2016 Building Healthy Christian Families

Cir. 7/16

Tenderness makes us approach a person with immense respect

and a certain dread of causing them harm or taking away their freedom.

(Pope Francis – The Joy of Love nr. 127)

Marital love strives to ensure that one’s entire emotional life benefits the family

as a whole and stands at the service of its common life.

(Pope Francis – The Joy of Love nr. 145)

Children are loved even before they arrive.

Here we see a reflection of the primacy of the love of God,

who always takes the initiative.

(Pope Francis – The Joy of Love nr. 166)

Dear Fathers and Deacons, dear Sisters, dear Seminarians, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I enjoyed my leave oversees but I am glad to be back here in South Africa. I had the opportunity to visit Fatima, in Portugal, where I asked for the intercession of the Virgin Mary for our own local Church, for the Farm of Hope and for all of you. Just back in South Africa I participated in the SACBC Plenary session which, for the first time, took place in Gaborone, Botswana. One outstanding event was that all Bishops were sent out to various Parishes to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist. I celebrated Mass in Tswana but did the preaching in Sotho.

Bethlehem Fazenda (Farm of Hope) received another volunteer, Luciano, skilled in building, who is very welcome as they started transforming the existing stables into living quarters. They will be able to receive already some young people in need of rehabilitation while still awaiting official recognition from the government’s side. Fr. Dekson is ready to visit Parishes in the diocese to talk about this important project and about the scourge of addiction. Do not hesitate to invite him. I hope that the link-persons present at the workshop, organized by the Social Awareness Committee, will have done their home work: I am talking about the short questionnaire about the need of rehabilitation in our diocese.

The report about the Social Awareness link-persons’ workshop is made and will be distributed at the Presbyteral Council meeting. It is meant as well for the link-persons themselves and the PPCs. One resolution made at the workshop was: frequently communicate with other link-persons via the medium of ‘whatsapp’. Enock of Sekwele was asked to be the coordinator. Because of his departure from Sekwele, Tabi Moloi will take over from him. The first thing link-persons could do is to get involved in local initiatives encouraging other members of the congregation to take part.

Two new volunteers, sent through Fidesco, will be arriving this week, taking over from Aymar and Foucaud – Aymar left already – who are going back to France. My sincere thanks to Aymar and Foucaud for their contribution to our diocesan projects and a wholehearted welcome to David and Paul.

The program of the Concluding celebration of the Year of Mercy has been finalized. Note that it will be a day event and no longer a vigil. It wants to actively engage various groups of Christians: young and old, from town and rural communities and from all races. So, let us make it a point of inviting our people to come in big numbers to this important diocesan event at our Marian shrine in Tsheseng. We shall have Bishop Kerketta, a visiting Bishop from India, with us who will deliver the homily. At that occasion we include the diocesan fundraising. Parish Priests, please encourage your communities to be generous.

It has often been said that the whole Church is to be missionary and this in all continents, but is it a reality? Coming from outside South Africa, I have the impression that the South African Church is still very much a Church who receives a lot of help from outside both in personnel and in finances while it should have been by now an adult Church reaching out to others both locally – an evangelizing Church going out to the peripheries of society – and universally – taking part in the worldwide PMS drive not just at the receiving end but giving, even sending out Priests and Religious to other countries and continents. One of the findings of the inter-diocesan consultation was that our Church in South Africa is very much an inward-looking Church. The October mission month drive – in our diocese we already start this month – is an attempt to bring about a change. Let us all commit ourselves to this. Please use the PMS material: posters and calendars.

The last Sunday of August I was invited to join in the celebration of the golden jubilee of the church of Mofumahadi wa Kgotso in Bohlokong. It was indeed a joyful and lively celebration thanking God for all those past years remembering all those, those living and those who already passed away, who contributed to the growth of this local Church, Priests, Sisters and laity. So many happy memories came to my mind. Mofumahadi wa Kgotso, halala!

On Saturday 24th September the children of the Missionary Childhood, known as Bongwana, are all invited to join in their yearly pilgrimage to our Marian shrine at Tsheseng. It is important that children grow up in a missionary spirit, sharing the joy of the gospel and reaching out to other children especially those in need.

I shall be taking part in a convention of Bishops, Friends of Focolare, which will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 08th till 14th September. The Focolare will have their yearly Mariapolis, a big family gathering, at our J.P. II centre from 13th till 17th December. For all who would like to taste something of the life of this Church family please visit website

This month a number of confreres, M.Afr., will spend a few days in our diocese – from Monday 19th till Thursday 22nd September – for their quarterly meeting. They will be accommodated in the J.P. II centre where also the meeting will take place. But one day, on Tuesday 20th, the whole group will make a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in Tsheseng where they will have a recollection. I wish them and myself as well – as I will be part of the group – a wholehearted welcome and a fruitful meeting.

Fr. Fons went on home leave the day I returned to South Africa. I still wish him arestful time in his home country and welcome back to Bethlehem.

The Holy Cross plays a big role in our salvation history reminding us that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, freed us from sin and filled us with His own divine life, dying for us on the cross. To remind us of this truth and committing ourselves to walk along the way Christ showed us we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Sunday 18th September (transferred to Sunday to allow many more to celebrate it).

On the 25th September we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. The focus is not so much on the catechists (bajada) but on the precious gift of catechesis inviting all members of our Church community, starting with the parents, to take part in the teaching role of the Church. More over Christian life is to be an ongoing journey of faith which has to be fed and strengthened all along.

On the 24th September we celebrate Heritage Day. We celebrate what we received through our various cultures. In South Africa many people enjoy a good ‘braai’ that day. May we not forget the poor and needy so that they too may enjoy that day.

The Family Life theme for September is ‘The World, our Home of Mercy’. If the world is truly our home and our heritage as Pope Francis shares with us in Laudato Si, how are we blessing it with family love, accepting all mankind and all creation as God’s wider family? On the 01st September Pope Francis will present a special message for the celebration of the second World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (to those who have email addresses I shall forward it). One of the suggestions presented is to have a prayer service for a Holy Hour or Benediction to be celebrated during the ‘Time of Creation’ (between 01st September and 04th October).

The Holy Father’s monthly intentions for the month of September are: the universal one ‘Centrality of the Human Person’ that each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the centre and the one dealing with evangelization ‘Mission to Evangelize’ that by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.

Feasts of Patron Saints of various churches in the Diocese:

  • 07th September, St. Peter Claver, at Hammonia and Meqheleng (Ficksburg Parish)
  • 12th September, St. Mary, at Hlohlolwana (Clocolan Parish)
  • 14th September, Holy Cross, at Kgubetswana (Fouriesburg Parish)
  • 15th September, Our Lady of Sorrows, at Breda (Fouriesburg Parish)
  • 29th September, St. Michael, at Ladybrand
  • 29th September, St. Gabriel, at Matlwangtlwang (LindleyParish)

Engagements of the bishop during the month of September:

  • 02nd September meeting with school SMTs at Bishop’s house
  • 02nd September meeting with Consultors at Bishop’s house
  • 03rd September AGM of J.P. II
  • 03rd September meeting with candidates confirmation at Makeneng
  • 04th September confirmations at Makeneng
  • 05th September meeting with Missionary group at chancery Joburg Archdiocese
  • 06th September Mass at Holy Family school, Johannesburg
  • 07th till 14th September convention Bishops,Friends of Focolare, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 17th till 18th September visitation Parish of Frankfort
  • 17th September meeting confirmandi in Frankfort
  • 18th September confirmations at Frankfort
  • 19th September St. Kizito fundraising event at Tsheseng
  • 19th till 22nd September participation in M.Afr. quarterly meeting at J.P.II centre
  • 24th September Bongwana pilgrimage at Marian shrine, Tsheseng
  • 27th September Free State CBE meeting in Bloemfontein
  • 28th September Diocesan Finance committee meeting at Bishop’s house
  • 29th September BBTP Board meeting at Bishop’s house

Special Feast days:

  • Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of Fr. Bangizwe Stanley Khoza on 02nd September; of Fr. Jordan Ngondo on 06th September; of Msgr. Gregory Van Dyk on 08th September; of Fr. Mosebetsi Mokoena on 22nd
  • Birthday of Fr. Sifiso Thusi on 06th September; of Sr. Maria Agnes Khauoe, SNJM, on 09th September; of Sr. M Gerlinde Ott, CSP, on 16th September; of Sr. Christina Mabula, SNJM, on 21st September; of Fr. Mosebetsi Mokoena on 22nd September.

May the Lord bless them and fill them with His Joy and Peace

May it be Spring as well in your hearts being touched by the Divine Light and by the gentle rain of the Holy Spirit,

+Jan De Groef, M.Afr.

Bishop of Bethlehem

Posted in Bishop's Corner.

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