St Anthony’s Church Lusikisiki
Table of Contents
(i) Early History of Lusikisiki – p.1
(ii) First Church – p.2
(iii) Second Church, 1951-1998 – pp.3 – 78
(iv) Addendum By Fr Manus Campbell – p.79
(v) Outstations – pp.80 -99
(vi) Catechists – pp.100 – 105
(vii) Port St Johns Friary – pp.106 – 110
(viii) St Elizabeth’s Hospital and
Franciscan Missionary Sisters
for Africa (Nursing Sisters) – pp. 111 – 128
(ix) Drs Buchan and Barlowe – pp. 129 – 130
(x) Parish Sisters:
a) Franciscan Missionary Sisters
for Africa – pp.131 – 132
b) Daughters of Charity of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus – pp.133. – 137
c) Vocations to the Religious Life – pp. 138 – 139
(xi) Resident Priests at Lusikisiki – p. 140
(xii) Archivist’s Summary – p. 141 – 142
(xiii) Mandela Moment – p. 143
(xiv) Photocopies – p. 144
(xvii) Sources of Information – p. 145
History of St Anthony’s Mission Lusikisiki
1. Early History of Lusikisiki
Lusikisiki is the Southernmost mission of the Kokstad diocese, being almost on the Transkei coast. It is situated on the road from Port St John’s on the Umzimvubu River to Kokstad. Flagstaff is the nearest village, about 40 km away. The border of the Kokstad diocese is on the north side of the Umzimvubu River and Port St John’s is under the jurisdiction of the Umtata diocese.
The Lusikisiki district is the largest of Eastern Mpondoland, stretching from the Umzimvubu River to the boundaries of Flagstaff and Tabankulu districts. The name Lusikisiki derives from the onomatopaeic sound of hte reeds in the marshes below the village; the sound was caused by hte wind blowing through the dry reeds.
Before the Europeans came, a Chief’s kraal ( headquarters) is said have occupied the site of the present village, and it was even then called Lusikisiki.
The White settlement had its origin in 1894, when Mpondoland was annexed to the Cape Colony and a Magistrate took up residence there. In 1950 the district had 110, 000 inhabitants, subject to the Paramount Chief of Eastern Mpondoland, who had his Great Place at Qaukeni quite near the village. There were also 1382 Coloured people and about 350 Whites.
The Methodist missionaries had been in Mpondoland in the ninenteenth century and as far back as 1845 had founded the well-known educational centre, Palmerton. Thomas Jenkins worked, lived and died there. (Fr Marcel Dischi – Transkei for Africa).
2.Early Years and First Church
The few Catholics in the village and district were occasionally visited by the missionaries from Kokstad and Lourdes Mission. Serious missionary activity started only in 1927 when Fr Ruthing CMM was resident in Flagstaff.
First St Anthony’s Church Built
Fr Ulrich Eisenbarth, Fr Ruthig’s successor, built the little church in 1932. Fr Severin Neumeier OFM continued the visits to Lusikisiki from Flagstaff. In the Lusikisiki priest’s chronicle it is noted that Fr Severin was the first resident priest in lusikisiki and he lived at the old church for 5 months before the War (1938 – 1939) but the validity of this statement is questioned by two separate sources.
During the War years the Catholics of Lusikisiki were cared for by the priest from Bizana, Fr Magnabon OFM (Bavarian Province).
After the war, Fr Severin returned to Flagstaff, continuing his work in both Flagstaff and Luskisiki.
Property in Lusikisiki Bought
Fr Severin bought a piece of property with a house from Mrs George Clarke about the beginning of 1950. Bros Dosith Buhler and Philip Griffin OFM were then sent to Lusikisiki to prepare the property and house for a resident priest in about June 1950.
First Resident Priest
Fr Cornelius Heffernan OFM arrived in Lusikisiki in about July 1950, being followed a few months later by Fr Columban Timmons, another Irish Franciscan. Only a short time after, Fr Cornelius was transferred to Newmarket and FrColumbanus worked on alone at St Anthony’s.
3. Second Church Built 1950/51
When Lusikisiki was made a parish, Fr Columbanus was appointed Parish priest. Then the new church was built and opened. The foundation stone was laid on 8th December 1951. See cuttings from the “Southern Cross” below and on page 4.
Laying Foundation Stone
(8th December 1950)
Bishop McBride laying the foundation stone of the new church for Xhosa-speaking Catholics at Lusikisiki, Pondoland, as reported in last week’s issue of the “Southern Cross”.
New Church for Lusikisiki
Lusikisiki – The foundation stone of a new church for the Xhosa-speaking Catholics of Pondoland was blessed and laid here by his Lordship Bishop J E McBride, Vicar Apostolic of Kokstad, on Sunday December 10.
The ceremony was to have taken place on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception but had to be postponed, heavy rains having made the roads impassable.
The church, which is dedicated to St Anthony of Padua, is being built in the village of Lusikisiki where there is a large number of Catholic families, with four outstation attached to the Mission.
Assisting his Lordship during the ceremony were Fr Antonine Kelly, OFM, of Kokstad, as deacon; Fr Severin OFM of Flagstaff, as sub-deacon; and Fr Columban Timmons, OFM, of Lusikisiki, as master of ceremonies.
Among the clergy present were Fr Caius, OFM of Mt Frere, Fr Cornelius OFM, of Lusikisiki Fr Kieran, OFM of Matatiele, Fr Germain OFM of Bizana, Bro Philip OFM and Bro Octavius, OFM of Kokstad.
Mr Wilbraham, magistrate of the Lusikisiki district, and Mr Stanford, chairman of the Village Management Board, together with the secretary of the Board and all its members were also present.
Mr AM Goudi, the builder, presented his Lordship with the silver trowel, with which he made the sign of the Cross on the stone and tapped it in position.
Bishop lays Foundation Stone of New Catholic Church
On December 10 at St Anthony’s Catholic Mission, Lusikisiki, in the Vicariate of Kokstad, the bishop of Kokstad (Rt Rev. Monsignor J E Mc Bride OFM) blessed and laid the foundation stone of a new Catholic Church .
The ceremony took place at 12 o’clock onthe new church site recently acquired in the picturesque village of Lusikisiki and was attended by a large congregation.
The local authorities were represented by the Magistrate of the district, Mr Wilbraham and the chairman of the Village Management Board Mr Claud Stanford, with the secretary and members of the Board.
Bishop McBride was assisted during, the ceremony by Rev Father Antonine Kelly, Ofm Kokstad as Deacon and the Rev. Fr Severin, OFM (Flagstaff) as Sub-Deacon with Rev Fr Columban Timmons OFM Lusikisiki as Master of Ceremonies.
Among the visitors present were Rev Fr Cains, OFM (Mt Frere), Rev Fr Cornelius, OFM Lusikisiki, Rev Fr Kieran Ofm Matatiele, Rev Fr Germain OFM Bizana and Bro Philip and Bro Octavius , OFM Kokstad.
At a luncheon given to the visitors by the Bishop after the ceremony at which the Magistrate and village Management Board were, present he thanked them very sincerely for the kind reception he had received on his first official visit to the village and expressed his gratitude to all sections of the village community for the kindness and co-operation which the Catholic Fathers had met with since their advent in Lusikisiki.
He had no doubt that with the opening of this new church God would bless the village and its community with a spirit of unity peace and prosperity.
The silver trowel was a gift from Mr AM Goudie.
The old church became a library / recreation club for the Coloured people
Fr Columbanus Leaves Lusikisiki
In April 1952 Fr Columbanus was transferred to Kokstad.
Fr Kieran Mc Crann Arrives
Fr Kieran took over from Fr Columbanus the same month. In the words of Fr Marcel Dischi, he gave missionary work a steady and stable progress for many decades. He also started the Lusikisiki chronicle at the request of the Visitator General in 1952.
Fr Caius Grellner OFM
Fr Caius of the Bavarian Province, came as Fr Kieran’s assistant in August 1952.
Fr Hubert Quinn, Provincial of the Irish Province, made a visitation in October 1952.
Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau visits
This important gentleman, together with some headmen, came to the priest’s house to see a film taken by FrPerigny OMI, which was shown by Fr Bruno (Tom) Byrne. Everybody enjoyed the entertainment.
New Presbytery, 1954.
In June Bros.Juniper and Masseo arrived to build a new presbtery, while the Franciscan Sisters of Africa were intended to use the old presbytery. In November the priests left the old presbytery and took up abode in the new one.
Proposed Friary at Port St John’s
As most of the Franciscan worked on mission stations, they had no place of community and was proposed to find a site at Port St John’s where they could build a place. In November 1953, negotiations were reported as progressing.
First retreat in Lusikisiki
This retreat, conducted by Fr Berchamans O’Byrne from Hardenberg, took place from 16th – 23rd May 1954.
Arrival of Franciscan Sisters of Africa
Srs Mark and Cosmas, the first Sisters for Lusikisiki, arrived in November 1954. (For further details of the Sisters, see separate section headed Sisters).
Fr Reginald Gunn takes Charge Temporarily
While Fr Kieran was overseas on holiday, Fr Reginald arrived on the 30th November to take charge of Lusikisiki. Fr Reginald remained in charge until Fr Kieran’s return in May.
Pledges for the Bishops’ Campaign
Pledges for this Campaign were signed the same day, with the total being pledged by the Europeans and Coloureds was L642.12.0. The money was earmarked towards the building of the national seminary in Pretoria, to help the African Seminaris and enable the African mission schools to continue when all Government aid would be withdrawn in 1958. All parishes in South Africa had been asked to pledge funds towards the Bishops’ campaign.
Annual Friars’ Retreat
Frs. Caius and Reginald attended this retreat in Kokstad, which was preached by Fr Stephen Whye OFM of the National Seminary (St John Vianney).
The Novo Ordo for Holy Week was used and attendance was very good: there was a noted increase in Holy Communions. The Palm sunday procession did not take place, as the choir was not yet prepared.
Departure of Fr Caius Grellner
He left in April to take charge of the Cedarville mission.
Proposed Friary at Port St John’s
Frs. Antonine Kelly and Kieran McCrann visited Mr Date, owner of the Wild Coast inn to enquire about purchasing land to build a church and presbytery ( on the north side of the Umzimvubu River, hence within Kokstad Diocese) . However there were difficulties over the transfer of property.
Option on a portion of Farm
In August the abovementioned priests managed to procuring an option of a portion of a farm at Port St Johns. Bishop McBride gave telephonic consent to Fr Antonine to purchase 70 acres of land from a Mr Meuller at L10 per acre. Fr Antonine also contacted Mr Mueller’s attorney about this transfer.
Confirmation at Lusikisiki
Bishop McBride confirmed 31 Coloured people on the 29th.
Fr Aelred Devine arrives at Lusikisiki
Fr Aelred was transferred from Bizana to Lusikisiki, as assistant priest on the 11th.
The First European convert in 5 years was received into the church at Umtata, where she was a Convent school pupil – her name was Hazel Gibson, stepdaughter of Mr J Tus. On the 5th January, Bishop McBride confirmed Hazel Gibson and three other young people.
Three Day Paulist Mission
This very successful misison given by Fr Mc Gough in Lusikisiki, was closed by Bishop McBride.
Clearing the Bush
Prior to building a friary on the site at Port St John’s work started in July on clearing the site. Fr Kieran was present whtn the first tree was pulled out. In August, Fr Urban Sullivan, Regional Superior of Southern Africa, came to discuss the building of the friary.
Arrival of Fr Seraphim Kennedy
He came to Lusikisiki as assistant priest, having spent 9 months in Hardenberg learning Xhosa.
Survey of the water and piping system at Port St Johns
Mr P Griffin, formerly Bro Philip OFM, surveyed the system for the new firary. By the 1st October Fr O’Sullivan had written to say that permission was granted by the Father Provincial for the building, and it was hoped to start in the New Year.
Legion of Mary Started
The Legion on Mary was started by Fr Seraphim Kennedy.
Feb 17-22. Very successful mission preached by Fr Sebastian Lee OFM.
June 16th. Fr Urban O’Sullivan appointed as Provincial delegate of all Franciscans in Southern Africa.
July 13th. Bro Dosith started making bricks in Port St Johns for the new Friary.
Visit of Custos Provincial, Procurator FMU
Fr Oliver Moran came to Lusikisiki on his round of visits to all the Irish Franciscans in Southern Africa.
Fr Kieran ill.
He was taken to the Bizana hospital.
Visit of Archbishop Whelan OMI
He came to Lusikisiki with Bishop McBride and Fr Antonine Kelly. His Grace was investigating the possibility of an anti-Catholic conspiracy in matters concerning the proposed Bantustans ( homelands for the various African tribes in South Africa).
Fr Seraphim Kennedy Leaves Lusikisiki
Fr Seraphim was transferred to Mt Frere and his replavement at Lusikisiki was not expected until after Easter the following year.
Mission at Lusikisiki
Fr Columbanus preached a very successful 5 day retreat.
Fr Manus Campbell was sent to help out Fr Kieran during that busy time.
Canonical visitation of Fr Roger Huser.
Fr Huser arrived today … in preparation for the Chapter in Ireland and the election of a commissary and councillors for South Africa. Fr Huser is a member of the Franciscan Province, Cincinnati USA. After interviewing the Friars at Lusikisiki, he examined the books, including the chronicle. He went to Port St Johns to visit the site of the proposed Friary.
I reproduce below his official stamp and complimentary remarks made about Fr Kieran.
On the 21st May a gathering of Africans was addressed by the local Magistrate, with police reinforcements. The Africans were in an angry mood. They objected to the dividing of the land (Land Betterment Scheme) and to the Bantu authorities.
On the following day, fighting broke out amongst the Africans, between those who were against the Bantu authorities (placed there by the South African Government) and those in favour. This fighting and burning of huts continued until Monday 6th June. On this day the police reinforcements and Africans clashed. It is not know exactly how many Africans were killed or wounded. Some sources put the number killed as high as 31, with 21 being arrested.
Since that day the fighting and burning of huts amongs the Africans seems to have ceased.
A short while later high Government officials came to Lusikisiki to bring things to a peaceful conclusion – they had consultations with local residents and were anxious to listen to proferred solutions to the problem.
Deaths of an Elderly Local Couple
Mr & Mrs Barber died with 2 days of each other, the wife of natural causes, the husband accidentally burned to death in his house. They lived at Mbotyi, a small settlement on the Pondoland coast.
Coloured Children make first Communion
Fr Manus Campbell of Bizana, accompanied by Fr Martin Croker of Australia, sang the Mass, preached and gave Holy Communion to the children.
Institute of Race Relations
A lady from the Institute, bearing a letter of introduction from Archbishop Hurley, came tothe mission to find out the true facts concerning the unrest in Pondoland.
Assistant Priest for Lusikisiki
After several months without an assistant priest, Fr Eric Austin was appointed to assist Fr Kieran McCrann.
Burglars in the Church
This morning we found that we could not enter any further than the sacristy. The door leading from the sacristy to the sanctuary was locked and the key was missing. It was also found that the front door was locked and the key was missing. Spilled candle wax and burnt matches were found on the floor of the sacristy.
The silver box containing the large Mass hosts was missing, so we called in the police. The station commander arrived, removed a pane of glass and opened the window. They key of the door of the side-chapel was in the door, so he opened it was we entered the church.
Agin, in the church we found spilled candle-wax and burned matches beside the pamphlet rack. The little money box had been foced open and was empty. The police promised to keep a lookout for the missing host box and the two missing keys. We decided to change to locks on the doors.
The mystery is: how did the burglar get into the church? The most probable solution is that he was hiding in the church when it was locked for the night. Thank God there was no other damage done inside the church.
Priest Needed for Port St Johns
Fr Kieran went to see Fr Antonine Kelly in Kokstad about this urgent matter. He mentioned that the Catholics in Port St Johns were being neglected, the children were attending non-catholic schools and there was nobody to teach them catechism. A few days later Fr Kieran wrote to Fr Bernardine Dore, the Regional Superior, about this matter.
Prospective Franciscan Seminarian
A letter was received by the Franciscan superior, Fr Bernardine Dore, from a young man from Lusikisiki studying at the Ixopo Secondary school. Fr Kieran felt that it is urgent that he should be sent to a minor seminary as he is not learning Latin’s at his present school.
Presbytery & Church for Port St Johns
Fr Kieran wrote to Fr Urban O ‘Sullivan, the Provincial Delegate, who was about the return to South Africa from Ireland, in this regard. He mentioned the urgency of the matter. Fr Kieran also wrote to Bishop McBride. In November Fr Urban replied that he had no jurisdiction over Port St Johns. Bishop McBride also replied that he was very keen on this idea, but was anxious about the shortage of priests. Fr Kieran remarked: I sincerely hope that all difficulties will soon be overcome.
Death of Fr Urban O’Sullivan
This good priest died on the 9th December and the chronicler (not Fr Kieran) – this loss will
be felt by many, especially the Coloured people in Kokstad.
Fr Aquin Wright, spiritual director at the St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria, came to spend Christmas at Lusikisiki.
The four African postulants ran away.
A very successful mission was preached by Fr Seraphim Kennedy from 15th- 19th February and Bishop McBride presided at the closing ceremony.
Bazaar and Dance
The Coloured people held this very succesful fundraising event in the Village Hall in aid of the Lusikisiki mission.
Fr Kieran Has Sinus Operation
In April, only 3 days into his holiday, Fr Kieran had to go to St Augustine’s hospital, Durban, for a sinus operation. Unfortunately he had a bad reaction to the drugs and developed jaundice. He was expected to return to Lusikisiki in May. Fr Eric Austin was in charge during this time. Fr Kieran had to have a further operation at the end of May and expected to be away a further 3-4 weeks.
The New Apostolic Delegate
Fr Joseph McGough, the new Apostolic Delegate, met the priests of the Diocese in Kokstad on his Patronal Feast.
Farewell Dinner For Fr Antonine Kelly
This was held in Kokstad, and simultaneously a welcome was extended to the new Provincial, Fr Celsus O’Briain.
Fr Celsus O’Briain visits Lusikisiki
He made a canonical visit and inspected everything thoroughly – he saw the hospital, the Mission, the Sisters and the bricks at Port St John’s. The books were inspected, the church likewise and in the absence of Fr Kieran, Fr Eric was visited.
Visit of Fr Sean Gildea
Fr Sean Gildea OFM, stationed near Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) spent a weekend in Lusikisiki before his return to his mission.
Departure of Fr Celsus O’Briain
The priests went to Kokstad to attend the farewell ceremony for the Father Provincial. He made some decisions which he wished to be implemented, namely:
i. Language study, especially for priests less than 3 years on the missions.
ii. A quarterly day of recollection to be held at 3 centres in the Diocese.
iii. An extension of overseas vacation by a few more years on the Mission after the priests had finished their first vacation.
The Provincial was satisfied with his visit to the Diocese and promised continued support with men and money to help further the work of the missions.
South Africa Becomes a Republic
The name was changed from the Union of South Africa to the Republic of South Africa.
One of Oldest Parishioners Died.
Mr James Biyata, who been the African Tax collector for many years, died on the 9th June and was buried on the 11th. A large congregation attended the funeral – he was buried in the Village cemetery.
Patronal Feast of the Parish
News of Fr Kieran
It was announced that as he was not allowed to drive a car for 2 months, he would only return to Lusikisiki in January 1962. As his overseas leave was almost due, he went back to Ireland. The people missed him a great deal. Fr Kieran left for his vacation on the Pretoria Castle, a Union-Castle mailship.
Rates For Mission Premises & Land
They amounted to R86.75 for the year of 1961.
First Marriage at Port St Johns
The assistant priest performed this marriage – the couple were converts who had been married for 43 years, but wished to have a Catholic marriage ceremony.
The altar-boys had an outing to Port St Johns in June. In July another successful Coloured Dance was held in the Village Hall in aid of Lusikisiki Mission funds.
Also in July the priests attended to bi-monthly conference of the Diocese in Kokstad, where the Bishop broached the envelope system for the Africans, to be circulated at each mission station. Each adult was expected to contribute 10c per month.
Silver Jubilee of Ordination
Fr Bernardine Dore, the Regular superior celebrated his jubilee with a concelebrated High Mass followed by Benediction at Hardenberg, where he was stationed at the time.
Legion of Mary: Coria Officers Visit Two Prasidia of Lusikisiki Parish
The first meeting was at 9 30 am in the Catholic hall, the second at the Xurana outstation.
Death of Old Parishioner
Mr Kelly Meth – many people travelled from Durban, Lusikisiki, Flagstaff and Bizana for the funeral.
As a result of a statement by the Holy see, a portiuncuia indulgence can be gained in our church this year. In future it will always apply in all churches, public and semi-public, and oratories anywhere within the Apostolic Delegation of Southern Africa.
Quarterly Day of Recollection
There was a revival of this, which took place in the three centres of Kokstad diocese: Matataele, Kokstad and Flagstaff.
Daughters of St Anne: Annual Retreat
Fr Eric Austin opened the 3 day retreat, where 29 members received their Blue blouses on the Feast of the Assumption.
Foundress of this Sodality Died in February 1999
See cutting from Southern Cross below.
Sr Mary Vincent
Sister Of Charity Mary Vincent died on February 22, at Doornspruit Mission, near Pietersburg. She was 95. Africa and obtained a BA degree in 1949 majoring in Northern Sotho.
Sr Mary Vincent founded Our Lady’s College, now called Motse Maria High School, where she had a fruitful career until she retired as principa in 1977.
She also founded the Sodality of the Women of St Anne which spread beyond Pietersburg diocese to the rest of the country.
Sr Mary Vincent was born in Belgium
Feast Holy Communion
A small number of Coloured and European children made their First Communion.
New Vehicle for the Misson
The VW Kombi was traded in at 34,000 miles for a new VW Sedan and the parish made a considerable contribution towards the purchase of this vehicle.
The bell, which was donated by Fr Bernardine Dore the Regional Superior, and intended for an outstation, arrived at the Mission.
Bi-Monthly Conference For Franciscan Priests, Kokstad
-The new Xhosa ritual was distributed.
– In future no abstinence on the Vigil of the Assumption, fast only.
– Bishop McBride said the cause of the Uganda Martyrs was nearly completed. The parishioners would be asked to pray to further the cause of their sanctification.
– Fr Reginald spoke again on the subject, Teaching Catechism Method.
– Duscussion on the envelope system operating in most parishes, and the Bishop asked the priests not to pressure the people. Mass stipend of 50c and Baptisms of 20c could be brought in by degrees at a later stage.
Dry Spell Broken
Light rain broke this spell and ploughing, though rather late, would start. However by the 30th September no more rain had fallen.
Last Quarterly Dance of 1961
The Coloured people held this dance in the Village Hall it was very well attended and was quite a financial success.
Feast of St Francis
The annual celebration of this Feast Day was held in Kokstad and most of the friars attended.
Legion of Mary
Some legionaries from Lusikisiki went to the Curia meeting held at Bizana.
Fr Kevin to return to Lusikisiki
He was leaving Ireland to return to South Africa, accompanied by a new missionary priest for the Diocese, Fr Harry Houlihan and also Bro Masseo Gibney who was returning to South Africa. Fr Kevin was expected back in Lusikisiki in December.
Feast of Christ the King
Only two African people made their First Communion.
As in September, October proved to be a dry month with little or no rain-hence the mealies would be late that year.
All Souls Day
Mass was celebrated in the old Catholic home of EMA FAKU near Njombela.
Birthday of Pope John XXIII
Celebrations throughout the Christian world marked the 80th birthday of the Pope, and also the third anniversary of his coronation as Vicar of Christ. The Papal Delegate celebrated Pontifical Mass in Pretoria.
Farewell for Anglican Priest
The farewell for Rev. Lean and his wife was held in the garden of Dr Buchan. The Catholic priest accepted the invitation to attend – was this gesture helping to forga another link in the work of re-unification of the Anglican and Catholic churches? We hope so.
Priests Quarterly Day of Recollection
The priest from Tabankulu joined the Pondoland priests for their day of recollection in Flagstaff. Unfortunately the two Bizana priests were unable to attend.
Bro Juniper Returns
In November Bro Juniper arrived back in Lusikisiki after his vacation to Germany and Ireland.
Special Mass Celebrated
For the deceased relatives of the generous benefactors of the Lusikisiki church and presbytery – Charles and Mary Kenny of Dublin.
Fr Kieran’s New Bell Installed.
The tone of the new bell was noted to be more mellow than the old one. The old one would be used at an outstation church.
Fr Eric did Xhosa Exam
This exam was done in Kokstad, but no results had yet been received.
Reunion for Legionaries of the Diocese
This was held in Kokstad, and despite inclement weather there was quite a big crowd present. Bishop McBride addressed the Legionaries and gave his blessing.
Fr Kieran Back at Last!
After two operations and his overseas vacation, Fr Kieran returned to Lusikisiki. The people of his parish welcomed him with open arms – they had missed him terribly.
This mission, given by Fr Manus Campbell from 7th -11th March was very successful and Bishop McBride was present on the closing night.
Apostolic Delegate Pays a Visit to Lusikisiki
Archbishop J McGeough and his Secretary paid a short visit to Lusikisiki. They were met by Bishop McBride. After lunch at the hospital they had discussions, one of the topics being the question of self-government for the Transkei.
Silver Jubilee of Fr Kieran’s Ordination
The Jubilee Mass was held at Lusikisiki at 11am, with Bishop McBride presiding. The concelebrants included Fr Norbert O’Carroll, Fr Seraphim Kennedy and Fr Harry Houlihan, and most of the priests of the Diocese attended.
The parishioners had afternoon tea, during which they presented Fr Kieran with a cheque and the Sisters presented a beautiful cope.
Building Operations Started at Port St Johns
Money for the furnishings came from a R1500 bequest to Fr Eric from his late uncle.
Bishop McBride came to Lusikisiki to administer confirmation. He also confirmed people at two outstations – the number confirmed altogether was 183.
Death of Bro Dosith Buehler
This hard-working Bavarian brother died in his sleep in Durban on the 7th December and was buried in Kokstad. He was the first Franciscan to be buried in Kokstad.
Recruitment of Coloured Labour
Two Coloured Government officials came to Lusikisiki recruiting Coloured men as dock-workers in Cape Town. It was Government policy (Group Areas Act) to replace the African workers with Coloured men. Also it was stated that eventually all Coloured people would have to leave the Transkei, so they were encouraging them to leave then and not later, promising them good jobs, good wages, good homes and free transport to Cape Town. The officials were calling for a meeting of Coloured men that day at Magistrate’s office.
Jubilee of Fr Kieran, OFM
Kokstad – A cloth-of-glad cope was among the gifts presented to Fr Kieran, OFM, parish priest of St Anthony’s Lusikisiki, for his silver jubilee of July 4. Bishop J.E McBride, OFM, presided at a special High Mass to mark the occasion.
In the evening a social gathering for all members of the congregation, together with civic representatives, was held in the Town Hall. A gift cheque was presented by the bishop on the Franciscan Sisters of Africa, who staff the local hospital, presented a cloth-of-gold cope.
In his address, the bishop paid tribute to Fr Kieran as a Franciscan and as a priest and stressed the dignity of the priesthood and its power of mediation between God and the people. Dr.B Buchan spoke on behalf of the people of Lusikisiki.
To Fr Kieran, who was born in Athlone, Ireland, near the Franciscan Friary on the banks of the Shannon, priests and brothers of the Order were a familiar sight from his earliest days and helped to mould his vocation.
He received his secondary education from the Franciscan Fathers’ juniorate at Multyfarnham and entered the novitiate in Killarney in 1931. He then did his philosophical studies at Louvain University, Belgium, and theology at St. Isidoresk, Rome, where he was ordained in 1937.
Work in S A
His priestly life in Ireland was spent mostly in the Provincial House in Dublin, where he preached many missions and enclosed retreats. He also took an active part in the Catholic Boy Scouts’ movement.
When the Irish Franciscan Diocese of Kokstad in 1949, he came to South Africa, where he has spent most of his mission life in Lusikisiki, among the Pondo tribe. There is also a large Coloured community in his parish.
Voting took place today. It is the first occation on which elections have been held in the Transkei.
Mr Kaiser Matanzima Chief Minister of Transkei
Mr Matanzima was elected Chief Minister of the Transkei. He stands for separate development (apartheid).
Europeans, Coloureds and very many Africans are disappointed because they supported Mr Poto, whose policy is multiracialism. The future of Coloureds and Europeans in the Transkei is now in the balance. If Matanzima lives up to his policy ( also the policy of the South African Government), Coloureds and Europeans will have no rights in the Transkei. Will their exit be soon? Will it be in 20 years’s time? Who knows! We must await the meeting of the Transkei parliament next year. In the meantime it would be advisable to find African priests and Sisters who will be prepared to work in the Transkei.
Many Coloured people have left the Transkei and many more families are preparing to leave. The Catholic Coloured population of Lusikisiki has already been considerably reduced. The future of the church amongst the Coloureds in Lusikisiki is not very bright.
As far as the schools are concerned, the Catholic teacher at one of the outstations has resigned….
Other Catholic teachers in non-Catholic Coloured schools are preparing to leave. The future of all Coloured schools in Lusikisiki is certainly in the balance.
From 1st January 1964, all Coloured schools here will be under the Department of Coloured Affairs.
Fr Celsus O’Briain visited Lusikisiki – see his stamp reproduced below.
Wedding of Ivan Austin (Fr Eric’s Brother)
The wedding of Ivan Austin and Ann O’Farrell took place at the Lusikisiki church, where Bishop McBride officiated. Fr Eric sang the nuptial Mass and Sr Kevin from Flagstaff played the organ. The wedding breakfast was at the hospital.
Change in Mass Times
From Sunday 12th April onwards, there would be no 8 a.m. Mass but Mass at 10am and 6pm. When the vernacular is introduced, Mass at 10am will be in Xhosa and 6 pm in English.
That month there were two dances, one in aid of the parish and one in aid of the hospital, both proving very popular.
Fr Eric attended at Armistice Day service, being the first interdenominational service a Catholic priest in Lusikisiki had attended. The Anglican priest opened the service, the Methodist minister preached and Fr Eric brought the service to a close.
Vernacular Introduced into the Mass
The vernacular was introduced and many prayers and responses were said in English. It is hoped to introduce Xhosa on the First Sunday of Lent.
Fr Eric Austin Leaves Lusikisiki
Fr Eric sorrofully bade goodbye to the people of Lusikisiki.
Fr Seraphim Kennedy Arrives
Fr Seraphim came from Mt Ayliff to replace Fr Eric.
Parish Mission by Fr Columbanus Timmons
Fr Columbanus gave a 5 day retreat to the parish. (Overleaf is a photo of Fr Columbanus taken in 1953).
Fr Seraphim Kennedy Leaves Lusikisiki
He went on supply to Kokstad.
Fr Finbarr Russell Arrives
Fr Finbarr took the place of Fr.Seraphim in Lusikisiki.
Fr Finbarr Leaves
He was transferred to Tabankulu.
Fr Erich Austin Returns
After his return from overseas leave, he came back to Lusikisiki.
Ministers Meeting at Flagstaff.
This meeting, convened by the Transkei Christia Council, was interdenominational and Frs Eric and Kieran attended it.
The discussion was on baptism, a very enlightening and interesting topic. The next meeting was scheduled for September.
Fr Eric Elected Member of Lusikisiki Village Management Board.
Purchase off Erf From Catholic Church
Mr Khotso, through his solicitor, paid R1.000 for the purchase of Erf 116 which belonged to the Church.
Permission For Interdenominational Service
Bishop McBride gave permission for this service in the Catholic church on Ascension Thursday. Both Anglicans and Methodists accepted the invitation to attend.
Debut of Fr Eric’s Band
This band played in public for the first time at a dance at St Elizabeth’s hospital.
Purchase of Old Catholic Church.
Rev. Thompson of the Bizana Methodist church wrote to say that funds were now available for the purchase of the old church. Bishop McBride had already given his permission for the sale.
The service, mentioned in March, took place in May and in the words of the chronicle: For the first time an ecumenical service was held in our church – it was conducted in Xhosa.
The church was filled to overflowing, about 500 people in all.
Afterwards there were refreshments for the clergy and catechists, and Rev Sonqishe (Anglican) spoke a word of thanks and appreciation and hoped that Ecumenism would succedd, through God’s help and our own efforts. The Sisters were also thanked for the catering. The chronicler felt it was an historic day in Lusikisiki.
Legionary Envoy From Ireland
The Legionary Envoy, Miss M Landers, arrived at Lusikisiki, where she interviewed the Coloured people about the Legion and attended a Praesidium meeting of th nurses at the hospital.
Parish Mission By Fr D Khumalo
This took place from 11th -16th July, and on the 12th there was a concelebrated Mass at the hospital (the first concelebrated Mass in Lusikikisiki) and the priests were: Frs D Khumalo OMI, D Hynes, Niall Hardiman and Kieran McCrann. While in Lusikisiki Fr Kumalo met both Rev Sonqishe and the Methodist Minister, Rev. Makaula and their respective wives. All participants in the Mission felt sure that the Mission would bring a special blessing from God on the parish.
Fr Kieran on Overseas Leave
He went on 6 months’ overseas leave, sailing on the Principle Perfeito from Durban. His curate, Fr Eric, would deputise during this time.
Fr Damascene of St John Vianney Seminary stays at Lusikisiki
Fr Damascene, the Spiritual Director, stayed some weeks at Lusikisiki while recuperating after a serious illness. His help in celebrating Mass for the Sisters in the absence of the parish priest is a real blessing.
World Day Of Prayer and Unity
In Lusikisiki there were two services: One in English at the Anglican church and one in Xhosa at the Methodist Mission at Palmerton. At the latter service there were about 1,000 people present.
Moving the Altar
The altar was moved forward to face the people and the tabernacle was erected on a solid pedestal under the Cross.
Retreat for women of St Ann
Fr Vianney O’Kelly preached the tow-day annual retreat of the Women of St Anne at Lusikisiki.
Burglary At Priest’s House.
Fr Kieran’s room was burgled in his absence – mainly bed linen and the office key were taken. Unfortunately he had no theft insurance.
Fr Kieran Returns
He was accompanied by Bro Masseo and a new brother, Bro Flannan, a carpenter to replace the late Bro Benignus.
Death of Mr WP Griffin
Formerly Bro Phillip OFM, he died in Durban. He had worked for many years in the Kokstad diocese, including a spell in Lusikisiki in 1950 and also in Flagstaff, where he built the Coloured school. May he rest in peace. His funeral took place in Durban on the 30th December.
Old Catholic Church.
Rev. Makaula, the Methodist Minister, who had purchased the old church, performed the first ceremony there, a marriage.
Mission Preached By Fr. Columanus Timmons.
This was a very successful mission given by a former priest of Lusikisiki. We are very grateful to Fr Comumbanus for his hard work and tireless zeal. Most of the English-speaking members of the parish received Holy Communion during the Mission.
Visitator Fr Robert (Province of Saxony)
He came to Lusikisiki on an informal visit, accompanied by Fr Oliver Moran of Durban.
Fr Oliver, New Assistant Priest
Fr Eric Leaves
He went to Maria Telgte while Fr John was under doctor’s care. Fr Eric hoped to go overseas in about July. As it happened, when he left he said that he did not intend to return to South Africa and requested to be dispensed from the obligations of the priesthood.
Bro Flannan arrives at Lusikisiki
He came to demolish St Benedict’s School, Xura.
Confirmation at Lusikisiki
Bishop McBride came to Lusikisiki for confirmation.
Chiro Camp at Maria Telgte
Sr Ursula, a student nurse and an Anglican priest, Fr Jonasi (also from Lusikisiki) went to
the Chiro camp and were very impressed. They planned to start the Chiro youth movement in Lusikisiki.
Fr Kieran Elected a Member of the Village Management Board
Renovation of Church Grounds
Bro Masseo started work on renovating the paths in the church grounds.
Departure of Fr Oliver Moran
He returned to Durban and was not expected to come back to Lusikisiki.
Meeting of Franciscans with Fr General (Fr Koser)
The priests and brothers went to Kokstad to meet Fr Koser from Rome, who gave an excellent lecture and answered all questions.
We were very impressed by him.
Visit of Frs Gerry Griffin and Gerry O’Reilly
Both of the Irish province, they came to Lusikisiki after their return from Lumko language College. They had recently arrived from Ireland and had completed their Xhosa language course.
This was held on Pentecost Sunday, with the sermon being preached by Rev Fr Sonqishe.
Invitation to Ordination of Fr Wilfred Napier in Kokstad
The ordination took place on the 25th July and Fr Kieran and Fr Gerry Griffin, as well as four sisters from the hospital attended.
Arrival of Fr Gerry Griffin as Assistant Priest At Lusikisiki
Chiro Youth Movement
This popular movement was spreading to Lusikisisi village and outstations. Nurse Alina Mapena of Hardenberg and domestic Catherine Sithole of Cedarville were of wonderful help in teaching the children about the Chiro movement. Sr Celine and members of the hospital staff were going to outstations to promote Chiro among the children and also showing the mothers the correct nutritional feeding of their children.
Fr Gerry in Durban for Knee operation.
Fr Kieran goes to Flagstaff for Fr Severin’s Feastday.
Visitation of Fr Nicholas Egan, Provincial Visitator
Fr Nicholas was accompanied by Fr Finbarr. See the visitation stamp below:
S t a m p
Fr Nicholas’s Final words to Friars of Diocese
In March all the priests gathered to hear his overall summary on the diocese. He was very pleased with the work being done by the Bishop, priests and brothers and asked us specially to encourage African Franciscan vocations and would do all in his power to further this aim. He thanked all for making him feel so much at home during the visitation.
Fr Gerry Griffin left Lusikisiki for Mt Ayliff
Fr Kieran and many Catholics attended this service at the Methodist church at Palmerton, although the day was very, very cold.
Change in Sunday Mass Times
As Fr Kieran was going overseas at the end of June and Fr Wilfred Napier would be the only priest in Lusikisiki for 3 months. There would be one Saturday Mass and only one instead of two on Sunday, for the duration of Fr Kieran’s absence.
In August Fr Gerry Griffin came to help out.
Co-ordination of Community Services
At the invitation of the local social worker, Miss L Mantanga, Fr Wilfred attended a meeting held at the Magistrate’s court on the above theme. The services represented included: Religion, education, agriculture, health, prisons, information and business.
The outcome – there was an agreement on the need to establish a committee with the purpose of finding a solid basis for co-ordination and co-operation.
Village Management Board Taken over
The Transkeian Townships Board took it over. In future the village would be under the control of “The local Committee of Lusikisiki” and the monthly meetings would be attended by representatives from the Transkeian Townships in Umtata.
VMB Taken Over
The members of the Village Management Board have been appointed as members of the local Committee of Lusikisiki.
Division of the Parish
The parish was divided geographically, to facilitate the care of the parishioners by Frs McCrann and Napier.
May 11th Ascension Day
An ecumenical service was held at St Andrew’s Anglican church, in which ministers and congregations of three churches participated, one being the Catholic church.
Burial of Mr Charles Cairns Dobson
A very good benefactor of the parish of Lusikisiki was buried today at Port Shepstone. One of his charitable gifts was the money to build the concrete tennis courts at the hospital. He was a very generous man. May he rest in peace. Fr Kieran attended the burial service.
See the cremation notice below:
Death of Pondoland’s Oldest White Person at 82 Years.
I also include a cutting on the death of Mr Herbert Harry Heathcote
Pondoland’s oldest white dies at 82
Umtata – Mr Herbert Harry Heathcote, believed to be the oldest white in Pondoland, has died here at the age of 82, after being ill for some time.
Mr Heathcote, born in Mount Frere, lived all his life in the Transkei and was a fluent Xhosa linguist.
He was the son of a Libode trader. Mr H T Heathcote, and worked for the railways at Butterworth before joining the Forestry Department at Port St Johns where he later ran a tearoom after his retirement.
He took part in the South West Africa campaign during World War One and also went on active service to East Africa. During World War One and also went on active service to East Africa. During World War Two he was on the reserve.
His wife, Ann died three years ago. They had no children.
His brother Meth, lives in Port St Johns.
The funeral takes place at Port St Johns cemetery this afternoon – DDR
(Archivist’s note: In 1999 life-expectancy has increased and people often live into their nineties).
The Haunted House
There was a poltergeist at work in the house behind the store at Gemvale, and the frightened family had called Fr Kieran, with clothes and furnishings being burnt. There was an unsual kind of oil found in a cup and two crosses made of twigs, which no-one could account for. This burning had gone on for some time.
Prayers were said, hymns were sung and the house was blessed – after that the burnings decreased in frequency and stopped altogether eventually. Mass was celebrated in the house in thanksgiving on Monday 12th June.
Millionaire Witchdoctor Dies
Xhotso Sethunsa, the famous African witchdoctor, died in a Durban hospital on the 25th July – he was an alleged Catholic. Recently Fr Kieran had anointed him.
Death of Khotso Sethuntsa
Funeral Service For Khotso Sethuntsa
The programme appears below, but the venue of the funeral is not mentioned.
St Ann’s Sodality – Annual Retreat
This retreat was held at Lusikisiki, with members coming from the outstanding and for the first time the retreat was not conducted by a priest, but by two catechists.
Last Residential White Store-owner Left Lusikisiki.
Her name was Mrs D Hyman – she and her husband left for Port Shepstone. Only one White person owned a store in Lusikisiki, but did not reside in the village. His name was Mr B Goss.
Visit of Fr Robert Stewart, Novice-Master From Besters
He came to interview a prospective Franciscan lay-brother, Barnabas Nombexeza, and his aunt, a teacher. Fr Robert then advised Barnabas to study privately to reach Standard 6.
Official Welcome for New Anglican Priest & His Wife
Rev & Mrs Gabula were welcomed at a special ceremony, at which Bishop Schuster, the Anglican Bishop of Umtata, was present. Fr Kieran gave the welcoming address, and luncheon was served after the ceremony.
Fr Kieran was elected Chairman of the Local White Tennis Club
Fiftieth Anniversary of Holy Cross Anglican Mission Hospital.
Representatives from St Elizabeth’s Hospital were: Fr Kieran (Chairman) Sr Geraldine (Matron), Sr Evelyn (Acting Medical Superintendent) and Mrs M Balmer, wife of Dr Balmer.
An Ecumenical service was held at 11am in Xhosa, after the 10 am Mass and was very successful. There was singing and dancing by the members of the Chiro youth and Anglican and Methodist clergy gave messages of thanks. Unfortunately Fr Napier was unable to attend, as he was in hospital after an operation (knee injury). Fr Napier subsequently spent a time of recuperation with his parents.
Holiday for Bro Masseo
1st June. He came to Lusikisiki for a few days. Little did he realise that it would be many weeks before he could leave.
Fr Kieran Takes ill
He was first admitted to St Elizabeth’s Hospital, then flown to Durban to see a specialist. After being hospitalised for some time, Bro Masseo fetched him home on the 28th July.
Fr Oliver Moran Arrived to run the parish
With Fr Kieran in hospital and Fr Wilfred away and out of action, he was badly needed. Bro Masseo stayed in Lusikisiki to help out Fr Oliver – he finally left there on the 12th July. We are extremely grateful to him for his wonderful help during the illness of Fr Kieran and Fr Wilfred. Fr Wilfred returned to have the plaster removed on the 5th July.
A new vehicle for Lusikisiki, a Chevrolet pick-up.
Fr Oliver Left Lusikisiki
Many thanks for his wonderful help
Departure of Fr Wilfred for Tabankulu
Fr Columbanus arrived in Lusikisiki
Bro Masseo came to repair the sisters’ house in preparation for the arrival of the African Sisters. By the following day he was finished.
Meeting of New Transkeian Township Board
For the first time black and white members of the Board sat side by side at a meeting. The atmosphere was very friendly, despite expectations to the contrary.
Harding over to the Transkei
The inhabitants of Port St Johns met a representative of the Pretoria Central Government, where they strongly objected to the handing over of this area to the Transkei.
Transkei Townships Board
The Board appointed Fr Kieran as a member of the Local Committee (former VMB) for a further period of 12 months.
Fr Columbanus injured his leg while playing tennis, went to hospital and was discharged the following day.
Visit of Fr Louis Brennan, Franciscan Provincial to Lusikisiki.
Bishop McBride confirmed 100 candidates at Lusikisiki.
Survey of Lusikisiki Property
Mr Van Zyl of Umtata surveyed the Church property, Erf 26 and Erf 27. He found and marked the beacons, one of which was outside the church grounds.
May (Ascension Day)
An Eumenical service was held at the Anglican church, where Fr Kieran preached and a Catholic catechist read the second lesson. The Methodists also participated in the service.
Silver Jubilee of Ordination
From the Lusikisiki parish there was a gift presented, also a Triduum of Masses and rosaries and a collection for the Education of the African Clergy, at which R21.00 was collected.
There was a concelebrated Mass in Kokstad (see the cuttings on the following two pages)
Fr Columbanus Ill
On the 6th August Fr Columbanus was admitted to St Elizabeth’s hospital and was given the Sacrament of the sick.
He was subsequently taken to Addington Hospital in Durban and returned to the Mission at the end of September. Fr Gerry O’Reily did supply till the 30th September, as Fr Kieran was on overseas leave. Lusikisiki is very grateful to him for the wonderful work he did during the illness of Fr Columbanus.
St Andrews Anglican Mission
Srs Rita and Geraldine represented the Hospital staff and Fr Gerry represented Fr Kieran.
11th- 14th September
Holy Year Mission
Fr Gerry conducted this Mission for English-speakers at the Lusikisiki church. There was a good attendance and Bishop McBride was present for the closing ceremony and Benediction.
Visit of Hardenberg Legionaries
The Legionaries spoke to the Catholics about Holy year, the rosary, the new Catechism etc. The local people were much impressed and hoped they would come again.
Retreat for the woman of St Ann’s
The women came from all parts of the parish. Fr Kieran and three catechists spoke to them at the very successful retreat, the main objective being the teaching of the Catechism to the children by the parents.
Meeting of all the whites in Lusikisiki
This was held at the Town Hall in connection with handing over the local Transkei Townships Board to the Black people – the majority was in favour. The Whites wanted to constitute an Advisory Board.
The election of Black members of this Board, proposed to be held the same day was cancelled because there were not sufficient members present.
A Mustard seed
An evening chat can be like the mustard seed. Frs John, Egbert, Gerry Griffin and Kieran discussed the question of starting a lay society for women at Lusikisiki. There is no immediate hope of getting African sisters here. Why not recruit solid, staunch Catholic women? Why not ask young Catholic girls to give two or three years of their lives working on the missions before they marry? Is it a genuine mustard seed? Time will tell.
Training Catechism Teachers
Fr Kevin Byrne brought five ladies from Hardenberg to train the Lusikisiki catechism teachers in the New Catechism for 4 days. All were very pleased with the progress made.
Fr Columbanus Assistant Priest.
Fr Columbanus came back to Lusikisiki after a serious illness.
Harding over control of the Village
Lusikisiki was publicly handed over to a committee of Black members, though officially they had been in control since the 1st March, and the White members were only an advisory board. Dr Mazwai was the first Black chairman.
This took place at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, where a large congregation of various denominations attended. Fr Kieran was the preacher.
Bro Juniper works on the plumbing
The work took five days to complete.
Request from paramount chief Botha Sigcau
The request came in a letter from the Paramount Chief, where he asked Fr Kieran to invite Bishop McBride to the wedding of his eldest son of a daughter of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland on the 11th & 12th September. The bride was a Catholic.
The following day Fr Kieran visited Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau to explain that the Bishop was overseas at the time and would not return until the end of September. Fr Kieran suggested that he (Fr Kieran) would ask Bishop Buthelezi to take his place. The Paramount Chief agreed.
Once Fr Kieran had returned to the Mission, he received a letter from the Paramount Chief to the effect that “Bishop Buthelezi may not come to the wedding”. Fr Kieran had already written to Bishop Buthelezi and now I must write cancelling the invitation – rather humiliating!.
Fr Kieran received three excellent character testimonials about Rodgers Sihlobo, who wished to become a priest, from Fr Hirmer of the Seminary and the chaplain and a teacher at St John’s College.
In December Rodgers Sihlobo went to the Franciscan Seminary at Besters, the first future Franciscan from the Lusikisiki parish. Fr Kieran also made a note of his full name: Reginald Rodgers Sakhapi Sihlobo, and he had been baptised by Fr Eric, entry no 2797 in the Lusikisiki baptismal register.
Fr W Slattery (now Bishop William), the novice-master at Besters, came in January 1976 to see Fr Kieran and to advise that Rodgers Sihlobo should spend a year learning more about the Catholic faith and living in a Catholic atmosphere.
Rodgers passed Matric in January, and in February went to Zingisa seminary for a year to learn more about the theory and practice of the Catholic faith.
Wedding Invitation Received
Fr Kieran received a printed invitation to the wedding from the Paramount Chief – in ink he wrote: I have also invited Bishop Buthelezi! (The exlamation marks are Fr Kieran’s).
Day 1 of the Wedding
Bishop Buthelezi, Fr Michael ( Editor of Intsimbi) and Fr Kieran attended the celebrations. Chief Botha received Bishop Buthelezi very well and presented him with a sheep.
Buthelezi and Fr Michael left for Umtata in the early hours of the morning. Fr Kieran did not attend the second day of the wedding as it was raining.
On pages 40-42 are copies of the wedding invitation, the programme and a newspaper cutting in Xhosa with a picture of the bridal couple.
Parish Van Stolen
It was eventually found on a side road off the main Port St John’s road. Two wheels and engine parts were stolen and one door was damaged – it looked as if the van had crashed.
The police were informed.
He returned again after a 3 month supply in Kokstad.
Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau was elected the first President of Transkei. He was unopposed.
Transkei Became a free and Independent Republic Today
We hope it will be successful – Masses were offered today for its success.
On the 28th November a Thanksgiving Ecumenical Service was held at the Lusikisiki town hall and a very large crowd attended.
Among the VIP’s present were the State President and Mrs Sigcau, Chief Mpondombini and his wife (the former Swazi princess), representatives of the Royal Swazi family, various cabinet ministers and Mr & Mrs Ndzumo.
The new State President gave the address.
Visit of Bro Bernardine Murtagh
Bro Bernardine worked in the FMU (Franciscan Missionary Union) in Dublin and was visiting all the Franciscan Missions in Transkei, Kokstad & Matatiele, Transvaal and Zimbabwe.
There were 33 First Communicants.
Sermon Preached by Bishop of St John’s At the Interdenominational service for Transkeian Independence on 24th October 1976.
“Understand this day I offer you the choice of a blessing and a curse. The blessing will come if you will listen to the commandments of the Lord you God” (Deut. 11. 26).
So spoke Moses to the people of Israel, and he was speaking in the Name of God. For forty years the Israelites had wondered in the wilderness, and new their long period of testing was over, and they were about to cross Jordan and enter the Promised Land. They had been slaves in Egypt. They had been denied all political rights, and treated as nothing but as a source of cheep labour for the building of Pharoah’s pyramids. They had been conditioned to a perpetual state of inferiority. But new at last it was all over. Now they were to be free. New they were to possess their own land. Now political power was to be in their own hands, so that they might govern themselves as wished. Their fathers were dead. They had died during the long of wondering in the wilderness. And now their children, who had scarcely known what their fathers had suffered, were to inherit the Promised Land.
And Moses warned them. This new freedom, which your fathers have won for you, is a gift from God. There is no power in Heaven or on earth which does not come from God. It can be a great blessing if you will use it in accordance with His commandments. But it can be a curse if you will imitate your former masters in Egyptual use the power merely for your own enrichment and pleasure. And Moses gave certain illustrations of how they might draw down upon themselves the curse. If they forget God and worship the material things of this world. If they rob the widow and orphan of their just rights. If they refuse equality to the stranger who dwells among them. But if they will keep the commandments of God, then all Israel, both these who rule and these who are ruled, will enjoy peace and prosperity.
Next Tuesday is a ………… day for the people of the Transkei – a day similar to that far-off day when Moses brought the Israelites to the banks of the river Jordan. There are ….. who oppose what is to be done on Tuesday. They …. immediate majority rule for the black people of the whole of South Africa. Some even are willing to pay the price of bloodshed by which ……. such as immediate transfer of power may be achieved. Others believe that it is right to take what is offered now and to use such power bases to win further change in future. But these are political questions and net for me to speak about now. I will only say that there can be sincere Christians on both sides. I will also say that the problem of South Africa cannot be solved by political changes which ignore the commandments of God. Now laws, now constitutions cannot change the heart of man; it is only God who can do that. Therefore the same ward which God speaks to us as we gather here today to pray for a blessing on Transkeian Independence. “Understand that this day I offer you the choice of a blessing and a curse.
It will be a curse if the new wealth ….. into the Transkei is concentrated in the hands of a small minority; it will be a blessing if no one need starve in future, and all can enjoy a now standard of living. It will be a curse if justice is ruled by politics; it will be a blessing if our courts offer an equal justice to all. It will be a curse if a chief or headman requires a present before he will open his mouth; it will be a blessing if these in authority make their first care the wellbeing of the humblest of their people. It will be a curse if the teachers neglect their dury to the children; it will be a blessing if our educational system can give our children the skills they must have to take an equal place in the modern world. It will be a curse if the children forget God’s command to honour their father and their mother; it will be a blessing if parents and their children alike recognise the responsitilities and duties of family life. It will be a curse if abuse the power they have in their hands; it will be a blessing if the poorest in the land can look with confidence to the police for protection. It will be a curse if the voice of criticism is silenced; it will be a blessing if these who speak in God’s Name may do so without fear of reprisal.
But I need say no more. The new Transkeian Constitution says what I am saying. The opening words of the Constitution are these “In the Name of God. Amen. In the faith that the One, Eternal God is the source of all authority, wisdom, justice and morality, and in humble acknowledgement that we and all mankind are subject to His Laws…” This is the faith to which the Transkei is pledging itself. May God grant that this pledge be remembered in the future Transkei. May God grant that the new Transkei prove to the outside world that here at least is one place where black and white can live together in peace and friendship. May God grant that the new Transkei by its example may liberate from fear these in the rest of South Africa who new reject any real sharing of power between black and white.
In short, may God grant that the new Transkei proves a blessing and not a curse to all the people of South Africa.
He was received into the Franciscan Novitiate at Besters. We hope and pray that he will be successful.
71 people were baptised on that day.
Fr Columbanus was transferred to Cedarville.
A very successful service was held at the Catholic church. The ladies of St Ann’s did the catering, for which Fr Kieran was very grateful.
Sodality of the Sacred Heart
The Sodality was started on the feast of the Sacred Heart and the first members were received by Fr Gerry O’Reilly. Sr Constantia was director of the Sodality.
Lusikisiki Municipal Council
For the first time in many years, Fr Kieran was not re-elected at an election held in the Town hall
Conclusion of visit of Fr Louis Brenna ( Provincial of Irish Province)
All priests and brothers of the Diocese went to Kokstad, where Fr Brennan interviewed each personindividually on the subject of the appointment of a new bishop, as it was expected that Bishop McBride would resign on his 75th birthday in March 1978.
Bro Rodgers Sihlobo
He had completed his novitiate at Besters and was professed as a Franciscan. He was going to start his studies for the priesthood at St John Vianney Seminary. First of all though, he spent a few weeks at home with his family.
Torrential rains started falling on the 21st and continued for the next three days, preventing Mother General of the Daughters of Charity Sisters from leaving after her visit to Lusikisiki – it was only on the 25th April that she was able to get out. Fr Kieran felt rather sorry for her.
Besides that, there was a lot of rain damage: the bridge between the hospital and the village was washed away and two others in the area also. The hospital was without electricity and the telephone line between Lusikisiki was down. Quite a picture of misery and isolation – it is still raining. However it is expected to clear tomorrow.
Meeting Re new Franciscan Constitutions
A gathering of Irish, English, Bavarian, African and Coloured Franciscans was held at Coolock House on the Natal South Coast to discuss the above subject, and was under the leadership of Fr Liam Slattery. It was very, very enlightening and very successful. (Bishop William Slattery is a brilliant speaker, with lovely flashes of humour).
The usual ecumenical service was cancelled, as Fr Kieran was at the meeting on the South Coast, as above.
Canonical visit of Fr Rinian Kerwin
His visitation stamp appears below.
New Apostolic Administrator
Fr Wilfred Napier was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Kokstad with the title of Monsignor.
Bishop McBride Hands over
The Bishop officially handed over the Diocese of Kokstad to the care of Mgr. Wilfred Napier.
Annual Retreat for the Sodality of St Ann
20 members made their Chiro promises. Sr Gabriel came for the occasion, accompanied by a busload of Chiro members from Hlangwini (Taylorville).
First Holy Communion
There were 55 First Communicants at the 9 am Mass at Lusikisiki.
Death of Transkei President Botha Sigcau
The late President had also been Paramount Chief of the Pondos. His funeral will be on Sunday 10th December in Qaukeni, Lusikisiki.
Fr Kieran offers condolences to Mrs Sigcau
Fr Kieran was accompanied by members of St Anne’s Sodality on his visit to the late President’s widow. He also said a prayer for her and gave her his blessing.
The l ate President’s body arrived on the 9th December.
The State funeral of the late State President of the Republic of Transkei, Paramount Chief Botha M Sigcau was held at Qaukeni, Lusikisiki. Fr Kieran McCrann was honoured by being asked to offer a prayer at the funeral.
About 10,000 people attended in spite of very bad weather.
Funeral of Mrs Getrude B Sigcau
She was the widow of the late President Botha Sigcau – the funeral took place at Qaukeni, Lusikisiki.
Funeral of Trevor Crawford (Aged 34 years)
He was the son of Jimmy & Roselina Crawford and died suddenly. The funeral was the largest ever seen in Lusikiski, with 2/3 of the congregation having to stay outside the church.
Short Visit by Mgr Napier
June – July
Sacred Heart Sodality
A week-end retreat was held for the members of the Sodality. A very big crowd attended this retreat.
Meeting at Flagstaff
Mgr Napier addressed the meeting in connection with the Bishop’s consultation conference. Representatives from Lusikisiki were Srs Egbert and Constantia, Mr Gunkel and Mr Sibulali.
Visit of Bro Felim McCrann
Bro Felim, a Marist brother and the twin of Fr Kieran came to Lusikisiki from Ireland to see his brother.
Burglars broke into the church, breaking two windows and a door, searching all cupboards and drawers. Finding two bottles of Mass wine, they drank that, then made off with the veil of the tabernacle. Fr Kieran surmised that the thieves were looking for money.
Death of Fr Comumban Timmons
He died in Dublin. Many of the local people remembered him with affection, as he had worked in Lusikisiki for many years.
This retreat for the youth was very successful and the preachers were: Fr Gabula (Anglican), Srs, Egbert & Constantia and Bro Rodgers Sihlobo of the Seminary.
Catholic Prison Chaplain
Fr Kieran was appointed Chaplain for the Catholic prisoners and he signed the required documents at Lusikisiki prison
Prospective Franciscans Interviewed
Fr Kevin O’Byrne (Hardenberg) interviewed two young men, on of whom Augustine Njovane, wished to become a priest and the other Godfrey Nondabula, wished to be a brother. Fr Kevin was pleased with them and said they could start at the pre-novitiate in January 1981.
Transkei National Day of Prayer
It was held to pray for rain and the church was filled to overflowing. There was another service in the Town Hall as well and all shops were closed from 13 noon to 3 pm.to allow the workers to participate.
Another retreat for the youth
Over 200 young people attended this retreat, the average age being about 15 years old. It was conducted by four sisters of the Sacred Heart and was very successful – the young retreatants were very pleased. The retreat closed with 5 baptisms and 39 First Communicants. It is hoped that this retreat will encourage vocations to the priesthood, brotherhood and sisterhood.
Jumble and cake sale.
This was organised by Mrs J Crawford and held on the verandah from 9-12 noon, in aid of the Lusikisiki parish. It was very successful and R218,05 was presented tot he Parish Priest.
Fr Kieran in Court
Fr Kieran spent all morning in court, as a young man impersonating Bishop Biyase of Eshowe on the telephone, had obtained R25.00 from Fr Kieran under falste pretences. The young man was found guilty and sentenced.
A New Bishop Appointed for Kokstad Diocese
At the meeting in Kokstad, it was announced that Mgr Napier had been appointed Bishop of Kokstad.
Bro Rodgers Sihlobo
Bro Rodgers of St John Vianney Seminary renewed his annual vows for 1981 before Fr Kieran and the congregation at the evenin Mass. He comes from Mantlaneni outstation.
Augustine Umbuyiseli Njovane
He went to Besters, KwaZulu Natal to start his prenovitiate. Our very good wishes and sincere preyers go with him. May God’s blessing be with him.
Augustine was the second vocation for the Franciscan priesthood from Lusikisiki parish and also a grandson of a catechist, the late Aurelius Njovane.
Episcopal Ordination of The Right Rev.Mgr Wilfrid Napier at The Kokstad Showgrounds
First Visit of Bishop Napier to Lusikisiki
On this visit Bishop Napier confirmed 82 people at the 9 am Sunday Mass (3rd May).
Fr Kieran on Retreat
He went to Coolock House for his annual retreat.
Death of Bro Octave Lankes (Bavarian)
Bro Octave died suddenly in Kokstad on the 20th June and was buried there 3 days later.
Retreat for St Anne’s Sodality
The Sisters of the Sacred Heart conducted this retreat, at which 17 novices were received and 8 members professed.
Synod of the Wesleyan Church
Fr Kieran gave permission for the ministers to use the Catholic church for a prayer meeting, also the women members and also for a Communion service to be held there.
What a Week!
A very tiring strenous meeting of the priests of the Kokstad Diocese (16th)
On the morning of the 17th, Fr Kieran and Bro Flannan left Kokstad at 6.45 am, arriving in Lusikisiki at 8.45 am, where Fr Kieran was informed that a young Catholic wife and mother, Dolly Marais, had died during his absence.
The following day ws a Day of Prayer for Rain in Transkei by order of the Government. There was a Mass at noon.
On the 19th November came the news of the sudden death of a neighbour, Mr BUBU (Jnr) in a car accident, leaving a young wife and two very young children. His father was ex-Minister of Education in Transkei. Very very sad.
Phone call at 5pm from the hospital – Sr Rita (Dr Rita O’Hare), Medical Superintendent of St Elizabeth’s hospital had had a lung haemorrhage the previous evening and needed the Sacrament of the Sick.
20th November. Sr Rita was taken to hospital in Durban.
21st November. Phon call of Fr Kieran at 7:30 am. Asking him to inform Mr J Crawford that his son Derrick had died suddenly at 5 am. Fr Kieran broke the sad news to Mr Crawford at the shop, then went with Mr Crawford to break the sad news to Mrs Crawford. It was a nerveracking experience.
Funeral of Dolly Marais at 2 pm, then the usual Mass at 5:30 pm.
22nd November. Feast of Christ the King-baptisms and First Communions. The Parish priest (Fr Kieran) would like to go to bed and sleep for a week.
However, he was unable to do that, as on the 25th November there was the funeral of Derrick Crawford.
Addendum to First Communion
All the First Communicants on the Feast of Christ the King were instructed by leaders of the small Communities. This is the first time this has happened in Lusikisiki. Srs Constantia and Paulina deserve the highest praise for training these leaders.
Between the two sisters they trained all the leaders at the various outstations. Sr Constantia is now training the members of the Parish Council as leaders. God bless their wonderful work.
Big Wesleyan Wedding at Catholic Church.
Two Wesleyan ministers officiated at the weddding of Mr J Gadi’s daughter (He was President of the Transkei Chamber of Commerce). Fr Kieran gave permission to use the church.
Visitation of Bishop Napier
His stamp appears below
18 adults were baptised in the Lusikisiki parish church.
New priest for Lusikisiki
Fr Kevin O’Byrne was transferred from Hardenberg. He would take over the duties of parish priest when he returned from overseas leave in December 1982.
Fr Kevin went to South Coast for a rest
He was not feeling well, so went away for a rest/holiday. He returned to Lusikisiki on the 15th May. Thank God he is much improved in health.
Fr Kieran needs a rest
He went to Port St Johns for a rest and returned on 29th April. There is no mention of anyone doing supply while these two priests were away.
May Fr Kevin O’Byrne visits his First Outstation
May Ascension Day
Fr Kevin baptised 54 babies at an outstation. In June he blessed the new church at Xura, which was build by the Catholics of Xura (both finance and labour).
Sacred Heart Sodality
Four new members were received by Fr Kieran.
Fr Kevin O’Byrne on overseas leave.
He would return in October. However he was ill and his return had to be postponed.
Bro Thabo helped out at Lusikisiki
Bro Thabo, a student at St John Vianney seminary, came for 6 weeks and during this time he helped Fr Kieran. He and Sr Gabriel conducted the annual retreat for the members of the St Ann’s Sodality from 23rd -25th July.
Large Wesleyan Funeral in Catholic Church.
A former postmaster of Lusikisiki before his retirement, Mr Ndimende, had been a gentleman and highly respect by all. His widow was assistant matron at St Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Bro Rodgers Sihlobo
He was Solemnly Professed in the First Franciscan Order at the hands of Bishop Paschal Rowlands, president of the Franciscan Federation of Southern Africa.
There was a large crowd of Franciscan students, novices, priests, Franciscan sisters and sisters of other orders as well as Paramount Chief Mpondombini Sigcau and his wife, Mr H Bubu, the Minister of Education and Mrs Godi, wife of the President of the Transkei Chamber of Commerce.
It was the first time that a man from Lusikisiki parish was solemnly professed in the 1st Franciscan order. It was a very wonderful day.
Ordination of Bro Lucas Bambezela
Bro Lucas, a former catechist from Cedarville, was ordained a priest by Bishop Napier in Kokstad. About twenty priests concelebrated Mass with the Bishop. At the same ceremony Bro Rodgers Sihlobo was ordained a deacon.
Bro David Barnard helps out at Lusikisiki
Bro David, a seminarian, helped out at the Mission for 3 weeks, as Fr Kevin had not yet returned from overseas. He was a great help to the old parish priest during his stay.
Fr Kieran on sick Leave
During the 2 months that Fr Kieran was away, Fr Egbert O’Dea, the Regional Superior, looked after the parish. Fr Kieran expressed his gratitude to Fr Egbert and all the parisioners and the parish priest are very grateful for his zeal and hardwork.
However, as Fr Kieran really was not enjoying good health, it was decided that Fr Egbert would stay on in Lusikisiki for a while longer. So at the end of July Fr Kieran went away for a further month’s sick leave.
Bro Augustine Njovane
He was still continuing his studies at the Seminary and came home to Lusikisiki for his holidays.
Rain at Last for Lusikisiki
After a very serious drought, the rain came as a big relief. It seems that every year on the feast of St Ann it rains here.
Fr Egbert Leaves Lusikisiki
In the words of Fr Kieran, he had spent 4-1 months here and all are agreed that Fr Egbert worked very hard and put new life into the parish. A million thanks, Egbert. God be with you.
Fr Niall Hardiman, New Parish Priest arrives.
Fr Kevin Egan, his assistant , had been there a week already.
Departure of Fr Kieran McCrann
After being parish priest of Lusikisiki for 31 years, since April 1952, Fr Kieran was transferred to Kokstad. He must have felt a great wrench on leaving the place that had been his home and workplace for a large part of his life.
Fr Niall’s First Entry in the Chronicle
We are still trying to find our feet. The situation is very new to both Kevin Egan and myself. We had never really met before for any length of time and as well as that we find ourselves at a bit of a loss with regard to outstations and the general running of the mission. The African sisters of the Sacred Heart are showing us the outstations.
Fr Kieran Returns for A special send-off
He was invited back for the send-off and going-away party by both African and Coloured communities. Both occasions were very enjoyable.
After more than a month in Lusikisiki, were able to draw up a new schedule for the outstations and we decided we would alternate monthly – the one who took the northern side the first month would take the southern side the following month and vice versa.
Visitation of Bishop Napier
He stayed for 4 days and visited outstations and kindly helped with the new Catechetical programme and officially installing them as the new priests of Lusikisiki.
Three Clerical Students to help
At Christmas and through January the two new priests had a great deal of enthusiastiv help from these young men, namely Augustine Njovane, Francis Mafunda and Rodgers Sihlobo.
1. Augustine Njovane, was really only having his Christmas 2 week holiday with his people here in Lusikisiki, but he spent most of his time with us on mission, as his home is only 1/2km. From here.
2. Francis Mafunda, like Augustine, has just finished first year philosophy and he was sent here in early January for 4 weeks’ mission experience. He proved himself very helpful and adaptable and spent his time helping with Catechetics and NGG (Neighbourhood Gospel Groups).
Three Clerical Students to help
3. Rodgers Sihlobo
He spent about 6 weeks in the vicinity. He is from Mantlaneni, and having finished his theological studies, is now preparing for his ordination on the 6th April.
He spent a lot of time studying, but was always willing anxious to help us on the mission work.
Visitation of Fr David O’Reilly, Franciscan Provincial.
He came to Lusikisiki on visitation and wrote a long report on the Mission. See a reproduction of this report and visitation stamp below:
Ordination of Rodgers Sihlobo
This was the event for which Fr Kieran McCrann had so longed. The great event this month was the Ordination of Bro Sihlobo in Kokstad Cathedral. Bishop Napier conducted the ceremony surrounded by all the priest of the Diocese and many othe visiting priests, together with the new Bishop of Dundee Diocese, Paschal Rowlands.
It was a really wonderful day. The cathedral was crowded with people from all over the Diocese and surrounding areas. Transport from Lusikisiki and Kokstad was a big problem. Nokele’s truck broke down before it got to Magusheni and the ceremony was help up for half and hour, while we tried to find Bro. Rodgers mother and family who were travelling on the broken down truck. I think that the liturgy, the singing and the wonderful atmosphere in Kokstad helped everybody forget completely all the difficulties.
Visit of Fr Kevin Egan’s Parents
Mr & Mrs Egan came for a month’s visit to South Africa. Kevin met them at Scottborough on the South Coast, then came up to Kokstad, Maria Telgte, Matatiele and Flagstaff. They were well received by every everybody, especially Bishop Napier.
They arrived at Lusikisiki in the dark on the 11th May and Mr Egan Senior could not get over the desperate state of the roads and decided straight away that he would never allow himself to be caught out on the Pondoland roads after nightfall (they are mostly dirt roads, very potholed and rutted).
Kevin’s parents spent a very enjoyable 10 days with us they made the tea, washed the dishes and looked after us two youngsters! It was real love. They left Lusikisiki on the 21st after receptions by the locals and the outstations. They flew back to Ireland on the 29th.
Fr Niall on overseas leave
He left on a well-earned holiday in Ireland, where he planned to attend the Provincial Chapter as the South African delegate. During the week, Fr Nial had a special send-off from the people of Lusikisiki and Mantlaneni. Before leaving South Africa, he was going to an annual retreat in Durban.
Mass at the great place , Qaukeni
Catholics from Hillside and Xura outstations met catholics from Qaukeni in the Hall of the Great Place (the residence of the Paramount Chief). Both Paramount Chief Mpondombini Sigcau and his wife, Princess Nomphumalanga were present. It was at the request of the Princess that this meeting took place.
After Mass the Princess and Fr Kevin met to discuss future plans. She wanted the children living in the Great Place to be brought up in the Catholic faith, therefore it became the primary objective to establish a Christian community at Qaukeni, which would see to the baptism and education of the children. Fr Kevin agreed to a monthly meeting at the Great Place with the Princess and the community from the Xura outstation agreed to give their support.
Sacred Heart Sodality
The women of the Sodality assembled for their annual gathering and although it was mid-winter, fortunately the frost stayed away and nobody was frozen stiff. A feast was planned for Saturday, where a sheep was slaughtered. The women kindly donated “a leg of lamb” to the priest.
Visit of Bro David Barnard
David was a theology student at the Seminary and he came to Lusikisiki during his June July holidays to help out at the Mission and keep Fr Kevin company. The people of Lusikisiki had been concerned that Fr Kevin was lonely, so when David arrived the resident priest informed the people that he is no longer lonely.
Weekend for the Youth
This weekend was organised by Bro David Barnard and St Constantia at Mantlaneni. The young people came from various outstations and enjoyed the event. Bro David found the young people hesitant to express themselves, as they were not used to this in Church or in their family lives. He divided them into groups, giving them the opportunity to air their problems. He was particularly touched by the prayers of the young people from Mantusini, who had been experienceng hardship and distress caused by the faction fighting. (An explanation for the causes of faction fighting will be found under Mantusini, heading Outstation).
Annual Franciscan Retreat, July
Fr Kevin went to this retreat, conducted by Fr Joe McMahon of the St John Vianney Seminary.
St Anne’s Sodality
Bro David conducted the retreat and the participants expressed praise of his method. As with the youth, he spoke about his experience of problems in the family and asked the women to break into groups to share their experiences. There was initial resistance to the idea, but later they welcomed the idea and found it helpful. There were also problems with particular local customs which could not be resolved in one session, causing people form one situation to leave feeling disgruntled.
On Saturday night while the gathering was in the church, there was a great thunderstorm, and although they were in a safe place, the women were nevertheless terrified. Sunday morning was damp and rainy, which dampened things a little, but overall it had been a good experience.
Bro David Leaves Lusikisiki
The people gave him a very warm send-off and contributed money for his expenses. David left, having contributed a lot to the people during his stay and took with him fond memories of Lusikisiki.
A Notable event – Electricity Connection
Lusikisiki became connected to the national electricity grid – a national company TESCOR, replaced the municipality as the supplier of electricity.
Poles for the lines and meters in the houses were installed and the town was promised an improved supply.
Annual Pilgrimage to Kevelaer
Two busloads of local people (about 140 people) went on pilgrimage to Kevelaer, before departure assembling in church asking God for a safe journey. The pilgrimage was a great success and was the subject of conversations for weeks afterwards. It is planned to take four busloads next year.
Fr Nial wrote from Ireland that he was enjoying his holiday but looking forward to getting back. The resident priest is also looking forward to that event! was Fr Kevin’s comment.
Transkei army moves in to restore order
There had been a lot of unrest in the area, so the Army came and dropped pamphlets from helicopters from the Transkei President to say the army wanted to help them. The presence of the Army quietened things down a lot, as they captured some of the troublemakers, with the rest fleeing to the busy.
However, the local people were experiencing harassment from both sides.
Three of the old, faithful Catholics died that month.
Return of Fr Nial from overseas
The priests spent a lot of time comparing notes. They also decided to divide up the parish into areas to facilitate things. Then in November Fr Nial’s mother died, necessitating a trip to Ireland to bury her.
Bros Stephen & Michael
These Franciscan students spent 3 weeks at Lusikisiki, helping with catechetics and the restoration of a church building at one of the outstations. They are very helpful.
Course for the men
This was one of the highlights for the month, with about 20 attending from Tuesday to Friday. Fr Kevin gave a talk/discussion on the Church, Fr Niall did some Bible NGG, while the men did funeral services and (with some help from the priests) a communion service.
Fr Kevin on retreat Prior to overseas leave
Progress on the new Hall
It is necessary to go back in time to December, when the plan for the Hall was passed and the foundations were laid just before the builders Christmas recess. In January, Mr George Willard from Harding got the contract for the labour for the hall. The Mission had to supply all the materials. The estimated cost was R50,000, of which R18,000 was labour.
The New Hall
The hall is beginning to take shape. This is taking up a lot of time and energy. Materials have to be purchased and transport organised.
The End Result: June. We had a Youth Rally with about 100 children with rosaries, confessions, special Mass, and a night vigil in the new Hall.
August: Some finishing touches – a path and retaining wall, also electricity was installed. The last job was part of a bigger contract for rewiring the whole mission.
Preparations for Easter were in full swing – Fr Niall did the ceremonies at Lusikisiki.
Establishment of New Vicariate
The vicariate was established at Besters. So from now on we are independent of overseas provinces, at least insofar as making our own decisions. New contracts will have to be drawn up.
Sacred Heart Sodality
Fr Maduna from the Umzimkulu diocese came for the annual get-together. Sheep were slaughtered and a touch of some of the old Paschal ceremonies was introduced as Sr Constantia preached and asked Fr Maduna and myself (Fr Niall) to pray and bless the sheep.
Students from Hammanskraal
Two students came to spend a month in Lusikisiki during their holidays – Sipho Matahle and Nicholas? And were a great help with the St Ann’s AGM.
First Communion of Paramount Chief Mpondombini’s Daughter
Nowesizwe made her First Communion and 16 people from Qaukeni Great Place were baptised by Napier on that day.
Fr Kevin Back from overseas
In great form, he threw himself into the work straight away. Between them, the priests organised the rewiring, repainting and refurbishing of the house. They planned to do the same for the church and convent.
Paramount Chief and Wife come to Lusikisiki Church
On the 19th January, there were several baptisms and First Communions of people from Qaukeni. Stella sigcau, a Member of the Transkei Parliament and of the Sigcau family, was present for the baptism of her grandchild.
Assistant Priest Transferred to Mount Ayliff
Fr Kevin Egan was moved to the first week after Easter.
Fr Niall said in the chronicle: we are all very sorry to lose Kevin from Lusikisiki. He put his heart and soul into the work and he will be a big loss. The people gave him a wonderful send -off in Lusikisiki and one of the outstations, Mantlaneni, where he had done most in serving the people.
Adjusting to a one-priest Mission
Fr Niall immediately organised a short catechetical course in preparation for the confirmations. Here Sr Paulina took over and did very well – about 30 people attended the instructions from Thursday to Saturday. A week later St Callista from Hardenberg came to do a weekend for the youth. A group came from Flagstaff came for Sr Callista’s talks on Friday and Saturday. Fr Niall found it encouraging to see the two parishes working together.
First Regional Franciscan Meeting.
This meeting was under the new administration of Regional guardians – the Regional guardian for Lusikisiki was Fr Tom Byrne.
Fr Gerry O’Reilly did supply for Fr Niall
Fr Gerry filled in for him for 2 weeks while Fr Niall had a hernia operation in Durban.
Opening of the New Hall
The hall was officially opened and Bishop Napier blessed it on the 5h July. The next day there was confirmation.
St Anne’s AGM
The Sodality of St Anne’s and the Sacred Heart group had a joint meeting so that their new members who had been received into the group in Flagstaff the previous month could be publicly recognises.
Fr Niall on overseas leave – No resident priest
During the first few Sundays there was no Mass, then Fr Gerry O’Relly came to the rescue and did the skeleton service dispite his own big workload. Fr Tom Byrne also came from Bizana for a few days supply and Fr Gus Khanyile came from Flagstaff for one weekend. (His confreres really rallied round to help).
Fr Niall Returns
His main pre-occupation was the simple round of outstations – more centres which, at the moment number 14. Another problem was Sunday Mass at Lusikisiki, which was changed to 10.30 am, which gave him time to say an early mass outside and another outstation Mass at midday.
Christmas Mass Times at Lusikisiki
Midnight Mass at Lusikisiki was at 7.30 pm on the 24th and Christmas Day 9 am. (The outstation Masses appear separately under individual stations). The New Year programme was the same for Lusikisiki.
Fr Niall found it to be of great help in cooking.
He had requested leave of absence for a year in 1987, and spent most of his time at the Mission, getting involved in catechetics and with Sr Paulina’s co-operation, was getting leaders from the different outstations to do a little special training for th teaching of catechism.
Winter School in Durban
The proposed Pastoral Plan for Southern Africa was dealt with – it was necessary to get some agreement on pastoral priorities. Posters and kits were available to get the ball rolling as it was envisaged to launch the Pastoral plan in 1988.
Death of Fr Kieran Mccrann
He died of heart failure in Kokstad. He had been retired since he left Lusikisiki in 1983 and had done the occasinal Mass and supply in the nearby stations. It was well-known that Fr Kieran had been in poor health for many years.
The funeral took place on the 10th September and he was buried in the Kokstad cemetery.
He applied to Bishop Napier to serve as a secular priest in the diocese. He may be accepted again for the Major Seminary next year.
Christmas Mass Times
Midning Mass at Lusikisiki at 7.30pm. Morning Mass as usual, 9 am. There was no vigil Mass at New Year and on the 1st at the usual Sunday time, 9 am.
Bishop Napier Recuperating overseas
We hope and pray that he will be back stront and well by the end of January.
He had been training catechism teachers for 6 months, decided to go to the Transvall to find a more permanent job. He still hoped to return to the Seminary to finish his theology.
Fr Peter Wilsom comes to improve Xhosa
He was also helping out at Lusikisiki and Fr Niall hoped that he would stay on permanently.
Easter 1988 Masses
Holy Thursday 6 pm.
Good Friday 3 pm.
Holy Saturday 6 pm.
Easter Sunday 9 am.
Franciscan Chapter Changes
They did not affect Lusikisiki directly, but Fr Niall thought that with Fr Tom Byrne going overseas, Fr Peter Wilson would have to help out in Bizana, and it happened that way.
Fr Lucas Bambazela, as Guardian of the Pondoland area, had a meeting with the Pondoland priests and it was decided Fr Peter would run the Bizana mission until Fr Tom’s return, a matter of 6 months.
First Anniversary of Fr Kieran’s Death
This was celebrated in a very special way – all the outstations as well as the Coloured community gave their Sunday collection money which amounted to R2, 300. A plaque was put up and unveiled in church, then there was a big feast. The people were happy that had a permanent reminder of the priest they had loved so well.
Rectification of Marriage
On the wedding invitation there is a note:
“Having obtained a declaration of nullity from the Catholic church’s marriage tribunal regarding the former marriage of Paramount Chief Mpondombini Sigcau (Thandizulu), today we are free to celebrate with her Royal Highness Lombekiso and Paramount Chief Mpondombini this Sacrament of Marriage”.
Paramount Chief Mpondombini’s first marriage and been arranged for political reasons and had been annulled. The Princess was a good Catholic and anxious to rectify matters in the eyes of the Church, hence they were married by Bishop Napier at Qaukeni
Fr Niall says in the Chronicle: We had eight priests concelebrating with the Bishop. All arrangements, work and catering was done by the Catholics. We had groups from many parishes, especially Bizana and Flagstaff. This was a great boost for our efforts to establish and strengthen the Church in Pondoland.
See pages 67-69 for the wedding programme, a letter from Fr Niall and a photo of Bishop Napier with the bridal couple.
A helping hand at Lusikisiki
Bro Vumile Nogemane, a young Franciscan deacon from Ngqeleni Gcwele mission came to do his pastoral preparation for ordination to the priesthood. Fr Niall found him to be very evergetic and enthusiastic, and the people were delighted to have such a charmismatic young local man as a leader and guide.
Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA)
Fr Niall started using the recommended book for RCIA. Uhambo Lwethu kunye. He praised Bro Vumile and Sr Natalia for their help in guiding the people with this programme.
A pastoral parish council was elected in Lusikisiki, with 8 members in all.
Bishop Napier organised a short 3 day course in this programme in Kokstad for all Catholic churches in the diocese in November 1988 and about 60 people attended. In April 1989 there was a follow-up organised by Fr Gerry O’Reilly for 2 days. About 80 people attended, 8 from Lusikisiki.
Fr Niall’s Jubilee of Priesthood
it was a very big, elaborate occasion with most of the priests from the Diocese present. Fr Lucas Bambazela was the chief celebrant and preacher – he explained that Fr Niall’s renewal of priestly promises was an occasion for all parishioners to renew their Baptismal promises. Paramount Chief Mpondombini, his wife, representatives from the town administration, hospital, prisons and other churches were also present.
Bro Vumile Nogemane Ordained a priest
He would serve as assistant priest in Lusikisiki
Bishop Napier ordained him at the Cathedral in Kokstad. It was little touch of heaven and the singing which had been specially arranged by Fr Vumile himself was something of an echo of the angels. Fr Vumile celebrated Mass in Lusikisiki the following day, it was a very,very special day for Lusikisiki and Fr Vumile. Fr Niall presented him to the congregation and Fr Vumile blessed the people. He would be serving for some time in Lusikisiki.
Fr Niall left for overseas the same day (2nd July).
Visitation of Fr Liam Macdermott, Minister provincial
See his official stamp below:
Fr Vumile Nogemane Takes Charge of the Mission.
He was ably assisted by Sr Natalia.
Return of Fr Niall & Change of Name
On his return to Lusikisiki, Fr Niall reverted to his original baptismal name, Anthony, and from then on has been called Fr Tony.
The mission van was traded in for a new Isuzu 1600 vehicle.
Mr Lawrence Maduna, a former full-time catechist, announced his return to the Church.
Training for altar servers. About 50 boys attended the weekend course which was run by Fr Vumile and Sr Natalia .
Catechetical course geared towards implementation of RCIA.
The old Isuzu 4×4 mission vehicle gave in and was sold, so leaving only one vehicle for the mission. The bishop then purchased a second-hand Suzuki for them.
Fr Vumile to help out in Kokstad
He went to do supply there while Frs Wilfrid Byrne, Germain, Gerry O’Reilly and Bernardine Dore went overseas.
Visit of Bishop Napier
He attended a general meeting of the Catholics to outline the role of the parish priest, the sisters, the pastoral council and the finance committee.
Fr Bill Lovett at Lusikisiki on sick leave
He also did a little supply for Fr Anthony
Fr Egbert O’Dea Arrived at Lusikisiki
He came from Hardenberg to take over from
Fr Tony Hardiman, who was Transferred to Mzongwanas (Taylorville) on 11th February.
Pastoral parish council and Parish Financial Council chosen.
St Anthony’s Church Lusikisiki Painted.
The inside and outside of the church was painted, and new gutterings were put on. The outside of the priest’s house was painted and new gutterings were put on and also the sisters’ convent. The cost, R26,000, was paid by the Parish Fincancial Committee.
Bishop William Slattery Ordained Bishop in Kokstad
Fr Egbert Transferred to Flagstaff
After faithfully serving the people of Lusikisiki for 3 year and doing trojan work, he left on the 28th February.
Fr Finbarr Russel arrives at Lusikisiki.
He came to take up his duties at Lusikisiki. It was just 28 years since he left Lusikisiki, where he had been Curate for 6 months under Fr Kieran McCrann (October 1965 – March 1966) .
A Breakdown while travelling.
Fr Finbarr was returning from Kokstad when his truck just stopped.
Fortunately 4 mechanics from Lusikisiki came to help and after several hours of work found a major engine breakdown and started towing the struck back to Lusikisiki. They encountered an almighty storm, so had to leave the truck in Flagstaff.
Arrival of Fr Mokesh Morar for Voter Education
South Africa was preparing for the first democrativ election and he came to organise voter education in Lusikisiki, but as Fr. Finbarr knew nothing about his arrival, there was nobody to meet him and his trip was in vain.
Holy Week and Easter
The Holy Week ceremonies were held only at Lusikisiki, with big crowds attending and all ceremonies were joyfully and prayerfully celebrated, and many parishioners from most outstations came for some or all ceremonies.
Priests’s Kitchen refurbished.
The old wooden floor collapsed, so had to be filled in and concreted. Then the kitchen was tiled and painted – the total cost was just R2, 000 and Roly Hadden put in the floor at his own expense and time. “The kitchen is lovely and clean and bright as new, commented a very pleased Fr Finbarr.
First visit of New Bishop to Lusikisiki
Bishop William arrived early that day from Kokstad. At 8 am. We left for Tembukazi for a big imvuselelo, being assisted by Fr Rodgers Sihlobo and Fr Augustin Njovane. After the welcome was a penitential service, the Mass, then they had a meal at 3.30 pm. Then the greeting of the Bishop and some songs and the Bishop was welcomed with a present of a sheep. On returning to Lusikisiki, we found that the people had hired a tent and spent the whole previous night in prayer.
A wonderful day. The following day, the 20th, the Bishop said Mass at 10 am in the parish church and after lunch went to the Great Place, Qaukeni to greet the Paramount Chief. A very pleasant and warm visit – again Bishop William was welcomed with a present of a sheep. He returned to Kokstad after 5 pm as he had another function there in the evening.
(Bishop William is a real “people-person” and hugely enjoys being with them. He is fluent in several African languages and understands their, customs).
Official welcome & Greeting by the Parish
The parish of Lusikisiki officially welcomed Bishop William Slattery. When he arrived, he was given a meal by the Coloured ladies, then he spent a good part of the evening chatting to the men. The following day he celebrated the 8 am English Mass, then the 9 am Xhosa Mass.
There were large crowds from the town as well as the outstations to greet him. Then the official greetings, singing and dancing were held in the hall where all were fed. It was a very joyous and happy day for all.
Visit by Fr Egbert and His Niece, Miss Alexis Fox from Galway.
St Anna’s Sodality Regional Meetings
This was was held at Bizana on the 22nd-24th July, and the ladies of Lusikisiki attended the meeting.
The same weekend as above, 10 men from Lusikisiki as well as some from Bizana were invested in this men’s sodality.
They were presented to the Parish priest and congregation on Sunday 7th August in Lusikisiki.
12th – 16th August.
Sacred Heart Sodality Regional Meeting.
This also took place at Bizana, where all the new members were invested.
Pilgrimage to Kevelaer
Two Kombis and some private vehicles went to Kevelaer for the annual pilgrimage. The main celebrant and preacher was Bishop William . Although it rained all the time and there was snow on the ground, the pilgrims returne on Sunday, wet and cold but very happy.
Golden Jubilee of Fr Egbert O’Dea
This notable event was celebrated in Kokstad with another Golden Jubilarian, Fr Edmund Dougan, who was visiting form Brussels. Ad multos annos!
October – November 1994
– Fr Finbarr attended an RCIA course at Lumko, consequently no Sunday Mass. The men held a communion service in the church.
– 2nd-4th November – Triduum of Masses held on those days was poorly attended.
– Bro Eugene dismantled the altar-rails, which made the sanctuary more spacious.
Fr Finbarr’s Mother in Ireland Seriously ill.
He received the message on the 17th, flew home to Cork and his mother died on the 24th November – she was 98 years old.
25th – 27th November
Pre-Marriage preparation course
5 Lusikisiki couples joined other couples from Flagstaff and Bizana at mkambati for this course, conducted by Ms Prisca Hadebe from Lumko and was very successful. All the couples returned home renewed in their own marriages and ready to train others.
8th – 11th December.
Boys’ retreat/Vocations workshop
This was held at Flagstaff, with a group of boys from Lusikisiki and outstations attended. “We pray that some good seeds were sown”.
– While Fr Finbarr was away (3 weeks) the Bishop supplied Mass one Sunday and another Sunday Fr Egbert supplied.
Otherwise there were communion services.
Return of Fr Finbarr
The priest’s house had been burgled and vandalised three times in his absence. The Parish finance committee had cleaned up and fitted burglar bars over the front – and office doors.
“And the rain came down…” The rain began at midday on Christmas Eve and pour steadly right through to the morning of 26th December. Both Christmas Masses at Lusikisiki were poorly attended because of the rain.
Children of Mary Hold AGM
Visitors from Bizana attended the meeting as well. On Saturday 31st there were receptions and professions.
When all the serious business was over, at midnight they welcomed the New Year with singing, ringing the church bell and plenty of noise. Then most of them went off to the beach.
– January. The fencing round the Mission property, which cost almost R16, 500 and was paid for by the Parish financial committee, was finally completed.
– February. The bishop came to Lusikisiki, as he had done in all parishes, with a long questionnair on the numbers attending Mass, teaching catechism,etc. He needed the information to get an overall view of the state of the church in each place. He also had a meeting with the members of the Parish council and the parish financial committee, which lasted for 3,5 hours.
– February. RCIA workshop conducted by Sr Callista from Hardenberg, very enthusiastically received.
– February. Visit of Fr Alexis King from Merchant’s Quay, Dublin, his first visit to Africa . He accompanied Fr Finbarr on his rounds and also went to Bizana with him – he was duly impressed with the services in Lusikisiki and Bizana.
– March. On the First Sunday of Lent there was the enrolment of adults for baptism at Easter. 20 were enrolled according to the rites of the RCIA.
– March. Very heavy rains indeed during the first two weeks of March and four outstations had to be cancelled because of impassible roads and too much rain.
-March. Marriage Encounter Weekend. Six married couples from Lusiki joined other couples from Flagstaff and Bizana at Melville on the South Coast. It was conducted in Zulu and was a resounding success.
– April. Penitential service in Xhosa at 4 pm, 8th April, run by Frs. Egbert and Rodgers – there wsa a big crowd. The 5.30 pm penitential service in English drew only a small response.
Holy week 1995
Palm Sunday – Procession and Blessing of Palms in Hall
Mass was in the church. We were very lucky, as the rain started only at 9 am and we were able to have the procession.
13th – 16th April
Holy week and Easter ceremonies were all held in town and people came from all the outstations. We had 19 First Holy Communions on Holy Thursday and 22 adults for baptism/reception, confirmation and Holy Communion on Saturday night.
The Vigil began at 7 pm and finished at midnight. Then the people continued in the hall for the rest of the night.
All week a great spirity of joy and sharing prevailed.
Fr Egbert (Flagstaff) on 3 Month Home Leave.
Fr Finbarr would have to serve both parishes during that time.
Visit of three Indian priests from Umtata Diocese
They came to Lusikisiki and said Mass for the Indian community in their own rite and language. Three children from Lusikisiki congregation made their First Holy Communion at the Mass, then there was aparty in the hall afterwards.
Choir Competition in Kokstad.
This competition was held for the whole diocese. Lusikisiki sent a 30 strong choir trained by Sr Getrude. They won second place overall and returned with joy to much congratulation.
Visit of Youth Leaders
These young people had attended a Youth Leaders’Course in Johannesburg on behalf of the diocese. They reported back to the parish on the course and were willing to get the youth of the parished organised and active. A lively and stimulating discussion after Mass lasted about 4 hours. “We look forward to great things happening!”.
Bishop Says Mass at Lusikisiki
One Sunday in September the Bishop came to Lusikisiki and said Mass at the Parish church. He was accompanied by four Poor Clare sisters who have a Convent outside Kokstad. This ws their first visit to Lusikisiki and they were welcomed in the Hall after Mass.
Sunday 17th September
Visit of Pope John Paul II to South Africa.
He celebrated Mass at Gosforth Park in Germiston. Two full buses went from Kokstad with about 20 people from Lusikisiki. It was a wonderful experience for all who went. They arrived back early Monday morning thrilled with the experience.
Fr Egbert Returns from overseas.
Fr Finbarr no doubt heaved a sigh of relief after his strenuous 3 months of caring for two parishes on his own.
Fr Vincent Zungu
Based in Hardenberg, he had been ordained in July 1995, and came to Lusikisiki to do supply for a couple of weeks while Fr Finbarr had a small operation in Durban. Fr Finbarr left on the 27th for Durban.
16th October 1995
Fr Finbarr Russell Changed to Witbank
He left Lusikisiki as he was appointed to the Cathedral Parish in Witbank.
Fr Vincent Returns to Hardenberg
At the end of November, after 2 months in Lusikisiki on supply, he returned to Hardenberg.
Fr Tony Hardiman arrives at Lusikisiki
Fr Tony Hardiman leaves Lusikisiki for Flagstaff.
E n d o f C h r o n i c l e
iv. ADDENDUM BY FR MANUS CAMPBELL
There are no entries between September 1995, when Fr Vincen returned to Hardenberg and fr Tony’s arrival in Lusiki in January 1997. The Mission was staffed rather haphazardly during the intervening 13 months and when Fr Tony took over in 1997 he did great work in organisation, but obviously he was so busy he did not have time to write anything down. (I as archivist concur with Fr Manus as I have found that wherever Fr Tony was based as paristh priest, he was meticulous in keeping the chronicle up to date, for instance, Cedarville).
But what I (Fr Manus) know did happen is that the Sisters’ convent had deteriorated so much it became dangerous. SO Bro Eric redesigned the building, hired builders and it was re-opened I think some time in 1997. It was much larger, cost an enormous amount of money and was used by the Sacred Heart Sisters as a postulancy or pre-postulancy.
Bishop William used to help out frequently and he and Fr Egbert, who was still in Flagstaff, used to try to keep the Mission going.
“In October 1998, while Fr Tony was overseas, he was transferred to Flagstaff and Fr Richard, a secular priest from Ghana, was sent to Lusikisiki also in October 1998, on a permanent basis. Fr Egbert was transferred from Flagstaff to Amanzimtoti on the South Coast”.
v. O u t s t a t i o n s
N D I N D I N D I.
This was the first outstation mentioned in the Lusikisiki Chronicle. Fr severin of Flagstaff obtained a church and school site at Ndindindi in 1952. When Fr Columbanus left, the new building at Ndindindi was almost completed.
In July 1952, Bishop McBride opened the new school at Ndindindi.
Problems with the school
When the school re-opened, there was no improvement in the pupil attendance. It was decided to bring the matter to the notice of Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau, who had attended the opening of the schoo..
4th February. Fr Reginal, H Jones and I . Njovane interviewed the Paramount Chief, who immediately decided to go to Ndindindi on the 14th to investigate.
18th February. PC Botha Sigcau phoned the presbytery to say that he went to Ndindindi as arranged, but the local Headman had failed to call all the people together and so a further meeting was arranged for the 29th February. Teacher Njovane was asked to attend.
March 10th . P C Botha wrote to say that the meeting was held on 29th February, that efforts were made to arouse interest, but that the people and Headman had no enthusiasm about the existence of a school in their area.
Fr Antonine Kelly, the Vicar General, gave instructions to close the Ndindindi school. Teacher, Mr I Njovane, would be trained in and appointed for catechetical work.
Private coloured school opened
In April this school was opened at Ndindindi in the building where the African school was situated, and 8 pupils enrolled.
January . Permission to occupy church & School site
The official documents with regard to the above were sent to the Bishop.
April Clinic at Ndindindi
The Matron on the hospital, Sr Geraldine, and staff members went to Ndindindi for a clinic, which was held at Ndindindi Store, which was very successful.
First Mass After Many Years
After a lapse of many years, Mass was celebrated at Ndindindi church.
L u d a n g a
Opening of Ludanga Outstation
26th November 1952.
S t B e n e d i c t ’ s X u r a
Permission For Catholic School
The Department of Education sent a letter granting permission for a Coloured school at Xura.
Magistrate notified Fr Kieran that a church and school site had been granted. On the 14th April the Magistrate measured the site, which now had to be fenced, and Bro Nasseo commenced building. “It will be the first Catholic Coloured school in the Lusikisiki parish and will also be used as a church”.
In February the building was completed.
First Pupils Arrive.
Bishop McBride blessed the new school and administered confirmation the same day.
Letter from the Education Department stating that a Government grant for the school had been agreed to and in another letter in June the Department consented to grant rent for the school.
Choosing the New Principal
The parents met on this question and although there were many applicants, all of them agreed on Mr P C AIKEN, who though non-Catholic was of good character and well-known to them. Mr Aiken’s mother was a Catholic and had agreed to help him teach Catechism.
Fr Kieran was appointed manager of the Xura school by the Department, then in August a second teacher for the school was appointed. By November the Department sanctioned the use of the school for religious education.
On the morning of 26th November, INSPECTOR VAN DER MERWE inspected Xura School and when having lunch with Fr Kieran, he mentioned that the progress was satisfactory, except in the Junior standards where a young, unqualified teacher VIOLET BAUER, had taught for a few months.
Her place was now taken by the principal’s mother, a retired teacher and a Catholic. The Principal had admitted pupils to Standard Four without authority; the Inspector gave his sanction but warned that a Standard Five class was not to be started without his approval.
On being asked if a third classroom should be provided, the Inspector said it would not be required that year and probably not the next either. More care should be given to building up the existing standard for the present.
Formal application for the extension of Xura church-school site was sent to the Magistrate, and by March 1957 the extention had been granted. “It is hoped that a teacher’s house the site extension and advised Fr. Kieran that a rental of L6 per annum must be paid for the teacher resident on the site as from 1st April 1957. When a second teacher was housed on the site, he must be informed of that date, and a further L6 per annum must be paid.
By 19th December the teacher’s new house was completed.
Athletic Achievements of Xura School Pupils
“A very good performance by the athletes, especially the girls from our Catholic Coloured school at Xura during the annual inter-school sports held at Hillbrow school in Lusikisiki. The Principal of the school deserves commendation for his efforts in preparing the children for the occasion”.
Visit of Curia Officers to Xura Praesidium.
Legion of Mary Curia officers held a meeting for Xura Praesidium in St Benedict’s school at 1.15 p.m on the 10th .
The Inspector visited the school and once again gave it the highest recommendation. As a result the Principal, Mr Aiken, decided to withdraw his intending resignation.
Permission to occupy St Benedict’s (Xura) church and school site documents were sent to Bishop McBride.
Coloureds will have to Leave the Transkei
As mentioned before, Government officials came to Lusikisiki to recruit for Coloured labour at the Cape Town docks, as the Black labour was being replaced. As Transkei would become a Black area, the Coloured would eventually have to leave. They were encouraging them to leave before that time “with promises of good jobs, good wages, good homes and free transport to Cape Town”.
As a result “it is estimated that our Coloured school will have to close within a period of 3-4 years”.
The Catholic teacher resigned. “There was only one application for the vacant post, a non-Catholic married woman, who was appointed, MRS G JANSEN. Other Catholic teacher in non-Catholic Coloured schools are preparing to leave. The fortune of all Coloured schools in Lusikisiki is certainly in the balance.
From 1st January 1964, all Coloured schools will be under the Department of Coloured Affairs”
The school was reduced to one teacher and 16 pupils. If the Coloured families continue to leave at the present rate, the school will soon close”.
The Department of Education officially closed the school.
This area was pronounced a grazing area by the Transkei Government. When St Benedict’s closed, it had only 6 children attending, where in former years the attendance had been up to 47 pupils.
The Magistrate sent a letter authorising the use of the school premises for Church purposes and the Principal’s house was demolished, except for the walls.
Transfer of Church from Xura to KwaDick
Fr. Kieran had an interview with the Magistrate, Mr Marsburg, as well as the agricultural inspector, who advised him to transfer the church site from Xura to kwaDick because the present church at Xura was situated in a grazing area.
“The local inhabitants moved from that area, so the church now stands solitary among grazing cattle”.
Fr Kieran applied to the magistrate for transfer of Xura church to the dwelling area of Xura location. The Magistrate’s permission was granted in November 1970.
New Church at Xura Blessed
Fr Kevin Byrne blessed the new church at Xura, which was financed and built by the Catholics of Xura.
“Catholics from Xura and Hillside met with Catholics from Qaukeni, the residence of the Paramount Chief and his wife, Princess Nomphumalanga, both of whom were present at the occasion. Mass was celebrated in the Great Hall.
“It was at the request of the Princess that all these people met at Qaukeni….. The Princess expressed her wish for the children living in the Great Place to be brought up in the Catholic faith. It was agreed that the primary objective should be to establish a Christian community at Qaukeni.
“This community could then have a role to play in the education of the children and their baptism. It was agreed that we would meet monthly at the Great Place.
“The community from XURA agreed to give their support”.
Hombe – Church of the Assumption
Application was made for a new church site at Hombe location, to be called the Church of the Assumption.
Objection to the application
The Magistrated advised Fr Kieran that the people of Hombe location had objected to the application for a church site and that the Hombe people had discussed this matter at a meeting. Forty people attended this meeting, with all of them voting against the application. “On enquiring further I found that the Catholics had not been invited to the meeting”.
Fr Kieran told the Magistrate about the absence of Catholics at the meeting, and he ( the Magistrate) advised Fr Kieran to renew his application and another meeting would be called.
Fr Kieran renewed his application.
Headman of Hombe calls another meeting. About 100 people attended this meeting, with all voting in favour of the site to be given to the Catholics. In November the Magistrate granted the site at Hombe.
The Magistrate measured the new church site at Hombe, after a previous attempt to do so in January was put off by rain
Opening and Blessing of the new church at Hombe.
Bishop McBride officiated and Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau was present. The sacrament of confirmation was administered on the same day.
The official documents pertaining to the permission to occupy the church site at Hombe were sent to Bishop McBride.
“The Proper use of Alcohol”.
At a special meeting of the Lusikisiki catechists, an employee of the hospital, an Anglican, NDIPHIWE SOMHLAHLO, addressed them on alcoholism. He had belonged to a club for “The proper use of alcohol”, and as alcoholism was (still is) a problem among the African people, he needed the help of the catechists in forming similar clubs. It was decided that he should visit the outstations and address the various congregations on the subject.
He planned to start on Sunday 9th March at Hombe.
Bros. Stephen and Michael two Franciscan students, spent 3 weeks at Lusikisiki helping with catechetics and the restoration of HOMBE church building.
For 10 days, Fr Tony started home visitation at HOMBE. He was not able to finish there, and had to wait till early 1995 to continue as the ploughing season started.
REPAIRING THE CHURCH BUILDING
“While Bishop Slattery was helping out at Lusikisiki, which he did frequently, the people of HOMBE approached him about the state of the church building, and in a weak moment he promised to re pair it for them, even though there were only about 12 families there. The repairs ende up by rebuilding most of the church at enormous expense. The building was opened in 1998″. (From Fr Manus’s notes)
M A N T U S E N I
St Gertrude’s Church
1957 – June
Builders Arrive to erect a New Church
Bros. Benignus and Masseo OFM arrived in Lusikisiki to build the new church at Mantuseni. A prefab shed had to be erected first, then the walls were built. Unfortunately on the 11th June a very high wind blew overnight and half the roof of the partially erected prefab church was damaged beyond repair.
A donation of $50 was given to the church by a donor who wanted it to be dedicated to St Getrude, although it had been registered at the Magistrate’s office at St. Johns.
First Confirmation at Mantuseni
Bishop McBride confirmed 62 candidates and also blessed the new church.
1962 – January.
Official documents “permission to occupy church site” at Mantuseni, Mtambalala location were sent to Bishop McBride.
1962 – August
Confirmation was administered at Mantuseni by Bishop McBride. The weather was very cold and wet.
1967 – July
Mission at Mantusini
A three-day mission was held at MANTUSENI, preached by FR DOMINIC KHUMALO (now Bishop Khumalo) from 13th -15th July.
The weather was bitterly cold and rainy – the congregation certainly made a very big sacrifice to attend in such weather. The attendance improved as the weather improved. The mission closed on the 15th July.
On the closing day of the Mission, Fr Khumalo confirmed several people, as Bishop McBride could not attend. The roads of Kokstad were impassable owing to snow.
1969 – August.
Confirmation by Bishop McBride at MANTUSINI.
Council of Advisers to Catechist
“It has been decided to elect a council of advisers, two men and two women, to the catechist RAPHAEL TSHAPHA at Mantusini. This is in accordance with the advice of the Visitator General, Fr SYLVESTER MCGOLDRICK. He advised that outstations should be allowed to advance to a stage where they would depend as little as possible on the priest. It is foreseen that in the near future there will be a shortage of priests”.
1984 – July
Weekend for the Youth.
At a weekend held in Mantlaneni for the youth, Bro. David and Sr Constantia.
Bro. David found the young people hesitant to express themselves, as it was an unfamiliar thing to do. He divided the young people into smaller groups, thus giving them an opportunity to discuss their problems.
He was particularly touched by the prayers of the people from MANTUSINI. They’ve been experiencing much hardship and distress because of the faction fighting.
Fr Kevin & Bro David visit Mantusini.
Only a handful to people turned up in church. Standing at the back of the church and looking into the valley below, they were able to see about one hundred “agitators” marching in single file, heading for a battle. They were armed with guns and spears. The fear of the people was much in evidence. They spoke about two people being killed near the church , a store being burned, and people having their cattle stolen – including those of the catechist Raphael Tshapa. Many people have fled the area and many are sleeping in the bush at night.
Explanation for faction fighting.
Bro. David showed a keen interest in the plight of the people. From discussions it seems that the present fighting can be explained by a number of factors:
– A tradition of fighting in the area.
– A fall in recruitment to the mines, hence an increase in young unemployed men.
– Conflict between local chiefs, who seem to be encouraging their people to fight.
– Revenge for acts of killing carried out by the other side.
“Towards the end of the month Bro David and Fr Kevin visited Beatus Maduna, who lives in an isolated and exposed area. It would seem safer for him to move, but he is hesitant to leave his home and fields”.
A change for the better at Mantusini.
This month saw an improvement in things at Mantusini.
Fr Kevin visited there and there was a good attendance at the church. The people were happy to be back and showed their happiness.
The Christmas Mass was at 6 a.m at MANTUSINI.
1994 – March
Prior to First SA Democratic Election.
There was a message from MANTUSINI last night. All churches in the area are closed today, as voter cards are being given out. A group of men came round to make sure there are no church services today – bully-boy tactics. The Catholics are afraid of trouble and advised me to stay at home.
And the rain came down….
The rain started at midday on Christmas Eve and continued to pour down throughout Christmas Day”. The midday Mass at MANTUSINI had to be cancelled as the roads were impassable. The rain stopped early on the morning of the 26th December.
27 & 28th May
Pentecost at Mantusini.
A big crowd turned out, starting on Saturday evening with a penitential service led by Fr Egbert and Bro. Vincent Zungu (now Fr Vincent). We returned home at 9.30 pm.
On Sunday morning Bishop William returned to MANTUSINI, was met and accompanied to the church by a cavalcade of horses and drum majorettes. The Paramount Chief and his wife also came for Mass. After Mass there were speeches, presents, dancing and food. It was a wonderful weekend and hopefully a big blessing on the area.
L U T S H A Y A
St Theresa’s Church
1959 – July 29th.
Application for a Church Site
“Application was made to the local Magistrate for a new church site at LUTSHAYA.
A map of the locality, in triplicate, and a list of names of members was forwarded to the Magistrate. Forms were received from the Magistrate, filled in the returned to the Magistrate, also in triplicate.
1961 – August 13th
Opening of Temporary Church/House
The opening took place at LUTSHAYA on the approved site. Some 34 children and 25 adults turned up for the occasion.
1969 – September 3rd
Church Building set on Fire
The building at LUTSHAYA was maliciously set alight. The grass roof fell in and the catechist saved the windows and benches. There was no insurance on that ched- roof buildings and the damage was some R100.
1971 – 8th May
A new, small, mud-walled church was completed at LUTSHAYA. This was not an official church site “hence it is not advisable to build a permanent building. The roof was made of corrugated iron.
1972 – 2nd March
New Church Completed.
The painte finished painting the church at LUTSHAYA on the 2nd March.
1961 – May 25th
New Outstation “Tentatively” Opened at Ntontela store.
The Riddler family gave permission to use their garage.
The attendance numbered some 21 people of various ages and creeds, some from African churches, a pagan, an Anglican, a catechist and one from the Pilgrim church. “At least it is encouraging to know that the church began from smaller number!
Mass was celebrated at NTONTELA for the second time, with a poor attendance of only 5 people.
1969 – March 18th
Fr Eric Austin informed the congregation at Tembukazi that it would not be possible for the priest to go there in future, as the road was in a very bad condition and deteriorating monthly, so it was decided to have Mass at Ntontela. The congregation agreed to attend Mass at Ntontela.
M A N T L A N E N I
St Patrick’s Church
1961 – June
Outstation Church Started By the People
Fr Kieran had hopes of a fine church starting at Mantlaneni.
Church/House Opened by Fr Eric
With great joy the church was opened, with quite a big attendance and 50 people received Holy Communion.
1962 – 27th August
Bishop McBride administered confirmation at Mantlaneni
1964 – February 7th
We have applied for a church site at Mantlaneni. If it is granted, it may take some time before it is built.
New application forms were filled in and given to the Magistrate for the Mantlaneni church.
1964 – June
Permission to occupy church site granted.
A letter was received from Pretoria granting permission to occupy a church site at MANTLANENI (Gcuda Location).
Measuring the church site
Fr Kieran and the assistant Magistrate, Mr Henry Hannon, measured the site and after this was done, Mr Hannon was presented with a sheep. The site was 50m x 50m and had to be fenced and a church built as soon as possible.
Visit of Bishop McBride to Lusikisiki
He promised to donate R1000 for the new church at Mantlaneni and requested that it be dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. By October building of the church commenced and in December it was completed.
1965 – 22nd March
Blessing and opening of the church
The church was blessed and opened by Bishop McBride and Confirmation administered on the same day. Fr Hugh Daly, Procurator of the FMU in Dublin, who was on a visit to all the Irish Franciscans in Southern Africa, was an interested spectator.
July 17th – 19th
Parish Mission at Mantlaneni
The parish mission was conducted by Fr Dominic Khumalo and confirmation was conferred during the mission. He was presented with a sheep and many other gifts after the close of the Mission.
1970 – August
Chiro Youth Movement
Fr Gerry Griffin started this movement at Mantlaneni, intending to have Chiro youth meetings there every Saturday.
In September Frs Niall (later Tony) and Gerry went there to open a Chiro camp, the first in the history of Lusikisiki church history.
1971 – 31st March
67 candidates were confirmed by Bishop McBride at MANTLANENI.
1975 – 4th June.
Feast St John the Baptist.
84 baptisms took place at MANTLANENE. In November Bishop McBride came for confirmation.
1976 – May
Presentation of Crucifix
Fr Oliver Moran presented a crucifix to the church at MANTLANENI. He walked in procession with the crucifix, then, with the help of Mr J Smith the crucifix was hung on the wall. Fr Oliver then preached and appealed to the people to have a strong devotion to Christ crucified. The congregation was very pleased and very happy and sincerely thanked Fr Oliver.
Baptisms at Mantlaneni
51 people were baptised and two adults were received into the church . In 1979 there were 21 baptisms at MANTLANENI.
1980 – October
Meeting of St Ann’s Sodality
The members of all the members in Lusikisiki took place at Mantlaneni, with Fr Gerry Griffin (Diocesan Chaplain), the Diocesan President and her counsellors and Sr J Vianney of Lusikisiki all present. The hospitality of the MANTLANENI Catholics was deeply appreciated. An ox and a sheep were slaughtered for the occasion.
Bro Rodgers Sihlobo, a Credit to Mantlaneni.
Bro. Rodgers, a theological student at the Pretoria seminary, renewed his annual vows for 1981 before Fr. Kieran and congregation at Sunday evening Mass. He is from Mantlaneni outstation. (Bro Rodgers was later ordained a Franciscan priest).
1981 – May
Fr Kevin O’Byrne visits Mantlaneni
Newly -arrived at Lusikisiki, Mantlaneni was the first outstation he visited. A few days later Fr Kevin baptised 54 babies there.
1984 – Easter
Fr Kevin Egan celebrated the full Easter ceremonies at Mantlaneni for the first time. Fr Kevin did the Triduum and the people were both amazed and delighted. Then in August 24 children were baptised at Mantlaneni. In 1985 Fr Kevin again did the ceremonies at Mantlaneni.
Children of Mary
Fr Kevin had a big gathering at MANTLANENI for the Children of Mary. The people of Flagstaff were very helpful in setting things up for the occasion. When Fr Kevin was transferred to Mt Ayliff in March that year, the people gave him a wonderful send-off – he had done so much there, especially for the people of MANTLANENI.
The Mass at MANTLANENI took place at 12 noon. In 1987 it was at 1 p.m.
On Good Friday the service was at 12 noon, Holy Saturday 6 p.m and Easter Sunday 7 a.m.
About 100 people were confirmed at MANTLANENI, but were not well prepared. There was a big feast afterwards.
The shortage of priests could be seen at Lusikisiki, as MANTLANENI, where Easter services had previously been held, had to make do with priestless services. At Christmas that year heavy hailstones fell and injured some people. The Midnight Mass at MANTLANENI had to be cancelled as the roads were impassable.
Palm Sunday – At the church in Lusikisiki there was a procession and blessing of the palms in the hall at 9 a.m, then the rain started. However the people at MANTLANENI were not so lucky, as it was already pouring with rain and the palms had to be blessed in the church. “Then it was a nightmare journey home on a very wet, muddy, slippery road”. (A gravel road).
18th June – Corpus Christi
A Blessed Sacrament procession was also planned on that day, and again the rain pelted down, putting paid to any outdoor activity. “I got to Mantlaneni in spite of the mud and got stuck only about 200 metres from the church. At least we had Mass there.
Bishop William, whohad been helping out at Lusikisiki on and off for some time, said Sunday Mass at Mantlaneni. As it was a wet day, the attendance was small.
Q A U K E N I
The Great Place – Residence of
PARAMOUNT CHIEF SIGCAU AND MRS SIGCAU
New Outstation Opened at Qaukeni
Fr Wilfrid Napier opened this outstation on the 25th May.
Funeral at Qaukeni
The funeral of Mabel Mnyali took place at Qaukeni – Mrs Botha Sigcau attended and a representative of the Paramount Chief spoke on his behalf. In all there were seven speeches.
“A very impressive funeral”.
1984 – June
Meeting with Paramount Chief Mpondombini Sigcau & His wife, Princess Nomphumalanga
By this time, Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau had died and his son had taken his place. Princess Nomphumalanga , a Swazi Princess, was a Catholic and requested the meeting with the priest at Lusikisiki. Catholics from Hillside and Xura also came, as did the Catholics at Qaukeni.
Mass was celebrated in the hall at the Great Place and afterwards they discussed future plans.
The Princess expressed the wish that the children living in the Great Place be brought up in the Catholic faith. It was agreed that our primary objective should be to establish a Christian community at Qaukeni.
“The community could then have a role to play in the religious education of the children and their baptism. It was agreed that we would meet monthly at the Great Place. The community from Xura agreed to give their support.
1985 – July
First Communion of Paramount Chief Mpondombini’s Daughter
It was a big event when NOWEZIWE, the Paramount Chief’s daughter made her First Communion and 16 people from the Great Place were baptised by Bishop Wilfrid Napier.
New Year 1987
The third Mass at New took place at Qaukeni Great Place and followed the same format as at the Christmas Mass.
The Lusikisiki choir sang there and excelled themselves.
Mass at Qaukeni
This was the second Mass at Qaukeni in 1987. “It was a good celebration, with some Catholics from Lusikisiki and Mantlaneni taking part.
New Year 1988
There was a special Mass at Qaukeni at 12 noon, with children from Lusikisiki and Uthsane to help with the singing, which was very good.
1994 – 29th May
Bishop William said Mass at Lusikisiki, then after lunch he and the parish priest went to greet the Paramount Chief at Qaukeni. It was a very pleasant and warm visit and again the Bishop was welcomed with a present of a sheep. He returned to Kokstad after 5 p.m, having another function that evening.
Visit of Fr Egbert to Qaukeni
Fr Egbert led a prayer at a small party the Princess held for the children, then stayed overnight at Lusikisiki.
N D I M F I
1969 – OCTOBER 24TH
At a Catechists’ meeting it was decided to open a new outstation at NDIMFI LAMBASE, near Ndindindi. The catechist has visited the people there and Mass had been celebrated on two occasions and it looked promising. Most of the people were pagans. It was decided that Mass would, in future, be celebrated at the home of MRS. OGLE regularly every month.
1984 – March
Arrival of Frs. Niall (Later Tony) & Kevin Egan
Shortly after their arrival at Lusikisiki, it was decided to start at MDIMFI with their first baptisms. We are now preparing for infant baptisms in all the other stations as well. This preparation has been under way for the last few months, but because everything was so new to both Kevin and myself, we felt we had to stay with catechetical preparation for as long as possible before administering more sacraments.
We are trying to have a simple communal catechetical programme common to all the outstations. Everybody is asked to have his /her own catechism, “You are my Children”. We try to show people how they can become familiar with this book and learn from it and from each other. SO far the programme has been very successful and community participation is very ecnouraging.
1988 – November
CHURCH AT NDIMFI COMPLETED.
The people at NDIMFI are very proud of their church, which they have completed. It is a solid building made of plastered cement blocks and with a cement floor. It is well worth the R 1645 that it cost the mission. The old church had been badly damaged in the floods earlier in the year. The people worked hard together to collect sand and make the blocks, etc.
N K U N Z I M B I N I
1961 – November
Today, 15th November, Mass was celebrated for the first time in over a year at Nkunzimbini – it was offered for the repose of the soul of IVY OLIVER, who died las March.
1966 – June 1st
One of the new outstations opened is Nkunzimbini”.
1972 – 17th October
Headman agrees to a site
The Headman at Nkunzimbini told Fr Wilfrid Napier that he agreed to the granting of a church site to Roman Catholics.
B U H L A N Y A N G A
1963 – Marach 14th
New Outstation opened
An outstation was opened at Buhlanyanga. A few Catholics there found it very difficuld to go to Fr Severin’s outstation (Flagstaff outstation) and a few Anglican families wished to become Catholics. “It looks promising”.
M Z I N T L A V A
1966 – June 1st
A new outstation has been opened at Mzintlava.
G C U B E N I ( Ntafufu)
1971 – 5th December
Another new outstation was opened today. It is at Gcubeni (Ntafufu).
N G O Z I
1967 – 26th June
Visit of Legionary Envoy from Ireland
After speaking to people in Lusikisiki about the Legion and attending a Praesidium at the hospital, MISS M LANDERS went to Ngozi, where the catechist agreed to start a Praesidium at Mantlaneni.
M A G W A
1980 – November
Magwa Tea Corporation
For the first time Mass was celebrated there. Fr Kieran said Mass in the Anglican church. Many Catholics from Hombe were present, together with a few Catholics working at Magwa and a few Anglicans.
1984 – August
There were baptisms at Sandlulube in August that year.
1971 – 14th November
A new outstation opened at Hlazana at the home of George Ngwayi.
First Efforts to get church Building
The local chief at hlazana (Ntlavukazi ) gave the Catholics a site, by they have not enough strength of faith or numbers to start any kind of a building at all. So they had to continue using the Ngwayi homestead for their church gatherings.
Flagstaff outstations taken over.
1966 – 1st June
The following Flagstaff outstations were taken over from Fr Severin:
C A T E C H I S T S
In this section the catechists are discussed generally in groups. From page 101 they will be dealt with as individuals.
1960 – November 7th
Today four catechists from Lusikisiki finished their course of training at Bizana, which lasted 2 years. They and 13 others were presented with their medals and certificates by Bishop McBride after solemn High Mass at Bizana. They will start work in Lusikisiki parish on the 1st December. Their names are:
1961 – January 9th
Catechists leave for 1 year’s Training
Three catechists left for a year’s training in Bizana:
Home for Holidays.
The above three catechists came home for 3 weeks’ holiday.
1969 – February
Extraordinary Catechists’ meeting
At this meeting, a hospital employee, NDIPHIWE SOMHLAHLO (an Anglican) addressed the Catechists on the subject of Alcoholism. He had belonged to a club for “The Proper use of Alcohol and he needed the help of the Catechists to spread this idea. They were all concerned at the increasing misuse of alcohol among the African people and wished to do something about it. It was decided that this gentleman should accompany the priest to the various outstations where he could address the Catholic people.
He was one of the original group of catechists who completed their 2 years training course at Bizana in November 1960.
1972 – May
Mantusini – Council of Advisers to the catechist
It was decided to elect this council to help Raphael Tshappa in his catechetical work and was in accordance with the advice of the Visitator General. He advised that would depend as little as possible on the priest. The council consisted of two men and two women.
The Haunted House at Gemvale
Fr Kieran was called to the house, where blankets, curtains, babies nappies etc were being burned. It was rumoured that there was a ghost in the house and strange objects were found. Fr Kieran blessed the house, prayers were said and hymns were sung – after that the burnings became less frequent until they stopped on the 6th June. On the 12th June a thanksgiving Mass was celebrated. Raphael Tshappa was with Fr Kieran on both occasions.
Annual Retreat for St Ann’s Sodality
For the first time the retreat was not conducted by a priests, but two catechists, one of whom was Raphael Tshappa. The ladies of the Sodality were very pleased and very grateful for the retreat. In July 1973 Raphael Tshappa was again oneof the retreat directors for the St Ann’s Sodality.
Catechists’ Refresher Course
Raphael Tshappa went on this 4-week course at Lumko Institute with two others.
1974 – October
St Ann’s Sodality Retreat
This time Fr Kieran and three cateachists, one being Raphael Tshappa, ran the retreat. The emphasis was on the teaching of the catechism in the home by the parents to the children.
1984 – July
Faction Fighting at Mantusini
When the fighting was at its worst and people were being killed, stores and houses were being burned , cattle were stolen from the people. Catechist Raphael Tshappa had some of his cattle stolen as well.
1974 – June
Visit From His Sister
Sr Raphael Nokele, a Precious Blood Sister, spent a holiday with her brother Joannes at Mantlaneni.
1993 – July
Death of Joannes Nokele.
Joannes died at Mantlaneni and was buried on the 7th August 1993.
Retreat For St Ann’s Sodality
Joseph Sibulali attended a catechetical course at Maria Telgte.
1994 – September
Death of Joseph Sibulali
I buried the old catechist, Joseph Sibulali, at his home in Hombe.
He was one of the four catechists who trained at Bizana.
He went on the 4-week refresher course to Lumko with two other catechists.
1973 – July
Retreat for members of St Ann’s Sodality
He was one of three people to give the retreat to the ladies on at least two occasions. Also, at the Ecumenical Service he was one of the readers.
1990 – March
The men gave Lawrence a special celebration at his home to give him full recognition and to encourage him to be strong in his new commitment to the Church and to God.
Fabien was one of the first catechists to be trained at Bizana.
Fabien celebrated his silver jubilee as a catechist. The ceremony was held at Hombe church, where Bishop McBride presented him with a Papal Blessing.
1969 – October
Ndimfi Lambase – Catechists’ Decision
The catechists decided at a meeting to open a new outstation at Ndimfi, as Fabien Njovane had visited the people there and Mass had been celebrated twice at Ndimfi – the feeling was that the people were ready for an outstation there.
1974 – November
Death of Fabien Njovane
He died at the Butterworth Hospital from cancer of the throat. In his tribute to Fabien, Fr Kieran noted in the Chronicle: “He was a very faithful and zealous catechist. Fabien was the first catechist in Lusikisiki and was most useful especially during World War II when the nearest priest lived in Bizana. He was buried at his home in Hombe on the 17th November 1974. A very, very large number of people attended the funeral. May he rest in peace.
1970 – August
Training of New Catechist
Peter Mnyaiza started his catechetical training at Cwele in July and went to live at Ndindindi. In October 1972 he went on a 4-week refresher course at Lumko Institute.
1971 – November
Death of Johnson Nokele
Johnson had been one of the earlier catechists and when he died he was buried at Mantlaneni. A very big crowd attended, attesting to his good example during life.
Joannes was one of the group of four catechists trained at Bizana.
1971 – December
Two Helpers for Joannes
When Johnson Nokele died in November, two helpers were appointed to help Joannes. This was on the advice of the Provincial Visitator, as the church was already anticipating a shortage of priests. Therefore it was good for outstations to be as independent as possible, with catechists running things there. The names of the helpers were:
Rubin Mngomeni from Ngozi
1974 – June
Visit of Sr Raphael Nokele
Sr Raphael, a Precious Blood Sister, came on 3 weeks’ holiday to visit her brother, Joannes.
1992 – 26th July
Death of Joannes Nokele
Joannes died on the 26th July at Mantlaneni and was buried on the 7th August.
1964 – January
Catechist at Malongwane (Port St Johns)
A resident catechist, Francis Mnyali, was sent to Malongwane, where he lived with his wife and family. He had previously been at Xura.
1964 – January
Catechist Transferred to Xura
Steven Vakalisa, the predecessor of Francis Mnyali at Malongwane, was transferred to Xura outstation.
1971 – February
Death of Steven Vakalisa
While still serving as catechist at Xura, Steven had an accident on his bicycle and injured himself very badly. He died at 10:30 that evening. He was buried at Ntafufu four days later. A very large crowd attended the funeral. The outdoor Mass was celebrated by Fr Kieran.
1968 – December
Amos Madikizela Accepted at the Minor Seminary
He passed his Standard 6 examination and was accepted at St Mary’s Minor Seminary at Ixopo. He was the son of the catechist, Edwin Madikizela of Lutshaya.
Sisters Egbert and Constantia
Sr Egbert Preached at Mass.
It must surely be the first time that a nun preached in Lusikisiki. Sr Egbert preached at the 4.30 pm Mass at St Elizabeth’s hospital. This is the beginning of a new era may God bless her and her work as a catechist.
St Constantia was also a catechist and Fr Kieran wrote warmly of her contributions to catechetical work at Lusikisiki. They were Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart Sisters.
Bro Augustine Njovane OFM
Bro Augustine completed his novitiate and made his first profession at Besters in KwaZulu/Natal. He is the grandson of the late catechist Aurelius Njovane. (Probably also related to Fabien Njovane).
Friary, Church and outstations at Port St Johns (Malongwane)
As all the Franciscan priests and brothers worked on mission stations, they had no place of community, so a friary at Port St Jonhs seemed to be a good idea.
1953 – November
Negotiations Re Purchase of Land
At this stage the negotiations were progressing.
1959 – July
Bro Dosith making Bricks in Port St Johns
This he did on the site of the new Friary.
1962 – May
Bequest From Fr Eric Austin’s Late Uncle
he received R1,500 and asked Fr Celsus O’Briain, the Provincial of the Irish Province to use it to build the friary on the farm at Port St Johns. Fr Celsus agreed to it and work on the buildings started in July.
A church and small house were completed in December. The seats for the church were expected by Christmas and the first Mass was celebrated there on the 21st January by Fr Eric Austin. The church was called Saints James and John. There was a congregation of 15 people.
1963 – February
It was decided that Mass should be celebrated at Port St Johns (Malongwane) on a Sunday, not a weekday, to accommodate the farm labourers. On the 19th February Mass was celebrated on a Sunday. It was a very pleasant surprise to find 39 laypeople at Mass. It speaks well for the future. A resident priest is urgently needed at Malongwane.
Planned opening of hte church at Malongwane
Torrential rains delayed the opening ceremony, so it was quietly and privately blessed by Bishop McBride two days later. The official title of the church was Our Lady of the Rosary, but the secondary title was Saints James and John in memory of Fr Eric’s two uncles.
1964 – January
Francis Mnyali was the resident catechist and he lived on the premises with his wife and family – he had been transferred from Xura outstation. The previous catechist, STEVEN VAKALISA, was transferred to Xura.
1964 – February
Squatters on the farm at Malongwane
The police notified Fr Kieran that they had been to the farm in connection with squatters who were now living there.
(Definition of squatter in South African Pocket Oxford Dictionary: person who takes unauthorised possession of unoccupied premises). Now in the New South Africa the word would be an informal settler.
At that time squatters had no rights and the law then stated that only employees might reside at their place of work. There were many squatters on the farm. It is difficult to control such persons as there is no resident priest and also because the farm has not been fenced. This is due to lack of priests and lack of money.
Letter to bishop McBride
Fr Kieran wrote to the bishop, suggesting that a plot of land should be purchased at Agate Terrace in Port St Johns. Fr Kieran mentioned that a new road was being built there and the price of land was rising. He also suggested that the priests might get a portion of land from the Holy Cross sisters, who had two holiday camps there, one for the Kokstad sisters and one for the Umtata sisters. The priest of the Aliwal North diocese also had a holiday camp at Port St Johns.
He had spoken to some of the priests and sisters when on holiday at Port St Johns and they said that their portion was too small to divide. The Bishop replied – he agreed with the idea of purchasing a portion of land at Agate Terrace and said he would speak to the sisters.
Opening an African School on the Farm
The African labourers on the farms at Port St Johns requested that a school be started on the priests farm. Fr Kieran then instructed the catechist to obtain the consent of the European farms for the opening of this school. Two weeks later he was advised that the farmers were strongly in favour of a school at Malongwane. The Magistrate was also in agreement, but they then needed to speak to Mr Stone (Inspector of Schools) in Kokstad.
Mr Stone on being approached , said that it would not be possible to have an African school on the farm premises, as the farm was not being used for farming purposes, ie the marketing and selling of produce. He suggested that a friendly farm be asked to allow the school on his farm and be persuaded to appoint Fr Kieran as school manager.
Fr Kieran then approached Mr Meth Heathcote, who agreed to have the school on his farm and to appoint Fr Kieran as manager.
1965 – January
Documents Dealing with Permission to open School.
The above documents and also those pertaining to an application for registration were received from Mr Stone.
The completed documents, including signature of each farme giving permission to the children to attend school on the farm. They then waited for the verdict of the Bantu (African Educational authorities.
Fencing the Malongwane Farm.
Bishop McBride agreed to the fencing of the farm and the neighbouring farmers were requested to do the fencing – the Bishop agreed to pay hafl the cost.
Meliskerk Farm School officially registered.
The Bantu education department registered the school and the school was officially opened and will begin to function on Monday 10th May 1965.
Old Meliskerk School Building Condemned
The old building was condemned by the inspector, so a new building was started on Meliskerk Farm. In the meantime the children attended school in the church building at Malongwane farm
1967 – July
Second Teacher Appointed
Things were going well at the school, so a second teacher was appointed and she was paid privately.
1968 – March.
Hillside Outstation, Port St Johns.
The people at Hillside built a very nice mud and thatch church. The priests are deeply grateful for their generosity and God will surely reward them.
In an effort to try and make Malongwane a help towards our Mission here, five red oxen were sent to the farm for fattening – they were purchased at the Xura Drift stock sales at an average of R62 each. In July two more red oxen were purchased and sent to the farm.
1969 – June
Looking at Property in Port St Johns.
A group of Franciscans from the Kokstad Diocese inspected land bought from the Umtata Holy Cross Sisters. They found the buildings in poor condition, with the site on the side of a hill, so looked at two other more suitable sites and decided to consult Bishop McBride on his return from the United States.
In 1971 Bishop McBride and Frs. Germain and Kieran visited the site at Port St Johns. The old building had been demolished and a new one wa being built, which was due to be completed in August or September.
They inspected the water supply from Mt Sullivan, then visited the Officer in charge of Forestry to explain the Bishop was now the new owner of the property and requested that the water supply should be continued to be supplied to the new building. The Chief Forester readily gave his consent.
1971 – October
First Mass in New House
Fr Ralph Boehmer celebrated the first Mass in the house at Port St Johns.
1972 – January
Enrolment of Pupils Increases
The number of children at the farm school at Malongwane increased to 50 and the farmers were anxious that the children of their employees should be able to attended Standards 5 and 6 at the school, so Fr Kieran made an application for this and also for two fully qualified teachers.
Application by Farm Neighbour For use of Malongwane Water.
A Mr E Fegen bought a farm bordering the Franciscan property and, failing to find water on his land, asked if he could get water from their spring. He agreed to build a reservoir at the spring on condition that he could pump the water from the reservoir to his farm. Fr Kieran made sure a legal agreement was drawn up and signed by Mr Fegen.
1973 – March
Death of Assistant School Teacher
Mrs Mabel Mnyali of the Malongwane school, died and was buried at Qaukeni, where she had come from. A representative of the Paramount Chief attended the funeral, which was a large and impressive one. Fr Kieran, in the Chronicle, commented: “She was a very good Catholic mother and teacher and it will be very difficult to replace her.”
1975 – February
Port St John’s House
Bro Masseo Gebney took 2 days to paint the house at Port St Johns.
Fr Kieran resigned as Manager of Meliskerk School.
He found the distance too much and travelling back and forth was time-consuming. The Lusikisiki parish kept him very busy andhis assistant was sometimes needed to do supply at other Mission stations. Thus he notified both the owner of the farm and the school inspecter to this effect.
A Mr Kampher from the Department of Agriculture and Land Tenure, Pretoria, came to evaluate the Malongwane property.
1981 – August
District Commissioner in Port St Johns.
Fr Kieran was informed by the DC that he had been requested by the Transkei Government to take over the Malongwane farm and asked the owner to sign the transfer papers. Fr Kieran advised home to contact the Franciscans in Pretoria, as they were the owners.
Application to buy the Franciscan Farm.
Mr Brian Hadden, a Catholic from Lusikisiki brought all the church furniture from Malongwane to Lusikisiki.
On the same journey he paid a visit to the D.C. in Port St Johns to by the Malongwane farm from the Transkei Government, to which the D.C. replied that many people want to buy the farm already. Had Brian Hadden beem able to buy the farm, he would have allowed the priests in Lusikisiki to continue using the farm church as an outstation. Fr Kieran was very touched by this gesture.
It would seem now the Malongwane farm church will no longer be an outstation church in the parish of Lusikisiki. It is the end of an era.
1984 – August
Final Entry for Port St Johns.
Baptisms took place at Malongwane.
St Elizabeth’s Hospital & Franciscan Missionary Sisters For Africa: Nursing Sisters
September – 1953
Land for Proposed Hospital
30 acres of land was bought from the Villangement Board for the nominal sum of L1. The land was a site for a proposed hospital. During the same month a letter was received from the Cape Provincial Administration, approving of the grant in principle for the hospital.
Dissolution of the Lusikisiki Hospital Trust
Public meeting took place to dissolve the Hospital Trust, which had been formed in January 1953 for the purpose of collecting L2, 500. As the target had been reached, a new executive temporary hospital committee was formed to deal with the expenditure of funds collected and to deal with correspondence with the Provincial Administration. Fr Antonine Kelly, the Vicar General, was chairman of the meeting.
Good News Received about Proposed Hospital
No mention was made as to the exact nature of the good news, but Bishop McBride and Fr Antonine came to discuss the question with the Hospital Committee.
No objection to building Hospital
The Department of Native (African ) Affairs wrote a letter to this effect, but recommended that the property should not be transferred to the Catholic church, but that a lease of 30 years granted at a nominal rent. Fr Antonine discussed this with the Village Management Board and a formal agreement was drawn up along the lines suggested by the Native Department.
Lusikisiki Village Management Board Newsletter
Below appears an item regarding the progress of the proposed hospital and matters pertaining. The balance of the newsletter is at the back of the book with other items of interest.
Letter from Provincial Administration
The Administration granted permission to build a private hospital, but no building or maintanance money would be granted by the Cape Province. The Hospital Trust Committee met to discuss the above matter and decided to phone for an interview with the Administrator. Mrs D Meth and Dr B Buchan saw the Administrator and had a successful interview with him. The Bishop agreed to build and equip the hospital and the Administrator agreed to maintain it from the moment the first patient entered the hospital, at 17 shillings and 6d (17/6d) per patient per day. The Administrator promised that he would ask the executive council to agreed to the above conditions on the 10th December 1958.
Approval of a Maintenance Grant -in-Aid
The hoped for approval of payment of a maintenance grant-in-aid to the Lusikisiki hospital of 24 beds came from the Cape Council, with the conditions that:
a. We erect, furnish and equip the hospital.
b. The plans be approved by the Administrator.
Water Divined on the Hospital site
Mr Carolan, Mr Dos Santos and Fr Kelly divined the water and in January 1959 Mr Dos Santos started boring. By July he had been boring for water for 7 months and reached the depth of 500 feet (nearly 16 metres) without success. He stopped temporarily to get the advice of the geologist.
Bro Dosith starts Making Bricks for the Hospital.
Also by July, he had made 500,000 bricks on the site.
The Go-ahead Signal From Provincial Administration.
After a long wait, word was received from Cape Town:
building operations may now proceed. Very good news indeed!
Approved Plans Received.
Theplans for the hospital building arrived, with the ramark that the plans for the remaining buildings would be forwarded within a week.
Ad Hoc Committee.
This committee was called into being to deliberate on the recommendations made by the Director of Hospital Services in Cape Town. As a result, a new and second prepared constitution for the hospital was drafted, the original one having failed to meet with the approval of the Director. The meeting also formally passed the hospital plans.
Hospital Foundations Completed
At last things were moving! The foundations of the nurses home were then started on.
Fr Roger Huser, the Visitator, had a look at the hospital buildings. By this time the walls and roofs of the main hospital buildings were finished and the walls were being plastered. The electrical and plumbing work were in process.
Visit of Fr Anonine Kelly Re the Hospital
He brought with him a Mr Carolan, an Irishman. Fr Antonine came to negotiate about the surgical equipment for the hospital – one feels that the opening must not be all that far away now!
At a meeting of the hospital committee, it was announced that the Sisters (Franciscan Sisters for Africa) would not be able to staff the hospital until November or December 1961, a whole year away.
Last Hospital Board Meeting
Bishop McBride and Fr Antonine came for the meeting – it was the outgoing Vicar General’s last meeting with the Hospital Board and he received a presentation from the other five members.
Hospital Finished – Brothers go on Leave Overseas.
Brothers Dositheus and Juniper left for their holidays overseas to Germany and Ireland and Bro Masseo had left in April. These three brothers have certainly left their mark in Lusikisiki – the hospital which they so skilfully built has received the admiration of many people already, even before the long-awaited opening. We hope that the brothers will have the privilege of attending the opening somewhere at the end of the year or the beginning of 1962.
Decision on Donation for the Hospital
The MOTHS (an ex-servicemen’s charitable organisation) decided to give the hospital either an incubator or a steriliser.
Finishing Off Bits and Pieces at the Hospital.
Bro Dositheus came to finish off work around the hospital and Bro Benignus Molloy to complete the woodwork and carpentry.
Hospital Chapel Blessed.
Fr Eric Blessed the hospital chapel on the 29th November.
From that day the priests and brothers took their meals in the hospital dining room.
Sisters move from the convent to the Hospital.
The Sisters moved to their new Convent at the hospital. The VMB switched on the lights for them.
Two New Sisters Arrived from Ireland
they were hospital sisters and their names were:
Sr Mary John OSF – Bursar
Sr Geraldine OSF – Nursing Staff
The Brothers left Lusikisiki after completing their wonderful job in St Elizabeth’s hospital – they have certainly a memorable piece of work behind them. May God reward their great efforts!
Two More Sisters Arrive
They were also hospital staff and their names were:
Sr Dorothy – Medical Doctor
Sr Josephine – Nurse
Lord Nontgomery pays a Visit
Lord Montgomery was accompanied by the Paramount Chief, both of whom spoke highly of the hospital buildings and a photograph was taken of them with the Sisters.
First Patient at St Elizabeth’s Hospital
Mrs Jansen, whos husband was with the CID, was the first patient.
First Baby at the Hospital
Mrs Jansen gave birth to a baby daughter at 6.25 am.
The Chronicle account of the opening of St Elizabeth’s Hospital appears on page 116.
The Newspaper cuttings are on the following pages.
Official Opening Of St Elizabeth’s Hospital Lusikisiki
On 10th February 1962
A very large gathering of Europeans, Coloureds and Africans were present at St Elizabeth’s Hospital, Lusikisiki, February 1962 by DR HENDRICKZ, Deputy Director of Hospital Services. Dr Buchan, Chairman of the Hospital Board, introduced the speakers and gave a short history of the hospital from the day of its first suggestion to the present opening.
Dr Buchan paid tribute to the Catholic Church, which had succeeded in providing Lusikisiki with a magnificent hospital. Speeches were made by the Hon J H ABRAHAM, Commissioner General of the Transkei, Bishop McBride, Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau and Dr Hendrickz.
Four presentations were made: To Mrs Abraham, Mother Benedict OSF (Mother General), Mother Dolores OSF andMrs Botha Sigcau. Mr Khotso, the African millionaire, presented carved walking sticks and beaded ties to Dr Hendrickz, Mr Scallan (Chief Accountant of the Cape Province) and Paramount Chief Botha Sigcau. He also presented the Hospital with R200.
The Bishop then blessed the hospital and Dr Hendrickz cut the ribbon and opened the main doors. Everyone was then invited to inspect the buildings and subsequently refreshments were served. Three oxen were slaughtered for the Africans and 2,000 buns were distributed amongst them.
The Matron, Sr Agnellus, has not yet received permission to enter South Africa, as she is a Norwegian.
Good News About Mother Agnellus
The African Affairs (Bantu) Department granted the Matron permission to enter South Africa, and this word was passed on to the immigration authorities.
Meeting of Hospital Board
Fr Germain, Procurator of Kokstad came for the meeting, where it was decided not to get an ambulance but a station wagon for the sisters, which would be presented by the M.O.T.H.S.
Last Carpentry Job at Hospital
This was done by Bro benignus Molloy.
Inspection by Representatives of Nursing Council in Pretoria.
They were very pleased with their visit and passed the hospital as being suitable for a nurses training school.
They advised that the training school could be opened on the 1st January 1963, but official recognition would probably be received in February.
First Anniversary of Hospital Opening
Permission to build a New Children’s Ward
Cape Provincial authorities granted this permission, stating that they would give a grant of R5,000 and the hospital would have to find another R5,000. A year later the hospital was waiting for the Province to pass the plans for the children’s ward – a very frustrating time.
St Agnellus & Mother Dolores Transferred to Kenya.
Sr Majella arrived in Lusikisiki and became the new Matron of the Hospital.
Permission to start Building
Final approval of the plans had been received and also permission to start building. The hospital board were hoping that Misereor in Germany would contribute the R5,000 still needed.
Cape Hospital’s Department Inspection
A representative inspection the hospital and was full of praise and not a single criticism.
Visit By a Representative of British Council of Churches.
Mr Bethan, who also represented the B.B.C, made a visit to the hospital, as he wished to see what was being done for the Africans. Although he was pleased with the nursing care, he primarily focused on the African nurses training, their quarters and questioned Sr Celine the cook on the nurses diet, whether it was balanced or not.
Five Senior Nurses Do Their Examinations.
They did their final written and oral examinations, then went home. Five new girls started their nurses training in June. In July the results of the exams came: 4 passes and 1 failure (in written exams).
A Start in Made on Building the childrens’ Ward.
At a hospital board meeting, it was decided to start immediately. Dr Bruce Buchan pegged the site fot the ward – he also made arrangments for sand and stone to be delivered to the site. As Bro. Masseo the Franciscan builder was away for 2 months, the building was started without him.
Mr Stanley Marillier began digging the foundations.
Sr Celina Flown to Durban
Drs Buchan and Barlow (husband and wife) who had their own plane, flew Sr Celine to Durban for examination by a specialist. We are most grateful to the doctors, as Sr Celine was not enough to face a car journey. Mother Majella accompanied them. Two days later Mother Majella returned, and said that Sr Celine was making good progress.
Assistant Mother General Pays a Visit
Mother Louis came to Lusikisiki to see how the sisters at the hospital were.
Progress of Children’s ward
The building was progressing well. By June 1965 the ward was almost completed and when inspectors from the Nursing Council came, they expressed their pleasure. In July Bro Juniper finished the plumbing, which Fr Kieran thought to be a job excellently accomplished. We are extremely grateful to him. Bro Benignus Molloy then did the carpentry work.
First Patients Admitted to New Ward.
Two days later, Bro Masseo, who had built the septic tank, put the finishing touches to the concrete paths. On the 29th July, in the absence of Bishop McBride, who was unable to attend, Fr Kieran blessed the new ward.
Silver Jubilee of Sr M John.
Visited St Elizabeth’s hospital to interview staff members and patients.
Sr Dorothy on 6 Months’ leave overseas.
Dr Brian Robertson and his wife, newlywed, took her place during this time. Sr Dorothy went on study leave /vacation and when she returned in 1968, she became superintendent of the hospital.
Three -Day Retreat for nurses at St Elizabeth’s
Fr Dominic Khumalo, OMI was the retreat director. In 1969 he again conducted a retreat for the nurses.
Silver Jubilee of the Matron
A concelebrated Mass by Bishop McBride and Fr Kieran was the high point of Sr Majella Boyd’s silver jubilee, and all communicants received under both species.
Bro Masseo Starts Construction of Two Tennis Courts at the Hospital.
He was held up by rain in January , but they were officially opened on Easter Monday, 30th Month 1970.
Group Mass Celebrated
The first group Mass in Lusikisiki was celebrated at St Elizabeth’s by Fr Frank Doyle of St John Vianney Seminary.
Sr Ursula and student Nurse at Chiro Camp
The camp was held at Maria Telgte. An Anglican priest, Fr Jobasi, of Lusikisiki, also went.
Medical Students Come to Lusikisiki Hospital For Practical Experience During Holidays.
Sr John (Bursar) has a Haemorrhage
She was anointed and taken the following day to Durban, where she stayed in hospital for 3 months. Her work was done by Sr Lyddia and Fr Gerry Griffin in the interim.
Farewell to Drs Buchan and Barlowe
Various functions were held in Lusikisiki on their departure for Durban:
VMB party at the home of Mr R Morum.
The African staff at St Elizabeth’s Hospital, who presented a gift.
The Sisters invited them to dinner, and also presented them with a gift.
Dr Buchan Resigns From Hospital Board.
At Dr Buchan’s final Hospital board meeting, Bishop McBride thanked him sincerely for all he had done for the hospital. He wished him God’s blessings and every success in the future.
Dr Evelyn Glynn OSF (Doctor) Arrives at Hospital.
The hospital now had two doctors (the Buchans had already left.)
Fr Kieran Elected as Chairman
He took the place of Dr Buchan and Dr Mazwai was elected as vice-chairman.
All Mission Hospitals to become state Hospitals
This would take effect from the 1st April 1973, when the Transkei government would have its own Health Department. All employees, both black and white, who were South African citizens would become civil servants employed by the Transkei Government. Whites who were not South African citizens would be employed by contract.
Alfred Rapiya, Hospital Employee, Drowns at Mbotyi.
A very impressive ecumenical service was held in the parish church, at which several people made speeches.
Arrival of Dr &Mrs Balmer on a Two Year Contract.
They are both fervent Catholics. The couple left in November, as Dr Balmer wished to work in Bizana.
Arrival of Two OSF Sisters from Ireland
Srs Agnes Mary and Nora came to work at Cedarville in the place of Sr Luke, who was seriously ill in Cape Town. Sr Luke died at St Elizabeth’s Hospital in September and was buried in Kokstad.
Sr Rita (Dr O’Hare) was put in charge of the whole Lusikisiki district, medically speaking, and she had to start clinics in the district. A nurse would visit each clinic once a week – eventually it was hoped to have a qualified nurse for each clinic. The hospital staff were very enthusiastic about this scheme.
In April the Matron, Sr Geraldine and her staff visited two clinics, one at Mantuseni and one at Bucele – this was the start of the new scheme. There are clinics per week at the hospital as well.
Arrival of Mother General of Sisters of the Precious Blood
(Sister Congregation to the Mariannhill Fathers)
Mother General had been requested to start a foundation of African sisters in Lusikisiki some time previously and Mother Provincial came with three counsellors to see for herself :- “she does not believe in buying a pig in a bag”!
They inspected the living accommodation and the hospital and asked many questions, then, satisfied by the answers, they agreed to open a foundation, but decided to wait for the answer of Mother General in January.
In October the people renting the Sisters house, left and it was vacant and ready for the Sisters arrival (we hope!).
Arrival of Dr Balmer’s Replacement .
Dr William O’Gorman, who was on a 12 month contract, was accompanied by his wife Mary. They left Lusikisiki the following April. They were a wonderful help at the hospital and will be sadly missed. May God’s blessings be with them.
Mission Hospitals in Transkei to be taken over by the Department of Health.
The news was received on the 19th March and the take-over was scheduled for the 1st April 1976, ie the following year.
Sr Geraldine Resigns as Matron
She was transferred to Cairo and left Lusikisiki on the 8th May. Mrs Ndimande was appointed Matron , being the first Black Matron at St Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Sr Rita O’Hre’s Silver Jubilee
The highlight of the day was a concelebrated Mass by Bishop McBride and Fr Kieran.
December Dental Students at St Elizabeth’s
Eleven students spent 2 days at the hospital pulling out teeth free of charge.
Retreat for Hospital Staff.
Fr E Sokela conducted the very successful 5-day retreat.
The End of An Era
On the 1st April 1976, St Elizabeth’s Hospital will be taken over by the Department of Health, Transkei.
Two Government officials will arrive at the hospitals on the 15th March to supervise the transfer. Hence from the 15th March the two priests will have to provide their own meals and laundry.
1st April 1976
Quietly and without any ceremony, the hospital was taken over by the Department of Health Transkei.
All banking accounts were closed and the Government officials bade farewell.
In future all wages and accounts will be paid from Umtata.
Arrival of Sr Anthony, Precious Blood Sister.
She came to start work in the hospital, being the first of the new African community to arrive. The rest of the sisters were due to arrive in January 1977.
Sr Rita Anointed
This happened during that terrible week about which Fr Kieran remarked: “What a Week! She had haemorrhaged from the lungs and had to be taken to Durban, where she ramained in hospital for 3 months, returning in February – she looked very well.
New Buildings Commenced
The building of two new wards started today at St Elizabeth’s hospital. (No further mention was made of these wards, as Fr Kieran left Lusikisiki shortly after).
Husband of Mrs Ndimande Buried.
Mr Ndimande was the husband of Mrs Ndimande, the first Black Matron. When he died his funeral (Wesleyan) took place at the Catholic Church. He was the retired postmaster of Lusikisiki and a gentleman highly respected by all.
Two Medical Students From Ireland
Maria McDonald and Elizabeth Whiting spent eight weeks working at the hospital and showed a keen interested in the life of the mission.
Masses at the Hospital
The weekday Masses were on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays at 6.30 am.
Franciscan Sisters at the Hospital Leave Permanently.
Tears are shed by people who have known and worked with them, by people who have been helped and treated by them over the last 30 years. We at the Mission here will remember them in a special way from their total dedication and their shining example of living faith, their prayers.
There were two official farewell parties, one at the beginning of the month by the Catholic community, with Bishop Napier celebrating Mass and preaching; another at the end of the month from the hospital and the town – both occasions were memories of a special time.
Drs Buchan and Barlowe
Excerpts From The Last of the Lotuslands By Margaret Buchan
Bruce Buchan and Margaret Barlowe trained as doctors together and after their graduation, married and did their year’s internship in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). Subsequently they went to Lusikisiki in 1951. Margaret practised medicine under her maiden name.
Regarding St Elizabeth’s Hospital, Margaret said the following: Bruce and I had cherished a long-standing dream about a hospital for Lusikisiki. We started working towards the provision of a hospital in 1951 and finally achieved out ambition in 1962. It took 10 years to bring the project to fruition – ten frustrating years of wrestling with red tape.
We set off with high hopes to collect funds. The first person we approached was the Paramount Chief of Pondoland, that we would impose a levy of one shilling per head on everyone in the district. This would mean that in our $4,500. This would be abig start, as we thought we could get the project underway with about $7,000.
It meant that the balance of hte money required would have to be raised by the handful of Europeans (200) and Coloureds (600). The latter in particular were desperately in need of a hospital, as their nearest source of any kind of private treatment was 200 miles away.
Margaret tried very hard to raise funds in Durban, by was unsuccessful, so the community decided to organise a concert, an hilarious do – it – yourself event. The community raised about $4, 000 by the end of the year from all sections of the community, and the Africans raised $150. Fortunately the Catholics helped with the funding and after we had sent in our twenty-fifth plan for approval, our dream finally came to fruition.
She relates a most amusing event which happened at the hospital two weeks after the opening, perhaps not funny at the time, but in hinsight. We had our first death, always an unhappy time even in old established hospitals. But, Horror of horrors, we found that the architect has omitted to provide a back door, and the well wrapped up corpse had to be taken to the mortuary via the main front door, through the visitors reception area and past patients and doctors. Not a pleasant experience and not much of an advertisement for a new hospita either!
When we started working at the hospital, we agreed that we would work within the dictates of the Catholic faith, which was not always easy. (They were non church -going people).
Initially too, I was very worried, never having worked with nuns or with any other religious order before.
However, Margaret’s anxiety about this point was unnecessary, as when we worked together with the Irish sisters we built a friendship with the highly religious Franciscans which I think all of us will treasure for the remainder of our lives. From Bishop McBride down (God bless him) we adored them all, although we decided the Irish were really only White Pondos, even to the Irish/Pondo mile, just over the hill.
Bruce and I worked in the hospital for ten years prior to leaving the Transkei. These were ten fabulous, fun-packed, exciting , dramativ and educational years in which we shared out lives with the most delightful people – Franciscans with an offbeat, charming sense of humour, as Irish and plausible as they come. Working with the nuns was the most wonderful experience of my life. I grew so fond of them all and have retained my ralationship with them to this day.
Today (1995) with the tremendous changes that have taken place, our old Irish friends have all left, but their spirit did more for the Transkei and its people than all the missionaries of previous days. I am sure the Black people will remember them with warmth and love for the rest of their lives.
Postscript from Archivist.
Bruce Buchan sadly died in 1994 and Margaret still lives in Durban. My sister Pat married the Buchan’s eldest son, Alastair, They have two daughters and live in Knysna, where Alstair is a lawyer and Pat an accountant. Hence I have a personal interest in Bruce and Margaret’s time in Lusikisiki.
Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa.
1954 – November
First Sisters Arrive
Their names were Srs Mark and Cosmas.
Sr Patricia Arrives from overseas
She made the third sister of the community, who were involved in parish work at Lusikisiki.
In March Mother Gereral and Sr St John came with the Bishop on visitation to the Sisters.
1960 – July
Fr Seraphim Kennedy Gives Sisters Their Annual Retreat
The two Lusikisiki sisters were joined by three from Cedarville.
1961 – June
Sr Celine Attends Retreat in Bizana.
Regional Superior of OSF Sisters
She left for her annual visitation in Zimbabwe.
Sr Cosmas Leaves Lusikisiki
She had been teaching at the local European school for 7 years and left Lusikisiki permanently. Lusikisiki will certaily miss her, particularly sincere there will be no replacement for her at the school.
1962 – September
Silver Jubilee of Sr M John
Death of Mother Benedict Cahill OSF
Mother Benedict the Mother General of the Franciscan Sisters of Africa was killed in an aeroplane accident.
Silver Jubilee of Sr Celine
Sr Celine renewed her vows at a special Mass concelebrated by Bishop McBride and several priests.
1974 – December
Sr Collette Starts a sewing Class
In January 1976, Sr Ann helped Sr Collette, as the class was growing. Later that month Sr Ann was transferred to Zimbabwe.
1980 – January
Srs Elizabeth, John Vianney & Paulina go on a Course.
In March the sisters went to Sandlalube to arrange about a literacy school and the peole were very keen. It was started on the 14th April and the sisters taught 2 days a week.
Legion of Mary Started
Sr John Vianney started the Legion in Lusikisiki.
Srs Rita, Elizabeth and Lucia on Holiday
It was a well-deserved rest and they went home to Ireland.
1981 – May
Sr Vianney Transferred from Lusikisiki
She went to Hlangwini (Taylorville)
All the Franciscan Sisters left Lusikisiki
See the last entry under St.Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Fr Kieran pleaded with the Precious Blood Sisters and also the Daughters of Charity to open a convent in Lusikisiki. He had a reply from the Mother Provincial of the Daughters of Charity in October 1974 and she came to visit on the 30th October. See below.
1974 – 30th October
Visit of Mother Provincial
Sr Evangelist, Provincial of the Daughters of Charity and a companion, Sr Alois, visited Lusikisiki to find out if it would e feasible to open a vonvent. They saw the situation for themselves and received replies to all their enquiries.
Sr Evangelist will report to her Council and let us know. We in Lusikisiki live in hope, wrote Fr Kieran in the Chronicle.
Return of Sr Constantia
Sr Constantia had been on a year’s catechetical training at Lumko. Fr Kieran was extremely glad to have two sisters who were catechists.
1979 – January
Srs Egbert and Constantia started visiting the homes in the parish.
This retreat was held from the 12th -15th April by Srs Egbert and Constantia, with Sr Anthony giving a talk on health and hygiene.
Course at Hardenberg
Srs Anthony, Constantia and Alexia attended this course.
In July Mgr. Napier held a meeting at Flagstaff in preparation for the Bishop’s consultation course and two of the representatives from Lusikisiki were Srs Constantia and Egbert.
Ecumenical Retreat for parish Youth.
This very successful retreat was run by Srs Egbert and Constantia, as well as an Anglican priest and a Franciscan Brother.
1980 – January
Sisters Staff Changes
Sr Alexia was not permitted to take her final vows, so left Lusikisiki and her place was taken by Sr Paulina.
Sr Egbert was then transferred as Sister Superior to Maria Telgte and Sr John Vianney replaced Sr Egbert. Sr Antony was appointed Sister Superior at Lusikisiki.
1981 – November
Legion of Mary at the Hospital.
This was started by Sr Anthony.
December – 1981
High Praise For Srs Constantia and Paulina
Sr Constantia was the leader and Sr Paulina ably assisted her in training leaders of Small Communities in various outstations:-
They were at the time training members of the Parish Council as leaders.
God bless their wonderful work!
1982 – August
Sewing Class at Lusikisiki
Sr Gabriel was responsible for initiating this useful skill among the local women.
The above entry was the last about the Daughters of Charity Sisters by Fr Kieran, who left Lusikisiki in September, after 31 years.
1983 – October
Frs Niall (Tony) Hardiman And Kevin Egan Arrive
The Sisters of the Sacred Heart are showing us around the outstations.
1984 – July
Weekend For The Youth in Mantlaneni
Sr Constantia and Bro David Barnard organised this weekend from the 6th – 8th July. Young people came from Mantuseni, Utshane, Mantlaneni and Hillside. Much time was spent in group-sharing on problems in the local community.
This was during a time of unrest in the area, which was causing distress to the local people.
1985 – June
Sacred Heart Sodality
When the Sodality had their annual get-together, they had visitors, including Fr Maduna from the Umzimkulu diocese. There was a talk on some of the old Paschal ceremonies given by Sr. Constantia. Some sheep were slaughtered for the feast and Frs. Tony and Maduna were asked to pray and bless the sheep.
Return of Sr Clothilda to Lusikisiki.
First Communion of Paramount Chief Mpondombini’s Daughter
His daughter, NoWesizwe, received her First Holy Communion at the Great Place, Qaukeni.
At the same Mass 16 people from Qaukeni were baptised by Bishop Wilfrid Napier. It was to Sr Constantia’s credit that they were so well-prepared, as she had been instructing them for about 6-9 months prior to the event.
Sr Constantia prepares another Group from Qaukeni.
As she was to be transferred to Maria Telgte in January 1986, Sr Constantia started on another group at Qaukeni so they would be ready before she left.
Fr Tony must have been very sorry to see Sr. Constantia leave Lusikisiki – she had been an invaluable person as catechist, preacher, instructor and general right-hand person to the priests.
Catechetical Course – Sr Paulina Takes Over
By now Fr Tony was on his own at Lusikisiki – he had no assistant, so he depended on the sisters to help him. Here Sr Paulina was a tower of strength. She took over the organisation in preparation for the confirmations and did extremely well.
Sr Callista Runs a week-end for the Youth.
She came from Hardenberg and it proved to be a good starting point. Plans were then made for a follow-up in November or December.
Flagstaff Parish Joins Lusikisiki
Many parishioners came from Flagstaff one week-end in May to listen to Sr Callista’s talks. Fr Tony was pleased to see the two parishes working together.
An Agreement with the Daughters of Charity Sisters
A subsidy of R300 per quarter with which they can pay their rates, electricity, phone etc. There is no contract.
Sr Gabriel Helps the Qaukeni Outstations on Sundays.
She was driven there either by Mr Jweni or Miss Dweba and she had two helpers, Mrs Princess Dweba and Mr Christian Gcede.
A New Sister
Sr Paulina left and Sr Natalia came in January, probably in response to a letter Fr Tony had written to the Provincial in November 1987, in which he said: I suggest to you and your Council that you send us a Sister who can drive, be an example and inspiration to the people; a sister who can promote leadership by listening to and caring for the people of God here in Lusikisiki.
This was the last mention in the Chronicle of the Daughters of Charity sisters.
Addendum by Fr Manus Campbell
But what I, Fr Manus, know did happen in Lusikisiki is that the Sisters convent had deteriorated so much it became dangerous. So Bro Erich redesigned the building, hired builders and it was re-opened I think sometime in 1997. It was much larger, cost an enormous amount of money and was used by the Sacred Heart Sisters as a postulancy or prepostulancy.
Vocations to the Religious life
The Franciscan priests had a knack of raising vocations among the local people, and Lusikisiki was a particularly successful mission. As Fr Marcel Dischl explained in Transkei for Christ: “The Franciscans placed emphasis on such associations as the Legion of Mary and the Children of Mary and these associations fostered vocations much better that other missionaries who worked with the CHIRO movement only.
Little Sisters of St Francis
1959 – March
Two young Coloured girls, PHYLLIS VAN ZYL and FRANCES CANHAM, left for Cape Town to join this congregation.
Phyllis van Zyl received the postulant’s habit in Parow, Cape Town, and her religious name was Sr Elizabeth.
Sr Elizabeth and Sr Monica (Frances Canham), who were stationed in Cape Town, came home for their first holiday since entering the congregation.
Sisters of the Precious Blood
1964 – May
Recently a girls from Lusikisiki, Monica Maduna, became a postulant with the Precious Blood Sisters at Umtata.
While giving a retreat to the Precious Blood Sisters at Glen Avent, Umtata, Fr Kieran saw the two postulants and said they were very happy, and their superiors were also very pleased with them.
1969 – January
Monica Maduna’s First Profession
Twenty people from Lusikisiki went to Glen Avent for her first profession – her name was now Sr Generosa. Sr Generosa was the first Lusikisiki girl to be professed with the Precious Blood Sisters. Many Lusikisiki people who attended the occasion for the first time were very impressed.
Sr Generosa comes home on a visit.
She entered the convent in 1962 and this was the first time she had come home since then. She was received by a great crowd of people with great pride and joy. After a celebratory Mass Se Generosa answered questions about the life of a nun and the people were very impressed, as many of them had never seen an African nun. Presents were given by the people.
She also visited many outstations and spoke to the people.
It is hoped that many young African girls will follow her example. At present her sister, Aloisia is a postulant in the same convent in Umtata.
SRS JOHN VIANNEY (ALOISIA) MADUNA AND SR KIERAN MADIKIZELA PROFESSED AT GLEN AVENT CONVENT.
They had finished their novitiate and were professed with great joy and celebration.
In June 1973 all three Lusikisiki Precious Blood Sisters came home for a holiday.
Sr Generosa made her final profession in the Precious Kieran in January 1974.
Another Vocation From Lusikisiki
Magdalene Mary Madikizela went to join the Precious Blood Sisters. Her own sister was Sr Kieran, also of the same congregation. Their father was EDWIN MADIKIZELA, a Catechist at Lutshaya.
May God give her the grace of a vocation and may she persevere in her vocation. There are four Precious Blood sisters from Lusikisiki, and it is hoped that she will be the fifth, was Fr Kieran’s note in the Chronicle.
1979 – October
Sr Raphael Nokele
She was sent home from Glen Avent Convent.
There were no further entries about sisters’ vocations after 1979.
LUSIKISIKI RESIDENT PRIESTS
1950 – 1999
Fr Cornelius Heffernan
Fr Columanus Timmons – 1950-1952
Fr Kieran McCrann – 1952 – 1983
Caius Grellner – 1952 – 1956
Reginald Gunn – 1955 – 1956
Aelred Devine – 1957 – ?
Seraphim Kennedy – 1958 – 1959
Eric Austin – 1965 (6mths)
Finbarr Russell – 1965 – 1966
Eric Austin – 1966 – 1969
Oliver Moran – 1969 – 1970
Gerry Griffin – 1970 – 1971
Wilfrid Napier – 1971 – 1973
Oliver Moran – 1973 – 5months
Columbanus Timmons – 1973 – 1977
Kevin O’Byrne – 1982 – 3mnths
Egbert O’Dea – 1983 – 5mnths
Fr Niall (Tony) Hardiman – 1983 – 1991
Fr Kevin Egan – 1983 – 1986
Fr Peter Wilson – 1988 – ?
Fr. Vumile Nogemane – 1989 – 1999
Fr Egbert O’Dea – 1991 – 1994
Fr Finbarr Russel – 1994 – 1995
Fr Vincent Zungu – 1995 (3mnths)
Fr Tony Hardiman – 1997 – 1998
Fr Richard of Ghana – 1998 – 1999
All the above Priests were/are Franciscans, with the exception of Fr Richard.
The Lusikisiki is remarkable in that it was maintained in great detail until the early/middle 1990’s. Fr Kieran, who started the Chronicle, kept it up for 31 years. He was a very dedicated, holy man who was loved and respected by his parishioners and one can see from the remarks in the Chronicle that he was always grateful for anything done for him.
There must be a special place for him in Heaven!
The whole progress of St Elizabeth’s Hospital was also kept up and there is a discernible pattern of events, right up to time the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa left Lusikisiki after their wonderful work in the field of health.
The missionary endeavour at Lusikisiki seems to have been at its busiest and most productive in the latter 1950’s and 1960’s. There was at that time too, a nucleus of several trained catechists who were of great assistance to the priests and ensured continuity particularly in times of frequent change-over of priests. In the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s, the parish catechist-sisters, notably Srs Constantia, Egbert and Paulina, showed the new priests around the outstations and helped them immensely. Fr Kieran mentions that one Ascension Thursday when he was unavoidably delayed, Sr Egbert lead a Communion service, preached and distributed Communion. They were his right-hand helpers.
Apart from the large number of vocations to the Sisterhood from the Lusikisiki district, (see Fr Marcel’s remark at the beginning of the section headed Vocations) there was no doubt that Lusikisiki was spiritually fertile ground. The names of the catechists show the families where the Faith ran deep: Lawrence Maduna, catechist from 1960-1990. Two of his daughters, Monica and Aloisia, joined the Precious Blood Sisters. Nokele, there were father, son and uncle who were catechists and Joannes’ sister who became Sr Raphael, visited him in 1974. Unfortunately she was sent home from Glen Avent Convent in 1979. Then there was Edwin Madikizela, who was trained at Bizana as a catechist in 1961.
In 1968 his son Amos was accepted at the Minor Seminary in 1968 and two of Edwin’s daughters joined the Precious Blood Congregation; one became Sr Kieran in 1972 and the other, Maddalene Mary, joined in 1974.
As far as the priesthood is concerned, Bro Augustine Njovane was professed as a Franciscan brother in 1983. He was related to catechist Fabien Njovane. Augustine unfortunately left the Franciscans before ordination.
However I strongly believe that with the men and women who leave before ordination or profession are not a ‘total loss’ to the Church. The years they spent studying and growing in love and obedience to God enriches them and the community in which they later live.
There is in this history an extremely interesting section from the layperson’s point of view which was taken from the book written by Dr Margaret Buchan (Barlowe). They were non-church going people, but were very struck by the dedication of the Irish sisters adn priests and felt that the Irish with their natural warmth, generosity and wonderful sense of humour, had done more for missionary work in the Transkei than all the other religious people had done. A real pat on the back for the Irish and totally unsolicited too.
I pray especially for Fr Richard of Ghana, who is the current parish priest at Lusikisiki. I only hope he has a support system of catechists and loyal parishioners to help him in his spiritual and moral welfare.