PASTORAL LETTER: March 2019

1 March 2019

Dear People of God

Laudetur Iesus Christus (Latin for “Praised be Jesus Christ”)
“in saecula saeculorum! Amen” (Latin for “Now and forever! Amen”)
A go bakwe Jesu Kriste, Jaanong le ka bosena bokhutlo, amen.

  1. LENT:

What is Lent? Above all else, Lent is the season for the experience of giving your life over — in each moment, bodily, deliberately — to Christ and to what the Spirit is showing you. God wants you to surrender yourself, and let the Spirit work in you. In Lent, we take responsibility for our acts and thoughts. Are my thoughts and actions in line with the will of God in my life? Lent is self-discovery of the parts of ourselves we don’t want to discover. We can through prayer, fasting, and other disciplines. From Ash Wednesday to Good Friday we rediscover the Love of God and we examine our response to his love. Is it a response of Faith and Surrender? Are you able to say “Ke ho neha pelo ya ka Morena… Take my life and let it be for your service Lord?”

CATECHUMENS: Part of the purpose for this Holy Season is for the Church to journey together with those who are going to be baptized or received into full Communion with Holy Mother Church for the first time at Easter (Bakatekumena… Catechumens). This time is going to be a special time of prayer, fasting, and penance for them, and so we journey with them for the next 40 days or so, and we pray with them, and fast with them, and give alms with them and for them. We live Lent with those who are about to enter the Church so that we can better appreciate the mystery of our own faith. I request all pastors to make sure that the Catechumens are given a special attention during this time. Every Sunday of Lent, we have rites that they must go through, preferably during the Mass. The book of OUR JOURNEY TOGETHER, gives those rites and helps you to see how to integrate them in your liturgy. So please work with the catechists, the catechumens and the liturgy committee to make sure that you do those rites during Lent.

The most important purpose of Lent in the life of the Catholic, however, is to prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Death and Resurrection by re-examining our own lives, and recommitting ourselves in a renewed way to a life of truly following Jesus Christ and a relationship with him through prayer, self-denial, and charity. Many of us adopt a practice every year of “giving up something for Lent.” Giving up something voluntarily that we otherwise might wish to have that is not innately sinful can be considered a kind of fasting, and that is a perfectly good Lenten discipline.

During Lent, we should take our discipline a step further and begin to ask ourselves what it is in our lives that is keeping us from having a better relationship with God and His Holy Church. If we take an honest look at our lives and our relationship with the Lord, all of us can certainly find some things that shouldn’t be there. As we begin our bodily and spiritual discipline of Holy Lent, let us find what those habits, temperaments, pleasures of the world, and yes, what our sins might be, and let us give up those things for Lent. Only let us commit that all of those things which are keeping us from the relationship with God that we should be having won’t be returning to our lives after Easter, let us pledge to be rid of them once and for all.

Lent is not all about giving things up. It’s also about adding good things to our lives or to others’ lives — the kind of good things that follow on what Jesus asks of us, especially that which relates to what we’re giving up.

WHAT CAN I DO DURING LENT?

  • Reconcile yourself to someone you don’t like, or even hate or did something bad to, or just intentionally stayed away from.
  • Do acts of kindness for people, works of mercy and works of charity, just because the opportunity is there; give them a little tastes of God’s love.
  • If you haven’t taken the time lately to be in a refreshing, natural spot, do so. I am yet to explore nice spots for walks and rest in Elandsheuwel and Klerksdorp. I am mostly indoors, which is not healthy at all. You have nice places where you live, too. Even if it’s a brief stay, even a half-hour or so, try it. I will start doing that, this Lent.
  • Take some time to study about what causes poverty, service delivery protests, prostitution, abortion, etc. I have proposed the PASTORAL CYCLE for the youth and for all of us and it can help us to go to the root of our socio-economic challenges in this diocese.
  • Study, meditate, and pray over one or two Bible passages for each day, through a daily lectionary (assigned Bible readings for each day), the Daily Office (Scripture-based devotions for set times of day), or devotional booklets or email lists.
  • Think upon something ordinary that you do every day, and think about God while doing it, in a way that ties into what you’re doing. Or think of a place you come to regularly, and each time think where Christ might be in this place, what Christ might do there, or what you might be led to do for Christ.
  • Attend special Lenten worship services, Lenten talks, Lenten retreats. You can include Rosary, Stations of the Cross, morning and evening prayer, weekday mass and Sunday Liturgies.
  • Try to find a new way every day to bring to mind Jesus’ death on the cross, and why it happened.

WHAT CAN I FAST FROM DURING THIS TIME OF LENT:

Each one of us can choose to fast from one or more of the following:

# Television; gambling; crazy shopping; gossip, drink, smoking, chocolate and laziness.

# We must fast from hurting people on Twitter, blogs and other social forums;

# Fast from enjoyment, dance clubbing, partying, etc. You make your choice.

# We do not eat meat on all Fridays of Lent.

# All of us must reduce noise and make sure that our Sunday liturgies are more solemn, quite and peaceful. Observe moments of silence in the liturgy. I prefer no drums during this time, unless the drummer is able to play softly. I do not want ululation and whistles during lent except if it is a church feast or solemnity (St Joseph, St Patrick, the Annunciation, etc.). It is a time of sorrow, repentance and self-introspection. Let us respect this season. Turn the volume down. Tone down your celebrations. You can celebrate your birthday but do not be extravagant, lavish and too loud. Make it low key and explain to friends and family what this holy season means to you.

  1. RENEW AFRICA

I met with our Renew Coordinators, Fr Manana and Mrs Manyobe recently. We agreed that our sharing on Book One/ Season One of Renew Africa must continue. Renew Africa Tswana books are now available. We have books in other languages as well. Let us meet in our SCC’s and Faith Sharing groups. Let us share our faith, share the Gospel, share our life experiences and act on the Word. Do what the Word tells you, either as an individual, a Small Christian Communities and Faith Sharing Group.

We will continue with the training of Parish Core Communities, Small Christian Community leaders and facilitators of Faith Sharing. We will train them on how to facilitate sharing, based on the Renew Africa principles and faith sharing method. We would like to encourage all members of the Small Christian Community to own a copy of the Renew Book. We can share during Lent and Easter. After Easter we will start training people for Season 2/Book 2 which will be launched on the 30th of June.

UNDERSTANDING RENEW AFRICA: THE AIMS OF RENEW AFRICA

The aim of Renew Africa is to promote Pastoral renewal by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life and to connect faith with action through Small Christian Communities (SCC). It is a parish-centred, diocesan-wide process, focusing on evangelization and spiritual renewal. It aims at building SCC’s that can help build a self-sustaining church.

Renew Africa aims at the renewal of Small Christian Communities. It is a practical means of evangelization. It promotes Bible Reading among Catholics and Biblical literacy. It promotes Action on behalf of Justice & Peace. It promotes a Catholic spirituality of healing. It helps our SCC’s to focus on God, faith and service. Renew Africa focuses on the formation of laity. It has many workshops and seminars to help empower laity in leadership and facilitation.

RENEW AFRICA IS DIVIDED INTO SEASONS. EACH SEASON HAS ITS OWN BOOKLET TRANSLATED INTO LOCAL LANGUAGES TO GUIDE FAITH SHARING IN THE SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES AND FAITH SHARING GROUPS IN THE PARISH. The five seasons of Renew Africa are:

Part 1: ENCOUNTERING CHRIST

This season reminds us that Jesus is Lord and Saviour. How do we encounter Christ and develop a deeper relationship with him? This season is the foundation of all other seasons. All of us will be asked to renew our commitment to Christ and to invite him once more as Lord of our lives, our families, our work, our parishes and our society.

Part 2 – HEALING THE BODY OF CHRIST

This season allows us to learn and to experience the following: What is healing? Healing the body of Christ. This is a season for inner peace and wholeness. How do we do healing in our Catholic Tradition? Through prayer, sacraments, etc. During this season, our facilitators and the Liturgy team will be trained on how to organize a healing service for the parish. The healing service must be celebrated before the end of this season.

Part 3- WE ARE THE CHURCH

This season will assist us to understand what it means to be church. How do we come to understand that we are the church? How do we become a truly self-sustaining church in vocations, finance, ministries, etc.? How can we stand on our own? How do we use our talents and creativity for the kingdom of God?

Part 4- SHARING THE GOOD NEWS

This season reminds us that if we, as Catholics, do not evangelize, and if we do not know how to evangelize, then we become targets of Islamic and Pentecostal evangelization. The work of evangelization belongs to all of us. We must have the passion to share the Good News of salvation with others.

Part 5- THE CHURCH IN AFRICA TODAY: JUSTICE, PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

In the spirit of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation – Renew Africa helps us to move from maintenance to service and outreach. The church according to Africae Munus of Pope Emeritus Benedict XV1, must be at the service of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation. How do we deal with our pain and with our past? How do we help our society which is being consumed by corruption, materialism and violence? How do we treat the poor and the marginalized?

SCC’s exist to evangelize. Through Renew we evangelize through:

Sharing

Mission

Mutual support

Learning

Prayer

5 Elements of a Small Christian Communities

Prayer – for self, others, church, society and the environment.

Learning – To grow in faith, relationship with God, learn from each other, learn from the teachings of the church / Scriptures.

Sharing– Telling our stories, sharing the Word of God; sharing from the heart, not preaching. “How does work or life experience speak to me now? How do I go inside and search deeper on a level of faith – and then share that with others”? Once I have shared then I don’t share again until others have had a chance to share as well.

Mutual Support– Be there for one another. We are One Body.

Mission – Call to action as individuals and a community. Every season will challenge us to do something. To choose an outreach project. To respond to the Word with action. Faith without works is dead.

SMALL FAITH SHARING GROUPS – ADVANTAGES OF SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES:

Renew Africa helps us to experience mutual support from our faith sharing group (SCC) and from the parish as a whole: (We share our joys and pains. We encourage families to become united, loving and supportive families to all members of the family and to the church). Our faith sharing communities can be a great source of support during bereavements. There is openness to learn. They grow in faith. There is healing and sense of belonging. There is a spirit of communion. They encounter God and one another. PLEASE REVIVE SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES. FOR OUR TOWNS AND CITIES WHERE SCC’S DO NOT EXIST, FORM FAITH SHARING GROUPS. ST MICHAEL IS SUCCEEDING IN DOING THIS. INVITE THEM AND LET THEM HELP YOU. PEOPLE ARE SIGINING IN, TO BELONG TO A FAITH SHARING GROUP!!!

WHAT ARE SOME NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES OF SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES IN OUR DIOCESE?

Sharing: some people find it difficult to open up. Gossip. Money is sometimes at the centre. They want power; they lack content (resources) Problems with places to meet. Problems of time. Leadership problems- They are bossy. Some people insist on being animators even during those times when they do not have talents. Facilitating is a weakness. Lack of time to animate the SCC’s.

Renew Africa will provide resources, faith sharing booklets to assist us and it will train our faith sharing facilitators and SCC leaders. The books are translated into various languages.

What is the role of the Priest in Renew?

He must be passionate about Renew and promote it in his parish.

Call forth leadership. Identify talents. Approach people with skills and invite them to come and serve in the Renew team.

Collaborate with other teams in the parish.

Support SCC leaders and Renew Parish Core Community. Encourage them. Hold meetings with them. Pray with them.

It is a Spirit-driven process. In every things you do and every decision you take which involves Renew, you must consult the Holy Spirit. That is why, in Acts 15 the Apostles could say: We and the Holy Spirit have decided! We must discuss leadership. Pray about calling forth the leaders. We must collaborate.

RENEW AFRICA LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE

Bishop

DIOCESAN CORE COMMUNITY

PARISH CORE COMMUNITY WORKING WITH THE PRIEST/DEACON

Other Renew Africa teams in the parish.

The priest does not have to be the leader. The PCC animator/ coordinator, who is a lay person must have great leadership skills and communications skills. The team can meet and train clusters of parishes.

The Parishes Core Community becomes automatically a sub-committee of Parish Pastoral Council. They are accountable to the PPC.

Volunteers will be required to invite people to join or to form Parish Core Community and other Renew teams in the parish, to help with publicity and to lead parish missions, etc.

PARISH CORE COMMUNITY: INITIAL RESPONSIBILITIES.PCC –

Pray for the success of Renew

Identify and call forth SCC leaders with the help of the priest

Encourage parishioners to join SCC’s

Organize a Parish Mission –

Organise the sign up Sunday

Create other Renew Africa teams

Do a lot of Publicity in the parish:

The PCC does not have to do this on their own. They can actually create other teams in the parish to look at some of these responsibilities, e.g. Mission, sign up Sunday, Healing, etc.

Inviting to Ministry

-Prepare who is going to help me to identify members for Parish Core Community?

-Present reflection, Pray, look for people who are not already too involved. Don’t decide for them; look for people with skills. e.g. marketing and finance . Invite them and give them a chance to say yes.

Bring a list of names and pray about the list. Discern. We hereby agree on a name if so and so… Team invite them. Interview them and make a follow-up.

TESTIMONIES FROM PARISHES WHICH DID RENEW IN OTHER COUNTRIES:

Parishes become more vibrant, people grow confidence.

People evangelize. They witness and this leads to many conversions.

Growth and ministry, catechism and other parish ministries.

Justice and Peace projects began.

The Apostolic Nuncio said that his parents are still members of Renew after 34 years. He also said that his vocation is as a result of the presence of Renew in his family in the United States.

  1. ELECTIONS – YOU AS A VOTER…..

Things to remember about voting…

Your vote is secret: No matter what anyone says, nobody will ever know who you voted for. You do not put your name or your ID number on the voting paper, so it cannot be linked to you. This means you can vote for whichever party you like, without worrying that you will lose your grant or your place on a housing list.

Don’t let anyone buy your vote: Be careful of parties that promise you something if you attend their events, or wear their t-shirts, or vote for them. Selling your support in this way will not help you. It is better to give your vote freely to the party that you think will do the best job running the country.

You can split your vote: You have two votes – one for the national parliament, and one for the province that you live in. You don’t have to vote for the same party in both cases – you can vote for one party on the national ballot, and a different one on the provincial paper.

Thinking about which party to vote for

Be careful about promises: At election time politicians like to make big promises – about creating jobs, ending poverty, getting rid of corruption, and so on. It is easy to promise these things, but much more difficult to make them happen. Ask yourself if these promises are meant honestly, or if they are just a way of capturing your vote.

Understand their policies: Some parties have good speakers; others can organise inspiring rallies. But when the speeches and the rallies are over, can they actually govern the country? Do they have good, sensible policies? And do they know how to put these policies into practice?

Look at who is on the party lists: We vote for parties, but the parties send individuals to Parliament to be our MPs. Who are these people? You can find out who they are by looking at the lists published by the IEC on its website(?). If you find the names of people who have been shown to be corrupt or incompetent, be careful about giving that party your vote.

There are many important issues: The economy is important. The land issue must be addressed. Poverty and inequality affect millions of our people. Corruption needs to be tackled; so does violent crime. Human rights and freedoms, especially the right to life, are crucial. We should not just pick one of these as the most important ‘single issue’. Which party do you think has the best approach to dealing with as many of these questions as possible, as well as possible?

(From the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission)

AN ATTACHMENT- STATEMENT OF THE BISHOPS ON THE ELECTIONS, IS SENT TO YOU AND TO YOUR SODALITY WITH THIS PASTORAL LETTER. WE WILL TRY TO GET IT IN LOCAL LANGUAGES AS WELL.

D. GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  1. Let us continue with our Lenten Appeal. We have mite boxes, envelopes, posters and a Lenten Newsletter. Please collect from the chancery. Send the money of Lent straight into diocesan account by the second Sunday of Easter. As usual the Good Friday collection (Meant for the persecuted church in the Holy Land and the Middle East) goes directly into the St Michael’s account. Thanks to all the parishes who have sent us already their HOLY CHILDHOOD COLLECTION (February). You can deposit the money into the diocesan account.
  1. Continue to pay your 10% Diocesan levy monthly into the diocesan account. It is 10% of your parish income. Pay your priests’ medical aid and parish insurance monthly. When we, in the chancery, come to the end of the month, we face a huge financial crisis as we are unable to pay salaries, debtors and debit orders. We are facing a financial challenge in the diocese and it is only the parishes that can save us. Cooperate with the diocese and pay for your insurance.
  2. We are planning to commemorate the life of Fr Wilfred Joye OMI in a special way on the 20th of March. He is buried in Belgium after serving our diocese for many years. You are welcome to join the clergy of the diocese to celebrate this great missionary. Mass 12h00.
  1. WE HAVE EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL DIOCESAN CALENDARS, THANKS TO FR NGWENYA AND HIS TEAM. WE SELL THEM AT R40 EACH.
  1. CONFIRMATION BOOKS FOR YEAR C. TEACHER’S GUIDE IS R150. LEARNERS BOOK IS R80.
  1. FAMILY LIFE DESK OF THE DIOCESE WOULD LIKE TO VISIT YOUR PARISH FOR A WORKSHOP OF FAMILY MINISTRY AND FAMILY VIOLENCE. It is up to you to invite them. They are also rolling out a healthy lifestyle programme with the department of health and they can visit your deanery on invitation. Contact Deacon Chabedi for more information.
  1. SR NURSE is our new diocesan catechetical coordinator. She will share the office with our Renew Secretary mme Manyobe. Her office is at St Peter Joubertina, Renew Office. See her for all your needs. I invite the catechists to invite her for a workshop on our new Catechetical policy. This policy says that Confirmation in our diocese is at the age of 16. Young People must do a 3 Year Cycle confirmation programme (YEAR A, B AND C), and one year of Immediate Confirmation Programme. This is our policy in the Bishops’ Conference. PLEASE DO NOT HURRY TO CONFIRM KIDS WHO ARE UNDER 16. THIS IS A SACRAMENT OF MATURITY. IT IS A JOURNEY, NOT AN EVENT. ACCORDING TO THE POLICY OUR CATECHESIS CAN START FROM 5/6 YEARS TO 16 YEARS NON-STOP. IT IS ONGOING CATECHESIS. SR NURSE IS WILLING TO COME AND EXPLAIN ALL TO THE CATECHISTS, PARENTS AND THE PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL. Every parish has a new catechetical policy. Implement it!
  1. ABORTION PROCESSION: THE SODALITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (Kemolo e e se nang sekodi ya Maria). Has planned an anti-abortion procession on the 27th of April. I am fully in support of this march and I invite other sodalities and other Christians to join. Our hope is to end with Mass at the Cathedral around 12h00. We have sent a full explanation of what abortion is, what the church and the bible say about abortion and what we can do as Catholics in this regard. This resource is sent as an attachment. Please download, print and share with others in your parish or sodality. Wear your sodality uniform or your deanery Renew T-shirts. A letter of invitation from Kemolo ya Maria has been sent to your parish through Chancery office please read it during your announcements. (Attachment on our reflection on abortion is sent to your parish and sodality with the pastoral letter)
  1. The whole month of October 2019, is a celebration OF THE EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSIONS (As proclaimed by His Holiness, Pope Francis in 2018). CHECK THE PMS WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION. The theme is “BAPTIZED AND SENT” CHILDREN ARE INVITED TO COMPOSE A SONG ON THIS THEME AND GET IT RECORDED. CHECK www.october2019.va for more information. There are prizes for winners. Compose and be creative. HOW CAN WE CELEBRATE THIS EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF MISSIONS IN OUR DIOCESE? WE NEED YOUR SUGGESTIONS. LET THE RELIGIOUS (MEN AND WOMEN) COME TOGETHER AND GUIDE US IN THIS MATTER!
  2. The diocese has a new crèche at St Peter, Jourbetina. Donations are accepted. The diocese has already invested more than R50 000 in the crèche for renovations and other needs. Please contact Sr Gugu to know their needs. The diocese is in the process of adopting a crèche a Dominionville. I visited the crèche this week, and it is a very sad sight. There is hunger and misery and it is the only crèche in the area. They need toys, food, sponges for sleeping, a classroom and a kitchen etc. the diocese will try and provide water and sanitation as a matter of urgency. They are using our small church in Dominionville but it is not adequate. Perhaps we should put up a temporary structure to help them.
  1. SODALITIES are reminded to help the diocese with their R20 000 for seminary training/formation. Our bill for 2019 is already R700 000. We need every help we can receive. We have vocations but we have no money to educate our seminarians. Thanks to our sodalities for their generosity in 2018. May I remind the men of St Joseph that they made a decision to pay R70 000 for one seminarian annually. I request them to honour their promise.
  1. In 2017-2018 Pastoral Letters, I gave the diocese – my vision of structures in the parishes. I wrote about the role of the priest, the nature of a parish, Parish Pastoral Councils, Parish Finance Committees and other committees like Renew, Caritas, Justice and Peace, Catechetical committee, etc. I also explained the tasks of each of these groups. I request our PPC Executives to identify people who can be part of these committees and make sure that those committees are trained and are working. It can be a committee of two to five people.
  1. We continue to pray for Fr Melusi Hlatshwayo who is in Nairobi. He is studying Psycho-Spiritual Counselling. He will be of great help to the diocese in the future. Fr Chris Mathaha is lecturing at St John Vianney Seminary. He teaches Canon Law and is a formator of students. This was our contribution and sacrifice to the seminaries. Fr Lebohang Malemoha OMI is now serving the diocese of Keimoes-Upington. We thank him for his nine years of service to our diocese and we wish him well.
  1. Fr Godfrey Ocamringa A.J. has been moved to Immaculate Conception Orkney and he will work in the chancery as Chancellor. Fr Peter Choi A.J. will take over as pastor of Tigane, Ottosdal and outstations. Fr Ricardo Ngwenya has been appointed parish priest of Calvary. We have a new priest in the diocese. His name is Fr Ekpe Ekpedeme, Missionary Society of St Paul, Nigeria. He was working in the parish of the Most Precious Blood, in Edmonton, United Kingdom. I needed an assistant for Fr Emmanuel Agbor in Delareyville. He will take a few months to go and learn Setswana and will come back to join us later. Thanks to Rev Fr Victor Onwukeme, msp, the Superior General for listening to our appeal and for responding positively. Fr Ekpe, you are most welcome!!! Welcome the new pastors with joy.
  1. CANONICAL ERECTION OF PARISHES: This year is the year we will dedicate for the canonical erection of parishes in our diocese. Before we can declare parishes, we need to give workshops on what it means to be a parish. We need to assess if you qualify to be declared a parish. Once we have satisfied ourselves, I will issue a decree, declaring you a parish. I have shared this message with the priests and deacons and we discussed it in our priests’ meeting.
  1. Diocesan sodalities and associations are requested to send their Diocesan Year Plans to the chancery. Where you need the bishop to be present, please indicate. The bishop cannot be available in all you activities but he will try to attend one of your activities in the course of the year.
  1. We are really hurt by the fire that devastated the parish house in Maria Mmamohau. We still do not know the cause of the fire but are grateful that Fr Ledimo is safe. We pray for the protection of our personnel and our buildings. Let us pray for their healing.

+ Bishop Victor Hlolo Phalana
Bishop of Klerksdorp Diocese

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