Warm greetings and God’s blessing to all of you!
Diocesan mission statement
We are well on the way of implementing the mission we have set ourselves as a Diocese, namely, to become A CARING AND SELF-SUPPORTIVE DIOCESE WHICH UTILISES THE TALENTS AND SKILLS OF ALL IN A CO-ORDINATED PASTORAL PLAN OF ACTION WITH ONE COMMONLY SHARED VISION.
Mission Statement posters will soon be made available to all parishes so that we may always be conscious of this mission and find creative and imaginative ways of realising it in our respective parishes and pastoral districts. I invite all to engage this process fully and proactively.
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 fulness of the sacramental presence of Christ. However, “so that the fulness 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.
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 ongoing 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.
Developing a culture of self-support
As from January 2012 all parishes and pastoral districts are required to take full responsibility for meeting all the needs that fall under the running of the parish. The dream is that each parish will in time become self-reliant financially. Subsidies will still be given to those parishes where there is a proven genuine need for external support.
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.
I am happy to see that many parishes in the diocese have managed to have new parish committees set up as requested. We hope that by Pentecost all parishes will have carried out this important task. On Pentecost Sunday, the 27th of June 2012, there will be a gathering of all the newly established parish committees at the Cathedral for official commissioning by the Bishop. The Mass will start at 11:00 am. I ask all parishes to begin preparing for this important event.
Over the past six months I have managed to carry out pastoral visits to most of the parishes in the Diocese. This has been a very informative experience for me as I got to know firsthand the situation of the different parishes in the diocese. But above all this has been a very pleasant experience. I have greatly appreciated the warm welcome and the genuine love extended to me by the clergy and the faithful in the different parishes and pastoral districts. Thank you to all for the love and support you have so generously shown! I will soon come to the places I have not reached yet. Please be patient and do not lose hope!
May I take this opportunity to wish all a fruitful Lenten Season and, since it will most probably be only after Easter that the next edition of the Diocesan Newsletter will come out, may I also wish all a very happy Easter!!!
Bishop of Queenstown