On Saturday, the 24th of August 2013, there was quite some movement in the hall of the Queen of Apostles church in Ikathikati / Cathcart. Reason: the Women of St. Ann came together for a special function on deanery level to which they invited the dean himself…
Phone calls, messages and letters went out to Queenstown, Stutterheim, Balfour, Whittlesea and Lesseyton and in the meantime people became very busy and in the hall and in the kitchen, because that special event had to become a success!
And what kind of event that was! Full of pride, the delegations of Queenstown, Cathcart and the central deanery presented their flags and the ceremony could start.
After an initial prayer by the dean of Queenstown, the deanery president opened the gathering with some warm welcoming words during which the assembly responded singing enthusiastically.
Then the meeting could start in the normal way: filling in the attendance list, mentioning the apologies, making up of the minutes, followed by the main event of the day.
Every flag was carried around in a kind of procession during which all the members present greeted the flag singing songs in honour Mother Mary and of St. Ann. They opened also their purses, donating money as a kind of respect and appreciation for the branch of the Association represented by the flag in question.
The money was counted constantly and regularly the mistress of ceremonies announced that the amount of given money was insufficient, so the procession could continue till there was “enough” in the plate!
Once the procession stopped, there was a serious collection on the table which could cover easily some necessities needed by the Association.
After this the dean spoke to the assembly about the significance of a flag and about the ideal of the women of St. Ann as well.
“A flag is the symbol of a group of people sharing the same identity, ideals and final goals” he said, “and that symbol is shown to the world with joy and pride making known the characteristics of the association represented by that flag…”
Coming to that point, the dean explained them what a Woman of St. Ann has to be. “We must follow the example of St. Ann,” he said, “but… who is St. Ann? St. Ann is the mother of Mary and also the grandmother of Jesus Christ!!! Therefore, every woman of St. Ann must be an excellent mother and a loving grandmother.
In the Xhosa culture, the grandmother plays a very important role in the family: she is the person who looks around, being gentle with the generation coming after her, giving them good advice based on her own former experiences and spiced with the wisdom of old age.
The relation between grandmother and grandchildren is a chapter on its own. By giving a lot of love to her grandchildren, she creates a strong bond with them and she becomes their source of hope.
Like St. Ann they have to educate their own daughters in a committed way to God and the Church. By being the heart of her own family she has also to give a place to the love of God shared by everybody and as a grandmother she has to guide the grandchildren in an uncomplicated way towards a loveable relationship with God…”
After the concluding prayer done by Father Thulani Gubula, the priest in charge of Cathcart, the real social could start. The kitchen provided everybody with a full plate of enjoyable and solid food, something which is always more than welcome after a dense program.
Last point on the to-do list was reserved for the photographer. A couple of shots were made during which the participants became hilarious and once the camera was back in its poach; it was time to go home. The cars went off and the locals in their purple and black uniforms, walked slowly home. Their attitude expressed clearly that they had enjoyed their day.
Fr. Edward Tratsaert SAC