The following articles were authored by Diocese of Queenstown

Reinstitution of the Sodality of the Children of Mary In the Diocese of Queenstown

Sr CelineAlready since years we had the Sodality of the Children of Mary in Cofimvaba, where the Precious Blood Sisters run the well-known successful St. James High school for girls.

Under the dynamic leadership of Sr. Celine CPS, a group of catholic girls joined the sodality and this with such good results that the idea came up to revitalise that sodality on diocesan level.

On Sunday, the 18th of August 2013, when the South African Church Province celebrated the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a huge crowd of youngsters, coming from a little bit of everywhere in the diocese, could witness in a packed Cathedral how His Excellency, Bishop Dabula Anthony Mpako presided the Investiture of the new candidates by blessing their uniforms and their flag.

In his sermon the bishop stressed the importance of the youth in the Church and also the necessity of excellent examples which can give the right direction and motivation to that youth, and… what a better example of Christian, dedicated, committed and joyous life, completely rooted in God, can we find besides Mary, the Mother of God?

The answer is clear: it is Mary who shows us how to live in such a way that we become again really that what God wanted from the very beginning, namely His own image and likeness…

The service was just marvellous: Young voices filled the Cathedral with Marian hymns and songs and a procession during the offertory brought some African flavour in the Liturgy.

The spontaneity of our youngsters proved that the Church still has a nice and hopeful future.

A happy bishop congratulated the members of the sodality and wished them well for the future, giving them his special blessing.

Sr. Celine thanked the bishop, and did an appeal especially to the boys to join also the children of Mary. In the group there was only one boy and for sure he does not want to remain the only one!!!

So, the sodality is now again open for all our young people in the diocese, and I am sure that in the very next future, some echoes will raise in certain parishes saying: “We also want to join!”

The weather was not the best one: There was sunshine, but an icy wind did not allow a long stay outside. So, after Mass, there was still a kind of choir singing competition in the Parish hall until everybody went home, joyful and happy.


Fr. Edward Tratsaert SAC

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In Memoriam – Sister Maria Jerome Nomzamo Ningiza CMDA

Sr JeromeBorn on the 22nd of November 1935 in Gubevu, a tiny village in the Tsomo district, Nomzamo Ningiza grew up together with her siblings and went to school at Outsa Primary and finished her education at the Reyna Senior Secondary School with the then well-known “Senior Certificate”. During her time after school, she heard about a new sister congregation freshly founded by Bishop Rosenthal SAC in the Lady Frere District and that especially for Xhosa speaking people.

Nomzamo was fascinated by it and slowly she started to feel the call for a life in that new religious community. On the 8th of May 1964, she officially entered religious life within the Congregation of the Mother of Divine Love, better known as the Ntaba Maria Sisters, where she got the name of Sister Maria Jerome.

After her Noviciate, the enthusiastic Sister Jerome did her first profession on the 11th of January 1969 at Ntaba Maria Convent, where, three years later, she pronounced her final vows.

Her first mission work started in 1969 in Qoqodala, where she was from the very beginning involved in Pastoral work. The Priest in Charge recognised Sister Jeromes ability in giving catechism and, in 1973, he managed to get her sent to the Lumko Catechetical Centre which she left in 1974 to start a total new task in Mac Kay’s Nek by taking up the care for the candidates in the prepostulancy and in the meantime she stayed involved in the pastoral work which had become that familiar to her.

After six years in Mac Kay’s Nek, where she was so involved with young people, Sr. Jerome was transferred once again and this time it went to Idutywa, where, from 1980 till 1984, she would be boarding mistress for girls visiting the local High school.

After 5 years, she could use some spiritual uplifting and was sent in 1985 to the Maryville Centre of Spiritual Renewal in Port Elizabeth.

In 2008, Butterworth became her new residence where some challenges were waiting for her. This stay lasted only one year: her deteriorating health told her to take it a little bit easier and her return to the motherhouse in Ntaba Maria became inevitable in 2009.

Here she lived a quiet life till she became on the 1st of May 2013 the victim of a vicious stroke which, 27 days later turned out to be fatal. She left us on the 28th of May 2013.

On the 8th of june 2013, after a concelebrated Requiem Mass, presided by the bishop of Queenstown, Dabula Anthony Mpako, her mortal remains found a resting place at the own cemetery of the Ntaba Maria Convent.

As from so many other sisters who preceded her, we can mention the same thing about Sr. Jerome: She came, she stayed, she persevered and she went home for her eternal reward.

May she rest in peace!

Fr Edward Tratsaert SAC

Katikati Youth in Ntaba Maria

IMG_0165On the 15th of March 2013 the youth of the Queen of Apostles church in Katikati, went to the Ntaba Maria Convent in Lady Frere for a workshop and a chance to get an insight on how the Sisters of Ntaba Maria live and experience the beauty of Ntaba Maria itself.

The following morning there was a celebration of Holy Mass at half past six which ended with prayers until we went to breakfast. After breakfast at 08h30, we got ready for a workshop in which we met with a facilitator; Vuyisa Mahobe, from the National Youth Development Agency in East London. He taught us about life skills and the building of our self esteem. We worked together as groups and did some presentations on various topics and answered some questions according to our own life experiences as young people. The various topics that we were discussed also taught us that as young people in South Africa; we can achieve anything through knowing ourselves, being responsible, having self-confidence and confidence in our abilities and also allowing God to work in our lives and leave everything in His hands.

We also got a chance to sit down and have a session with Sr.Michaelina Nkuzo CMDA, who is still in preparation for her final profession. We asked her questions about being a Sister, how they live, why they chose to be Sisters and how long it takes to become a Sister. She also told us about the history of the Ntaba Maria Convent and also showed us some old pictures of the opening of the Convent and the first Sisters to live there in the 60’s. We also got a tour around, saw the animals that are kept there and even went to the waterfalls, that looked amazing, behind the convent.

Then later in the afternoon before making our departure, we had a little ‘get together’ braai in which the Mother Superior:  Sr Francis de Sales Solani CMDA, gave us some advice and words of encouragement and faith. On behalf of the Queen of Apostles church youth that went on the trip, I would like to thank our priest; Fr.Thulani Gubula for organising and going to the trip with us and also to the Sisters of Ntaba Maria for allowing us into their world and giving us an insight into their lives and hopefully all of us have learnt and taken some inspiration from being at Ntaba Maria. God Bless.IMG_0178

Nosicelo Vananda

Uhambo lwethu silulutsha lwakwi dayosisi yaku komani kwi bandla lase Kati-kati sityelela e Ntaba Maria ngomhla we 15-03-2013. Sihambe silulutsha nompriste webandla lethu e Kati-kati Sifike kakuhle samkelwa ngo sister baya kusibonisa indawo esizakulala kuzo nendawo zoku hlamba kwakunye nezokuzinceda bandulaukuya kusibonisa ekitshini nendawo yokuhlangana. Oosister baye basilungiselela ukutya ngelo xesha sisazibukela indawo le thina siye sabizwa kwakulunga ukutya siqalengokwenza umthandazo phambi kokuba sitye saphinda sabulela sakugqiba ukutya wasibiza u father ukuba siye kwelinye igumbi apho sifike senza umthandazo waphambi kokulala waza wasiyalela ukuba siwuvumele umoya walendawo ungene kuthi ukuze ngenene sithi xa siyishiya kwakhona sibesilubona utshintsho singabantu abahlukileyo eNkosini.

Sihambile ke saya kulala esiyalele kwakhona uba umntu onqwenayo ngo six ekuseni ukuya emthandazweni wo Sister uvumelekile, ize elona Dini lingene nge 6h30 a.m. Kufuneka sivukile ngeloxesha. Sayakulala, sivukile ke ngomhla we 16-03-2013 kakukhle kungekho nto saqoqosha amagumbi ethu okulala,saze sahlamba silungiselela ukungena iDini eliNgcwele. Usenzenzele iDini ke uFather Thulani Gubula, emva kwe Dini basenzinsa umthandazo we Rosary, ooSister bakugqiba zonke imfihlakalo zeRosary basikhulula siyokutya. Senze umthandazo sandula ukutya saphinda sabulele sakugqiba. Yafika ke ifacilitator yakwi National Youth Develpment Agency yase Monti ,uMnu Vuyisa Mahobe,nge 8h30 saqalisa iingongoma esizakunyathela kuzo, njengezigqibo ezifanelekileyo emasizithathe ebomini njengolutsha, sihambe kunye ke saqhuba kakuhle,safunda likhulu.

Emva koko sadibana noSister Michaelina Nkuzo CMDA, siye sahlala phantsi naye esibonisa ngentlalo yabo yobuSister, indlela abenza ngayo izinto imimiselo kwakunye nemiqathango abayithobelayo,nokuba wenza njani xa ufikelwe lubizo ufuna ukungena kubuSister. Wasixelela ukuba yaqala njani lento yobuSister  base Ntaba Maria ,iqale nini, iqalwa ngubani nokuba iNtaba Maria yamiselwa nini,sizibambile ke ezo zinto. Kwalandela uFather naye wasichazela ngobu priste; ukuba kwenziwa njani, yiminyaka emingaphi ukuze ube ubekelwa ebupristeni. Uye uSister wasibonisa ke iNtaba Maria ukuba imi njani,wasibonisa nezilwanyana eziphaya,sabona nezitishi zerosary eziya emangcwabeni. Sagqitha sabona iingxangxasi emva koko kojiwa inyama kwamnandi,sabulele kooSister ngokusamkela kwabo ngezandla ezishushu,nabo basixhobisa ngamazwi akuthazayo ebomini,emveni koko kwatyiwa kwahanjwa.

Ibhalwe ngu Lubabalo Lawrence Mfanta no Thabo FekexeIMG_0181

Diocese Policies Edition


1. Towards parishes that are financially self-sustaining

Our diocese is presently going through an unavoidable transition from a missionary diocese, largely dependent on external financial assistance, to an autonomous local Church that must be self-supportive and self-sustaining financially. Practically, this means that every parish or pastoral district in the diocese must move towards becoming financially self-sustaining. Now that the source for external funding has dried up, the diocese is not able anymore to subsidise parishes as was the practice previously.

In the light of this reality, as from January 2012 the diocese will not give out subsidies to parishes. Parishes and pastoral districts are asked to support themselves in all their needs. The needs in question include support for the priest in all his needs, maintaining the parish plant and catering for the daily running of the parish. Henceforward, subsidies will be given only to those parishes or pastoral districts where there is a proven genuine need for external help. This will be on the basis of clear monthly financial statements submitted.

2.    Financial support of parish priests

In order to make sure that the legitimate needs of the priests are adequately met and that there are no unfair discrepancies in the financial support given to individual priests, a common system of allowances has been established. All parishes and pastoral districts are to adhere to this system. Only in consultation with the Bishop and after his explicit approval can the figures laid down be altered.

  1. Allowances

The monthly figures for the different allowances are as follows:

a)     Household expenses: R1, 500.00

b)    Pocket money: R1, 000.00

c)     Petrol allowance: R1, 500.00 (basic)

  1. Holiday allowance

This will be in the form of a thirteenth (13th) cheque of R4, 000.00 given to the priest in the month when he takes his annual leave after having given timely notice to the parish pastoral council and to the finance committee.

  1. Medical scheme

As from the 1st of March all our priests will be on a medical aid scheme. This is to make sure that the medical needs of our priests are adequately taken care of. At the moment the average monthly premium we are required to pay is R1, 730.00. This is to be included in the financial support given by parishes to parish priests. This amount is to be included in the parish budget and to be paid out monthly to the Diocesan Chancery.

3.     The ordinary sources of parish income

It is the duty of every individual Catholic to take personal responsibility for providing for the needs of the Church. In this regard, the law of the Church states (Canon no. 222.1):

The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.

To this end, in addition to contributing regularly to the Sunday collection, every adult parishioner with an income is expected to make a voluntary pledge according to his or her financial situation. The following guidelines are meant to assist the faithful in carrying out this important responsibility.

  1. Plate collections

As part of the offertory in every Sunday Eucharist or on other days of obligation a collection is taken. This offering is first and foremost a sign of offering ourselves to God together with the gifts of bread and wine. Secondarily, this constitutes a source of regular income for the parish. While no amount can be stipulated for this kind of offering, the faithful are encouraged to give a significant donation and to do so generously. This requires that there be conscious thinking about how much will be given before a person attends Sunday Mass. The acquired habit of giving the small change that is of no use to the family is not at all helpful in this regard.

  1. Planned giving or pledge (tickets)

As mentioned above, the practice in the Catholic Church is that every adult parishioner with an income is expected to make a voluntary pledge according to his or her financial situation. Ideally, this is to be done monthly in order to ensure smooth cashflow in the budget of the parish. The faithful are asked to budget for this and to contribute voluntarily and generously as a sign of stewardship, i.e., expressing our gratitude to God by using the gifts God has given us to assist the work of God carried out through the Church.

The following figures are given only as guidelines, to establish the minimum expected.

a)     Those on social grants: a minimum of 1% of monthly income

b)    Those employed or self-employed: a minimum of 5% of monthly income

  1. Donations and Fundraising

Those among the faithful who are able to give special donations to the Church are encouraged to do so. The faithful are also highly encouraged to consider including the parish or the Diocese in their last wills. Parish fundraising projects are also another helpful source of income for the parish. Let us look for creative ways of doing this.

  1. Stole fees or offerings for the reception of Sacraments

It is an ancient tradition of the Catholic Church and a provision of Canon Law (Can. 848) that the faithful should give an offering for the administration of the Sacraments as determined by the competent authority. These offerings are commonly referred to as stole fees. The stole fee should be a meaningful and significant donation given according to the means of each parishioner and the nature of the particular celebration conducted. For example, an offering for the celebration of a marriage is expected to be more than an offering for the baptism of an infant, etc.

Again, the following figures are given only as guidelines, to establish the minimum recommended in offering stole fees.

a)     Stipend for a mass intention: R50

b)    Stole fee for Baptism: R50

c)     Stole fee for First Holy Communion: R50

d)    Stole fee for Confirmation: R100

e)     Stipend for a supplying priest: R100 + Petrol

f)     Stole fee for a Funeral: R150

g)     Stole fee for Marriage solemnisation: R300

All stole fees with the exception of stipends for a mass intention are to be paid to the parish as part of the ordinary income of the parish. Stipends for mass intentions are to be given to the priest who celebrates the mass as a form of additional financial help. It is to be kept in mind always that poor parishioners who genuinely cannot afford to give the stipulated amounts should be helped without insisting on the payment of stole fees.

4.     The importance of transparent bookkeeping

The culture of self-support requires that we adopt the kind of practices that are conducive to and facilitate this kind of culture. Paramount among these is the handling of parish finances in a responsible, accountable and transparent manner. For this reason, the keeping of clear and up-to-date financial records as well as regular reporting to the parishioners regarding parish finances must become a common practice in all the parishes in our Diocese. In addition to reporting regularly to the parishioners, each parish is required to give quarterly returns to the Diocesan Chancery for the attention of the Bishop and the Diocesan Finance Committee beginning from the end of March 2012.

Of importance also is the drawing up of an annual budget which will act as the overall guide in the administration of parish funds. Again, as from January 2012 all parishes and pastoral districts in the Diocese are required to have a budget which must be submitted to the Bishop for final approval.

Templates for both budgets and general parish financial record-keeping have been produced in order to assist parishes in this important task and are available for collection at the Diocesan Chancery.

5.     Guidelines for the Conducting of Funerals

A matter which has been found to necessitate urgent attention concerns the conducting of funerals in our parishes and pastoral districts. In this regard, after having given due consideration to this matter in consultation with parish priests, I would like to present the following as the diocesan policy to be followed henceforward:

  • Ordinarily funerals are not to be conducted on a Sunday as this is the day for all Catholics to attend the Sunday Eucharist which is the central form of worship for us. Catholic families must therefore take all possible steps to make sure that their funerals do not take place on a Sunday.
  • While all those who ask for assitance from the Church with a funeral will and must be assisted, however, as a matter of justice and fairness to the parish community, the manner in which the funeral service is to be conducted must be according to the status of the deacesed regarding the practice of the Catholic faith. It is important to clarify that this has nothing to do with judging the spiritual status of the deceased before God. Only God can make that judgement! As I have said, this is solely in the interest of justice and fairness as far as life in the parish community is concerned.
  • Those who were full and active Catholics at the time of their death are to be given a full funeral service conducted by a priest which includes the celebration of Holy Mass in Church.
  • Lapsed Catholics who had ceased to be active members of the parish community as well as non-Catholic relatives of practising Catholics who ask for assistance with a funeral will be given a funeral service without the celebration of Holy Mass in a church. In these and other similar situations the service will ordinarily be conducted by a Lay Minister.
  • While adhering faithfully to the above guidelines, parish priests have the power and the responsibility to determine the exact procedure to be followed in those peculiar cases which do not fall neatly under the abovementioned categories.

6.     Communion under both kinds

In some of our parishes communion under both kinds has become a common practice. However, it has come to my awareness that this is not always done with the necessary dignity and respect that should always be accorded to the Blessed Eucharist. For this reason, I would like to bring the following to your attention:

  • Our faith is that Christ is fully present in both species of the Sacrament. Thus when we receive the body of Christ, as is usually the practice in many Catholic churches, we receive the fullness of the sacramental presence of Christ. However, “so that the fullness of the sign may be made more clearly evident in the course of the Eucharistic banquet,” the Church allows the practice of communion under both kinds when circumstances, as judged by the diocesan Bishop, permit this to be done with respect and dignity.
  • I hereby decree that when this is done the following must be observed:
    • only those confirmed or have reached their sixteenth (16) year of age are to be ordinarily admitted to receive the precious blood of Christ;
    • the set-up of the church building must be such that it allows for communion under both kinds to be carried out without difficulty;
    • there must be enough commissioned ministers of Holy Communion to assist in the distribution;
    • the stipulated liturgical vessels needed for the distribution of the precious blood must be available;
    • Ideally, for every one ciborium there should be two chalices.
    • All in all, parish priests must ensure that communion under both kinds is always carried out with dignity and respect.

7.     A New Vision for Catechesis

Following the approach adopted by the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) in their Statement on Catechesis, we are in the process of working out a new program of catechesis in the Diocese. In essence, we are moving away from a sacramentally based catechesis which focuses on preparing people for the reception of sacraments. We are working out a program of catechesis that will be an on-going journey of the deepening of faith, making the faith of people living, conscious and active.

As far as children are concerned, this process will extend from Grade R all through the different stages until they are confirmed at the age of 16 or so. We need volunteers to help us carry out the implementation of this program of catechesis. Members of the Diocesan Catechesis Commission will soon be visiting the different parishes to explain this new approach and to ask for people to offer themselves to be catechists.

First Compilation

Issued on 1 March 2013

+Dabula A. Mpako

Bishop of Queenstown

SACBC State on Pope’s Resignation

Catholics throughout the world have been taken by surprise by the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, which was announced yesterday. Most have been saddened by this announcement because we recognize and acknowledge the courage of Pope Benedict during his almost 8 years of the Pontificate. His has not been an easy Papacy due to the many difficult issues that he has had to deal with over these years, not least the scandal of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. He has been under an enormous amount of pressure from various groups, such as those, which advocate for the ordination of women and those, which promote gay marriages.

In these difficult times he has stood firm and re-affirmed Catholic teaching. In some quarters this has not made him popular and he has had to endure inordinate criticism. But his fidelity to Christ’s teaching has made him a true Shepherd and a true Teacher of the faith and in this he has inspired and strengthened his brothers and sisters in the service of Jesus Christ.

He has greatly enriched the Church with his theology and writings. His clear mind and deep thought have made a positive contribution to the life of the Church. He reached out to victims of abuse and, on behalf of the Church, sought their forgiveness. His encyclicals taught us on the love of God, on the need to seek justice in the economy and to strive for a new economic order, his post-synodal document Africae Munus called on all Africans to be in the service of justice, peace and reconciliation. He has deepened relationships with leaders of Christian denominations, those of other Faiths and political leaders – a fact which has been acknowledged by many world leaders over the past twenty-four hours.

Pope Benedict’s decision to resign is a humble act based on his recognition of his failing physical help and the need for the Church to have a Pope who has strength both in body and mind. It is quite clear that this difficult and agonizing decision has been made for the good and the love of the Church. We respect and acknowledge his humility and his willingness to make sacrifices for the greater good of the People of God. It is certainly not the first time we have witnessed the humility, gentleness and love of this great man. We have only to think of occasions such as his visit to the United Kingdom to be reminded of how he touched and changed the lives of many people.

While we may be saddened by his resignation we do recognize that the Pope, after frequent examination of conscience, believes that this is the right course of action at this time in the life of the Church. We respect that and we, as Catholics, must continue to pray for Pope Benedict that he will continue to give service to Christ and his Church in a new way. I call upon you all to pray for him daily that the Lord may continue to strengthen and protect him.

Furthermore, we know that God never deserts his flock. The Lord will not desert us at this time and we too need to strengthen our faith and trust in God’s continued salvific action in the world today. As we enter this new phase of the life of the Church, I call upon all to pray daily in your private prayers, during the Celebration of the Eucharist and in other liturgical events, to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide and lead those who are entrusted with the responsibility of selecting a successor to Pope Benedict. As we enter this time of Lent it is most appropriate to strengthen our prayer and fasting that God’s will be done and that the right person will be elected Pope to lead us through the times that lie ahead.

May God bless you and your families and always keep you true to Him.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

+Stephen Brislin

President Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference

13th February 2013