Maria Telgte

Master Copy – To Remain in Archives

Maria Telgte Mission, Swartberg – 1996

Vol. 2

Centenary Project
In June 1996 I went with my mother, Mrs Bischof, to visit Fr John Kerr at Maria Telgte and hear about the renovations. The visit was arranged during the winter school holidays, so Fr John was free.

It was a brisk winter’s afternoon but not too cold as it was not overcast. Fr John gave us his usual warm Irish welcome (and when we left he reminded us that his gate was never shut – in other words please come again).

Much had been done to the church and the priest’s house since my visit in January 1995 and Fr John had John was delighted to show us around. Mom and Fr John had many missionary priest friends in common, so had much to talk about and left me to take photos of the interior and exterior of the church.

The Panelled Wooden Ceiling. Since my last visit it had been brushed down with new paintbrushes and damp cloths to remove the dust – and this exercise revealed most magnificent bauernmalerei paintings, especially on the ceiling of the sanctuary. This was done by Richard van Wyk and his team.

The Walls. They were a major task, as underneath the paint and plaster on the inside of the walls were dried mud bricks which had to be scraped off.   It had originally been the plan to panel the lower section of the church, but this could not be done. I am not sure what was done about the rising damp, but the walls took some time to be done. The scraping down and replastering was done by Andrew Pienaar, a contractor from Kraandraai, Swartberg and the painting done by Richard van Wyk, both local men.

Stations of the Cross: A great difference can be seen since they were restored by Jacko, a signwriter in Kokstad.

The Statues. The statues are old and somewhat dated, so two of them, the Sacred Heart and of Our Lady were removed and will be replaced by two new ones. In June Fr John had already bought a statue of our Lady but at that stage he had not been able to find a matching one of the Sacred Heart. I hope that he has been successful.

The Altar. The stone altar as well as the stone walls were cleaned treated twice with a sealer. This treatment has certainly made a big difference . It was decided not to reposition the carved wooden altar in its original position, as it does not fit in with the general decor. For the time being it will remain at the back of the church.

The Pieta: This carved statue which was recessed into the back wall behind the tabernacle, has been removed and the wall plastered over and painted. Inits place is a large crucifix which was given to Fr John by the parish priest as Franklin.

Floor Tiles of Altar:   They are the original tiles and are kept sparkling clean with soap and Omo detergent. They are polished every Saturday with Cobra wax polish by ladies of the parish.

The Aisle: The stone flooring is original and is swept and scrubbed clean regularly.

The Roof Beams and Choir Loft.
When I first saw them, they were very dusty and discoloured, but have been cleaned and sealed with wood sealer and have come up beautifully. Richard van Wyk and his team were responsible for this.

The confessional: this is also an original piece of furniture, but when I saw it last, was stained and dirty. I have included a photograph which shows how lovingly it has been restored. Fr John beamed with justifiable pride when he told me about this success story – also the work of Richard van Wyk.

The stained Glass Windows

They were cleaned and restored by Richard van Wyk.

The Roof
It was scraped down and repainted by Richard vanWyk’s team, and the difference to the outside of the church is quite amazing.

All of these renovations have been done, but the major items which still need to be done are:

The tower roof: Fr John plans to have the roof pointed, but reaching the top is a problem without scaffolding.

The sandstone Blocks: Exterior sandstone blocks badly need attention chipping, replacing in parts, blasting, sealing the blocks is an extremely costly process, as it found with St Patrick’s Cathedral, so the parish will have to wait until enough finance is accumulated.

The Priest’s House: The house is old and need majour attention. First of all the corruged iron roof was replaced with all Weather Roofing, a subsidiary of Harvey Tiles, a well-known South African roofing firm.

The ceilings throughout the house were very old and were replaced by wooden strip ceilings and sealed, a very professional job done by a young African man named Thetani, whohas a small business in the district. He also did the painting throughout the interior and also the exterior, using very pleasing colours. The curtains in the lounge and dining room were replaced by attractive curtains matching the carpet and furniture. Fr John was very pleased with the result of his much more comfortable house.

Maria Telgte Centenary celebrations
The celebrations took place after the interior of the church was renovated, in May 1996, a low-key event as Fr Kerr wished it to be. No brochure was compiled for this occasion, however this account is the history of the Mission will suffice, I’m sure.

There was a special Mass by Bishop William and all the priests of the Diocese, attended by a very joyful congregation.

Uptade on events at the Mission since 1995

In May (4th – 5th) 1996 Bishop William visited the mission for confirmation. First there was a night vigil for Adults only when the various sodalities and the general congregation rededicated themselves to Christ and the Church. 25 young adults were confirmed at this service. The Mass on Sunday was for the children. Fr John plans a children’s confrimation for November.

There were 256 boarders and 47 day-scholars in 1996. The teaching staff consist of 10 teachers, 3 men and 7 women and there are 11 boarding staff, 1 man and 10 women.

Sport and Cultural Activities

Soccer is a regular weekend event, either at Maria Telgte mission or designated places in rural areas like Cedarville, Swartberg, New Amalfi, Glen Edward and Umzongwana location.

The boys and girls of the school have been very successful at cultural activities-tribal dancing, singing and drum majorettes. Nine groups were entered for the eliminating stage at Tafeni and all nine won, then later nine were entered for the zonal stage at Cedarville and again all nine won. At the regional stage at Ixopo nine groups were entered and four won, to their understandable elation. They were scheduled to proceed to Durban for the provincial stage in August – I have not heard further, but hope they did well there too.

Maria Telgte Mission, Swartberg (East Griqualand)
Kokstad Diocese, South Africa
(1895 – 1995)

The Mission at Maria Telgte celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, so in order to find out more information from the priest in charge, Fr John Kerr, I went with my husband one sunny afternoon in January to visit the Mission and consult the mission Chronicle which is a journal giving events since its inception.

Fr John was expecting us and greeted us warmly on our arrival, offering us tea and buscuits which we enjoyed view of the mission complex, his house situated in the centre with the school buildings and boarder hostel higher up on the hill and to the rear the church and siters wing. Fr John mentioned that the central section of the school building is believed to be the site of hte original church built in the 1890’s.    Further additions have since been made to the school and include staff accommodation.

The grass was very green after the good summer rains and there was a magnificent panorama of the Swartberg mountains and there was a tangible feeling of space and peace. It was good just to be there. To emphasise this trinquil atmosphere, on the top of the hill the silhouette of a large cross was visible.

Let me digress a moment to explain the position of Maria Telgte. It is on an excellent tar road about 3/4 hour’s drive from Kokstad, more or less north-west of the town which is in East Griqualand. East Griqualand is in the south-western part of the Province of KwaZulu/Natal (formerly Natal) about 300 kilometres from Durban. Transkei lies on our werstern border.
The school is the main focus of the mission. There are at present 245 boarders and 16 day scholars from neighbouring farms and 8 teacher’s children at the school. The school is staffed by seven qualified teachers paid by the Government and two qualified teachers paid by the mission. Some of the teachers live with their families on the mission and five comute daily. At present the schooling ranges from Sub A to Standard 7.

The hostel is divided into six dormitories, three for girls and three for boys. The large dining room serves a dual purpose as a recreation hall, where there is a television set and occasionally videos are shown at week-ends. Modern conveniences are provided, including electricity and telephone in the priest’s house.

Fr John is manager of the mission school and also supervises seven schools at outstations in the area. At one outstation, Ntambanane, there is a total of 500 pupils. The other outstations are: Tafeni, Glen Edward, Wansbeek, Koppieskraal, Luipaardskop, and Middlewater.

After tea , Fr John took us to visit the church, where we noted that the foundation stone was laid in March 1909. The church was built in Gothic German style with square tower topped by a high pointed roof. The only building material available at that time was a rather soft sandstone qurried locally. The roof of the tower is sheathed in heavy copper too weighty for the sandstone, which has crumbled over the years, necessitating the erection of a protective guard to prevent the crumbling stone from falling on the parishioners as they enter and leave the church.

The magnificent carved double doors at the entrance to the church are Gothiv in style but unfortunately have been painted black which spoils their effect. There is an intricate design below the curved metal door-handle and a large lock which Fr John proudly told us had never needed oiling.

The roof beams are of yellow wood as are the simple backless benches. This yellow wood came from a forest at Lourdes Mission near Umzimkulu. The carved and painted wooden stations of the cross were made in Innsbruck. Above the stations of the cross on both side walls are medallion-shaped painted frescoes of Saints, women on the left and men on the right. They still retain their original freshness and brilliant colour.

We then approached the modern high altar, which replaces the original carved wooden altar   (I have enclosed a black and white photograph to show the beautiful carvings on it). The brass tabernacle is set into the back wall of the sanctuary.   On the left of the stone altar is a stained glass window of St Maternus and on the right, St Paternus, probably after Fr Paternus who was priest-in-charge in 1908. Above the altar is a smaller round stained glass window of an old man and a dove. It is surmised that St Benedict and his sister, St Scholastica may be represented here, bearing in mind that the Trappists, who started the mission, follow the Rule of St Benedict.

All the stained glass for these windows came from Germany, while the lead was supplied by a Kokstad firm, RC Groom’s Hardware, which is still operating today with a family member, Eric Groom, running it.

Set into a niche behind the altar is a carved statue of the Pieta made of oak, which was made in Innsbruck. The wood was carved in one piece but as it has a hollow centre, it is not heavy. It was painted in bright colours to suit the taste of the local African people.

On either side of the church are several long windows also in stained glass, but fairly plain. At the rear of hte church is a beautifully carved choir loft. The original high altar is also kept at the back of the church, as Fr John wants to have it restored and returned to its former place in the sanctuary.

Fr John’s centenary for the Mission are simply to put the church into good order. It was renovated in the 1960’s when he first arrived, but the church badly needs renovation again. To this end, he will consult Sr Johanna of Mariannhill, who has had long experience in renovating and restoring churches in South Africa. Fr John feels that this is the most fitting way to thank God for the many blessings He has showered on Maria Telgte mission in its 100 years and to acknowledge the efforts of all who worked there in the past, endeavouring to spead the Good News of the Gospel.

History of Maria Telgte Mission with Reference to the Book “Transkei for Christ” by the late Fr Marcel Dischl CMM

(1) Founding of the Mission

Maria Telgte mission is officially designated as the Remainder of Fram Reuben, no 266A”. The title deed number is 20410/60 and the land is 242.09 morgen in extent. This land was originally owned by a Mr WJ Marais and was sold by him to Hermann Meier on the 30th August 1866. He sold it to the Diocese of Mariannhill (Fleischer Adelbero) on 31st May 1895 for the sum of $275. 00

To explain further about the land transection I will quote verbatim from Fr Dischl’s book: Bro. Nivard, a Trappist, knew a farmer near Amalfi (close to Swartberg), Hermann Meier of Swiss origin, who was in financial difficulties. Meier himself went to Lourdes mission to offer his farm for sale, but Bro. Nivard was rather reluctant, so Meier approached a well-know local farmer, Jin Cole, who offered him a very low price.

Eventually the farm was put up for auction in early 1895 in Kokstad. Bro Nivard asked the trustee, Mr Webster, of Kokstad to bid for him. The farm of 600 acres called Reuben, was purchased for $275 on the 31st May 1895, much to the suprise of the farming community, especially when they heard that the Trappists had acquired the farm. Apparently the price was much higher than the going rate in that area and people knew who the buyer was, so asked more than it was worth. At that time there was some animosity in the Swartberg area towards the Trappists.

When the land was bought by the Trappists, the idea was to use the mission as a halfway point between Lourdes mission at Umzimkulu to the east and Mariazell to the west of Maria Telgte. In 1960, during the tenure of Bishop McBride, this land was transferred by the Diocese of Mariannhill to the Kokstad Diocese.

Fr John mentions that no specific date has been pinpointed as the founding date of the Mission, but he is inclined to favour the 31st May, being the date of the original land transfer. An interesting note on the name of the Mission: Maria Telgte derives from a well-known shrine to Our Lady at Telgte in Westphalia, near Cologne.

(2) Trappist History

Bro Nivard arrived in June 1895 with two brothers to organise agriculture on the neglected farm. Fr Arsenius, whohad a missionary at other mission stations came in October to help with the fencing. Things started badly at Maria Telgte, as farming operations were badly hit by drought and hail, then by a locaust plague in 1986 and finally the Rinderpest in 1897. (This was a terrible diseasse which swept through Southern Africa and parts of Central Africa, killing cattle and horses at a time when these animals were essential for transport). Also the railway had not yet reached this part of the world – it reached Swartberg only in 1923.

In 1901 a large barn was built for the cows on the mountain slope, later a stable for the horses. (The Rinderpest was over by then). Abbot Amandus had drawn up a master plan for the buildings at Telgte, which never materialised probably caused by the lack of continuity in staffing the mission. As a result a rather haphazard cluster of huts was built.

Real mission work did not start until te 1920’s. Matters improved, however, once some old and experienced missionaries arrived, to name some of them: Innocenz Buchner, Damasus Schmidinger and Modestus Neu. Because of the small size of the farm (600 acres) with only 80 acres being arable, as the land streches from one hilltop across to another, much of it is too steep for grazing of livestock or growing crops and was not a viable proposition as a farm. The agricultural position was so difficult that from 1895-1925 there were no fewer than 17 farm stewards.

In 1990 Fr Sulpitius, an old and enthusiastic gardener, organised the laying of a pipe from a spring at the house and garden and also started a large orchard. Fr Biegner came to help Fr Sulpitius when his health deteriorated and in 1902 Fr Sulpitius died at Maria Telgte.
Fr Biegner, being of a practical nature, soon realised that the mission could never become a real mission station. However, in spite of the vagaries of the weather and the small size of the farm, some years were quite prosperous and moderate quantities of fodder, maize, potatoes, wheat, barley and beans were harvested.

Some important items to note in the early years of the 20th century were: In 1907 Fr Odo Ripp, an excellent Zulu missionary, started mission work there. Then in 1908 Fr Paternus, his successor, started a hostel and school for Griqua children. On the 19th March 1909 the foundation stone of the present church was laid. A benefactor in Austria sent the carved wooden high altar, others donated two bells and the statues. On the 9th November 1909 the church was blessed by Abbot Wopert.

In June 1912 Fr Innocenz Buchner came to Maria Telgte and put this heart and soul into evangelising the local people. As a result of his efforts, the mission took over five outstations and although it was situated in the white farming area, it became a moderate mission centre.

However, progress came to a standstill with the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914. Fr Innocenz and his steward Fro Andreas, being German nationalist, were interned in 1917 until the end of the war. During this time a local priest, Fr Andrew Ngidi, saw to the spiritual needs of the people and the Sisters looked after the farm. After the War Fr Clemens Hartweg took charge at Maria Telgte and achieved a good deal.
He organised the enlargement of the priest’s house, the reroofing of the boys’ quarters and gave the Sisters a new home.In addition, all buildings were renovated and repainted and the garden greatly improved.

As far as statistics are concerned, good progress was made in evangelisation. In 1901 the mission had one priest, two brothers and seven sisters, one outstation and there were seven entries in the Baptismal register. By 1909 the number of Christians had increased to 300 and as far as schooling was cencerned, girls were now being admitted as pupils. The number of outstations had now grown to five. Even more encouraging, by 1932 there were 290 baptisms recorded at Maria Telgte.

Another big change occurred in the mission field in South Africa when the Trappist Order here broke away from the Order in Europe to become the Marianhill Missionaries. The Trappist religious here were given the option to return to Europe as contemplative Trappists or join the new missionary order. Many priests and brothers chose the latter course, which greatly depleted the number of missionaries at the various mission stations, including Maria Telgte.

(3) The Franciscans

To fill the gap in personnel, German Franciscan Friars were sent out to South Africa and in 1935 Maria Telgte was taken over by the Franciscans, with the first priest-in – charge being Fr Max Schlereth. He devoted himself totally and with great love to the care of the African people, earning himself an affectionate African nickname.

Once again war intervened in 1939, interrupting the rhythm of the mission as Fr Max was interned from 1940-1945. Returning to his mission, Fr Max stayed on until 1951 when he went on his first home leave – but he did not return. He died in Germany in 1954 and it is said that he died of a broken heart, homesick for the mission and the people he had cared for and whose admiration and affection he had so richly deserved.

After the War no more German Franciscans were allowed to come to South Africa as replacements, so Rome asked the Irish Franciscans to come instead. Fr Edward Sweeney was the firs Irish Franciscan to take charge to Maria Telgte, serving there from 1951-1954 during which time he built a priest’s house. He was followed by Fr John Berchmans, who was at the mission from 1954-1956.

Politics caused an unexpectedly dramatic change at the mission in the 1950’s , again for the worse. The Government decided to move the Makoba location ( African village) which was situated near the mission to a distant place among the mountains and to give their land to white farmers. These people had no transport and living several kilometres from Maria Telgte, it now became extremely difficult to attend Mass, particularly during the severe winters when there are heavy falls of snow and very low temparatures. As a result Maria Telgte now became a mission without people to serve.

(Note of explanation on the Government’s action: This move was in accordance with the South African Group Areas Act on 1950, and I quote a definition from the Oxford South African Pocket Dictionary. “A group area is an area set aside by legistation, usually for a single population group, e.g White , Black, Coloured (mixed race), Asian, etc).
When this move occured it now appeared that Maria Telgte mission had lost its purpose of existence, so Fr O’Byrne urged Bishop McBride to close the mission. The spiritual needs of the people were seen to by the priest at Franklin, which was the nearest Catholic church. A sad situation – frin 1956-1960 Maria Telgte had no priest.

Then in 1959 Fr John Kerr arrived from Ireland among a group of young priests and in 1960 was sent to the derelict mission. The first impression of Maria Telgte would have caused a less determined man to get away from it quickly. The church and other buildings in disrepair and worst of all, the number of practising Catholics was down to half. However Fr John rose to the challenge, rolled up his sleeves and got down to work. He had lived all his life in a town, so knew nothing about farming, but he soon learned.

As he himself said on surveying the dismal situation: “Maria Telgte has retained something – that atmosphere of peace and serenity, noticed and commented on by all who visit here. For after all, Maria Telgte has tradition.

He did not waste time, but immediately started to put things in order. The fences were repaired, a tractor and truck were bought, stormwater drains were dug, the church and houses were repaired and painted. He also concentrated on missionary work, which soon bore fruit – by Christmas 1961 Fr John was overjoyed to see the church full to overflowing. Then in 1963 Bishop McBride confirmed 200 people.

Next Fr John turned his attention to the school which had stoon empty and unused for eight years. In July 1964 the first six classes with 60 pupils became the nucleus of the farm school. By January 1968 Standard 5 was added and in 1972 the rooms of the former convent were renovated and became dormitories for the boarders. (In South Africa the school year runs from January to December).

The peace and tranquillity provided an ideal background for running couses during the holidays, also the buildings could accommodate large groups. Catechists and Chiro youth frequently used this venue for training and spent many happy days there. In 1973 during the December holidays a Christian circumcision of males is an important custom which signifies the transition into manhood and by doing it in the Christian   context incorporates the custom into the Faith.   The Christian circumcision shool has becaome an annual event up to the present (1995).

Although Maria Telgte has been staffed by Irish missinaries since 1951, the connection with the German shrine at Telgte in Germany has never been severed. It was a happy event in 1962 when two theological students from Telgte paid a visit to the mission and both eventually came to South Africa after their ordinations, working in the Aliwal diocese. No doubt as a result of this visit, donations were subsequently sent to the mission on two occasions. Substantial donations were received from Ireland on Fr John’s home visits, and these helped finance the construction of a large irrigation dam completed in 1973.

The school in the meantime flourished and grew, so the need for houses for staff, teachers and their families and the labourers became more urgent, so Fr John had more accommodation provided for them.

From his arrival at Telgte in 1960 with little knowledge of agriculture, Fr John became an efficient farmer and is well-liked in the Swartberg community. In the 1970’s he won prizes for his livestock on the Kokstad Show. He has had to contend with the harsh climate, which includes frequent droughts, occasional floods, hail, severe frost and heavy snowfalls in winter.

His most important focus has always been his parishoners, who are attracted by his warm and open, friendly manner which invites trust and confidence. They are also impressed by his dedication to his God, the Church and his people.

Progress has been made over the years in drawing souls to God as can be seen here. In 1967 at Easter 500 people received communion, while at Easter 1974, 94 children and adults were baptised and 130 received First Holy Communion. More recently at Easter 1993, 54 people were baptised, 12 couples were married and 30 children and adults received First Communion . In 1994 our new and well-liked Bishop, William Slattery confirmed 83 candidates.

In his mission work, Fr John has been ably and loyally assisted by various catechists, on of whom, John Mtolo, worked with him for 25 years and died in 1974. Another catechist deserving special mention was Henry Nkabani, who appears in 1960 black and white photograph of the original high altar in the church. The third catechist mentioned by name was Andreas Moholi, who died in 1970.

In the latter 1970’s Fr John suffered poor health, somewhat exacerbated by the severe Swartberg winters. However he has since recovered and in 1995 still serves at Telgte with his usual good humour and conscientiousness.

(4) The Sisters of Maria Telgte
The sisters played an important part in the life of the mission, arriving there in 1897. Three Precious Blood sisters were sent there, with Sr Dionysia as acting Superior. The following year a suitable convent was built for them. Later in 1936 a new convent was built, which was attached to the church.

Some of the sisters who taught at the school:

– Sr Editha Buzan, who later became principal of the Oxford Centre at Neubaken in Germany
– Sr Innocentia Kreuz.
– Sr Bona Kutzmann.
– Sr Hildegunda Obermaier, who replaced Sr Bona on the latters transfer to Hardernberg in 1932.
– Sr Bernadette Mtolo, who had attended the school at Maria Telgte as a pupil.
– Sr Rose Kheswa, who was born at the mission and did her schooling there.

The chief duties of the Precious Blood Sisters were the running of the school and hostel. They also taught hand and fibre-work, did some nursing and helped the people in various ways. Parish work and catechetics were also part of their work, as well as farm work and gardening. The sisters also kept house for the missionary pernonnel.

The sisters were of particular help during the war years (World War 1) when Fr Innocenz and his steward Bro Andreas were interned. They took Care of the farm, while Fr Andrew Ngidi, an African priest, saw to spiritual matters.

When the Trappists left Maria Telgte in 1935, the precious Bood Sisters remained and carried on with their work. The last sister to leave the mission was Sr Elfleda Matzer, who stayed until 1954, for the last 6 months entirely on her own. The main reason for Sr Elfleda’s departure was because he r order was unable to free any sisters to join her, so she went back to Mariannhill. Fr Berchmans arrived after she had left.

Three of the sisters died and were buried at Maria Telgte. Their names were:
– Sr M Appolonia ackermann, born 28/7/ 1854 died 29/3/1910
– Sr M Priska Rundel, born 10/2/1866 died 18/7/1922
– Sr M Bennonia Wohl, born 1880 died 23/4/1949

Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
When Fr John arrived at the mission in 1960, he was accompanied by three sisters of the Franicscan Missionaries of Mary, who prepared the house for him. These sisters had hoped to take over the mission and set up a novitiate for African girls. However, the law then in force (since changed) forbade the setting up of a boarding school for aFricans in a white area, so thsi plan could not be realised. There were no sisters at Maria Telgte for 12 years after they left.

Sisters of the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart. In 1972 these sisters requested a foundation at Maria Telgte, which was approved by Bishop McBride and after their arrival at the mission the made their promises in the presence of the Bishop, Fr John and the Parishioners.

The sisters were involved with the school and two sisters opened the Gugulethu Domestiv Economy School, with Srs Gertrude and Agnes teaching the girls. In 1978 two rondavels (round huts) were converted into a kitchen for the Gugulethu school and a new stove installed for th pupils. In 1980 all 10 pupils passed their final examinations.

Parish life at the mission was another of the sisters’s concerns and when Fr John went on overseas vacation in 1978 Maria Telgte was run by the sisters, who had been given permission to distribut Holy Communion at all places, including the outstations. Other priests came periodically to celebrate Mass while Fr John was away.

Staff changes among the sisters occurred fairly frequently, as they were needed elsewhere and other sisters replaced them at the mission. Sr Catherine , the Provincial of the Daughters of Charity visited the sisters regularly and in 1990 Sr Cristina Nombuyiselo Mzityana, who had been baptised at Maria Telgte was professed as a Daughter of Charity at St Xaviers.

The names of the Daughters of Charity sisters mentioned in the mission chronicle who served there, are:
Sr Getrude
Sr Agnes
Sr Vianney
Sr Egbert
Sr Alice Marie
Sr Julia N Dube
Sr Constantia Kumalo
Sr M Theresia
Sr Marie Therese
Sr Christina Nombuyiselo Mzityana

Died at Maria Telgte Sr Marie Therese, 1992. Buried at Sisters’ head house in Durban.

The last mention of the sisters is made in a mission chronicle entry, dated January 1993: The sisters did not return to the mission after the Christmas break. No reason was given. The Parish council was later told by Fr John that the sisters would return at some future date. This message was given to Fr John by the outgoing Provincial, Sr Catherine. The Council decided at a meeting that it would be better if the sisters return at the end of the year, December 1993. It is now 1995 and the sisters have not yet returned.

(5) Final Summary

In the past 100 years at Maria Telgte many priests, brothers and sisters have worked in the Master’s vineyard not for glory or personal recognition, but for love of God and in joyful obedience to His will. Often their work has been discouraging and the people sometimes ungrateful, there has been loneliness and physical hardship, setbacks enough to daunt people of the world, but what comes shining through from beginning to end in this account of a mission’s endeavours are the qualities of tenacity and joyful dedication.

Sources of Information

i.       Interview with Fr John Kerr, priest in charge , Maria Telgte Mission.
ii.      Mission Chronicle 1895-1995.
iii.     Fr Marcel Dischl’s book – Transkei for Christ, 1982.
iv.     Sr Antonie Keuper CPS, Ixopo, South Africa.
Information from Precious Blood Sister’s Archives.