H i s t o r y of St Xavier’s Mission, Taylorville (Hlangwini) 1959 – 1999
i. Early History of Mission: St Xavier’s and St Matthew’s Churches until present pp. 1 -26
ii. The Sisters – pp.27-28
iii. Outstations – pp.29-36
iv. Catechists – pp. 37
v. Resident Priests – pp.38
vi. Archivist’s Summary – pp.39
vii. Sources of Information – pp. 40
viii. Photo – Front Cover
H i s t o r y of St Xavier’s Mission – Taylorville
Site obtained 1926, first church built to 1999
i. Early History of Mission, Followed by History of St Xavier’s and St Matthew’s churches to present.
St Xavier’s Mission
This Mission is situated at Mzongwana’s location in Matatiele district, fairly close to Maria Telgte. Its postal address is P.O Taylorville, New Amalfi. The chronicle was started by Fr Wilfrid Byrne in 1959.
The information until 1960 was supplied by Fr Gottschalk Kunsteiger, a Bavarian Franciscan.
Between Maria Telgte mission and Hardenberg is a big reserve, Mzongwanas Location (Hlangwini). In 1958 about 1500 catholics lived in that area.
The Mariannhill Fathers were working in that area after taking over the the Trappist missions, and in 1926 Fr Modestus Neu, after a long struggle with the authorities, managed to get a church site. I trust that I am correct about the following information, which seems to lack cohesion. I am unsure when a church was built at the Mission, as Fr Gottschalk mentioned that all these years the St Xavier’s mission was served from Maria Telgte and later during the war years St Xavier’s was served from Hardenberg.
Fr Gottschalk again mentions the original St Xavier’s as being at Goxe over the hill and now occupied as an African school. In chronological order, he then supplied the following details:
St Xavier’s site on Elliot’s farm (New Hanover) selected 8th July 1944; site obtained 3rd December 1946.
Possibly the church was then built, but in a different place from the original church. The present church is now at Mzongwana’s location and no date of building was given.
St Matthews Church
Towards the end of the War, Makhoba’s Location, formerly near Maria Telgte mission, was moved under a Government scheme to remove Black spots in the White areas to a new area between Mzongwanas and Hardenberg. (Fr Gottschalk). As a result, the outstations of Maria Telgte in Ntlangwini region and New Makhoba location developed to such an extent that an independent mission had to be established, and this was the beginning of St Matthews. (Fr Marcel Dischl, Transkei for Christ). Fr Lucas Puerstinger, the Apostolic Administrator, managed to obtain a church/school site at New Makhoba’s to serve the increasing population. The site was granted in August 1946 and Fr Puerstinger lost no time in building a church/school.
The church was named St Matthew’s , to honour the wish of Fr Gottschalk that if Matt Talbot were to be beatified, the church should be named after him.
Now a mission centre was needed toserve these two large African reserves, as the law then prohibited White people from residing in the locations.
Enlargement of St Matthew’s Church/School
When the Irish Franciscans took charge of the Vicariate in 1950, Bishop J E McBride, at once perceived the need for larger premises and had to church/school extended to accommodate the growing congregation in New Makhobas.
St Xavier’s Also attended to
Bishop McBride was also responsible for building a new presbytery with a big oratory at St Xaviers in Mzongwana’s location, which was opened and blessed on the 3rd February 1952. These buildings were situated in a different area from the original St Xavier’s church.
Building The New St Xavier’s church
The bricks for this church were made in 1955 and the foundations started in March 1956. Then the foundation stone was laid, blessed and dedicated to Our Lady of Knock by Fr Antonine Kelly, the Vicar General. Frs. Gottschalk and Lucas were also present on the occasion.
On the 24th February 1957 the church was blessed and officially opened. The statues arrived some months later and were blessed in August 1958.
The estimate of the number of people in the congregation was given as approximately 1466.
Frs Gottschalk, Lucas and Cajus Transferred.
On the 8th December 1960, these German priests were moved to Holy Cross, Gingindlovu in Zululand.
An appreciation of Fr Gottschalk’s work at the mission was published in the African Catholic newspaper, UMAFRIKA. It was a worthy tribute to a zealous missionary, who was proficient in Sesotho and Zulu.
Fr Wilfrid Byrne (Irish Province) Takes over
Two months after his arrival, this dedicated missionary started First Friday Mass at both stations, New Makhoba and Hlangwini.
New Priests’ House Complete
This house, which was started in November 1959, was completed by June 1960. Mr Simon Joubert was the builder.
Visitator at the Mission
Fr Rodger Huser of the United States visited the Mission in June 1960.
Legion of Mary
Legionaries from Hardenberg and Matatiele visited Makhoba and St Xaviers. The first Praesidium meeting at St Xaviers was in July 1960, the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, followed by the first Praesidium of Our Lady of Peace in Makhoba’s location – eleven members were present.
Fr Wilfrid on overseas leave
Fr Egbert O’Dea supplied when Fr Wilfrid went on overseas leave from August 1960 February 1961.
Bro Juniper installed the new lighting plant in the priest’s house, convent and church in January.
Blessing of Statue of our Lady of Knock
Bro Masseo, Bro Juniper and some men put the statue on the pedestal over the entrance to the church and Fr Wilfrid prayed that she will bless this mission and all its people.
Fr Wilfrid Leaves the Mission
In March Fr Wilfrid was moved to Bizana, where he was appointed parish priest.
Fr Egbert arrives
Fr Egbert took over as resident priest.
Statistics for Holy Communion on palm Sunday
Fr Egbert worked out the statistics in March and they were as follow:s
St Xavier’s – 227
St Matthews – 223
He thought there were good crowds at both churches for Palm Sunday.
On Easter Sunday 320 people received Holy Communion at St Xavier’s, while 370 received at St Matthews. The collection at St Xavier’s amounted to R4.17, at St Matthew’s R3.10.
Fr Egbert’s Feast day, 13th April
Bishop McBride and Frs Bernardine, Germain, Eymarde, Wilfrid, Reginald, Vianney, Lawrence and Manus came to celebrate with him and they all enjoyed the dinner. Only Fr John was unable to attend, because of poor road conditions.
In May, Fr Celsus O’Briain visited the mission. Fr Egbert met Fr Celsus at Hardenberg on the 22nd May, returning to the Mission via makhoba’s. They called in at St Matthew’s church and school and at 6 p.m they arrived at Our Lady of Knock mission (formerly old St Xavier’s).
During the visitation Fr Celsus remarked that the church should have a baptismal font and a better sanctuary lamp.
On the 27th May Fr Egbert took the St Matthew’s schoolboys to hardenberg for two games of soccer. St Matthew’s won the junior game, while Hardenberg won the senior game. Fr Celsus presented trophies to the winning teams.
St Xavier’s – First Holy Communion, 6th August 1961.
120 people made their First Communion .
St Matthew’s – First Holy Communion.
On the 13th August 122 people made their First Communion.
Confirmation at St Xavier’s
Bishop McBride confirmed 235 candidates on the 1st April. The ceremony took place outside the church.
The First Mass was at St Matthew’s with 580 communicants, while the Third Mass was at St Xavier’s, with 85 communicants.
Confirmation at St Matthew’s
210 candidates were confirmed on the 13th March. The Bishop, observing the number of people and the small size of the church, promised that a new church would be built.
There was Midnight Mass for a Vigil of Easter at St Xaviers, which was well attended and 200 people received Holy Communion. Mass at St Matthew’s was at 8.30 am on Easter Sunday morning – 565 people received Communion.
Snowbound at Hardenberg
In June Fr Egbert went to Hardenberg to borrow the 3-ton truck aas transport for the St Matthews boys and girls for a soccer match, but it snowed heavily and the Hardenberg mission was snowbound for a week. Nothing daunted, he returned to Taylorville on horseback.
Fr Hermes Peters visited the mission in March.
In July 186 candidates were confirmed at St Xavier’s, then in August 263 candidates were confirmed at St Matthew’s. The Bishop again promised us a new church.
Arrival of Fr Niall Hardiman
Fr Niall came to Taylorville as assistant priest in November 1966.
Visit of Bishop McBride, February.
During the Bishop’s visit, there were two special occasions: The wedding of Ottilia Nongwadi, President of the Children of Mary to Philip Gibixhego at Mahangu, where there was a big feast. That evening the headstone of Mrs Mjwara, erected by her husband, the catechist and there was another feast.
St Matthew’s Church
Something was happening at St Matthew’s, at last. The brick-making was now finished. In March 1967 two tractors and a seven-ton truck took the blocks to the St Matthew’s church site.
A New Volkswagen car was provided for the Mission.
1967 – November 1969, A Brief Summary
During the time of Fr Niall’s residence at Taylorville as assistant Priest, the following events of importance were noted:
The Promised church at St Matthew’s was built and officially opened and blessed by Bishop McBride. Among the people present was Fr David O’Relly, who was on canonical visitation to the Kokstad diocese.
A small church was also built at Kwambombo, Magusha.
Bishop McBride came on canonical visitation on the 29th January, 1968.
Fr Niall Transferred
Towards the end of 1969 Fr Niall was transferred to Cedarville.
Arrival of Fr Gerard O’Relly
For a year Fr Egbert worked at the Mission on his own, then in November 1970 Fr Gerard came as his assistant. Fr Gerard was to be responsible for the spiritual welfare of the people at St Matthew’s. In Fr Egbert’s words: A house warmer was indeed welcome!
Fr Gerard arrived just at the right to release Fr Egbert for the seasonal work of ploughing the fields and planting with Fr John of Maria Telge – Fr John had the reputation of ploughing deeper and better than all comers.
By December planting was completed and they were hoping for a good harvest, as good rains had fallen. The old timers say it is the best for at least six years.
There were very good attendances at all churches and outstations, but no Midnight Mass due to the numerous ndlavini home for Christmas (men who worked away from home, generally on the mines).
Torrential rain fell that evening, which kept the trouble makers quiet.
Follow-up Agricultural Pursuits
At the end of January a bad hailstorm ruined all the good work of Frs Egbert and John.
Their mealies were flattened. “Real Old Testament stuff”, was the visitator’s comment after he learned that the mealies were planted on a Sunday! However, good rains continued and the crops (those that escaped the hail) are doing very well.
Visit of Fr Nicholas Egan, Provincial Visitator
Fr Nicholas arrived from Matatiele and the following day Fr Egbert took him and Fr Germain on a tour of the Makhoba area. He was quite impressed, but thought that St Matthew’s school badly needed a face-lift.
That evening there were 14 friars at the Mission for supper and discussion on catechists, retraining programmes, crash courses and updating. Someone remarked that a course of this nature would be helped to the friars as well. On the 5th March Fr Nicholas left with Fr John to Maria Telgte.
Frs Egbert and Harry (Houlihan) on a course
They went to Lumko Institute to brush up on their Xhosa.
New Catechism “Ningabantwana Bam”
In March the Catechism was in full swing, with weekly instructions at all outstations progressing well.
Holy Week 1971
Palm Sunday: Excellent attendances at St Xavier’s and St Matthew’s for procession and blessing of the palms.
Holy Thursday: After examination, approximately 60 parents with their children passed the BIG JUMP on the new catechism, and the children received their First Holy Communion.
Good Friday: Heavy rains fell, but the attendance at St Xavier’s was good. It affected the attendance at St Matthew’s, which was not so good.
Holy Saturday: There were no liturgical vigils, but about 100 people kept vigil at both St Xavier’s and St Matthew’s.
Easter Sunday: Baptisms at both principal churches.
Bad News for Fr John
A 2-year old heifer broke its spine at Maria Telgte, so he sent up more than half the heifer to St Xavier’s and they found it to be good meat.
Annual Friar’s Retreat
In May, Frs Egbert and Gerard went for the Franciscan retreat held at Melville on the South Coast, which was conducted by Fr Sylvester O’Brien. They returned to the Mission both spiritually and physically refreshed.
Fr Egbert’s First Pair of Glasses
Fr Gerard remarked that he’s seeing things now that he hasn’t since his youth!
June: Fr Egbert left for Klerksdorp on a 2-week Chiro course, during which time his car was stolen.
St Matthew’s school was painted.
July: On the 4th July heavy snow started failing and by the following day there was about 30cm of snow on the ground.
September: Jubilee celebrations of the Legion of Mary at St Matthew’s.
Visit of Fr Antonine Kelly
He returned to South Africa in October for his Golden Jubilee, having spent 15 years working in the Kokstad diocese. Fr Antonine was the architect of St Xavier’s church. The priests wished him Ad multos annos.
Fr Egbert’s tractor started ploughing at St Matthew’s after torrential rain the previous Thursday.
Church Roof Painted
At St Matthew’s the church roof was painted in October.
First Communion, St Matthew’s
All the First Communicants passed the exam on the new Catechism and were able to receive.
Thirteen Black Bass (fish) were put in the dam.
Standard 5 and 6 classes at St Matthews school were closed by order of the Bishop.
The rains were good in the month of December.
The VW car was traded in for a Datsun truck.
The usual good attendance at Masses.
Four men were killed in a tribal fight at St Matthew’s.
Torrential rain during the early part of the month. The raging waters knocked down the fence and swept over the banks of the dam.
A Chiro camp attended by 22 young men was held at the Mission.
Fr Egbert has an operation.
He had the operation at St Augustine’s hospital Durban.
By that evening the news was that he was progressing well.
On the 15th March Fr Egbert returned to the Mission in good shape.
At St Matthew’s the house visitation was being done twice weekly and about three-quarters of the people had been visited and their houses blessed.
The teaching of the new Catechism was already established, with weekly sessions at St Xavier’s given by Fr Egbert and Sr Gabriel. St Matthew’s was being taught by Fr Gerard.
Some of the outstations were also being done as well, to be mentioned separately under outstations.
The purpose of the new catechism was defined as teaching parents and adults the essentials of the Faith so that they may be able to teach their children the knowledge and love of God.
175mm. Rain Falls
In 10 days 175mm (7inches) of good soaking rain fell at the Mission, the likes of which have not been seen in this area for many years. Unfortunately many houses have been destroyed, as I counted 11 of these between Taylorville Store and Lubaleko.
Holy Week 1972
Palm Sunday: Full churches for the liturgical ceremonies.
Holy Thursday: First Communion at St Matthew’s
Good Friday: Large congregations at St Xavier’s and St Matthew’s.
Easter Vigil: Baptisms and night Vigil at St Matthews baptisms (no night vigil) at St Xavier.
Easter Sunday: Capacity congregations at St Matthews and St Xavier. Over Holy Week and Easter about 1,600 received Holy Communion at St Matthews. The good weather contributed in a big way to the large congregations at all services during the preceding week.
Canonical Visitation, April
Fr Sylvester McGoldrick visited the Mission:
Discussions with the visitator
On the 6th April the following entry was in the chronicle: Yesterday and today the visitator-general was with us. He keenly an at some length, advocated a federation with the custody and later with the English friars and possibly the German friars in Zululand, and the erection of a committee to formulate and direct the setting up of a joint novitiate and a programme for Africa candidates for the Order.
Retreat – May
The friars went to a retreat at the Big Fisherman, Melville, conducted by Fr Alfred O’Neill, CP.
Jubilee of St Anne’s Sodality
In July the Bishop attended the Jubilee celebrations at St Matthews church of 20 members of the sodality and 8 of the Sacred Heart sodality. The Jubilee celebrations were first class. With concelebrated Mass led by the Bishop and Fr Gerard assisting, the ladies received their paper crows amid great rejoicing.
Principal points in the Bishop’s sermon:
1. The chief aim of the sodalities is to train their members to educate their children as good members of the Church.
2. Vatican II stresses that God blesses the parents who teach their children the Faith – it is from such families that vocations to the priesthood and religious life will come.
3. He was sorry to hear that the Chiro movement was not acceptable to the parents and asked them to reconsider their position.
4. A plea for greater financial support to the Church.
New Irish Provincial, August
The new Provincial was Fr Louis Brennan and the Vicar was Fr David O’Reilly.
The first summer rains fell, approximately 25 mm. However, in spite of the earlier rains, drought conditions prevailed later and ploughing started only in the final week of October.
Chiro celebrations, November
The Bishop attended a Chiro celebration at St Xaviers and praised the progress of the movement at that church.
Silver Jubilee of St Anne’s Sodality.
This was held at St Xavier’s and the Bishop presided and preached.
Drought Conditions Prevailed
Negotiations for Takeover of St Matthew’s School.
The Transkei Government was conducting these negotiations.
Bishop McBride wrote to the Education Department as follows:-
The Kokstad Diocese is agreeable to hand over the school to your Department. A rental will be acceptable, provided the Church will not be responsible for the maintenance of the school. As a church stands on the same site, it will be necessary to fence off the school grounds.
The Priest in charge at New Makhoba, Rev G. O’Reilly, St Xavier’s Mission, P o Taylorville, Matatiele, who is my representative, and present Manager of the school, is ready at any time to meet an official of your Department to arrange the boundaries of the site.
On the 4th January, at a meeting with the Circuit Inspector, Mr Dube, Fr Gerard was informed that the Department wished to take over the school as and from 16th January, 1973. A formal written agreement is to be drawn up.
Holy Communions at St Matthews 240, St Xavier’s 220.
Welcome to another New Year
First rains fell.
Canonical visit by Bishop McBride
Holy Thursday: Good attendance at St Matthew’s where 25 adults and children made their First Holy Communion.
Holy Saturday: Easter baptisms at St Xavier’s and St Matthew’s.
Easter Sunday: Very large attendances at all churches.
Fr Egbert’s Feast-Day, 21st April
Today we celebrated Fr Egbert’s feast-day with neighbouring priests. Fr Egbert cooked a good supper, which was enjoyed by all.
Ascension Thursday, 31st May
On a beautiful winter’s day there were approximately 450 Legion of Mary members for the Annual Acies. People arrived by bus or on foot from many surrounding places.
This year for the first time, High Mass celebrated by Frs Egbert and Gerard formed part of the Acies. Mr Paulus Mdladlamba the catechist, preached. The Bishop’s sermon emphasised the importance of guiding Christians and apostolic work. Mass was followed by Benediction, then a good dinner for the people.
Confirmation at St Xavier’s
This took place on the 8th August and 63 candidates were confirmed by the Bishop, at which he expressed his wish to visit Lufefeni, KwaMatias and Hillside to confirm people there.
They were dry months.
Social and Dance, 11th November
Fr Eymarde Hoade, the Vicar General, arrived at St Xavier’s with his latest musical equipment and this led to a very enjoyable social and dance in the Mission hall for the local people.
Fr Gerry O’Relly Transferred,
The Bishop transferred him to Flagstaff, and he left the Mission on the 26th November.
Fr Finbarr Russel arrives
Fr Finbarr Russel took his place and became the new priest ministering in the St Matthew’s area. He resided in Hardenberg, ministering to St Anton’s Hardenberg as well.
Agricultural, 22nd March
500 Day old chicks arrived for the new brooder and the priests were hoping to make good money this way.
January to March
Canonical visitation by Fr Louis Brennan
Procession of the Holy Year Cross
There was a special service at St Xavier’s to mark the occasion when the Cross arrived at the Mission. Fr Finbarr gave a talk, then there was a penitential service and confessions. A Mass followed, concelebrated with Frs John and Gerry Griffin celebrating. Finally there was a Vigil.
On the 25th October the Holy Year Cross returned from Matatiele to KwaMatias, where the event was marked with Confirmation (55), which was done by Fr Egbert. The Cross then went on to Hillside on the 1st November, Lufefeni on the 8th November.
No Entries Between December 1974 and July 1977.
70 candidates were confirmed at St Xaviers, with 50 people for first Communion.
On 29th December 1977 Fr Louis Brennan visited the Mission.
The Church of Our Lady of Knock was painted by the Catholics, both inside and outside, and a painter did the roof. The priest’s house was scraped and repainted and all paint was paid for, except the roo-paint. This paint was donated by Sr Cecille, a FMM sister, who had returned to Canada.
Bro. Sydney stayed a While
He had been a tailor before joining the order, so was a great help to the ladies in their sewing endeavours.
Confirmation at St Xavier;s
In August Mgr Wilfrid Napier confirmed several candidates.
Return of Bro Sydney
After being away from the Mission for some time, Bro Sydney came back, to the delight of the sewing ladies, who had made great progress in their sewing project. Two Transkei ladies came about handwork sewing projects and praised them warmly over their work done. A new building was promised the sewing ladies (the Mission).
Visitation to the Mission by Fr Urbanus Judge.
May 1981 First official visit by Bishop Napier.
He confirmed 172 candidates from the outstations and delivered a lovely sermon on co-operation, youth, family and catechesis. After Mass there was the presentation of gifts, then a concert and a feast.
Franciscan Brothers to help in a Seminar
Bros David, Rodgers, Michael and Bernard came to help the young men of St Xavier’s.
Fr Egbert O’Dea left St Xavier’s
Fr Egbert was moved away from the Misison, after having been there for 21 years and done a great deal of work for the local community.
Fr John Kerr of Maria Telgte Appointed Pastor of St Xavier’s as well.
Fr Egbert was not replaced, but Fr John was given charge of the Mission.
Formal Welcome for Fr John by the chief at Mzongwana.
Fr John was called to the chief’s place, where the Chief and his council formally welcomed him to Mzongwana.
Fr John cut down the tall gum tree around the house .
New Members for Sodalities
33 members were received into the sodality of St Ann and 4 into the Sacred Heart.
There was no midnight Mass, but the Mass at 10 am was well attended.
Very Bad Drought
The old well sunk by Fr Gottschalk was cleared by the parishioners to see if there was still any water in it. The water oozed slowly, but could be used and was very clean.
Bishop Napier did Sunday Masses
Fr John was ill, so the Bishop did the Sunday Masses for him. In April Fr Kevin Egan attended to most of the outstations, especially for Easter.
The Drought takes its toll
Many people were sick from lack of good food the animals were dying by the score from lack of water and fodder.
Fr John’s Silver Jubilee
He went for a month’s holiday in the Holy Land, which was a Jubilee gift.
Holy Year Celebrations
The people were preparing for the erection of a grotto to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Stones from every outstation were brought by parishioners to St Xavier’s, sand was carried by schoolchildren from the Umzimvubu River and many people donated the cost of material and builders’ wages.
The builder was Mr Sonnie Jansen from Maraiskop, helped by David, and he charged R450 for building the grotto.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
A great number of people attended the service, which consisted of:
1. Reconciliation service by Fr Tom Tshabalala.
2. Concelebrated Mass by Bishop Napier, Fr John Kerr and Fr Tom Tshabalala.
3. Blessing of the grotto.
4. Consecration service.
The number of people wishing to go to Confession delayed the service by 45 minutes and the weather was very hot to start with. Stormclouds came up quickly and rain came for about 2 moments. It seemed remarkable that it did not continue.
Note: The small white stone decorated with the Terra Sancta medal was from the latest archaeological diggings beneath the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Presumably Fr John brought the stone back from his pilgrimage in the Holy Land and it was put into the Grotto.
All buildings on the Mission were repaired and painted.
The weather was very hot, but all the same the attendance was good.
- Holy Year Reconciliation services figured prominently in all places.
- Holy Week services well attended at St Xavier’s and at outstations. There were 92 baptisms at St Xavier’s on Holy Saturday, which made the Vigil service far too long.
At a subsequent committee meeting, it was decided to have no more than 6 baptisms at future vigil Masses.
Closing of the Holy Year
A very large crowd of people came from the outstations for the Mass and feast afterwards. The Chief also attended.
Visit of Mr & Mrs Kerr
They came to see Fr John at Maria Telgte.
Arrival of Bro Simon Mahladi
He came to live at St Xavier’s, but did not last long. By February the following year he had left the Mission and the Order.
Much-Needed Garage and Store-Room Completed.
Mass of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
The annual Mass took place at the Grotto and a fair-sized crowd attended.
Fr John on overseas Leave.
Bishop Napier visited St Xavier’s and outstations as often as possible to say Mass.
September – November
Fr Myles Russel at Mission to Learn Xhosa
He also helped out in the duration, but left for Bizana.
Fr Fergal Grannell helped out at the Mission on a temporary basis, then went to Matatiele.
Christmas Mass 1985
There was a very large congregation for morning Mass.
All services well-attended, both at St Xavier’s and the outstations.
Arrival of Fr Gerry Griffin
Fr John Introduces Fr Gerry
Fr Gerry was introduced to the people of Hlangwini, who welcomed him.
Fr Gerry makes appearance before the local chief
By tradition, the new resident priest appears before the Chief, so Fr Gerry did likewise, meeting the Chief’s mother as well as the councellors. Afterwards he went to the tribunal and was introduced to the people of the area as the new priest in charge of St Xavier’s.
House-warming for Fr Gerry
Frs Manus, Egbert, John and Fergal were present. Fr Manus, the Guardian, announced that Fr John was to be the new Vicar of the Matatiele Guardianate and that Fr Gerry in charge of vactions. So much for dialogue and consultation.
Two Day Retreat
The retreat, for the St Ann’s sodality, the Sacred Heart and the Legion of Mary took place at Maria Telgte and was conducted by Fr Gerry. 160 attended.
Fr Gerry’s Birthday
Frs Germain and Myles came our for dinner and stayed the night.
Fr Gerry Hospitalised
Fr Gerry became ill and had to go to hospital, so Fr John took over the running of the Mission again. In September Fr Gerry returned to the Mission, helping where he could. However, Fr John was still in charge, pending the provincial visitation in November.
Visitation by Fr Liam McDermott, the Minister Provincial.
Fr Gerry said the morning Mass, which was well-attended. The weather was fine.
Fr Gerry Griffin Transferred to Newcastle area.
Fr John once more in charge.
Lenten observances were well organised by the sodalities and Gospel groups and many lapsed Catholics returned to the church. A great effort in teaching catechism resulted in a group of 73 parents presenting their children for baptism of Holy Saturday and a group of 84 for First Communion on Easter Sunday.
Holy Week services were held at St Xavier’s as well as the outstations.
Preparations for confirmation
Groups arranged at all places for the registering, teaching and examining of candidates. These groups were co-ordinated by a central committee aided by Srs Egbert and Vianney.
Confirmation at St Xavier’s
At the request of the general committee,Bishop Napier agreed to arrive at the Mission Saturday at noon. He was met by hundreds of people on the road about a kilometre from the mission. There he was dressed in the regalia of a Chief, and was led by the youth on foot to the Mission.
After the welcoming speeches, the Bishop was entertained by tribal dancing and singing while the beast and sheep were prepared for slaughter. When this was done, the elders of the church anointed the Bishop’s feet and hands with the ingongo of the sheep. The Bishop drank from the injongo according to the custom. He was wildly applauded for that.
Finally he was presented with the ceremonial spear and shield. The people were very impressed by the manner in which the Bishop entered into the official welcome, particularly when it was obvious that he understood and accepted the customs of the people.
We were blessed by a lovely warm day, so the entire ceremony was held outdoors with the altar erected on the verandah of the church. Bro Sydney looked after the liturgical side of things. 225 people were presented for confirmation.
Having vested in the office, the Bishop came out to join the procession. Everybody was delighted to see that, in place of the crozier, he carried the spear and oxhide shield. The entire service took about 3 hours, and wherever possible, everything was done according to the African custom. Many of the candidates were dressed in tribal attire and the singing was accompanied by drums, cymbals and horns. The offertory gifts were presented in a beautiful manner and included huge loaves of bread, etc. The number of communicants was approximately 900.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop was presented with all the offerings of the children, which seemed to amount to a goodly sum of money.
After the Bishop had unvested, he was clothed in a ceremonial blanket and escorted to the dinner table. There he joined Chief Makwedini Baleni and his councellors for the meal – the Chief had also been present at the Mass.
It was really a memorable day for all, and a great uplift for the church at Umzongwana, where there had been unrest, tribal fighting and tension for some time.
Bishop Napier later wrote a letter to the Parish Committee to thank them for organising the occasion and express how much he had enjoyed himself.
The weather was fine and the church was full for 10 am Mass. It was a quiet time in the district with a few reports of minor trouble only.
They were extremely wet months, and although the local houses escaped the bad flooding taking place elsewhere, many collapsed due tot he constant damp. As a result, the plans drawn up for the Lenten services and processions had to be more-or-less abandoned.
Easter at St Xavier’s was very well attended.
Request by a Neighbour
Mr Colin Earle asked for permission to draw electric current from the Mission for the purpose of electrifying the fencing around his mealie lands. Fr John considered the matter carefully and refused.
The Chief, Makwedini Baleni, was formally deposed by the Maluti authorities.
Fr John went to Ireland on holiday and Bishop Napier supplied for most of the 3 months.
39 children and 10 adults received First Holy Communion for the first time.
New Station of the Cross put on the first Sunday of Lent. The expence was paid by the Sodality of St Anna. The usual Lenten practices took place and were well attended.
First Overt Ripples of Unrest
Large numbers of students from KwaSibi arrived at Mzongwana (Taylorville), and together with the local students, threatened the store-keepers and shebeen owners (illegal liquor outlets), demanding the prices of good be lowered or elst…)
There was only one Palm Sunday Mass and procession at St Xavier’s, as the people came from the outstations. As a result of the numbers the church couldn’t hold all of them, and many stood outside.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday services were at St Xavier’s and there were good attendances at all of them.
Easter Sunday 1990
In order to accommodate the people at Maris Telgte, Fr Kerr’s own Mission, the parish council agreed that the Easter services at St Xavier’s should finish with the Paschal service and Mass on Saturday evening.
This service began at 4 pm. and was attended by the local people and a very fair number from the outstations. There were no adults for baptism and the children’s baptism was put forward to the following month.
Proposed Confirmation Date
In June the Parish council fixed the date of confirmation and invited Bishop Napier to confirm the local candidates on 3rd November. The date had to be postponed, as insufficient preparation had been made by the people, especially at some of the outstations. The new date was to be sometime in the first half of 1991.
First Communion at St Xavier’s
41 children and adults were finally examined on the 14th December and were found to be well prepared for First Communion on Christmas Day.
The people made a very good effort to attend Mass during the Sundays of Advent. The parish council decided that Mass should not be said at St Xavier’s on Sunday 23rd December.
All services for the sick prior to Christmas were completed on Saturday 15th December.
Arrival of Fr Tony Hardiman
He was appointed to Taylorville Mission as from the First Sunday in Advent, and Fr John was able to go to hospital for a big operation. Fr John had really been battling along on his own.
Palm Sunday: There was a service at St Xavier’s.
The Easter Triduum was celebrated at the central Mission.
Holy Thursday: 2 p.m
Good Friday: 2 p.m
Holy Saturday: 8 Midnight
However, the service went on till 4 a.m. It was too noisy and uncontrollable, as hardly any men were to keep order. The 25 baptisms were conducted according to the new RCIA, and 40 babies on Easter morning.
Fr Hardiman went to Maria Telgte twice a week while Fr John was out of action. Once successfully over the operation and was recuperating, he planned to return to St Xavier’s for one Sunday before his departure overseas on holiday.
By this time Fr Hardiman was beginning to feel the strain of all the duties involved in serving both Missions. He found it all very new and different, and so did the people, who had to re-adjust to having a resident priest again.
Canonical Visitation – November
Fr Robert Stewart came on visitation to the Mission
There were 200 people for confirmation. While at the Mission, Bishop Napier blessed a plot near the entrance gate that was intended for use as a burial ground. The idea was suggested and proposed by the parish council.
St Xavier’s Mass at 9 a.m. with a fairly good group of people.
The Easter ceremonies were a little better planned than the previous year. The big Cross was ceremoniously brought via the various outstations to St Xavier’s, with each outstation organising their own week of Stations of the Cross from house to house with the Cross.
Palm Sunday : St Xavier’s – 8 a.m
Holy Thursday : St Xavier’s – 9 a.m
Good Friday : St Xavier’s – 1 p.m
Holy Saturday : St Xavier’s – 10 a.m
Easter Sunday : St Xavier’s – 10 a.m
Immediately after Easter, the blessing of the houses commenced and continued the whole Easter season. This was made easier because most Catholic houses had a white chalk cross clearly visible on their doors.
Fr Hardiman planned to complete the houses in November on his return from overseas – he left in June.
Fr Hardiman went on Sabbatical Jubilee
Bishop Wilfrid Napier
He was appointed to the Archdiocese of Durban as Archbishop.
All the Sisters were changed (see under Sisters)
Holy week ceremonies
Palm Sunday : St Xavier’s – 9 a.m
Holy Thursday : St Xavier’s – 9 a.m
Good Friday : St Xavier’s – 1 a.m
Holy Saturday : St Xavier’s – 2 a.m
Easter Sunday : St Xavier’s – 9 a.m
The Vigil ceremonies were at St Xavier’s. The plan was to continue Easter ceremonies after Easter at all outstations with baptismal promises, blessing of the Easter candle and water.
Fr Thomas Nair made this visit to the Mission in December.
Fr Hardiman started using a computer for easy access to Baptisms and Marriages, and found it very useful.
Water System Giving Problems
Various problems cropped up, so Fr Hardiman had to put in a new-style submersible pump which took a few attempts to get it right.
Then people kept wanting to put their cattle in the mission field or camp, so he sent them to old Mhlakwana (Martens Paneng), who was chief herdsman for Fr Egbert, chief in staff for Fr John and now prime minister of the estate for Fr Hardiman.
Changing the Christmas Time-Table
This time Fr Hardiman planned to put the outstations first, leaving the Mission at 5.30 a.m and getting back about 9.30 for 10 o’clock Mass at St Xavier’s.
Confirmation at St Xavier’s
40 children were confirmed in October. The people at the outstations had made no preparations or instructions for confirmation, but they were invited to the feast and they came. As no bishop had yet been appointed for the Kokstad Diocese, Fr Hardiman was the bishop for the occasion.
A New Bishop at Last!
On the 19th February, Fr William Slattery was ordained Bishop of Kokstad and he announced that he planned to visit all the outstations and get to know his people. (He most certainly has done that).
Fr John on Overseas leave
Fr Hardiman helped and did supply at Maria Telgte in the winter months while Fr John was away. As there were now no sisters to help him at Maria Telgte, Fr Hardiman had to stay there 3 days a week to keep things going.
Fr John was back, so Fr Hardiman asked him if he would see to the camp, a big field of about 40 acres. He did this willingly, and noticing that various people had their cattle grazing in the field, called these owners to explain that they would have to pay R5 per cow per month to graze there.
RCIA Programme and Time-Table
Fr Hardiman was using this programme for receiving new members into the Church, so there were no adult baptisms during the year-he was waiting for Easter.
The statistics showed 5200 Catholics in the parish, but from the family cards. Fr Hardiman could only locate 3000-4000 people, with up to 60% being only nominal. The best we can say is that there are between 1000-1500 baptised catholics who have some contact with our Eucharistic communities.
Mrs Francisca Langa Employed
She started working keeping the house tidy and helping with the parish books. She does not cook and I give her R400 per month. Her position might clarify itself as time goes by.
June – August
While Fr Niall was away, Fr John helped with Sunday Mass and Saturday outstations. Fr Manus Campbell did the First Fridays and Bishop Slattery had 2/3 sessions with the catechetical teachers.
First Burial in the Mission Graveyard
Mrs Benedicta Molapo, wife of Innocent Molapo, was put to rest with great joy and ceremony. She had been secretary and foreign correspondent for the Legion; she had also been a prominent teacher at Lufefeni.
Confirmation by Bishop Slattery
Just after Easter the Bishop confirmed 85 people, with the minimum age being 15. While he was here, the people made some effort to receive him officially by giving him some monies and a sheep.
Immediately after the confirmation, Fr Hardiman started house visitation once a week, to keep up the momentum of the confirmation group.
Calling Names in Church at all Outstations
This helped bring some lapsed people back to church attendance. The breakdown of statistics will be found under individual outstations.
Parish Council Quarterly meeting
At the Parish Council meeting, it was suggested that Fr Hardiman call together the men to sort out some funeral problems. The first meeting of the men was in October, with 29 people present and was very successful. A further meeting was help in December, with 25 people attending. They were very enthusiastic, enjoying the liturgy, discussions and input. A third meeting was requested in January 1997, but unfortunately Fr Hardiman was unable to attend it, as he had already been transferred to Lusikisiki.
Fr Hardiman leaves Taylorville – 3rd January 1997
End of Chronicle
T H E S I S T E R S
Sacred Heart Sisters
In June 1960, Fr Wilfrid Byrne, the resident priest vacated the old house as a new priest’s house had been built.
The old house then became the Sisters’Convent. The Mother General paid the Mission a visit in May 1960.
Three Sacred Heart Sisters from Lesotho (Sekake’s) arrived on the 4th August. They were:
Sr Agatha (Superior)
Two other sisters of the same order, who were stationed at Hardenberg, Srs Mary Rose and Antheme, accompanied them.
Fr Harry Houlihan arrived with Srs Agatha, Theodora and Elizabeth.
The Mother Provincial of the Sisters made two visits. Sr Gabriel was appointed new superior at the convent and Sr Alice continued to stay at the Mission.
Sr Marie Theresa, the clinic sister for the Mission and various outstations was very ill and was admitted to the Matatiele hospital on the 23rd March. While in hospital she became critically ill and Fr Eymard Hoade administered the Sacrament of the Sick and by the 25th she was reported as much improved. By the 31st May she was back in good health, having been on a diet for 6 weeks.
The Mother Provincial stayed a few days at the Mission.
Clinics held at Mission by FMM Sisters.
In the absence of Sr Marie Therese, Srs Lydia , Geraldine and Kathleen, came at weekends to hold clinics. They saw and helped approximately 350 patient on their three visits in April and May.
Sr Egbert Tshoba of Magusha
She made her solemn profession in the presence of Bishop McBride. Fr Egbert O’Dea performed the ceremony at St Xavier’s.
The Sisters Teach the New Catechism
By this time teaching of the new catechism was well under established, with weekly sessions at St Xavier’s, Hillside,Pamlerville and KwaMatias, where Sr Gabriel assisted Fr Egbert.
Solemn Profession of St Khumalo
Sr Khumalo from Lufefeni made her solemn profession at St Xavier’s. The Bishop presided and Fr Dominic Khumalo preached.
Srs Juliana and Elizabeth arrived.
New Superior for the Sacred Heart Sisters
She was Sr Katrina , and both she and Sr Gabriel started small groups for catechism and self-help. Gospel sharing is the slogan.
Community at the Mision
The community consisted of Fr John and Srs Clara , Alice and Vianney.
Sr Alice’s window was smashed twice in 3 months, and neither the Transkei police or the SA Police would come to investigate the incident, probably because of the situation of the SA\Transkei Borderpost. Fr John’s thought was that a mentally disturbed man with a grudge against the Sisters had been responsible. The third time the Sisters saw and recognised the man, and reported the incident to the Police, who did nothing.
Sr Victoria Sibisi, who had just finished her novitiate at Matikwe, joined the Sisters in place of Sr Theresia.
The Sisters – All change
The three new sisters were: Srs Agnes, Clothilda and Margaret.
The Sisters will probably leave the Mission altogether.
O u t s t a t i o n s
Opened: September 1937
New building: 7th November 1946
Unless it is mentioned under another name, there is no further mention of Glen Edward.
In June 1960, Fr Wilfrid Byrne paid a visit to Chief Lamech Makoba at his residence eNuha to discuss the possibility of getting a church site in the Nkadi-Rochdale district, about 8 km from St Matthew’s and where there was a large concentration of Catholics. He also spoke to the Magistrate of Matatiele, Mr Parsons and the agricultural inspector, Mr Boucher on this matter, then awaited developments.
Permission granted for church site.
Chief Lamech Makoba granted permission for the Nkadi-Rochdale site to Fr Egbert, and this was confirmed in writing on the same day.
New Catechism being taught at Rochdale
Fr Gerard was teaching the new catechism at Rockdale and it was well established there by this stage.
Visiting Houses at Rochdale
House visitation at Rockdale was completed.
Work on the new church in Rockdale began.
9th March 1961. The chief, his councellors and Fr Wilfrid went to measure out a new site at Hillside, Esifolweni, an hour’s ride from Protection Store (Joyner’s). They were fortunate to get such a prime site, also situated in the centre of a big location. The first site shown to Fr Wilfrid was just beside the Anglican church, so he persuaded the Chief to bring the site
nearer the store.
Started making bricks for a new church at Hillside.
Fr Wilfrid and the Catholics of Hillside built the walls of a church-rondavel. By Easter Fr Wilfrid celebrated the first Mass at the church-rondavel, at which 120 Catholics received Holy Communion. The building was thatched a week before Easter.
The 3rd Mass on the Third Sunday of each month was now scheduled to be said at Hillside.
Excellent attendance at Hillside for procession and blessing of the palm.
When Bishop McBride confirmed candidates at St Xavier’, he mentioned that he wished to visit Hillside, among others, to confirm the Christians there.
The Holy Cross came to Hillside.
Big wedding of the year took place at Hillside between the sone of David Pulling and the daughter of Angelina Lukhozi. It was the first white wedding in a long, long time and great crowds attended.
Holly Week 1987
Holy Week services were held at Hillside, among other outstations.
Palm Sunday 1991
While Mass was celebrated at other outstations on the Saturday, on Sunday itself the service was at Hillside (and St Xavier’s).
Mass at Hillside was at 6 a.m with a small but enthusiastic congregation.
Started home-to -home visitation: first Cibini.
9th August 1971. Fr Egbert began house-to-house visitation at Cibini.
Cibini area had good rains in the first week of November.
11th April 1961
Started home-to-home visitation: Goxe
Fr Egbert began house-to-house visitation at Goxe.
Handed to Fr Germain permission to occupy church site at Lufefeni, 6th November .
2nd December 1961
Permission to occupy at Lufefeni: NL 20.
When Bishop McBride was confirming the children at St Xaviers, he expressed his wish to visit Lufefeni to confirm the Christians there.
Holy Year Cross arrived at Lufefeni.
Bishop McBride fulfilled his wish from 2 years previously and confirmed 50 people at Lufefeni.
The Catholic at Lufefen painted their church and hired Augustine Kheswa to fix the roof.
Holy Week services were held at Lufefeni.
Permission to occupy site
On the 2nd December 1961 permission was obtained to occupy a church site at Esifolweni.
Holy Week services
They were held at Esifolweni.
The service was held at Esifolweni at 9 a.m.
Christmas Eve Mass
At this Mass held at Kwa Matias, there were 90 communicants.
1964 – Easter Mass
It was held at 2 p.m at kwa Matias, where 65 people received communion.
We had 25 anointings, 15 Holy Communions, 1 baptism and 8 Confirmations at Kwa Matias on the 13th February – all due to food poisoning from eating a deed ox.
Teaching the new catechism
The teaching of the new catechism is well established now, with weekly sessions…..and kwa Matias taught by Fr Egbert and Sr Gabriel.
When Bishop McBride did confirmation at St Xavier’s that year, he expressed the wish to visit… kwaMatias and to confirm the Christians there.
Holy Year Cross
The Holy Year cross came in procession to Kwa Matias from Matatiele. First there was a talk by Fr Finbarr, then a penitential service and confessions, followed by Mass with Frs John and Gerry Griffin celebrating. Finally there was a vigil.
55 people were confirmed by Fr Egbert at Kwa Matias on the 27th .
Opening of Church
The church at kwaMatias was built by the Christians themselves, while bishop Mcbride donated the cost of the roof, which cost R700. The altar and the ambo were a present from the nurses of Ennis hospital in Ireland to the memory of Miss Maureen Clohesy. 110 people were confirmed and 50 made their First Communion.
Lent 1987 - Holy Week services were held at Kwa Matias.
The service was held at kwa Matias at 2 p.m.
That year the service was at 9 a.m and did not include Eucharist.
There was Mass at St Joseph’s at 12 midday, at which 205 people received Communion.
There was confirmation at St Joseph’s on the 25th July for 196 candidates.
At St Joseph’s Easter Sunday Mass was at 6 a.m.
Mass was at 12 midday at St Joseph’s .
The Easter vigil was at 4.30 a.m followed by Easter Sunday Mass.
At St Joseph’s as well as at other outstations, the names of the Catholics were called out at Mass, and this helped bring back some lapsed back to Mass. Fr Niall found 296 people registered at St Joseph’s. These numbers included men, women, children and babies.
Kwa Mbombo , Magusha
A small church was built at KwaMbombo.
There was a new Junior Praesidium of the Legion with 22 members.
The New Catechism
There were weekly sessions at KwaMbombo taught by Fr Gerard and Sr Gabriel.
Fr Gerard broke his left wrist on his way to Magusha for catechism class, on horseback. Thank God it wasn’t worse.
Request for Catechism Classes
The people of Nuha asked for these classes and they started on the 22nd February.
February – Visitation
House-to-house visitation at Nuha was completed by Fr Gerard.
Rectal & New Rush
The Bishop asked me to build a church for the community of the Rectal and New Rush area, where there are approximately 600 Catholics.
At a meeting of the Catholics in the Rectal and New Rush areas, it was agreed that each family would contribute R5.00 towards the building of the new church. Already some 2,500 cement blocks had been and were on the site.
Bishop McBride pledged a sum of not exceeding 1000 Pounds towards the new church.
Fr Gerard started house-to-house visitation in March.
The Christians built their own church at Mnqayi.
Calling out Names
This was one of the outstations where the names of the Catholics were called out in church, and this helped boost attendance at Mass. There 28 Catholics registered in 1996.
1980 – October
The Christians of St Joseph’s bought the paint and painted the church.
First Holy Communion
This was held at St Joseph’s in September.
Calling out Names
As with Mnqayi, the names of the Catholics were called out in church and at the end of 6 months, the number of registered Catholics was 296.
Final preparations for First Communion were complete at St Mary on the 16th December. The children were very well prepared by the local committee and teachers. 37 children and 4 adults were presented for First Communion.
Calling out names
The same procedure as at St Joseph’s, and 242 Catholics were registered.
At St Teresa this Mass was held on Sunday 23rd December.
Calling out names
183 Catholics were registered at St Teresa
St Francis – 1996
160 registered Catholics.
C A T E C H I S T S
Mr Paulus Mdladlamba , the catechist at Magusha went on a Catechists’refresher course at Lumko, Lady Frere.
Appointment as Minister of the Eucharist
Bishop McBride, in a letter granted permission and faculty to catechist Paulus Mdladlamba, Magusha area, to give Holy Communion to the people in his area.
At KwaMbombo ,Magusha, we had the official ceremony when catechist, Paulus Mdladlamba, was publicly given permission to distribute Holy Communion. A good concert was organised by each village in aid of Mr Mdladlamba.
Annual Acies of Legion of Mary
During the Acies, there was a concelebrated High Mass, at which the Catechist, Mr Paulus Mdladlamba preached.
Blessing of Headstone:
At Mahangwe, the priest blessed the headstone of Mrs Mjwara, erected by her husband who was the Catechist. Another feast.
Catechist gave up his position
Another catechist, whose name I cannot locate, went to Cape Town to work for a commercial firm, as the pay was better.
St Xavier’s Mission – Taylorville
1. Fr Gottschalk Kunsteiger ofm – 1956 – 1960
2. Fr Wilfrid O’Byrne ofm – 1960 – 1961
3. Fr Egbert O’Dea – 1961 – 1982
Fr Harry Houlihan
Fr Niall Hardiman - 1966 – 1969
Fr Gerard O’Reilly – 1970 – 1973
Fr Finbarr Russel
4. Fr John Kerr (Maria Telgte) – 1982 – 1986
Fr by Fergal Grannell – 1985 -1986 3 months
Bishop Wilfrid Napier (Supplied) – 1988 3 months
5. Fr Niall (Tony) Hardiman – 1991 – 1997
6. Fr George of Nigeria – 1997 – 1991
St Xavier’s Mission, Taylorville, Mzongwanas is a relatively new Mission as compared with some which were started in the 19th century, but the priests also had to start from scratch.
All the priests have done their best to sow the Word, reap and harvest the results. At times there were two priests to see to all the outstations and this was the time of growth and yielding of fruit, particularly in the 1970′s. It must have been an exciting and yet exhausting time.
However, in common with other missions in the Kokstad Diocese and probably some other Diocese in Southern Africa, the priests are getting older and fewer and a heavy load is carried by each one. As a result, priests from other countries have to be borrowed for a period of a few years.
In the case of Taylorville, Fr John Kerr of Maria Telgte has had to run his own Mission as well as Taylorville from 1982 – 1986 and 1987 – 1991, no easy task as at times he has had to live at St Xavier’s Mission for 3 days a week. There are no more assistant priests available, not since 1986.
Fr Tony Hardiman is to be congratulated for so conscientiously putting the Taylorville chronicle onto the computer and preserving it for posterity. This makes it easier for me to have the information easily readable.
Fr George of Nigeria, who is the present Resident Priest has a big task, running the whole Mission and outstations on his own. I understand that the Sisters will be leaving. Our prayers are with all ‘lone’ priests running their Missions in remote, places, they deserve our support.
Sources of Information
1. Taylorville Priest’s Chronicle
2. Fr Gottschalk Kunsteiger ofm – Notes on loose pages
3. Fr Lucas Puerstinger ofm, Former Apostolic Administrator – Notes on loose pages.
4. Transkei for Christ – Fr Marcel Dischl cmm. 1982
5. Photos – Fr Manus Campbell (Matatiele).