St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish – Kokstad
1884 – 1996
Index to Contents:
1. St Patrick’s Cathedral
OMI ERA – 1884 – 1932 – Pg 1-23
Mariannhill Era – 1923 – 1935 – Pg 24 – 43
Bavarian – 1935 – 1947 – Pg 43-49
Irish – 1935 Present – Pg 50 end
2. St Anthony’s Complex 1955 present – Pg 115-117
3. Bhongweni Church (Uganda Martyrs’ Mission) Kokstad 1955 – Pg118 – 123
5. Sources of Information.
St Patricks Parish – Kokstad – 1884
First Parish Priest (1884-1886)
Fr John Nicholas Meyer OMI was installed in 1884 as the parish priest and on 31st August that year his first baptism was recorded in the baptismal register. Fr Meyer remained in Kokstad until July 1886.
Fr Francis Howlett OMI (1886-1905 and 1910-1919)
In 1885 Fr Howlett came to Kokstad as a Brother, but completed his studies towards the priesthood while he was in Kokstad and was ordained in Durban in January 1886 and celebrated his first Mass on that day. In August Fr Howlett came to Kokstad and became pastor of the town and district until 1905, when he was transferred to Umtata. He later did a further spell in Kokstad, which will be mentioned later.
Church Bazaar 1887
The Kokstad advertiser refers to a bazaar to be held by the parishioners of Sst Patrick’s church.
A bazaar is being held by the parishioners of St Patrick’s to enclose a cementery for the Catholic denomination.
Fr Howlett will greatly appreciate subsriptions of any kind… As members of the Roman Catholic church are the most generous of all religious bodies in aiding any project connected with church work, no doubt a liberal response will now be made.
In a later issue of the newspaper, it was mentioned that the bazaar, held on 24th December 1887, raised a most gratifying amount of ‘over $175′. The parishioners must have rejoiced at this success!
The Parish welcomes the Holy Cross Sisters – 1888
The good sisters arrived by ox-wagon on the 16th July 1888 to a great welcome by the parishioners of St Patrick’s. Fr Howlett moved out of the priest’s house, a small four roomed house, and gave this to the sisters as accommodation, while the sacristy of the church became his home.
Up to this time, Fr Howlett had used a partitioned off section of the church as a school, where he taught 35 European children. On their arrival, the sisters took over the children and the boys were taught behind a wooden partition in the church. The arrangements were of necessity rather makeshift, as no funds were available for the building of a proper school.
1889 – Confirmation By Bishop Jolivet OMI
The 12th April 1889 must have been a very auspicious occasion for the new little parish, when the Bishop confirmed several people in St Patrick’s church. (On the previous page is a copy of a watercolour painting of the interior of the church where the confirmation took place. The statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady now stand in the former Sisters chapel of the Cathedral).
More about the Sisters New School
Also in the same year, the Advertiser (Kokstad Advertiser) mentioned the convent which had opened with 30 pupils and were increasing in numbers. One of the special features was the teaching of music. Fr Howlett said he intended to take an active part in the tuition of boys at the school. The school Fr Howlett started was known as St Patrick’s Primary and the sisters took it over from him. The school provided a much-needed facility in educating the local European children.
Raising Funds for the School
Obviously with a small Catholic community still paying for the new church which had cost $12,000, there was very little finance available for the school. It was therefore necessary for Fr Howlett and Mother Philothea to go to Europe on a fund-raising drive. It is not mentioned how much they were able to get, but as the school started growing, it would seem the people in Europe had given something.
In the finance book from 1884-1990 are amounts given by the parishioners towards the Sunday collections, stole fees and cemetery, as well as money received from the Bishop, and are meticulously recorded:
Social Visit by Bishop Jolivet – 1896
Although it was hard work in the pioneering days of the Kokstad church, there was a great deal more time to enjoy things in life. This visit by Bishop Jolivet took place on Boxing Day Feast of St Stephen) and the Convent chronicler made detailed comments on the occasion.
He came by postcard and was escorted triumphantly into town, where at the entrance of the church a pretty arch had been erected and the paths decorated. Benediction was given immediately after the Bishop’s arrival.
The parishioners held a party in the Bishop’s honour in a schoolroom, with about 100 people attending, including the children. There was a wonderful Christmas spead provided by the ladies committee and the schoolroom was adorned with flags of various nations with illuminated scrolls and mottoes in English, French and Latin worked by the sisters. The choir sang “Welcome to our Bishop when he entered the room. Fr Howlett presented Bishop Jolivet with a beautifully framed and illuminated address, with the Bishop’s coat of arms and his motto: In Cruce Salus. This was followed by a musical concert, with Sr Marcellina at the piano.
The Bishop left Kokstad by postcart on Sunday evening and was once again well escorted to Brooks’Nek, some 8 km.from the town. When they were receiving his parting blessing the Bishop remarked that when next he visited Kokstad he hoped to be ushered into town by the whistle of the Iron Horse (the train – as yet the railway line had not reached Kokstad).
Fr Howlett’s Transfer From Kokstad
In 1905 Fr Howlett was transferred to Umtata, where he remained for 5 years. He was very sad about leaving and wrote a letter to the Advertiser as follows:
It is with the deepest regret that I part with my East Griqualand friends, from whom i have receive nothing but kindness for over 20 years… I am proud to claim amongst my special friends two grand old veterans in the missionary fields, the Rev Canon Adkins and the Rev Murray.
Fr Verulet, OMI (1905-1906)
Fr Howlett was succeeded by Fr Verulet, who remained only for a year.
Fr Gourlay, OMI (1907-1910)
Fr Gourlay, by all accounts a fiery Frenchman who didn’t quite understand the Irish, took Fr Verulet’s place. As Fr Gourlay was assiduous in keeping up the Chronicle, there is a good deal of interesting information during his term of office.
March 1907 marked the beginning of Lent, and he had much to say about the Irish way of marking this liturgical season, none too complimentary. It was hard for the missionaries in the early times and very lonely, so this may partially explain the comments.
The next big feast to deserve a mention was Christmas. On Christmas Eve a Midnight Mass was held in the church and unlike the previous year, without any interruptions. Intriguingly enough, the nature of the interruptions were not mentioned.
In April 1908 the clearing of the Catholic cementery took place in earnest, as Fr Gourlay had the previous Sunday discovered a Catholic hunting hares with his dogs. Subsequently it is mentioned that the particular gentlemen ws put to work clearing the tenacious black wattles and replacing them with microcarpus trees. A later note on the microcarpus trees indicates that they were growing well. The cemetery was cleared just in time for Fr Gourlay’s first funeral which took place on the 18th May. The deceased was a Mrs.Cole, who died after a long illness.
Three children of the parish, Michael Lambert, Coley Crossen and Litti Kedien made their First Communion on Corpus Christi Sunday, June 1907 and the following year Bishop Delalle, successor to Bishop Jolivet, confirmed 15 candidates in the Kokstad church on the 15th May. A one-day mission preached by Fr M Henry, took place on the 23rd March 1908.
Durban Hospital Rules – 1908
A copy of these rules was included in the finance book and, just as a matter of interest, I reproduce a copy below:-
Fr Gourlay and the Pope’s Jubilee, September 1909.
The St Patrick’s congregation collected L4 0.0 towards an offering for the Pope and subsequently put up His Holiness’s picture in the church. Then in October this energetic priest organised a start on the grotto in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes, to whom he had a great devotion.
The size of his parish area
Fr Gourlay did not only have to see to the spiritual needs of Kokstad, but also places like Matatiele (75 km), Lusikisiki, Cedarville, Riverside, Good Hope, etc and he had no time to be idle. However, no doubt his evenings were very lonely and the occasional visitor was very welcome, as an item in his diary bears out: on my return I found Fr Nongineu OMI of Durban who came here for a change. The presence of this good Father visitor broke the loneliness of Kokstad. Fr Mongineux stayed for 10 days and being able to speak in his own language for a change must have done Fr Gourlay a power of good.
Bishop’s Pastoral letter – February 1910
Fr Gourlay read out the Bishop’s pastoral letter on the 13th February and it caused, as he noted: a little commotion and opened the eyes of the spoiled little congregation. However this was almost the last comment in his diary, as something unforeseen happened as we see below.
Fr Howlett (Umtata) in Poor Health – February 1910
Later that month Fr Gourlay received a letter from the Bishop to say that Fr Howlett was very ill and needed 2 months’ complete rest, after which he would return to Kokstad and take up his duties again. Fr Gourlay would go to Umtata and take charge of the mission, farm, sisters and children while Fr Howlett was on sick leave.
Last Note in Fr Gourlay’s Diary in Kokstad
Dr Kolbe arrived here unexpectedly to give a special course of lectures to some of the Catholic teachers in Kokstad. He intends to spend a month here. This must have aboo to Fr Gourlay, providing him with much-needed company.
No further mention is made of Fr Gourlay and one hopes that he was happier in Umtata.
Return of Fr Howlett (1910-1919)
His return to Kokstad was the cause of great celebration among his parishioners, where he was greatly loved and known in town people of other denominations for his gentleness and generosity. Fr Howlett developed a firm friendship with the local doctor, an Anglican, and many lively discussions they had on a variety of topics.
The daughter of this doctor, now in her late eighties, remembers one occasion when as a young girl she accompanied her father on a social visit to Fr Howlett. She was wearing a pinafore over her dress as the fashion dictated, and Fr Howlett gave her a pinny full of boudoir biscuits, much to her delight.
In the Diocesan chronicle it was noted how the good priest became the helper and friend of the congregation.
The Advertiser also referred to Fr Howlett as one of the most beloved priests any community could ever have. High praise indeed. Not only as a parish priest, but also as a missionary was he universally liked and respected, but his superiors gave him high praise.
Bishop Jolivet valued his unstinting hard work too and the Bishop himself was always quick to give praise where it was due, wrote in a letter: If I had six or seven missionaries like Fr Howlett, a good religious and a zealous missionary, I would be happy. (From Jolivet’s correspondence – letters despatched to Soullier, Pietermaritzburg, Dec 6,1893).
Fr Howlett’s Illness and Death – 1919
His health had not been good for some years and although Fr Howlett valiantly continued his work for as long as possible, in March 1919 he had to take sick leave and went to Durban, where he went to St Augustine’s Sanatorium (now hospital) and died on the 29th August. His parish went into mourning for their beloved pastor and friend.
Such was the esteem of his parishioners that when St Patrick’s Cathedral was built in 1924, one of the large stained glass windows and the high altar were both dedicated to his memory. In the priests’ Chronicle there is a mention of the fact taht even in 1962, the older generation of Catholics remembered him and treasured his gentleness and kindness towards all sections of the community.
Overleaf I include a copy of a bill from the Irish Rosary, which was addressed to Fr Howlett and the following page a reproduction of the good priest himself. He certainly lived only to do God’s work on Earth.
Fr A Tanguy OMI, (1919-1920)
Fr Tanguy took over the parish when Fr Howlett died, but he remained only for a year.
Fr Kelly OMI, (1920-1923)
Fr Kelly succeeded Fr Tanguy and during his tenure, 25 pupils in the school for Coloured children, which later became known as Sr Mary’s, were baptised by him as converts to Catholicism.
He was the last Oblate priest to serve in the Mount Currie Ecclesiastical Territory, as Kokstad and surrounding area were taken over by the Mariannhill Fathers under the Mariannhill Vicariate which had been formed in 1922, with Bishop Adalbero Fleischer having jurisdiction over Kokstad.
This was the end of the OMI Era
The Beginning of the Mariannhill Era 1923-1935.
Fr Gereon Stach, CMM (1923-1928)
In Sr McDonough’s book, Wordless Witnesses, it is mentioned that Fr Stach started mission work among the Africans in Kokstad, and in 1926 when additional buildings were erected on the premises already occupied by the Coloured School in Wylde Road, (about half a kilometre from the Kokstad Convent), Fr Stach wanted to start a school for Africans next to the Coloured school, but he encountered difficulties and was unable to do this. Neither the Coloured community or the Sisters wish to have African and Coloured schools on the same premises.
Building of St Patrick’s Cathedral , 1924
It was during Fr Stach’s time that the Cathedral was built. It was decided to make it much larger and handsome than the original little church not because the church was not adequately big, but because Kokstad was worthy of a more noble building.
The new church was built around the old church which stood until the new building was completed and was only demolished when the larger St. Patrick’ s with its twin towers was externally finished. On the architect’s plans are broken lines indicating the size of original church. When the old church was dismantled, I am told, the older catholics eagerly gathered around to take home a brick as a souvenir,from the church their husbands or fathers had helped to build .
The arcchitect and builder was a father and son team klement malinaric senior and junior .The elder was architect and I reprduce his beautifully drawn plans . These men came from Yugoslavia and had been engaged on various buildings in Kokstad, but this was their most ambitious by far .They went on to build the convent at Aliwal North as well .
RAISING OF FUNDS
While the plans were being drawn up and preparations made for the building, the sisters worked energetically with the Catholis and their friends in Kokstad and elsewhere to raise funds . The major portion of the finance was provided by the Holy Cross Head office in Menzingen, Switzerland, so because of their support, the church became known particularly in Protestant circles as the ‘Convent Church’.
However, the parishioners were very gennerous in their contributions and pald for the magnificent stained glass windows and the church furnishings. Non-Catholic residents in Kokstad also gave and two gentlemen who most remain anonymous donated a bell and a pocket of cement – and these are only the donations I know of .
LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE
On the 27th February 1924,BishopAdallbero Fleischer,CMM of Mariannhill, under whose juridiction Kokstad now came,blessed and laid the foundation stone of the cathedral, which is on the right side of the double entrance doors. (See following page for photo of Bishop Adalbero) .
KLEMENT MALINARIC SENIOR AND JUNIOR
Page 27-29 consist of architectural drawings by Klement Milinaric, showing the exquisite attention to detail and oldfashioned craftmanship. I have included the measurements in metres to give some idea of the size of the cathedral.
Explanations are given on each page. On page 30 is a tribute to the younger Klement the builder by a friend, Mrs. Landmark, now in her eighties and still living in Kokstad.
THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS
Without doubt the most striking and the largest stained glass window in the Cathedral is that of St Patrick, which is positioned above the double doors into the church. This window as well as the two long windows in the sanctuary were crafted by the German firm of Dr Didtmann of Linnich, Germany, purveyors to His Holiness to the Pope. This window measures 3 metres by 3 metres and contains much intricate detail and medallions in each corner. The St Patrick’s window is still regarded by the Dr Didtmann firm as the very best example of their craftsmanship. The window was donated by Mr and Mrs Kennedy in memory of their two sons, Arthur and Kenneth, who died in the First World War.
At the back of the sanctuary, on the right, is a stained glass window of the Agony of Jesus in the Garden, which is dedicated to Fr Howlett by a friend – this window catches the setting sun, making the rich colours glow with life. An interesting detail at the bottom of the scene is a Scottish thistle. On the left is an equally beautiful window of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, a very appealing representation, with the lamb on His shoulders positively smiling. Just above the shoulder is the outline of a small Dutch windmill, visible only close-up. This window was dedicated to Sr Theresia and Mr. V Dold and donated by the Convent and Mrs. V Dold. One wonders where the Dutch connection comes in – Sr Theresia perhaps? No-one seems to know.
High up, close to the ceiling is a set of three smaller windows. In the main body of the church, also high up are small red and brue small round windows. Above the pews are four long amber-tinted windows, 3 metres in length, with a design at the top. These give the church a light, airly and welcoming feeling.
The above photograph of Klementz Malinaric, the Architect and Master Builder of our local Roman Catholic Cathedral was taken in 1924, when “Klem” (as he was affectionately known by my family) was twenty-nine years of age.
He was a frequent visitor in our home, Briarfield, 121 Ma in Street, where he spent many hours playing chess with my late father, Mr Frederick William Eddy Webb.
Always immaculate, he was a great favourite of ours, and my late twin, Marcia and I were especially proud at the age of thirteen years, when Klem, a twin on each arm, took us for walks in winter through the local plantation when snow covered the deodars, which filled Klem with nostalgia for Zagreb, Yugoslavia, his home town.
Now his name stands for all eternity on the white marble foundation stone of the Roman Catholic Church, a fitting memorial to his wonderful talent and workmanship, just as it is indelibly impressed on my mind all the way down through the arches of the years……..
The large sanctuary measures 66 sq metres and there are two altars, the high altar to the rear (1.35 x2.20m and 1.80 in height). This altar is very ornate and made of faux marble with intricatedly carved and gilded ornamentation. The high altar is reached by four steps and above the tabernacle in the centre is a brass crucifix, which catches the morning sunlinght.
The main altar, much plainer in style is positioned in front of the high altar and measures 2m x 70cm. The flooring is of small wooden parquet squares, as is the area in the body of the church an is lovingly polished by the voluntary church cleaners every week. There are runners in red carpeting in front of both altars as well as the altar steps.
The sanctuary lamp, a pendant one, is of brass and is placed on the right-hand side of the high altar.
Recessed into the wall behind the high altar is a statue of the Sacred Heart surrounded by canopied pillars,the canopy being carved and gilded.
On the left front of the sanctuary is a square, plain wooden lectern, which like the main altar, does not blend in with the era of the whole church. Two steps below and left of the lectern is a tall, very lifelike statue of St Francis.
This is in keeping with the Franciscan priests who serve in the Kokstad diocese.
The Side Altars
There are two side altars, on the left being of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the right of St Joseph. Like the main altar, these altars are gilded and ornamental, with the two statues surmounted by canopied pillars. When seen close up, the face of Our Lady’s statue shows an expression of extraordinary gentleness.
The Body of the church
This measures 18 metres in length and metres wide. There are three pairs of round pillars with square bases which form Gothic arches down the length of the church and are situated in the two sied aisles.
Each of the centre pews can accommodate six people and each end of the pew is attractively carved. The side pews are smaller. There are eight tall windows, each 3 metres in height and tinted pale amber – this giving the church an airy, spacious look. The ceiling is plain white, with a band of light grey around the outer edges.
In the original plan the sacrity was very small and was behind the high altar, being a semi-circular space ending at the rear wall of the buiding. The width was 5.70 m across and the semi-circular side 9.60 and very narrow, with one built in cupboard at the back and very awkward, low cupboards built into the back of the high altar, which is made of wood.
The present sacristy runs along the depth of the sanctuary and measures 8.50 m by 2.85 with substantial wardrobes, parquet flooring and a red strip carpet. It was added on in the 1940’s during the time of Fr Antonine Kelly, to allow several priests to vest at the same time and also accommodates the altar servers very adequately. There is also an outside door and two long Gothic style windows let in plenty of light, being north-facing.
On small platforms on either side of the communion rail are smallish statues, to the left of the Sacred Heart and to the right of Our Lady – these are of historical importance, as they were in the original St Patrick’s Church built in 1884 (see copy of church interior).
The Body of the church
From the altar step to the back of the church the measurement is 26 metres and is in width. There are four pairs of large round pillars with lead up to Gothic arches near the ceiling and are placed in the two side aisles. The pillars are made of soft sandstone from Matatiele and are starting to crumble (the same problem which besets the large exterior sandstone blocks and the blocks supporting the copper roofs of the spires).
The wide main aisle and the two side aisle are carpeted with patterned red carpeting, and the kneelers are padded with red leather.
On the left side of the church, near the back, is a carved representation of the Pieta, which was donated by former parishioners.
The choir loft is at the back of the church and is 4.60 m in depth and wide, forming the foyer area. There are two double confessionals, one on each side and above the back doors is the coat of arms of one of the Bishops in beaten copper – I have not been able to ascertain which one.
The wooden font stands about one metre high and is beautifully carved in wood, inside the entrance of the church.
The large and solid double doors are 2.40 high and 1.70 wide, with two amber tinted Gothic windows, one on either side of them.
High up and close to the ceiling are eight round blue and white windows, about one metre in diameter, which can be seen at their best from the choir loft. The choir loft came be reach by two external staircases and is steeply raked, with heavy wooden pews. From here there is a stunning view of the altar area – I include a photograph taken from this vantage point.
The atmosphere in the church is tranquil and conductive to prayer and there is always a faint adour of incense, as Holy Hour with benediction is held every Friday. To me, this is a church which is comfortable and welcoming.
The Flower Room
This room leads off the rear left side of the sanctuary and has an outside door. In this room, about 2m x 4m is a magnificently carved baptismal font painted white, which I am told came from Italy. On the top are the figures of Jesus and St John the Baptist. It is the much-expressed opinion of many parishioners that it is a pity this font is put here out of sight and its beauty cannot be appreciated by the whole congregation.
I would say that the interior of the church has now been adequately described.
Information on three historical photographs brought to the Priests’
House – 24th October 1996
1. Laying the foundation stone of St Patrick’s Cathedral by Bishop Adalbero Fleischer, whose coat of arms can just be seen on the scaffolding pole in the centre. Unfortunately the original photograph, though of good quality did not photograph well. In the centre is the space where the double doors are now, above which is a triangular depiction in beaten copper of Jesus giving St Peter the keys and the words below: ‘Tu est Petros’. Through the spaces on the left of the ‘doors’ the scaffolding is visible. Through the large arches to left and right, which now lead to the bases of the two towers the outside walls of the Cathedral can be seen. I am rather sorry that the smaller 1884 church cannot be seen here. The frontage of the first floor of the cathedral is made of large, soft sandstone blocks which where quarried in Matatiele.
2. St Patrick’s Cathedral Interior, 1924.
There are decorations on the wall, which might suggest the photograph was taken at time the Cathedral was officially opened. The interior appears to be rather smaller than at present – perhaps more pews have been added over the years.
These pews are the originals. The stations of the cross and the statues of St Patrick and St Joseph were both in the original 1884 church. There is a wrought – iron altar rail, which has since been removed. The statue of the Sacred Heart within the ornate canopy is shown here as part of the high altar, with an arched partition which formed the initial sacristy. Two round windows can be seen close to the ceiling and which are now positioned in the right wall of the sanctuary.
3. Former Sisters’ Chapel When the Cathedral was built.
To the left a set of stained glass windows can be seen – it is one of three sets of windows in the chapel. The altar rail is the same, as are the statues on left and right. However, directly facing the chapel are the large stained glass windows of the Good Shepherd and the Agony in the Garden as well as the crucifixion windows – probably they were placed in this excellent cantage point for the sisters, as the Holy Cross Mother House had financed the bulk of the building costs. These windows were moved in the 1940’s when the new and larger sacristy was added (see floor plan of the Cathedral). On the left a door into the arched partition can be clearly seen. The tall candlesticks are on the high altar, but not the statue of Our Lady.
These photographs are very exciting, as they fill in many details.
Exterior of St Patrick’s Cathedral
St Patrick’s is undoubtedly the tallest and most striking building in Kokstad. With its soaring twin spires and gracious Western European architecture.
The building is situated in Hope Street, with a lovely view of Mount Currie which overlooks Kokstad. The cathedral is placed well back from the street and is reached by a path and steps with a paved area in front of the entrance. A well tended garden of flowers, lawns and two tall palms make a delightful setting.
The large double doors are made of wood, having three long horizontal hinges painted black and the doorknob is of ornamental brass. Above the doors is a beaten copper triangular depiction of Jesus and Peter, with the quotation: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock…’ On the left, near the top is an engraving of a large church and the artist has put his name on the right bottom corner: Bro Knopfl, Mariannhill.
Two amber-tinted windows are at left and right of the doors. Beyond them on either side are the bases of the towers, with arches leading into the porches. In each arch there is a pair of solid wrought-iron ornamental gates painted black. In each there is a steep staircase leading to the choir-loft and bell-ropes, two on the left side, one on the right. There are solid doors leading into the church, one on each side.
Above the copper plaque are pillars on either side, with a decorative flower pot containing a sunflower each. The St Patrick’s window is above the flower pots, with a wire mesh guard over it, as with the other windows, as hailstorms are common in Kokstad and they need to be protected.
There is a small pointed gable above the window, with the letters IHS in red glass just below it and when lit up at night this inscription is very noticeable.
They are indentical in shape and detail and I will start the description from the top. There is a large ornamental cross at the top, with a sharp steeple, its roof made of heavy copper. Below are two window-shaped apertures, Gothic in style with red breeze-bricks in the centre – ideal for pigeons to get in and out, many of which make their home in the towers. We occasionally have problems with pigeons flying in the small top windows if they have been left open.
The brickwork below the tower roof is painted terracotta red, point in white and slightly lower down on the tower is a slightly larger window, solid glass panes painted white with black Gothic-shape lines to suggest multiple panes. Another window comes below this and it is amber-tinted stained glass. I would add that there are four windows on each level, one on each side of the tower. Below there windows is a groundfloor level which is built completely in sandstone blocks.
The outside walls of the church, lengthwise, consist of various kinds of building materials. Starting from ground level there are three rows of large, hard stone blocks which to my inexperienced eye may be of dolorite. Above that it is of plastered brick, using rough-cost cement and painted a dark terracotta which has faded over the years.
Along the length of the building are thirteen buttresses, each painted in pale grey. Six stained glass windows follow, with out jutting concrete window sills. They would seem to be indentical, but when the inside lights are on, it is noticeable that the ornamental section at the top of the sacristy windows are slightly plainer. Other that this, there is no other indication that the sacristy was built at a different time.
The main roof is very high, with the side roof on the right being at a slightly lower level. The roofs are of corrugated iron painted black and needing painting.
Behind the sanctuary area – Exterior
Rounding the top corner, there is an outside door from the sacristy. The exterior back wall is not rounded, but has four small corners. Then one comes to a very small mordern section, glassed in and with metal doors, leading to the flower room where the lovely baptismal font stands in its neglect.
It is here that the church is joined to the Convent building.
Left Exterior of the church
The architecture is identical to the right side, but there are only four stained glass windows, as the sisters chapel joins the main building here. I will include a photo of this section later.
Measurements of Exterior.
Fr Gereon Stach was parish priest when the Cathedral was built, but nothing more was mentioned of him after this.
Please note that the description of the Cathedral is from its present appearance. I have no idea what colour scheme was used when it was built.
The priest’s Chronicle was not kept up after this event i.e from 1925 to 1959, so the information gained is very scarce.
However, I was able to find two pictures of the priest’s house at different times.
Priest in charge after Fr Gereon Stach
Fr Raphael Boehmer CMM too over from Fr Stach in 1928 and went on until 1935, when the Mariannhill priests left and the Bacarian Franciscans arrived.
Arrivals in 1935
Frs Lucas, Guido, Gottschalk, Fr Maximilian, Hanno,Severin, Fr Magnobon and Bro Dositheus.
Fr Canisius, Brs.Juniper, Macarius and Quintus.
Fr Gerhard, Bros Octavius, Leontius and Zaccheus.
Kokstad Advertiser 1935 – Announcement of their arrival
Arrival of Irish Franciscans – 1947
After the War there was difficulty in getting new German Franciscans for South Africa, so an appeal went to Rome and as a result Ireland sent out new young priests to the Diocese. Many of the Germans were then moved to Zululand, Northern Natal. More Irish Franciscans arrived in the 1950’s, right up to 1959.
Pastors & Assistants in St Patrick’s Parish after 1935 (All OFM)
1. Lucas Puerstinger – July 1935 – 1946
At Uganda Martyrs’ – 1946 – 1959
Died – 16th October 1972
2. Alypius Mangold -1946 – 1949
3. Antonine Kelly – 1949 – 1961
4. Germain Mannion – 1961 – 1982
(Bruno Byrne at Uganda Martyrs
Baptist O’Toole Coloured people)
5. Wilfrid Byrne – 1982 – 1994
Assisted by Neil McGovern – 1990 – 1994
6. Fr Larry O’Shea – 1994
Bernard Hall – 1995 – Jan 1997
Items of Note:
St Anthoy’s Hall.
Bishop McBride laid the foundation for this Hall in 1955, for the use of the Coloured people. I will deal with this in greater detail at a later stage.
– Uganda Martyrs’ Mission Church. It was originally founded in 1933 and a bigger church built in 1955. I will also mention this church in its entirety later.
Section Mission from the Priests’Chronicle: 1925 – 1959
A New and separate Chronicle was started on the 18th October 1959
This was during the time of Bishop McBride and I understand that Bro Octavius, one of the Bavarian Franciscans, was the Chronicler. He was very conscientious in mentioning anything of importance and never omitted any detail – he kept the Chronicle well.
18th October 1959 – Archbishop W P Whelm OMI of Bloemfontein visited Kokstad.
Severe Earth Tremor in Kokstad
The residents of Kokstad experienced a severe earth tremor on the 20th December the same year, which frightened many. This natural phenomenon occurs in the town from time to time, as Kokstad is situated at the lower end of the Great Rift Valley. I have personally experienced an earth tremor here and the deep lower rumble, accompanied by crockery rattling on the shelves is somewhat scary.
Canonical Visitation of Friars in Kokstad Diocese.
From time to time the Provincial of the Irish Province of Franciscans visits the Friars here and in May 1961 Bishop McBride went to meet the very Rev.Fr Celens O’Brian OFM and escort him to Kokstad, from where he visited all the Friars in the Diocese.
Departure of Fr Antonine Kelly OFM
Also during May 1961, Fr Antonine Kelly, who had been Vicar General and Procurator of the diocese as well as parish priest of St Patrick’s parish from 1949-1961, returned to Ireland. He had been very active in both capacities and the church derived great benefit from his tenure.
Fr Germain Mannion OFM
Fr Germain took over from Fr Antonine and was parish priest as St Patrick’s from 1961-1982. He had had many years’ experience in the missions and the knowledge and experience gained there served him well.
Silver Jubilee of Fr Bernadine Dore
In July 1961 Fr Bernadine, who at the time was in charge of Hardenberg mission near Matatiele, celebrated his Silver Jubilee in Kokstad. In July 1996, 25 years later, he celebrated his Golden Jubilee, truly a milestone and a joyful occasion for all. Now assisting to some extent in Cedarville, he is very deaf and going blind, but like a true soldier of Christ, he continues his work in God’s kingdom. This is one of those unsung saints who help to carry the weight of the church in South Africa and our diocese.
Bishop McBride’s unusual visitor , March 1962.
To most Bishops and priests, especially in small places, life can be hectic but also tedious at times, so someone different makes a welcome change.
This special visitor made the news in the Kokstad Advertiser, and this is what they said:
On Monday an unusual visitor flew up from Durban to pay a visit to Bishop McBride. He was Mr Jim Devlin, a former United States Officer who is in command of the U.S Missile Tracking Ships which are spread all over the world. His ship, which operateds in the Indian Ocean, had recently run a ground at Madagascar and is in Durban for repairs. One can imagine the interesting conversations which took place between these two very different men.
New House for the Bishop
Later that year it was decided to sell the large double storied house where Bishop McBride lived at the time and to build a wing on to the priests’ house for his use. No time was wasted and the foundations were dug, by August the house was built, roofed, plastered and painted and Mr Charles Bedderson, a very experienced local carpenter, laid the parquetfloors in the Bishop’s house as well as in Fr Germain’s room.
By November the building was ready for occupation. The builders were Bros. Dositheus and Masseo Gibney with a team of African and Coloured men.
St Patrick’s Dance – March 1962
In those apartheid years, the dance wa an all-White affair and that year it was held at the Balmoral Hotel. An advert in the Kokstad Advertiser went thus:
St Patrick’s Dance
Friday 16th March 1962 at 8pm
Nicholson’s Hammond Organ
Double R2 – Single R1 (incl. supper)
A very little note was added by the Chronicler: A dance was held for the Coloured people at St Anthony’s hall. Nowadays it is a multi-racial Ball with tickets at R40 each which is not considered expensive, and it is held at the Town Hall.
A Few Notes of Interest
On the 13th May Bishop McBride confirmed a group of European and Coloured adults and children at St Patrick’s cathedral. The number was not mentioned.
In June Fr Valerian went on holiday to Ireland, travelling the way most people did in the 1960’s by boat, the Union-Castle ship the Athlone Castle. Sea travel is now only for the very wealthy.
Snow fell late that year. In August, almost Spring, Mt Currie and the nearby Ingeli Mountain were covered with snow.
The first mention of Vatican II in the Chronicle. The Bishop went home to Ireland, thence to Rome to attend the Ecumenical Council.
Building St Patrick’s Hall 1962-1963
There was no hall to accommodated parishioners for any social function, so Fr Germain obtained the services of the Franciscan brothers, Dosith and Masseo, after they had completed the Bishop’s house and in September 1962, when fetching a load of building materials in Durban, Bro Dosith died during the night. Bro Masseo, with the help of Bro Juniper, continued with the masony work.
The building progresses very quickly, so that by October 1962, Mr Bedderson was able to start on the carpentry. Besides the carpentry, Mr Bedderson was responsible for the roof and roofing tiles, ceilings, floors, doors and locks. Bro Juniper did the plumbing, downpipes, guttering, toilets and sinks and Claude Hughes and Peter Forrester installed the electricity. The finishing building was something to be proud of and it has been used for many functions.
Besides the hall, there are the kitchen and projection room which was used when films were shown, toilets, committee room and a small meeting room which used to be the repository (Lorna Wicks, the parish chairperson, has now moved the repository to the back of the church, much more satisfactory).
Blessing and Official opening of the hall 5th June 1963
In the presence of a large number of parishioners, dignitaries, priests, sisters and brothers, Bishop McBride blessed St Patrick’s Hall and it was officially opened by the Mayor, Mr N. Fleming. For Fr Germain, one of his dreams had come true.
1963 – An Eventful Year
Many things happening in 1963, world-wide and in the diocese and I will briefly note some of them:
Bishop Adalbero Fleischer
The former Bishop of Mariannhill and superior while Kokstad was a Vicariate, died at Mariannhill on the 19th March 1963. He was the bishop who had laid the foundation stone of St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1924.
Death of Pope John XXIII
This was the genial Pope who had opened the windows to let in the fresh air by initiating Vatican II. He died on the 9th June after five years in office, thus proving to be much, more than just a caretaker Pope. On Sacred Heart Friday Bishop McBride celebrated a Solemn Requiem Mass for the repose of His Holiness, which was attended by the Mayor and several ministers of religion in Kokstad.
Electronic Christmas Carols 1962
Installed by Fr Germain on New Year’s Eve that year, the carols were played from eleven o’clock till midnight. Even now, 30 plus years later, they are still played and can be heard at least two streets away, bringing to all the Christmas message even if the music is somewhat scratchy now.
The New Liturgy, 1964
In May that year there was a change in the Mass liturgy in Kokstad. When the priest gave Communion to the parishioners, he said: Corpus Christi , to which the communicant replied: Amen By March 1965 the Mass was being celebrated in English, the celebrant being Fr Germain on the first occasion.
By now it was necessary to train the parishioners in all aspects of the new Liturgy, so a liturgical meeting was held at the Presbytery shortly after the first vernacular Mass, at which Fr John Vianney gave an interesting talk dealing with the first twenty articles of the Liturgical Constitution.
Interfaith Meetings Commence
No doubt the changes in the Church caused an awareness among the various churches that there was a need for interdenominational communication, so in March 1964 the first interfaith meeting took place. About 400 people gathered at the Swartberg Memorial Hall to explore church unity, and among these people were clergy and laity. The outcome was a group called Ministers Fraternal, where the ministers of religion started meeting regularly. Among the laity. Inter-faith Bible study groups sprang up.
Another meeting was held in November 1964 at the Dutch Reformed Pastor ie, where the ‘dominee’ spoke on Calvinism. This meeting was remarkable in that the Dutch Reformed Church for many years was strongly anti-Catholic, with many people regarding the Catholic church as ‘Die Roomse Gevaar’ (The Roman Danger). Clearly the spirit of reconciliation was at work in Kokstad. These meetings continued for many years and will be mentioned again later.
Language Courses for the Clergy at Lumko Institute
In June 1964 several priests of the diocese went to Lumko Mission near Queenstown, which conducted language courses for the Catholic clergy, most of whom, even now are still from overseas. The priests still go on refresher courses to keep them fluent in the various African languages.
Lumko Missiological Institute grew over the years, so it was necessary to centralise and move to Johannesburg. Lumko has printed many books on the Faith in the indigenous languages.
Brochure on the Finances of the Church in Kokstad
Fr Germain produced an elegant brochure on this subject which was distributed to the parishiners, with appeals from himself, Bishop McBride and Fr O’Toole, pastor of the Coloured community, stressing the need for generous giving.
At the time Fr Germain had various projects in mind which needed financing (the Bishop’s house, the Parish hall and in 1967, the renovation of the Cathedral).
At that stage the White and Coloured communities were still separate, with each having its own parish council, as can be seen in the pictures reproduced overleaf. I also include a photo of St Anthony’s Hall with a short history alongside. Fr Germain and Fr O’Toole are also shown.
Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary was very strong in the Kokstad diocese in the 1960’s and an Acies was held at the Cathedral in July 1964, with the elecutio being delivered by Bishop McBride.
The junior members of the Legion of Mary were treated to a party at St Patrick’s hall on the 7th December 1966, where the film ‘The Sound of Music’ was shown and greatly enjoyed.
In 1972 the annual Acies of the Legion was held at the Holy Trinity church in Matatiels, with the Curia of the Legion arriving from all parts of the district. The rosary was recited, followed by Benediction and three sermons.
The last sermon was given by Bishop McBride, who took great interest in the activities of the Legion, and I quote verbatim from the Chronicle:
The Bishop praised the Legion and asked them to continue their good work, especially that of instructing the parents of children to be baptised, attending the priest at the anointing of the sick, visiting the elderly. He also praised the young Legionaries in their acts of charity, e.g running messages for people, doing their shopping, drawing water from the well and many other deeds of mercy.
A statue of Our Lady was placed in the centre of the church and two by two the Legionaries went up to make their promises. About 800 Legionaries attended the Acies.
Several Items of Interest – 1965
Two Silver Jubilees
Frs Wilfred Byrne and Reginald Gunn were the jubilarians, with Fr Bernardine Dore OFM, the Regular Superior was the chief celebrant. It was an occasion of note, as this was the first time Holy Mass had been concelebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral, which took place on the 18th October.
Vienna Boys’ Choir
Residents of Kokstad had very seldom had a visit by the Vienna Boys’ Choir, but in 1965 they gave a recital in the Town Hall on the 30th October. The following day, being the Feast of Christ the King, the Choir sang three motets at the 9 o’clock Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, which was packed that morning – they were a singularly attentive and appreciative congregation on this occasion.
The Lenten Appeal was now presented in a new format based on that of Misereor in Germany. In January 1966 all the priests gathered at the Kokstad priest’s house to discuss this format, which had been approved by the South African Bishops’ Conference. The Church in the Kokstad diocese needs funds for seminaries, catechetist centres, mission schools, feeding schemes etc.
Plenary meetings of South African Bishops
Cardinal McCann presided over the 1966 meeting, which was held in Pretoria from the 11th to 15th July. There was much discussion in connection with implementing Vatican Council decrees into effect, and subsequently a pastoral letter was issued about these matters.
The Griqua Centenary, 1867-1967
The Griqua people, who were the first to arrive in Kokstad celebrated the centenary of their arrival in the town which they named after their Chief, Kaptyn Adam Kok III.
The Chronicler mentions that a service was held in the Griqua Independent church to mark the occasion on Sunday, 1st January 1967, and Fr Baptist O’Toole conducted the service which opened the festivities for the Griqua Centenary. It was also the first time a Catholic priest had preached in the Griqua church.
The unveiling of a bust of Kaptein Adam Kok III took place at the market square, where a large crowd of people gathered to mark the Centenary. The Mayor, Cllr.Dorning, presided. Besides the Elders of the Griqua church, Bishop McBride and various church ministers were also present. Bishop McBride said a prayer, several speeches were made, and then it was on with the festivities.
As was done in the era of segregation, Confirmation was held separately for the White and Coloured groups.
– St Mary’s Coloured School. On the 5th November Bishop McBride confirmed 52 pupils of the school.
– St Patrick’s Cathedral. On the 26th November, Bishop McBride confirmed eight European children at the 9 am Mass.
At the 11am Mass celebrated by Fr Germain, (the Pop Mass) the congregation received Holy Communion under both species.
The Interfaith meeting continued over the years and in February 1969, the group met at the Kokstad Methodist manse where Catholic, Methodist, Anglican and Dutch Reformed churches were represented. Following on the decision to study intensively the Letters of St Paul to the Corinthians, Archdeacon Lean dealth with the introduction to Corinthians.
At the following meeting in March, Rev Sinclair (Methodist) gave a commentary on the second chapter of this letter.
Pentecost Unity Service, 1969
At the March meeting a committee of priests and ministers was selected to arrange a combined service for Unity on Pentecost Sunday, which actually took place in the evening and Fr Germain preached at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church at the Evening Service on the subject, Unity of the Church to a full congregation of Anglicans. After the service, Fr Germain was invited by Archdeacon Lean for supper at the rectory.
The Unity service grew over the years and by 1992 there was a programme of services from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost with several other churches joining in. However the attendance dwindled over the years from sheer apathy and this year 1996, there was no service at all. This is a sad comment on the disunity of Christians.
More Items of Interest , 1969-70
In April 1969 all the priests of the diocese assembled at the priest’s house to vote for the Regular Superior and Delegate for the Provincial Chapter.
Feast of St Francis – 6th October 1969
The feast was celebrated with due solemnity at St Patrick’s, and all the priests of the diocese attended the Mass. This was followed by lighter matters, a golf tournament at the golf course. At lunch, which was provided by the Sisters and was greatly enjoyed by all, Fr Wilfred gave a short address.
Bi-Monthly Study Group at Priest’s House, 1970.
A group of priests met to study the Vatican II documents. This was one of a series of sessions which took place at various mission stations. At the meeting a tape of Bishop Butler’s lecture on ‘The Church, the People of God’ was played. This lecture had originally been delivered in person at the Durban winter school just a few months earlier.
Elections – National Council of Priests, 1970
In September a special meeting was called by the Vicar General to elect two delegates to the National Council of priests and to study the decisions of the Bishops’ Conference on the subject of mixed marriages.
It would seem that the Franciscans had a busy time in 1969-1970 with all their elections. However they did have a break on the feast of St Francis!
October 1970 – Parish Mission at St Patrick’s
On the evening of 12th October, Fr Alred O’Neill CP of Botswana opened the parish mission and it closed the following Sunday. Fr O’Neill left on Monday for Matatiele, where he conducted another mission.
Marie-Therese Hospital Mt Frere
Opening of the TB BLock
4th September 1969
Retracing our steps back to 1969, the Chronicler meticulously notes this event, which was attended by Bishop McBride. The official opening of the TB block and the nurses’ new dining room took place at the hospital.
Mr Muir, the Magistrate and members of the Mount Frere Village Management Board attended, and the Bishop gave an address. After this, the African nurses’ choir gave a moving rendition of the Lord is my Shepherd. The hospital Superintendent, Dr Marais praised the Sisters for their work.
Thereafter the key was handed to Dr Marais and the official opening took place.
The Bishop blessed the wards in the TB block, whereupon all present sank the hymn Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika’ which since 1999 has become the national anthem of South Africa (God bless Africa). Refreshments were then served in the nurses dining room.
Among the dignitaries present were representatives from the East London Department of Health, hospital staff and members of the hospital board, priests and ministers, Sr M Salvatori, Mother Provincial and superior and sisters at the hospital.
Donors towards the building of the hospital were acknowledged and thanked, among them being: Rome, Germany, Umtata, USA and Austria. Without their large donations the additions to the hospital would have been impossible.
Ordination of Fr Wilfrid Napier OFM – 1970
This was a great occasion for the Diocese, as Fr Napier was the first local man to be ordained a priest. In 1981 he was ordained a Bishop in Kokstad and in 1992 he became Archbishop of the Durban Archdiocese. I include an article from the Kokstad Advertiser and photos of the ordination on this page and the next.
Parish Discussion Group – 1972
A discussion group was held at the parish hall in January, something very new for St Patrick’s. Joyce Terry of the Catholic Women’s League in Pietermaritzburg and two OMI brothers from the Cedara Scholasticate near Howick started the discussion, which was greatly enjoyed by the parishioners.
Discussion Group II
As a follow-up to demonstration in January, a parish discussion group was held after Mass one February afternoon and was well-attended by parishioners. I see no further mention of the discussion group, so cannot be certain whether it continued but was not reported or whether it just faded away.
Silver Jubilee of Consecration – Archbishop Hurley OMI
As Kokstad diocese comes under the Durban Archdiocese, Bishop McBride went to the Silver Jubilee. An official public function was held on Sunday 7th May 1972. The City Hall was crowded and the Lord Mayor and Councellors, Mayors of Pinetown and Westville, Anglican Bishops, Catholic clergy and laity of all races were present at this momentous occasion.
General Session of the SA Bishops, Pretoria 7-11 February 1972
The Bishop attended the General Session, where a special message to the Catholic Church in South Africa was approved and given to the Press. Entitled ‘Call to Conscience’, this message dealt with Race Relations in South Africa. The Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Polidrini, joined the Bishops at this session.
Kokstad Chronicle – Weather Report June 1972
Kokstad, being close to the Drakensberg Mountain Range, gets bitterly cold in winter every year. In 1972 there was no report of snow, but the night temparatures were very low:
16th June – Temperature – 2F
26th June – 4F
27th June – Very cold – 7F
and heavy frost in the mornings of course.
Franciscan Community Chapter of renewal 1973
This took place at the Cathedral in April and almost all the priests of the diocese took part. The day started with Mass, morning prayer and meditation, then a sermon on the Holy Spirit.
Later there were discussions on various topics. Fr Gerry O’Reilly spoke on ‘The role of the Catechist’amd Fr Nial Hardiman talked about ‘The role of the Priest vis a vis the catechist’. All the priests felt that these talks and subsequent discussions helped to clarify many queries.
Sodality of St Anne – November 1973
Mass was concelebrated at the Cathedral for the Sodality. About 500 members of St Anne’s Sodality attended and they proudly walked in procession to the Cathedral. Frs Khumalo and Ngubane OMI and several priests of the diocese were present.
Fr Bonaventure Hinwood OFM and Fr Tony Johnstone OMI from Cedara, visited Kokstad in November 1973 and of course were asked to preach on vocations to the priesthood. I have heard Fr Bonaventure speaking and no doubt he gave an excellent sermon on that occasion.
He has been lecturing at the St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria for some years now and whenever visiting other churches he is asked to speak on the subject of vocations. He gives wonderful talks on prayer and day-retreats.
Below I include a copy of photo which appeared recently in the Southern Cross, of Fr Bonaventure.
Confirmation at St Patrick’s Cathedral
In 1973 Bishop McBride confirmed 35 Coloured children from St Mary’s School on the Feast of Christ the King and in 1976 he confirmed 10 people at St Patrick’s cathedral.
Meeting of Missionaries of the Diocese
A meeting took place in Kokstad, where Fr John interview all the catechists in the diocese to ascertain their views on church matters and the best means of teaching Christian doctrine to adults and children. The catechists also requested higher salaries and asked for help with their teaching.
Silver Jubilee of Bishop J E McBride OFM
On the 11th July, 1974, Bishop McBride celebrated his Silver Jubilee. A special Jubilee Mass was said in St Patrick’s Cathedral at 11am at which two Bishops, Bishop A Schmidtremm of Marianhill and Bishop H Karlen, CMM of Umtata, as well as Monsignor Banks OFM, Prefect Apostolic of Volksrust and eight priests concelebrated. His Grace, Archbishop Hurley OMI of Durban , was in the Sanctuary.
Dr R van der Linden was the Organist and a choir of Coloured Children from St Mary’s Primary School sang the hymns, under the baton of Mr C van Wyk, one of ther teachers. In his sermon, the Archbishop stressed the necessity of total Christianity for all, before he dealt with the role, duties and responsibilities of a Bishop. He congratulated Bishop McBride and remarked how blessed Kokstad was in having one who radiated such a true Franciscan spirit and who was so truly and highly esteemed by everyone.
After the Mass all gathered in the Hall to chat over a cup of tea and later the Africans, who had come from Missions near and far delighted everyone with their singing and dancing.
At the Luncheon which was served in the Holy Cross Convent, Bishops, Priests, Brothers and Sisters met in the most informal manner and enjoyed themselves as ‘true’ Franciscans do. Father Eymard, the Vicar General, conveyed the good wishes of all the Franciscan Fathers and made a presentation to the Bishop on their behalf. His Lordship thanked Archbishop Hurley and his two fellow-Bishops and also expressed his gratitude to all the Priests, Brothers and Sisters of his Diocese for the good work they had done and were doing in the different spheres entrusted to them.
In the evening a Cocktail Party, arranged by the Catholic Women’s League was attended by all the Parishioners, the Mayor and Mayoress, the Ministers of the different Religious Denominations and Representatives of different Societies in the Town. The President of the Rotary Club presented the Bishop with the Rotary Service Award Certificate which is awarded only to someone who has rendered outstanding service for a prolonged period to members of all sections of a community. Many other presentations were also made. Again Bishop McBride thnaked everyone for making his Jubilee Day such a happy and memorable one and assured them of his constant prayers for their own health, happiness and peace.
1975 – A Busy Year for St Patrick’s Parish
Convert’s Enquiry Class – February
Fr Baptist conducted a series of these classes and on the 4th February he presented the subject Bible and Tradition’. Twenty-nine people were present, which was regarded as a good attendance.
Bible Study Classes – Celebration
In April 1975 there was a little celebration to mark the first anniversary of the start of Bible study classes. St Matthew’s Bible study group, to which my husband and I belong, was on of the original groups started in 1974. There are three founder members in our group who have participated for 22 years.
I will quote verbatim from the priests’ chronicle from 1975: ‘The Bible study class takes place every second Wednesday at various homes in the parish and invaluable to all the participants in learning more about the Bible and also the Catholic faith. It is hoped that the enthusiasm will continue, so encouraging new members to join. Bishop McBride and Bro Octave attend the meetings regularly. Pat Bosman (who died in 1993) is the chairman and director of the various groups and our gratitude and thanks are extended to her.
St matthew’s group still meets on a Wednesday, but every week now, and we certainly have grown spiritually over the years. (My husband and I have been in the parish for 5 years).
Charismatic Meeting – April
Rev Bill Burgess, an Anglican minister, asked permission to use the hall for a charismatic meeting, and the request was granted. Cliff de Gersigny, Fr Ignatius Heer CMM and St Theresa Maria OP of Oakford Priory , conducted the meeting, which was attended by a few Catholics, many Pentecostals and some Anglicans.
Fr Baptist at the next Enquiry Class dealt with the subject of th Charismatic movement, hardly conincidentally.
Repainting of St Patrick’s Hall
In any parish there is always something needing fixing or renovation and the hall, which was opened in 1963, needed repainting. Bro. Flannan O’Brien supervised the painting of the committee room, repository, the projection room and the kitchen, which were done by professional painters.
Ministers’ Fraternal April 1975
It was an informal meeting due to the small number present, however it was felt that even social contact between the churches was beneficial.
St Patrick’s Parish Annual General Meeting, 18th April 1975
This parish AGM was a milestone in the history of St Patrick’s, as it was the First integrated meeting ever, which took place at St Anthony’s Hall. Fr Germain had worked for this event, he had dreamed of it for a very long time and it had happened. Previously there had been a separate AGM in each of the White and Coloured communities. There were about 200 people present, a very gratifyingly large number.
The Bishop, two priests and two brothers were present. Fr Baptist introduced John Kelly, Chairman of the Parish Council, who gave his report for the year. Pat Bosman was the guest speaker and she spoke on the theme of unity, particularly with in a parish. Thereafter followed the election of a new integrated parish council took place, with six White and six Coloured councellors being elected.
Bishop McBride expressed himself as being very pleased with this new-style Parish Council and thanked the parishioners for their loyalty to the parish, whether in active involvement or financially. Once the business was over, a cocktail party took place, with both races mixing together in a friendly way.
Canonical Visitation of Fr Louis Brennan OFM to Kokstad, 3rd January 1978
Canonical visitations take place in the Diocese quite regularly, but I would like to reproduce below the stamp and signature of Fr Brennan below:
Golden Jubilee of Ordination of the Priesthood of Bishop McBride – 1978.
For the Bishop this was a great occasion and the celebrations took up the whole day. First was the festive dinner in the Sisters dining room, then the concelebrated Mass at 6 pm which was attended by the Mayor and officials who sat in decorated pews. Mgr Banks OFM gave the homily to a packed church. Asplendid reception was then held at the parish hall, the preparations being made jointly by the CWL and the parish Council. Speeches and presentations followed and the Bishop and all present seemed to enjoy it immensely. What a busy, happy day for him!
The Chronicle Stopped at this point, but I will fill in some details from 1974-1981, taken from ‘Transkei for Christ’ by Fr M Dischl, CMM.
After a great deal of illness and several operations, Bishop McBride felt he should resign – this was already in 1974. However, circumstances forced him to continue until 1978, until the problem of succession had been resolved.
Only then did he feel free to retire to a monastery in Ireland.
Fr Wilfrid Napier succeeded him, but was appointed as Vicar Capitular in May 1978 and installed in June. During this time Fr Napier proved his capabilities and in December 1980 he was appointed as Bishop of Kokstad. His ordination was also in Kokstad, on the 28th February 1981 at the Showgrounds. The dining room of the Royal Hotel, of banqueting proportions, was used for the luncheon for the nwe Bishop and all the dignitories, while the majority of people partook of a simple packed lunch provided at the Showgrounds. It was a joyful occasion for a new Bishop and the people.
Information from 1986 – 1995 taken from the Holy Cross Convent Chronicle
I reproduce the front cover of the programme for the annual week of prayer for Christian Unity – 1986.
Bishop Napier Ordained Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Durban 1992
Bishop Napier was the right choice of bishop at a time when apartheid needed to be opposed and as Head of the South African Bishop’s Council, he mad himself heard and showed the Nationalist Government that the Catholic Church strongly disapproved of their policies.
However, when Archbishop Hurley of Durban retired, he was an excellent choice as his successor. This of course left a gap in the Kokstad Diocese for about 15 months. Finally a decision was reached and in the Sisters’ chronicle of December 1993 it was noted:
An announcement has been made of the new Bishop for Kokstad – it is Fr William Slattery.
Introducing the New Bishop of Kokstad, December 1993.
There were reports on the new Bishop in the Southern Cross, Kokstad Advertiser and the Natal Mercury (the Durban Newspaper). I reproduce below the report from the Southern Cross.
Arrival of Fr William Slattery in Kokstad
Great excitement in the parishes of St Patrick’s and Uganda Martyrs – what is he like? Fr Slattery arrived on the 3rd January 1994 and immediately the opinions were favourable.
Ordination of Bishop Slattery 19th February 1994
Catholics from all parts of the Diocese converged on the Kokstad Showgrounds where Archbishop Napier ordained Bishop William Slattery in the presence of his parents, Maureen and John Slattery, who had flown out form Ireland for this auspicious occasion.
The weather for that day was semi-overcast and rather windy, but at least the rain held off. Fr Larry O’Shea, then parish priest of Uganda Martyrs Church in Bhongweni, was responsible for the mammoth task of catering and I believe no one went hungry. Below is a copy of a newspaper photo taken on that day.
Hello and Goodbye
Also in February, about a week before the Bishop’s ordination, the parish held a farewell cum welcome party – to say goodbye to Fr Wilfred Byrne, who had been pastor of Kokstad for some years and in the diocese since his arrival from Ireland in the 1940’s, and Fr Neil McGovern who had been in kokstad for 2 years, returning to Ladysmith. Fr Wilfrid went to St John Vianney Seminary, where he is a spiritual director to the student seminarians. He pops in to see us every now and again, looking as sprightly as ever – we hear he still would like to return to Kokstad. I include a recent photo taken of Fr Wilfrid which was printed with an article in a Franciscan missionary magazine.
We welcomed Fr Larry O’Shea, who as parish priest of Uganda Martyrs Mission in Bhongweni, stayed at the priests’ house but at the time we did not know very well at the time.
In March 1995 he was joined by Fr Bernard Hall as assistant parish priest, a welcome addition, as we have a big parish. Fr Bernard had the added advantage of being South African born and fluent in Afrikaans. A good proportion of the Coloured people in St Patrick’s parish speak Afrikaans as their home language. Fr Bernard also has a beautiful singing voice.
I include here photos of both Fr Larry and Fr Bernard.
24th April 1994 – Peace Walk.
After the 9.30 am Sunday Mass, we gathered outside the church for a Peace Walk ‘which was led by Bishop Slattery to the Holy Trinity Anglican church, where we were joined by Bishop Davies and members of the Anglican community and we proceeded to the Market Square, where members of other churches of Kokstad and Bhongweni were already assembled. Bishop Slattery then addressed the crowd, first in English then in Xhosa, asking us to pray for and also practise peace with our families and in the community. Prayers were led by members of the different churches and hymns sung in English and Xhosa.
This Peace Walk was held prior to our first ever democratic election in South Africa, and as there was a great deal of violence and intimidation from both extreme sides, fear was very real. This Peace Walk helped to unite people of the various churches in Kokstad and give us the reassurance that we are one under the Fatherhood of a loving God.
From this new feeling of unity we were able to reach out to others of different races and cultures, giving us courage to approach the Election with faith. As it turned out, the Elections were peaceful and remarkably everywhere there was a holiday atmosphere prevailing in the queues of voters.
The present parish priest of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Fr Larry O’Shea, formerly of Uganda Martyrs church in Bhongweni, also offered a Novena of Masses before the elections, and the Masses were well attended. He also distributed prayer pamphlets to parishioners, who also handed some to friends in other churches. These positive actions, too, had a calming effect.
South African Elections – April 1994
Below is a Press photo from the Kokstad Advertiser, taken on Election day. Thanks to many prayers, good organisation and strict supervision, all went off well.
Unity Week, 12-22 May 1994 – Kokstad
Unity Week, which has for some years taken place from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, is an interdenominational event and in 1994 the services took place at three venues: One at St Patrick’s Cathedral, where Bishop Slattery gave the sermon, another at Holy Trinity Anglican Church where Bishop Davies gave a slide-illustrated talk on Jerusalem, and the third at the Methodist Church in Bhongweni.
At all services the Kokstad Interdenominational choir sang most beautifully and movingly in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.
Bishop Slattery Invites Poor Clares to Kokstad
For some time the Bishop had expressed the need for a contemplative order in Kokstad diocese and he went to Zambia to invite the Poor Clares to come here. In June 1994 Mother Veronica Namoyo, Abbess of the Poor Clare Convent in Lusaka and St Intulo stayed at the Convent for 5 days while they looked around for a suitable place to start their foundation. Bishop William took them to various missions in his Diocese, without success, but finally they found a small holding a few kilometres outside Kokstad. The Sisters planned to send some sisters permanently about December that year.
Snow in Kokstad, 28th June 1994
The heaviest snowfall in 15 years fell that day all over Natal and other parts of South Africa, closing off the main highways. People from Durban 200 drove here just to enjoy the snow and snowmen were the order of the day. Fr Bruno (Tom) Byrne, who is an expert photographer, took this beautiful photo of St Patrick’s in the snow and postcards were printed by Mariannhill press to sell to tourists – indeed a very impressive souvenir of our town.
This young and courageous girl was a member of St Patrick’s parish, together with her parents, brothers and sisters. Of the many Davids children, all but one was born with multiple sclerosis and died young. Glenore was in a wheelchair when we arrived here in 1991 and always smiling and full of fun, surrounded by her schoolmates who jostled each other to get their turn pushing her wheelchair. Whenever people saw her in her wheelchair at Mass they smiled and greeted her – she was a ray of sunshine. She must have suffered, but she never complained or sighed about her unfortunate health.
Her health deteriorated in 1994 and she was no longer able to go to school, but her friends visited her at home. She died a peaceful death on the 20th may and the funeral was a huge one. I reproduce the photo from her funeral programme, with the comment from a friend: ‘Glenore is now a rose in God’s garden’.
September 1994 – Paraphrase of Psalm 139
Fr Larry put this paraphrase, composed by himself, in the August newsletter and at Mass on the first Sunday of August we used it as a Responsorial Psalm. It is so typically south African in content and so meaningful that I put it in my own scrap album.
Talk by Bishop William – 22nd August 1994
Bishop William is a very pastoral, hands-on Bishop, both with the clergy and laypeople alike. He is also approachable and extremely friendly, a real people person. Although he has a busy schedule, he always makes time to hear confessio as at Eeaster and celebrates at least one Mass during Holy Week and holds a carol service at St Patrick’s at Christmas.
Having been for many years a lecturer at the St John Vianney seminary in Pretoria, he is a very spiritual and intellectual man, with of course, a delightfully Irish sense of humour.
The latter qualities are very much in evidence during his fairly frequent talks, the first of which was in August 1994. The most recent talk was in November 1996, entitled Marriage and the Family which provoked some lively questions and discussion.
In 1994 Bishop William gave a series of weekly talks on ‘Our Faith’ to the parishioners which were very much enjoyed. On the occasions when he was away from town, Bro Jim Murtagh, a Christian Brother who is very much involved with CIE (Catholic Institute of Education) filled in for him and in a very capable and interesting way.
150th Anniversary of Foundation of the Holy Cross Order.
In December the Sisters were delighted to have Bishop William clebrate and give the sermon for this special occasion. Normally it would have been on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross in September, but had to be postponed subject to the Bishop’s availability. The church was packed with parishioners and the choir sang hymns chosen by the Sisters. Tea served by the Catholic Women’s League was served in the hall afterwards.
Poor Clares’ Arrival
The Poor Clares, five of them, were also at the Mass, as they were not yet enclosed and they were introduced to the people. They had been invited by Bishop William to start a Convent in Kokstad which they call the Monastery of Santa Chiara.
It is a real privilege for our Diocese and our town to have the ‘praying church’ in our midst and to have met them personally. On the following page is a photo and two cuttings, one from the Southern Cross and the other from the Kokstad Advertiser dated December 1994.
Silver Jubilee of Archbishop Napier’s Ordination, July 1995
This Mass was held at St Patrick’s Cathedral on the 2nd July and the Archbishop came up from Durban for the occasion.
He celebrated the Mass in the presence of his home parish, brothers and sisters and their families, the clergy and sisters of the Diocese and his successor, Bishop William. The occasion was tinged with sadness, as his parents who had been at his ordination Mass in 1970, have since died.
His parents once owned a farm, Maryvale, in the Franklin district and he also said a Mass at Franklin and paid a visit to the former family farm. A photo was taken of him together with Bishop William, a copy reproduced below.
The last Feast Day of the Holy Cross Sisters, Kokstad
Thursday 14th September 1995 – Triumph of the Cross
This Mass is mentioned in the article below, but there are one or two points that need to be added to it. The hymns were particularly appropriate, the first verse of one of them being:
‘Take my hands and make them as your own
and use them for your Kingdom here on Earth.
Consecrate them to your care and anoint them for
your service where you may need your Gospel to be sown’.
Sr Melvina did the readings and Srs. Theresia and Jon Vincent took up the gifts. Bishop William preached on the meaning of the Cross.
This article appeared in the Southern Cross during October.
Parish Picnic – Scouts Memorial, Mount Currie. September 1996
One sunny Spring day (a public holiday) a good number of the parishioners enjoyed a day out, with a simple yet moving Mass outdoors, followed by the picnic. As there are many paths and trials in that area, the parishioners strolled around or sat chatting under the trees, while the youngsters played or climbed trees. We should have many more social occasions like this.
Parish Mission – October 1995
This was a very special time for the parish, as it marked the end of the sisters’ service in Kokstad. We recived many graces during this time – to prepare us for running the parish ourselves. Instead of Sr Gisela being the sacristan, there is a roster of ladies and one gentleman, doing the task. There are two ladies doing the laundry of altar linen, we now put out the hymn books, parish people are more involved in catechetics, etc. and I believe there is a certain joy in doing these small tasks for God.
We had prepared for months for this Mission and below I reprint the prayer we had prayed each Mass for 7 months prior to the Mission.
Fr Ivan Dawson was a brand-new priest, only ordained 10 months before, and his zeal and passion for proclaiming he love of God was balanced and tempered by the veteran skill and natural warmth and ubuntu of Fr Bafana Hlatshwayo. (This trait used to be natural to the African people, a real feeling for and loving consideration of others, particularly their respect for the elderly. In the cities unfortunately many of the young African people grow up without it, but it is still very much present among the rural people. I experience this in Kokstad with some of the unsophisticated people I encounter one of the most dignified people I have ever met was a Xhosa gardener who once worked for our family, and he earned our respect in return).
Visit of Pope John Paul II
This event caused a stir in South Africa comparable to the State Visit of Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in March. For the Catholics it was recognition by the Vatican of South Africa.
The climax of the Pope’s visit was the outdoor Papal Mass in Johannesburg which was attended by a colourful mixture of people, many in national dress. About a dozen Kokstad Catholics travelled some 900 km.to the Mass, the rest of us had a better view on television.
What struck us was that in spite of his frail health, when His Holiness stood up to give his sermon, there was fire and zeal in his voice. We were glad that he emphasised the importance of respecting life from conception to natural death.
Women’s World Day of Prayer, March 1996
This year it took place in the Dutch Reformed Church, which is something we older Catholics cannot take for granted. For so long the Catholic church in South Africa generally was shunned and ridiculed by the Nationalist Party when they were in power that this acceptance is very welcome. However, I must stress that religious tolerance has been a hallmark of the East Griqualand area since people first arrived here.
Faith Tasker and Jeanette Sandford spoke on behalf of the Catholic women, Jeanette reading the Annunciation from her Jerusalem Bible and Faith giving a most beautiful message on this reading. Tea in the hall afterwards was informal and very friendly. I reproduce the cover of the prayer leaflet below and on page 98 the message given by Faith Tasker.
Bro Val Haran – Golden Jubilee of Profession, July 1996
July Brother Val, who is a staunch member of St Matthew’s Bible study group, celebrated this occasion at his home in Wylde Road, Kokstad. Bishop William himself celebrated the Mass, Bro Jim and Sr Mary drew up the music and their housekeeper prepared the delicious meal.
Their chapel is very homely and comfortable, African in style and atmosphere, with colourful wall-hangings, carved wooden tabernacle and potted pointsettias which grew well in Flagstaff where they were last based.
It was a very happy and joyful occasion for us, and full of blessings. We were amazed to find out that BroVal was only 13 when he joined the Christian Brothers and he has given 50 good years in his quiet, gentle way serving the Lord. I reproduce below the cover of the music sheet. Bro. Val left shortly thereafter on home leave to Ireland and will return in January 1997. Surely his Golden Jubilee celebration was a souvenir and a token of gratitude from us to him.
The Abortion Issue, Culminating in the Termination of Preganancy bill being accepted in Parliament.
In 1994 with the Election in South Africa, many new parties came into being and each presented its manifesto. The ANC party came into power, with its stand on abortion being pro-choice. Only the tiny African Christian Democratic Party with one member in Parliament, and the Muslim Party, also small, were pro-life.
The media has always been pro-choice and has blantantly manipulated the public into believing that most women are pro-life (there are statistics to prove this, but they have been repressed or at times, destroyed).
In July a spokesman from Frontline Fellowship, which is anti-abortion, came to speak to the Christians in Kokstad on this issue in July. Unfortunately there was not a very good turnout for the evening, but all present were determined to do something about it.
Petitions were drawn up, the Pro Life people stirred people to march in peaceful demonstration, individuals sent letters and faxes of appeal to Pres. Mandela to allow a conscience vote on this issue, but in the end the vote was along party lines. It is a great pity that our own ANC Member of Parliament, Geoff Doige, who hails from Kokstad dodged the issue and abstained from voting.
St Patrick’s church held a Day of Prayer for Unborn Life in August, the priests drew up a programme of prayer for the day, a notice appeared in the Kokstad Advertiser and a small item on this appeared in the Southern Cross. Many other Catholic churches held days of prayer or organised pro-life rallies.
I include cuttings, photo, prayer-programme, etc on the following two pages.
President Mandela’s 78th Birthday Party Celebrations, May 1996
At the request of the President himself, a huge birthday celebration was organised at Hilton College in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal in May to which 2,000 disabled children were invited.
Mrs Anna Pyle, the Kokstad physiotherapist, went to help the several children who are under her care in physiotherapy and help fit each for a wheelchair. Her impressions on the occasion are given below. Mrs Pyle is a practising, committed Christian. The faces of the children in the photograph capture it all.
Paschal Supper April 1996.
This item is out of chronological order, but I would like to include it here.
The Bible study groups organised the supper in the parish hall and about 60 people were present. In previous years St Matthew’s group held the Paschal Supper in a private home, but in 1995 and 1996 it has been open to the parish.
The program and text has been beautifully laserprinted, with each person having a copy. All the readers spoke clearly and the actions performed with due reverence. All present felt very strongly the spiritual content of the event and a joyful dinner followed afterwards.
I include below copies of the tickets, the drawings for which came from the illustrated Good News Bible.
Renovations to St Patrick’s Cathedral
Since early 1996 the renovations have been a subject of discussion, as the soft sandstone blocks particularly on the tower, are weathering away and some need replacing. The roof needs mending and painting, French drains have to be dug to drain away the excess moisture causing risin damp on the walls and the parquet blocks on the altar are lifting in places. The interior is also needing painting and various changes will be made.
A good start was made by the Bible study groups (9) and cakes and produce have been sold at each of the three weekend Masses outside the church since the beginning of the year. More than R7,000 has been made so far.
Cathedral Repairs and maintenance project (cramp)
A special committee was nominated to investigate the cost and getting the quotes. I include the quote which was finally accepted, from Gordon Verhoef and Krause and was sent to the treasurer of the committee, Dave Shaw, who is a lawyer.
Our very capable chairman of the Parish Council, Lorna Wicks, then approached the Historical Monuments Association of South Africa and the Lenten Appeal. It was felt that the Historical Monuments Association would tie us up with too many regulations, but the Lenten Appeal have donated an amount.
Bishop William also suggested that a publicity brochure with text and photographs be drawn up and printed to send to overseas contacts. Bro Sturmius, the printer from Mariannhill, did the final draft and I reproduce a copy a little later. Two people were responsible for the colour photographs, Fr Bruno Byrne and a parishioner and a fine job it has turned out.
John Bosman, Co-ordinator of Cramp
In September John Bosman, an expert in this field, called a meeting to discuss the matter in greater detail. An enthusiastic crowd was present and John asked for ideas for fund-raising. Among the ideas were: raffles, food fair, hockey and soccer matches among others. A very good suggestion was also made and very quickly carried out, that a box be placed at the entrance of the church so parishioners could put their loose change or larger donations into it and a sizeable amount has been collected this way.
The people at the meeting were divided into teams, with two in each team, and all the families in the parish were approached and asked for support whether in cash or actual physical labour (we have several professional painters in the parish, for instance). Special envelopes for this purpose containing donations can be put into the collection bags at the weekend Masses.
The stained glass windows were either repaired or sections replaced at a cost of R13,000 in March. The workmen of Gordon Verhoef and Krause arrived in October and started the tedious task of chipping away by hand the loose pieces of stone or where necessary, replacing whole blocks. The scaffolding was put up around the left tower in November and much has been done so far. (Photos of the workmen’s progress appear below). The projected length of time for the job is 4 months.
The estimated cost of the total renovation programme is R200,000 of which over R50,000 has been raised so far. The most recent fund-raiser was a Mini-Fete organised by our hard-working CWL ladies and members of the parish on 30th November. Great camaraderie and fellowship was engendered at the fete and also in the preparation and dismantling and we were pleased at the financial contribution of R8,000.
Towards the Second Millennium – Year 1
Bishop William has organised a prayer time so that all parishioners in the Kokstad Diocese will bring in the start of year 1 in a meaningful way.
Prayer services will take place in various towns in chronological order from 7 pm on Saturday 7th December to 4 am Sunday morning. Most of the services as can be seen from the programme on page 113 are in Xhosa, but St Patrick’s parishioners have a service at 7.45pm in English.
In this way we become aware of the part that Jesus should play in our lives and hopefully become more appreciative of His blessings in our lives.
Parish Programme for December 1996
Here are some of the events taking place in St Patrick’s Parish:
7th – 8th December. Towards the Second Millenium.
Sunday 8th Dec . Candle-light rosary procession to the grotto of Our Lady, followed by benediction and hymns in the church afterwards.
Monday 16th . Public holiday. Mass at the Scouts’ memorial at the foot of Mount Currie, followed by a parish picnic. The last Mass/picnic held there was a great success.
Sunday 22nd . Bishop William will be present at a Christmas carol service – a very fitting way to welcome the Christ-child. It starts at 6 pm.
Sunday 22nd . Christmas party for the children of the parish, starting after 9 am Mass.
C* H* R* I* S* T* M* A* S* D* A* Y*
This is a good time and place to end the history of St Patrick’s history and to express the wish that people in South Africa will make peace with God and pass it on to their neighbours.
It is not possible to summarise the 112 years since the first foundation stone was laid in 1889 except to say that it wsa AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAE
Assembling the Christmas Crib
We have in our parish a large and very beautiful crib scene, which is assembled and put in place on a platform behind the High altar every year, with a floor-length backdrop framing it. Sr Senen tells me that a young Swiss man who lived in the caravan park in the 1970’s made this crib scene and it has assembled in the same place and disassembled again every year since then. The Sisters used to put the Crib up, but since their departure, the gentlemen of the parish do it.
I include a copy of a Christmas card depicting this crib – these cards were sold in the parish for many years.
Section 11 : St Anthony’s Complex
On the following pages is a summary of the building of St Anthony’s hall, pre-primary building, etc. which was given to me by Mrs Gloria Napier, a teacher by profession, who works closely with Sr Mary and Bro Jim Murtagh in the Catholic Institute of Education. She is a very committed Catholic, her husband Peter has a business in town and Peter is the brother of Archbishop Napier.
Below is a photo of the laying of the foundation stone of St Anthony’s Hall in 1955
I have not added anything to Gloria’s summary, except to add the reason for the delay between the building of the St Anthony’s pre-primary school in 1974 and its opening in 1978.
It was during the apartheid era, when most Government money was spent on facilities for the White sector, with the ‘leaving’ for Coloured and Black people.
The Kokstad Catholic Coloured community applied for a subsidy for the pre-school, which took 4 years to be granted. Even now it is a partial subsidy, with the subsidy being paid on the basis of numbers, i.e per child. The parents pay for the teachers’ salaries and building maintenance.
The name of the Principal is Mrs Norah Divids and there are 4 teachers, whose names are as follows: Mrs Anne Walker, Mrs Mona Rooi, Mrs Georgina Pienaar and Mrs Denise Jantjies.
These five ladies are very dedicated and are doing a sterling job of work in preparing the children to enter any primary school in Kokstad.
Uganda Martyrs’ Mission Bhongweni, Kokstad = 1933-1996
Extracts from Priests’ Chronicle between 1955 & 1977
Confirmation at the Mission
On four occasions between 1955 and 1977 it is recorded in the Priests’ chronicle that Bishop McBride confirmed people at the mission. The numbers of confirmands in 1961 and 1965 is not noted, but in 1968 there were 120 adults and children and in 1971 there were 130 in all.
Retreats for the women of the sodality of St Anne (The Annas’) African Equivalent of the Catholic Women’s League.
In 1964 and 1965 a 3 day retreat was held for these ladies by Fr Egbert O’Dea.
In 1973 at the conclusion of the retreat, there was a concelebrated Mass at St Patrick’s cathedral at which about 500 women took part. The concelebrants were Frs. Ngubane OMI and Fr Khumalo OMI, both of Durban diocese, also Frs W Napier, Egbert O’Dea, Gerry O’Reilly and Wilfred Byrne.
The entry for this retreat in 1977 was longer than usual and I quote verbatim from the Priest’ chronicle:
4.10,1976 ‘Feast of St Francis. The St Anne’s Sodality held its annual convention /retreat at the Uganda Mission from the 1st to 4th October. A special feature of this year’s celebration was the concluding ceremony at St Patrick’s cathedral. Being the feast and 750th Anniversary of the death of St Francis, many of the priests were in Kokstad.
With their banner raised a loft, all the members formed a pprocession behind the 5 priests who concelebrated. Fr Wilfrid Napier, show presided over the convention was the principal celebrant and preacher. With Fr Wilfred Byrne, Bruno, Peter Baptist and Gerry Griffin as co clebrants. The massed choir of all the women led by Sr M Gabriel (Hlangwini) rendered the various parts of the Mass with ….. feeling and a sense of unity. Lessons were ready by the catechist Patrick and one member of the Sodality with appropriate commentaries.
After the liturgical service, the ladies gathered in St Patrick’s hall for light refreshments, which completed a truly memorable morning.
Canonical visit of the Provincial Superior, Fr Celens
During his canonical visit to the Kokstad diocese in 1968, Fr Celens preached the sermon at the Mass on Sunday 14th April at Uganda Mission.
First Communion at Uganda Martyrs’Mission, 1968.
This is the only recorded occasion when Bishop McBride was present at a First Communion service, where 100 children made their First Communion . The day was a double clebration, as Fr Bruno celebrated his Silver Jubilee of ordination that year.
Fr Lucas Puerstinger RIP 16th October 1972
I include a photocopied account of his life taken from the priet’s chronicle. He was the first priest at Uganda Mission and as can be seen from the photo, was well loved there.
Uganda Martyrs Mission, Bhongweni, Kokstad
(From Fr Bruno Byrne)
In 1933, a church was opened in the African township of Bhongweni, which is two kilometres from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Kokstad. The church was named after the Martyrs of Uganda who gave their lives for he faith in the eighteen eighties. Father Raphael Boehmer CMM built the church and ministered to the Catholics of Kokstad from 1923 to 1935 when he moved to the seminary at Ixopo. He was the first missionary in the Koksad area to work among the indigenous people. In 1934 he opened a school in the township. This school prospered for many years, catering for children from SubA to Std 6 inclusive.
Schools were opened on some farms. The farmer on whose land the school was situated, appointed the priest as manager of the school. The government syllabus had to be followed, though two periods, outside the time for classes, could be used for catechism / bible lessons, by arrangement with the principal. These farm schools served also as a meeting place and Mass centre on Sundays for the catholics in the neighbouring farms.
It became clear after the war years that the Bavarian Province could no longer cater for the needs of the Kokstad Mission. An appeal was made by Rome to the Franciscan Province of Ireland to come to their aid. Some priests arrived from Ireland. John E McBride OFM became bishop of Kokstad in 1949.
Father Lucas left Uganda Mission, Kokstad in January 1960 for the diocese of Eshowe. He was succeeded by Fr Bruno Tom Byrne who carried on the work for the next twenty four years.
A site was obtained at Ingele and a church built there in 1968. The School at Uganda Mission ceased to operate, as the government was opposed to mission schools. Later it became a Day Care Centre, attended by about 160 children from the African Township. A large hall was added to the centre. The Lions Club of Kokstad, of which Fr Bruno was a member, sponsored the centre. Some farm schools were upgraded.
Further classrooms were added to Tigervlei School which had 200 pupils on the attendance register. A school was built at Cooperdale farm. By request, Uganda Mission also served Ngqumareni which is an outstation in the diocese of Umzimkulu.
For nearly fifty years, Uganda Mission was blessed with the services of a faithful and zealous catechist, Patrick Mkafane, whose home is in Brooksnek.
In 1984, Fr Bruno was transferred to Bizana parish where he remained for almost nine years. During those years, Uganda Mission was served at first by Frs Egbert O’Dea, they by Fr Myles Russell, and by Fr Larry O’Shea. In 1994, when Bishop W Slattery was installed in Kokstad, Fr Bruno was again appointed to Uganda Mission.
Over the years there has been a steady growth in the congregation. Consideration is now being given to the building of a much larger church. In the meantime, hundreds of families from the rural areas have settled into squatter camps encircling Kokstad and Bhongweni Township. They seek employment and better housing for their families.