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PASTORAL LETTER ON RACISM BY THE SACBC

PASTORAL LETTER

SOUTHERN AFRICAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE

 A CALL TO OVERCOME RACISM

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We need to have a candid conversation on racism and its manifestations in order to adequately and seriously address racism and racial divisions in our country.

We realise that this is not an easy conversation, one that many of us may prefer to avoid. Our invitation to such a dialogue may in itself evoke a range of emotions, including self-justification and self-righteous feelings; or, guilt and denial; on the other hand, feelings of anger and sadness.  Dialogue, rational and respectful, is necessary so that we open ourselves to receive God’s healing.

The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others was something which St. Peter and the early Church overcame through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “Truly I now perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35)

Our invitation to become part of this dialogue comes from a realisation that the Holy Spirit calls us as a country to be healed; to build and develop relationships of equality, dignity and mutual respect.

In this third decade after gaining our democratic freedom and rights,

  • We need to address the issues of our social trauma as a country which result from the violence of centuries of colonialism and the violent decades of apartheid. We need to dialogue and work together to achieve healing as a nation.
  • We need to acknowledge the link between race, power and privilege.
  • We need to redress urgently the economic inequalities present in our society as a result of past racial discriminatory laws and practices; to allay unfounded fears and promotes justice.

Our responsibilities within the Church

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as Church in Southern Africa, we commit ourselves to a credible and comprehensive conversation on racism. This will mean acknowledging the presence of racism in the Church before and during the apartheid era and in these years of democracy. In humility, as St. Peter confessed, we your pastors prostrate before God and before all who are in pain, ask for forgiveness for our historic complicity with racism in the Church.

As we seek God’s mercy that comes with the Jubilee of Mercy, we challenge ourselves as your pastors and we call upon all the faithful and all people of goodwill to do all in our power to address the problem of racism in our society and in the Church. To this effect, our Conference will be adopting a process to be used in small group reflection in our dioceses and parishes engaging all in dealing with the issues of racism.

Furthermore, we encourage this open dialogue at the level of our parishes, availing parishioners of the opportunity to look at how people can grow in positive appreciation of cultural diversity and how this is expressed in the liturgy and other activities of the parish. Our experience of the Gospel call us to rejoice in diversity, to become more culturally inclusive and more enthusiastic in our appreciation of God’s gift of racial diversity. This leads us to appreciate that in our parishes, in our religious communities and in our dioceses, the glory of the body of Christ is enriched and mediated through the various rich cultural, social economic contributions that each race and all ethnic groups contribute from their basket of traditions and social identities.

Through our celebration of the Eucharist, the symbol of unity in the body of Christ, we ask the Lord to heal and transform the relationships in our dioceses and our parishes so that we become communities of faith where there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.” (Galatians 3: 28).

Personal responsibility of each

If we want our conversion to contribute to the building of a South Africa freed from racism, we must strive to lead lives worthy of the Gospel (cf. Phil. 1.27; Eph. 4.1), refrain from loving only people who are just like ourselves.  In loving only those who share our racial and ethnic backgrounds, we fall short of fulfilling the demands of love which the Gospel calls for. The words of our Lord challenge us that if we greet only our brothers and sisters, “what more are you doing than others? Do not even the non-believers do the same?”  (Matthew 5: 47)

While reaching out to one another, in open and honest dialogue, the sacrament of Reconciliation becomes especially important and meaningful because through it we come in our sinfulness to our all merciful Father for healing and forgiveness.

A call to prayer

The task of reconciliation therefore requires watchfulness and ardent prayer on the part of each. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we ask all parish priests and parishioners to commit themselves to a parish campaign to overcome racism, e.g. a parish prayer campaign or a family prayer, special days of prayer and fasting, co-operating with other parishes across racial lines and working with organisations promoting the dismantling of racism. We ask each parish to organise and commit themselves to do this.

May the Lord of Peace grant our nation the peace, the healing and the reconciliation that we seek. (cf. 2 Th. 3.16).

 

Archbishop Stephen Brislin

President of Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference

We Pray and also Socialize!!!

As we have it on our church calendar the 22nd January is a special day for St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr. Our Pallotine brothers and fathers celebrated this special day on Monday the 25th together with the Conversion of St Paul Feast. The Pallotines formerly known as the “Society of the Catholic Apostolate” SAC celebrate this day yearly in our diocese. They come together in prayer to remind themselves of their founder. As we know he was had an intense devotion to the Holy Trinity and to the Blessed Virgin Mary to the extent of being considered a saint by his contemporaries in his life. He was proclaimed blessed by Pope Pius XII on the 22nd January 1850 and canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1963. He was named the principal patron of the Pontifical Missionary Union of Clergy on the 6th April 1963.

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It was such a beautiful day on Monday, we started with Holy Eucharist celebrated by Fr. Reabow SAC one of the senior priests in our diocese and Pallotine community. Mass was so uplifting as Fr. shared with us his experiences since the time he joined the religious life. He mentioned to us that, there was no time that he felt he was on his own as a religious because of the love he draws from St. Vincent Palloti each day. He emphasized on the community life and encouraged us to be a living gospel like Palloti did during his time.

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We were also encouraged to do works of mercy especially this year.

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It was indeed a beautiful day to almost everyone who was there. Special thanks goes to the laity who left everything and grace this day with their presence and sang nicely at Mass. All the best to our Pallotine Brothers and Fathers.

Confirmation and Opening of Grotto: St. Vincent Palloti Parish-Ezibeleni

It was a sunny with a beautiful weather day when the Ezibeleni/Ilinge District come together in great celebration. Since the 31st January 2016, St. Vincent Palloti Parish will never be the same. The celebration started with Holy Mass led by the Chief Shepherd of our Diocese, His Lordship Bishop D. Mpako who welcomed everyone at the beginning of Mass as he usually do. He thanked God in a special way for having brought everyone to this new year still with the gift of faith which is our strength as believers. He also thanked Him for the gift of the people who were to be confirmed in His church to be true witness of Christ through words and actions.

 

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In his homily he reminded everyone of their calling to be Christians and also their responsibilities which are not very easy. Together with those who were confirmed he also reminded the people of God that in confirmation we are transformed into being prophets. As we know it, a prophet is a person who foresees things. He sees all sorts of things that other people cannot see, he reflected on this in a different way saying, we show the prophetic mission by the way we live the Gospel. Our Christian lifestyle is the one that shows our desire to do God’s will.

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He furthermore,   described the prophet as the one who always wants to know what God wants of them. He mentioned also that one cannot be a Christian if they are not prophet. As much as it is not easy to be a prophet but we should persevere. People will forever challenge you if you see things in a different way and they will go to the extent of neglecting you and also call you names. We need at all times to fulfill the Christian calling of being prophets and do as the spirit directs us. He gave a fatherly advice that self introspection is very important. Know yourself, identify your mistakes, be able to forgive yourself and use the faith you got in confirmation as a took to help others grow spiritually and otherwise. 

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Candidates for confirmation received their special grace, Mass continued as usual after which the congregation proceeded to the beautiful newly built Grotto where there was a special celebration for its blessing. His Lordship thanked all those who supported the idea of the Grotto, those who funded the project itself and their priest in charge Rev. Fr. Mlungisi Emmanuel Maphumulo for such an achievement.  

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The Holy Door is Opened in the Diocese of Queenstown!!!

It was exactly at 10h00 when all the Roman Catholic Church of Queenstown Diocese gather together on Sunday the 13th December in the year of our Lord 2015. This special celebration started from outside unlike the normal celebrations.  It seemed everyone was looking forward to this as most people were very early. After the whole congregation gathered started the procession of servers with the seminarians, deacons, priests and our Bishop. The Bishop greeted everyone in a usual way and introduced the celebration itself. In his address he mentioned that the whole world is doing the same opening the door of Mercy as the Holy Father has given us this special year to be that of Mercy. He invited everyone to take part in all the activities that will be done to show mercy starting within us and looking outside to see all the good works the Lords wants us to do. The special gospel from Luke 3:10-18 was read in both languages we  use in the Diocese, that is, IsiXhosa and English. The Gospel itself is about John the Baptist’s preaching and the crowd asking him the big question, “what then should we do”? He answered this in many ways, we cannot exhaust the answers. This is a challenge to us as we begin this year of Mercy as the church because we need to ask ourselves as to what should we do to show mercy to one another. His Lordship challenged us to go and do good works that will show people that God is always there listening to their prayers. In his teaching he showed that ours is not to judge because there is only one supreme judge, but ours is to make Him proud by the good works we do in the world.

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There was a message of the Holy Father about the Year of Mercy which was read by Fr. Thulani Gubula in English and IsiXhosa for everyone to understand. We then moved to the “Door”itself, what we noticed here was the slight difference from what we used to. The procession was led by incense with the cross like we always do but the Bishop was just there after the cross with all the clergy behind him and then the whole congregation. This on its own told us that something wonderful was happening not only in the church history but in us more especially. When we got to the main door of Christ the King Cathedral which was closed tightly, the bishop gave the instruction that as of Sunday the 13th December 2015 to the 20th November 2016 the main door of the Cathedral will only be used as a Holy Door. The Cathedral community was asked to use only the side doors for their celebrations and when they decide to take the pilgrimage of Mercy then they will use the main door which is a Holy Door. He also mentioned that all districts of the diocese should organize themselves and communicate with the administrator of the cathedral to have their pilgrimages and enter through the Holy Door to get all the blessings we need in our lives.

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He blessed the door using holy water and incense. He ceremoniously opened the Holy Door and asked everyone to enter through it and not other doors. He ordered that it shall only be used for special occasions, that is, when people go there as pilgrims and not on normal Sundays or weekdays.  Inside the church mass continued in a usual way with the reading of the 3rd Sunday of Advent. In his homily, the Bishop, mentioned that our joy should be in the Lord. He did not run away from the fact that even when we are in God and with God things that we see as ungodly will always happen. He asked us not to backslide when such happen but be even stronger in God through the faith we have. He said the Kingdom of God is a sign of the joy we have in the Lord, “Rejoice in the Lord, I say rejoice”. All what God wants of us is to be joyful. We can achieve this even by entering through the gate, the Holy Door, which will give us inner peace. He mentioned also that our God is a merciful one, who forgives our sins and wants us to be holy as he is holy. The Lord of Host is with us, God of Jacob is our stronghold, so we should try to be holy and blameless before him so as to achieve the inner peace which we all need. May the good Lord be with us throughout the Year of Mercy!!!

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120th Anniversary of the Church at Keilands 1895-2015

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF KEILANDS

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Keilands is a farm in the Stutterheim Magisterial District on the right side of the Kei River. It was bought in 1886 by Fr. Alfred Weld S.J. (Jesuit Superior) In 1888 Bro Theodore Nigg began building a small chapel-he could not complete the building as he died on 10 August 1891. In 1894 the foundation of the church was laid by Fr. Kerr. The church was blessed on 09 September 1895 by Fr. Gillet. In 1894 seven Dominican Sisters were sent from King William’s Town and they started teaching children in a newly opened school. Jesuit fathers Horning and Bick made contact with Chief Saliwa with the intention of opening a school among his people and in 1895 a modest start was made with about 10  children. The people, however, were opposed to the establishment of a Christian Mission and School, fearing interference with their customs. Later they were willing to grant site to the school, but insisted on getting a trained teacher. The son of the chief, Peter Gidini who had been converted in June 1896 was a great help in these negotiations.

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In 1897 Bishop McSherry came to Keilands for the first time, also paying courtesy visit to the old chief. When the Bishop came again in 1899, the Christians of Saliwa made a procession across the river to Keilands and twelve of them were confirmed. In 1900 Fr. Apel took possession of Zigudu and in that year a school was started. The Jesuits were withdrawn from the Cape and transferred to Zimbabwe. In 1908 Keilands was handed over to the Trappists of Mariannhill. The new missionaries had their first experience of the vicious climate of the Kei valley when a violent storm removed the church roof. The Trappists started three schools and Fr. Huss taught the people proper farm skills. He experienced many problems. His concern was the notoriously bad road from Keilands to Dohne Railway station and long periods of drought. There are factors that made the mission work at Keilands difficult: bad roads and inclemency of climate.

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The mission was taken over by the Pallotine Fathers in 1928 July 01 with Fr. Rackl as the first Pallotine priest in charge there. In 1929 he obtained a welcome assistant in Fr. Ruebsamen. At the end of 1929 schools were conducted at Saliwa, Nciba, Zigudu, Sabalele, Matakane and Nonquthu. A lot of priest and brothers did work there, to mention a few, Frs Peter Graeff, Gross, Wergen, Anton Vay, and also brothers Stephen and Michael Phako.  Regardless of all the difficulties in that mission but it is important to mention that the only congregation of sisters in this diocese was born there. When Keilands celebrated its 75 years Jubilee in February 1961, the foundation stone was laid, the constitution for the Congregati Matris Didini Amoris (CDMA) – Congregation on The Mother of Divine Love was completed and submitted to the Bishop and to the Roman Authorities. We are so proud as the Diocese to see this congregation still active in our diocese and working in some important branches of the church’s foundations like Catechism.

 

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On this speci d the community of Keilands and neighboring parishes. He challenged us to look at the stones that are building the church which are still there and useful after 120 years of the church’s existence, he therefore, reminded us that we are also the stones that build the church of Christ. We should always try to work hand in hand for the growth of the Kingdom of God. We should join our hands for the mission of the church to continue. People were singing nicely and joyfully. The church was packed even the gallery itself was full. There was a lot of nice food served after mass.

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Fr. Tulani thanked the Bishop for taking his time to celebrate with the Keilands community and everyone who took part in that celebration. He thanked in a special way the church of Carthcart both english and xhosa speaking communities for all their generosity for the success of this special celebration. The Mother General of the CDMA Sisters, Sr. Pascalina Ndata also was given a chance to say a few words as their congregation is the child of Keilands. She expressed their joy as the congregation to see that place still existing, she also mentioned that on this very year of Consecrated Life they are praying in special way for vocations and she is very much convinced that they will get some as she made this prayer from where their roots are. “Thanks so very much Fr. Tulani for the good works you are doing at this place, the last time i came here the place was like the forest, even the church was not in a good condition but now i can see even the windows are replaced and there is life if we look around this place.” These were the words of the Bishop to the priest in charge. Congrats Keilands Community and God Bless!!!

 

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