2016 Building Healthy Christian Families

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which the Church is celebrating,

casts a distinct light on World Mission Sunday 2016:

it invites us to consider the missio ad gentes as a great, immense work of mercy,

both spiritual and material.

(from Message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2016)

On this World Mission Sunday, all of us are invited to “go out” as missionary disciples,

each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order

to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family.

(from Message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2016)

Together with the evangelizing and sacramental work of missionaries,

women and families often more adequately understand people’s problems

and know how to deal with them in an appropriate and, at times, fresh way:

in caring for life, with a strong focus on people rather than structures.

(from Message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2016)

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

As you can see from the above quotations, all from the Message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2016, I chose to focus on the missionary mandate all members of the Church received in virtue of their baptism and confirmation – something we are reminded of each October month. I already emailed you the full text of this message which is so rich in content. Please make use of it all throughout the October month.

I am happy that Fr. Dekson already took contact with some of you to visit the parish. In fact he started to do so last Sunday in Ladybrand, accompanied by the other Fazenda volunteers and one of the Fidesco volunteers, David Remond. Could you check with the Social Awareness link-persons whether they did their homework concerning the short questionnaire about the need of rehabilitation in our diocese.

Saturday 08th October is already very near. Are your people planning to attend this diocesan Closing of Year of Mercy ceremony at our diocesan shrine at Tsheseng, assuring also the presence of the town communities (especially whites)? Make sure that all those who are asked to play a more active part in the ceremony prepare well and are present on the day itself.

Talking about Mission month I notice that, so far, only one parish took PMS calendars. Posters and the Mission calendar can play a big role in making people aware of their missionary calling in word and deed. Though the collection should not be the main focus, it is part of the response. Please encourage your communities to be generous.

On Saturday 24th September I spent the whole day with the Bongwana children (Missionary Childhood), accompanied by Paul Saison, a Seminarian and Fidesco volunteer. What a vibrant crowd! Fr. Tsolo, helped by a sizable number of bajada, had their hands full in keeping them on track. It was nice to see that even the conductor of the choir, coming from Senekal parish, was one of the Bongwana. It shows us the way forward in giving opportunities to children and youth to take an active part in the Eucharistic celebration. In the afternoon the different parishes showed their talents in song, costume and dance. The main trophie went to Harrismith this time but all the children were made aware that the main thing is to participate (all parishes got a certificate of participation). Thanks Tsolo for your energetic animation of the day and your commitment to Bongwana. I received an amount of R2000.00 which I shall forward to the Work of the Missionary Childhood (one of the three works of PMS).

Talking about our Marian shrine at Tsheseng, this past week I was there three times: once with a visiting choir from Germany (but a number of schools from around Tsheseng and the St. Kizito Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s group also took part), the second time with a number of Missionaries of Africa who went there for a recollection, and the third time with the Bongwana. All groups were visibly delighted with the shrine though we miss very much a residing Priest. Let us continue to advertise it. I look forward to join the Priests in their pilgrimage to the Marian shrine on the 18th October. Fr. Mokesh, chaplain of Holy Family College at Parktown, Johannesburg, and of YCS will have a camp there the first week of October.

Fr. Macjoe Akpan, MSP, completed his Sotho classes in Tsheseng, while being accommodated at the Phutha’s Priests house, and is very thankful to his teacher, Mrs. Mohlaping. He returned to Ficksburg parish where he will be assisting his confrere Fr. Emmanuel. I wish him a good start in the parish pastoral work while continuing to deepen his knowledge of Sotho.

October month is a headcount month. Please fill in the form I already emailed to you. It is only the places where you celebrate Mass that are to be considered for the headcount.

This month I shall be away for a few days for my yearly retreat. Please pray for me and I promise to pray for you and the diocese.

Let us pray for our matriculates this month who will soon start writing exams. It is a good thing to organize a special Mass for them. A number of our Seminarians obtained a Degree and a graduation ceremony will be held at St. John Vianney Major Seminary on Wednesday 19th October: Tumelo Mohlaping, at present helping Fr. Bangizwe in Bohlokong parish, has completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Theology Degree and Seabata Makibi, Thabiso Matabane and Ntefane Sepatala have completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Art in Philosophy. Congratulations to all of you. Keep it up! I hope to be present at the graduation ceremony.

The Family Life theme for October ‘The Mission of Mercy to Everyone’ is an invitation to open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters in families which are meeting with hardships and big challenges. It holds in an invitation to practise the Corporal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless and visit the imprisoned.

The Holy Father’s monthly intentions for the month of October are: the universal one ‘Journalists’ that journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics and the one dealing with evangelisation ‘World Mission Day’ that World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.

In this October month, invoking the intercession of Mary, let us pray for all our sick people, those who will receive the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at the Marian shrine, but also those at home or in hospital who will not be able to be there. In particular I want to mention Sr. M. Antonia Mokhethi, CSP, and the mother of Mr. Brian Aldworth (director of CCS) and also Fr. Menyatso. Praying the rosary let us ask, through the intercession of our Lady of the Rosary, to strengthen our families so that they may fulfil their mission of being a source of life and light to others in the Church and in the world of today.

Feasts of Patron Saints of various churches in the diocese:

  • 01st October, St Therese of Lisieux, at Thaba Bosiu, (Phuthas Parish)
  • 01st October, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, at Namahadi, (Frankfort Parish)
  • 03rd October, Blessed Joseph Gerard, at Evening Star (Clocolan Parish)
  • 03rd October, Blessed Joseph Gerard, at Makeneng
  • 04th October, St. Francis of Assisi, at Tlholong, (Phuthas Parish)
  • 06th October, Blessed Mary Rose, at Mangaung, (Makeneng Parish)
  • 07th October, Moeder van die Rosekrans, at Bakenpark, (Bethlehem Parish)
  • 13th October, Our Lady of Fatima, at Fatima, (Harrismith Parish)

Engagements of the bishop during the month of October

  • 01st October Diaconate Ordination at Merrivale, Natal
  • 03rd till 09th October visit of Bishop Emmanuel Kerketta to Bethlehem diocese
  • 08th October Closing of the Year of Mercy ceremony at the Marian shrine, Tsheseng
  • 09th October Mass at cathedral
  • 10th till 14th October personal annual retreat at St. Lucia1
  • 15th October meeting with confirmandi at Bohlokong, Bethlehem parish
  • 16th October confirmations at Bohlokong, Bethelehem parish
  • 18th October participation in recollection Priests at Tsheseng
  • 19th October meeting of SACBC Lumko committee at Khanya house, Pretoria
  • 19th October Graduation ceremony at St. John Vianney Major seminary, Pretoria
  • 20th October meeting of Department of Laity at Khanya house, Pretoria.
  • 21st till 23rd October visitation of Harrismith parish
  • 23rd October confirmations at Sibonakaliso, Harrismith parish
  • 28th till 30th October visitation of Vrede parish
  • 29th October meeting with Board of Governors (BPCS) at Vrede
  • 30th October confirmations at Vrede for Mpumalanga deanery

Special Feast days

  • Anniversary of Permanent Diaconate Ordination of Dc. Daniel Mofokeng on 07th
  • Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of Bishop Teddy Kumalo and of Msgr. George Wagner on 10th

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

May this Mission month be for you all an invitation to renew your commitment to the missionary mandate of the Church.


+Jan De Groef, M.Afr.

Bishop of Bethlehem

Posted in Bishop's Corner.

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