturgy. We congratulate Fr. Sihle and ask God’s blessing on his family in Bizana who offered him to the church.
19th May 2007 the bishop ordained Fr. Nkululeko Meyiwa OMI at Inchanga Mission in Durban diocese.
We are very happy to welcome to the diocese Fr. Robert Mamba Khamango. Fr. Robert who stood up fearlessly for his people in Congo against attacks and atrocities emanating from the soldiers has had to leave his country as a refugee. We are happy to have him with us in the diocese of Kokstad.
2. 43 students and parents from schools in Ireland came to work in the diocese during March this year. They were facilitated by Francis Lambert and Sr. Natalia. They come through our connection with Friends in Ireland FIR. This year they stayed at Ingeli Lodge hotel. They worked to create a beautiful centre for street children at St. Anthony’s centre in Kokstad. They also worked in Chibini where they built a delightful kitchen for Sr. Constantia and her orphan children. Besides that they did a lot of work of visiting schools especially in the Franklin area under the direction of Fr Bruno. Some amongst the parents were doctors and nurses who brought medical care to many sick children in the diocese.
3. Churches under construction in the diocese at the moment. There is a Rasheni in Cedarville, St. Calistus and St. Anthony in the area of Hardenberg. As well we have Dante church in the parish of Mount Ayliff while in Lusikisiki Fr. George is very busy with Mkata and Ngozi. We are preparing to build the church of St. Joseph in Dutyini. Fr Vincent is in process with his people at Vema and Zinini.
4. A devout spirit of zeal and prayer has been created by Fr. Melese taking the Youth Cross around the diocese. I thank all the priests who have welcomed the cross and encouraged the youth to attend. This is a beautiful ceremony which allows our youth to come and pray before the cross. This cross was blessed as it stood beside the Pope’s cross in Queenstown and in Kokstad and now joins the world wide journey of the Papal cross as it sets out for Australia for the next encounter in 2008 between the Pope and the youth of the world
5. The Lenten appeal this year has been a wonderful revelation. We have received so far R102 000. Last year’s sum was R62 000. Congratulations to everybody, however I want to make a particular mention of Fr. Lizo and his people. They have given the sum of R11 000. This comes from a poor area, where people are truly struggling. I congratulate Fr. Lizo and his parish for this wonderful achievement. As well they have given an enormous sum for the welfare of the diocese in a number of envelope collections. In appendix 1 you will find the list of the parishes and the sum of money given.
6 The young priests of the diocese, diocesan and religious met joyfully at Jacobs Well in Botha’s hill near Durban from 21-23 May 2007. It was a time of recreation and relaxation. Everybody appreciated the beauty of the place and our trip in to Durban.
7 All the priests of the diocese met at Coolock from March 12 to 16. Fr. Cyril Malinga of the Durban marriage gave us an excellent input on the whole question of marriage in today’s society. Fr. Vincent Bwete is our local judge and works with Fr. Cyril Malinga. Fr. Cyril dealt with the meaning of marriage and how to present marriage to youth in preparation.
To say that marriage is a sacrament means having Christ as a companion for the couple in their married life. Marriage in church makes us co -creator with God .
A preparation for marriage should begin at an early age. The Education for Life, the Children of Mary, the Catechumens and on occasions of retreat all young people should be prepared for committed marriage life.
Fr. Cyril pointed out that young people have very few role models. Perhaps we need to celebrate more publicly jubilees and successful marriages in each of our parishes.
It was suggested that young couples be on the diocese and parish youth team to present marriage to the youth. In the preparation for marriage we should have a number of serious talks with the young couple and emphasize the dignity of woman. Try and make sure that these young couples are able to communicate with each other.
If there are situations of broken marriages which the parish priest feels may actually be cases for annulment this cases need to be referred to Fr. Vincent Bwete.
At Coolock Fr. Melese spoke on vocation. Fr Thabang spoke about the National Priest Council on which he is our representative. The bishop reported mainly on Sinosizo projects.
8 This year in August at Botha’s hill the bishops in their plenary session will meet with representatives of laity from each diocese of the country. The team chosen at Coolock house to attend with the bishop were Fr. Lizo, Mrs Madikizela from Flagstaff with alternate Mrs Nontshe.
Representatitive from the central region was Mrs Dolly Ngwadla from Mount Ayliff with alternate Mrs Napier.
In Maluti region Mr Nzame was elected with an alternative either Neo Kheswa or Dr. Nakeni. Would the priests please inform Mrs Madikizela, Mrs Ngwadla and Mr Nzame.
At Coolock House in conclusion the bishop made a number of points. He reminded the priests to make sure that all registrars are faithfully kept, He also asked that the Chronicle of the parish noting the main events in the life of the local church be recorded with dates and names/
All parishes should have Parish Finance Council.
Mrs Prisca Hadabe from Newcastle is an excellent presenter of marriage courses and retreats.
The bishop asked all the priests to give particular care to our home-based caregivers working with Sinosizo.
It was pointed out that the pilgrimage of diocese in honor of our Lady of the Rosary will take place in Maria Telgte on the night of October 06.Also in Maria Telgte this year at the end of November there will be a week theology course.
Next Coolock meeting will be on October 8 to 11.
9. The Sisters of the diocese met in Coolock from 28 to 31 May 2007 to share their vocation in prayer, discussion and in relaxation. The sisters had a number of sessions on centering prayer and lectio divina. They were also represented with a copy of Bishop Hirmers book The joy of being Catholic which was also used for reflection.
In their reports on their work it was seen that the sisters acontribute very valuable witness in the diocese for which the whole church must be grateful.
Sr. Christina not only works in the whole area of Bhongweni but manages to find food to send out great quantities with the priests and the home-based caregivers to 32 different sites in the diocese every month.
In Tabankulu Sr. Maria has 157 poor families on the list for food parcels every month. As well as this she distributes the food from the diocese.
Sr. Natalia works with Friends in Ireland as a representative here in the development work for the poor and abandoned children.
Sr. Jerome Ngcobo has after a lot of suffering managed to have our school centre in Bizana become a public school on private property.
Sr. Chrysanta in Maria Telgte has built up a connection between farm schools and the church.
The Little Sisters of the Immaculate have a model crèche which all the children of Matatiele want to attend.
Sr. Vianney in Flagstaff is the Major General of the Soldiers of Christ the King.
We cannot forget the work of Sr. Mary Anthony in the hospital in Lusikisiki with the very poor and Sr. Maria Goretti in Bizana who has trained the team which now goes weekly
Beside that all the sisters are committed to the work and life of the church being supportive of the priests.
We appreciate the prayers especially those of the Poor Clares who are dedicated to serving us in this way in Christ.
10 The Amawele project is described in appendix no.2 This is an initiative linking Ireland and South Africa in particular in the diocese of Kokstad with the provision of better schooling facilities and possibilities for our children and our teachers. You will find in appendix no.2 the description of the launch of this project at Kokstad Motel in this May.
11 The Catholic Institute of Education. This year the Catholic Institute of Education in the person of Mrs Gloria Napier and assisted by Sr. Patricia have offered the Echoing the Word programme for the training of those teaching religion in schools both Catholic and government. This has been a singular success. This is a course of 8 week-end lectures during the course of the year.
Mrs Napier and her team also organized 3 days of motivational prayer at the Poor Clares on 23 February, and Flagstaff on 28 February, in Matatiele on the 2 March.
On 20 &21 April Mrs Napier hosted over 100 teachers from Umtata and Kokstad Catholic schools. It was a weekend of input, reflection, celebration of our vocation which offered great motivation for catholic teachers to be serious in this work of putting values to our children.
12 The bishop is the chairperson of REAP Rural Education Access Programme which tends to provide possibilities for third level education for bright but poor rural students. You will find on appendix no.3 a very important note from Mrs Wicks and Mrs Napier regarding who may apply from this bursary.
13 Respond which is an Irish organization founded by Franciscan Fr. Pat Cogan offers to help us provide facilities for training our young people in skills. In appendix no.4 you will see how far the planning has gone. They wish to do a lot of work for our people. But the initiative is to come from us if we have very good plans then we should speak now about them and they will help us. Already they have given us five new offices and meeting rooms at the Cathedral.
14 The bishop will be away in Rome at a meeting Franciscan Bishops and in Ireland on holidays between the 14 June -11 July 2007
15. Fr George from Lusikisiki will be away for California USA for 18 months for studies from July 2007. We all thank him for his work for that big parish and pray for him in his studies while we await his return to the diocese with new skills.
15 The Catechetical programme is experiencing a certain amount of success but in some parishes more than others. Meeting with the supervisors at the beginning of June Sr. Callista and her team of Sr. Chrysanta and Ms Nombini Mavango with Bishop had very positive reports from supervisor’s of most parishes of what is taking place. We thank Sr. Callista, Sr. Chrysanta and Nombini.
There will be deanery workshops for all catechism teachers 7-9 September 2007 for Matatiele Deanery
28-30 September 2007 at Flagstaff for the Pondoland people, and
26-28 October 2007 Kokstad Deanery.
Sr will run another workshop in Mount Ayliff on 22-24 June 2007; this is a parish workshop.
Please let us remember to celebrate Catechetical Sunday in all our parishes on Sunday the 16 September 2007. This was celebrated every where with great results last year. Please note this as a special Sunday to emphasize catechism and to thank and appreciate our catechism teachers while encouraging our children and parents. Teachers are almost universal in saying that prayer is dying in the home. We must be preach again and again to our parents about this.
16 The next diocesan consulters meeting will be on Monday 23 July 2007 at the bishops house.
17 Vocations. Fr. Melese has made every effort to encourage vocations in the diocese. But this is a prime responsibility for every priest working in this diocese. We simply must encourage young men to become diocesan priests in our diocese. If they want to become religious that is fine but in the first instance we should encourage their vocations to the diocese. I beg the sisters also to get involved in encouraging vocations. Fr. Melese will have a workshop at the end of July 27-29 in Bizana for young men who are interested. It looks as if we can have 3 candidates to send to the seminaries in 2008. Please pray and work for vocations. We are falling behind inthis area.
18 July 24- 29 the bishop will be in Bizana on parish visitation and will have confirmation there on Sunday the 29 July2007.
19 The bishop will be in Mariannhill on 01-8 August 2007 or the Board and Plenary session of the bishop’s conference.
20 Please call to attention to a very important event on Women’s Day August 09 at Matatiele at 10am in the morning. Under the inspired guidance of nurse Angela Masangwana the nurses of the diocese are called to a special gathering. They will have a special mass addressed by the bishop and have the ceremony of anointing of hands. Our nurses have been hidden for quite a while, this is of great importance if we get them together.
21. On 11 August 2007 We will celebrate the feast of St Clare feast of our Poor Claire sisters. And also let us not forget vocations for our contemplative monastery which will bless our diocese by prayer and union with the Lord. We have great joy in seeing 2 of our young women Dikgabiso from St. Anthon and Zandile Masiko from Matatiele becoming postulants at the Poor Clare Capuchin in Melville. On June 29, in Kokstad Ntombfuthi Langa will join the novitiate in the monastery.
21 The priests chaplains of the youth in the dioceses of Eastern Cape will meet in Kokstad from 20-22August 2007. Our representative is Fr. Melese.
22 Sinosizo. You will find in appendix no.5 an account of the work done. Sean Lowry has done wonders to structure these very important task of the Church. He has a fine his team dedicated to the poor, the sick, the orphans and vulnerable children in our diocese. Please support this work and also you will find the names of those responsible for the 200 people now working for the diocese in this capacity. Please assist them in everyway thank you. They are caring directly for over 4000 sick and troubled children.
23 You will find in appendix no.6 an account of Education for Life and its re-launch in Johannesburg. This is headed by Miss Nosisa Ngwadla and deserves our support in preparing our children to understand the values of relationships, behavior and proper preparation for marriage and chaste life.