Newly ordained Deacon Thulani Gubula’s first impressions in the Apstolic field
I was only recently ordained to the diaconate; obviously I have very little pastoral experience. I finished my studies to meet the academic requirements for ordination in November 2011. That journey was both painful and exciting for me; I accumulated quite a bit of emotional muscle while treading through it.
As a deacon I have been very fortunate to be placed in Stutterheim with Fr Siphiwo Vanqa SAC. He himself has not been in Stutterheim for a very long time. What fascinates me is the amount of work he has done in a very short time. He is a man of any gifts and among those; courage being the most noteworthy of his gifts. He loves his people. He has ways of saying the most difficult things and makes them sound easy. I am hoping to learn as much as I can from this wonderful Pallottine Father. I must mention that the warmth of the faithful people of God in Stutterheim adds a lot of value to my life during my time here.
However, what I can speak about so far is my perception or evaluation of our diocese. It will become obvious that my evaluation is done from a theological point of view- I suppose that can be understood because my most recent exposure has been the study of theology. I have observed that the socio-political background of our country has crippled or stagnated even the development of Christian life. The values and esteem of personhood that come with knowing Jesus Christ have not gone very far. The typical paradigm of the oppressed and unworthy is still recalcitrant in the minds of many of our Catholics. Let me relate an anecdote as an example of the foregoing statement: before the appointment of our bishop last year; some of my own people said that they were praying for us to get a white person as bishop and not a black person because the latter will ruin our diocese. I was deeply saddened by that.
What I have mentioned here is seen in many other areas of Church life. I can list a whole litany of ways in support of my thesis. However, my point is that this for me remains one of the most venomous challenges in our pastoral endeavours. It is much easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to populate the Kingdom of God with people who have no sense of self-worth (to paraphrase the words of our Lord). I hope to contribute with my gifts in addressing this problem in our beautiful diocese of Queenstown.