2016 Building Healthy Christian Families

Love makes each wait for the other with the patience of a craftsman,
a patience which comes from God.
(From the Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ nr. 221)
Fostering growth means helping a person to shape his or her own identity.
Love is thus a kind of craftsmanship.
(From the Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ nr. 221)
Both short-term and long-term marriage preparation should ensure that
the couple do not view the wedding ceremony as the end of the road.
(From the Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ nr. 221)
Dear Fathers and Deacons, dear Sisters, dear Seminarians, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We just ended the October Mission month. I hope that it helped to make our parishioners aware that all the baptized are called to participate in the mission activity of the Church, of making Christ and his message known to others and of showing His love and mercy involving themselves in works of mercy. Please do not wait too long to forward the moneys of the PMS collection to the diocesan office. The PMS calendar is available at the diocesan office – few parishes bought so far. David, a Fidesco volunteer, is looking after the sale (he is at the diocesan office on Monday and Tuesday). You could also make an order and we could then prepare and supply you with the calendars at the coming Presbyteral Council meeting (cash and carry).
The diocesan closing of the Year of Mercy at the Marian shrine in Tsheseng on the 08th October was well-attended and animated. Thanks for the contributions to the diocesan fundraising which also took place at that occasion. You will find the results attached to this circular. Though we closed the Year of Mercy on diocesan level it only comes to an end worldwide with the Solemnity of Christ the King on Sunday 20th November. I encourage to celebrate it in your respective parishes.
November is traditionally the month we commemorate our beloved who passed on. Let us remember our brother Priests who died these past years: Frs. Mareka, Makalane, Chris, Tshepo and in the beginning of this year Mpho Mona. Let us also remember the Permanent Deacons who passed on, especially Dc. Michael Mohalali. Dear Women and Men Religious, I surely also remember in my prayers all deceased members of your Congregations who worked in our diocese.
During this month of November two Spiritan Fathers will leave our diocese after many years of presence, Frs. Adrian and Bernard. I want to thank you both for your work in our diocese in parishes and as chaplains to the Sisters of St. Paul in Reitz and Petrus Steyn. May the Lord give you a safe trip to you home country and assure of His presence as you start a new episode in your life. Let us remain united in prayer.
Dear Seminarians, you are living a challenging time of writing your final exams. I hope that your hard work throughout the year will be rewarded. By the end of the month you will all be home. I wish you a good rest and happy reunion with your families. Fr. Mosebetsi will let you know in time about your pastoral engagements. Ntefane will start his pastoral internship in Vrede parish in January. Ntefane, this is a very important part of your formation. Commit yourself to it wholeheartedly. A special thanks to Fr. Anselm and to the Vrede parish being ready to receive Ntefane. I asked the Priests to announce in their parishes my intention to ordain brother Tumelo to the Diaconate. Let us pray for him that he may be able to take this important step on the way to the Priesthood. Going to Lesotho this month for the IMBISA meeting of Bishops I shall take the opportunity to visit Cliff and Daniel at St. Augustine Major Seminary at Roma on 20th-21st November. Lesetla will be completing the preparatory year near Durban and most probably start the Orientation Year together with Petrus Letipa Khala (from Fouriesburg) at Francis Xavier Seminary near Cape Town next year. Together with the Vocation Prayer groups let us go on praying for our Seminarians and that the Lord may call many others into his vineyard.
Fr. Dekson, director of the Farm of Hope together with a number of volunteers and our Fidesco volunteer, David Remond, started visiting parishes to talk about this important project. I hope that, very soon, there will be some young people in need of rehabilitation who will make use of this offer, helping them to be freed from their addiction.
There will be some transfers of Priests, caused partly by the departure of Fr. Bangizwe who is expected to return to St. John Vianney Major Seminary as lecturer and formator in January 2017. I hope that these past years of pastoral engagement in Bethlehem diocese will be beneficial in his new commitment. His place in Bohlokong parish will be taken by Fr. Dikotsi. Lindley parish will be served by Priest from Mariannhill diocese, Fr. Gumede Simosakhe. I hereby wish Fr. Gumede a good start in our diocese. These transfers will take place in the beginning of January. The other transfers involve Fr. Leuta and Msgr. Gregory. Fr. Leuta will move to Fouriesburg parish and Msgr. Gregory to Frankfort parish. These transfers will take place on the first Sunday of Advent 27th November.
On Sunday 27th November we start with the season of Advent entering into a new liturgical year. Let us help our people to enter this special time of preparation for Christmas so that they may be able to discover the many ways in which the Lord becomes present among us. Please remind the parishioners of the diocesan Advent appeal, a special collection throughout the Advent time for the Priests’ Provident fund providing for diocesan clergy in their old age or when infirm. I shall email to you the diocesan list of liturgical feasts and of special collections for 2017 very soon.
On Thursday 27th October I was invited at the price-giving celebration at Ekwaluseni school in Vrede. It was kept simple but very well organized giving a chance to children of the various grades (even grade R) to showcase their talents. Many parents also attended the event congratulating their children – even a father came forward. On Saturday 29th October there was a meeting of the Board of Governors (BOG) of the two remaining independent schools of Ekwaluseni and St. Joseph (Ficksburg) where the main body of the constitution was finalized.
I would like to remind the Priests and Deacons of the whole-day workshop on 23rd November at John Paul II centre starting at 09h30 until 16h00 divided into two sections: one catechetical on the new confirmation journey and one liturgical on the Sunday service in the absence of a Priest. Sisters Patricia and Phuthunywa from the Department for Christian Formation, Liturgy and Culture will animate this workshop. Please make sure to attend.
On Wednesday 30th November there will be the Joint Witness conference where the Bishops and Vicar Generals of the Bloemfontein Metropolitan Province will meet with Regional Superiors of the different Men and Women Religious Congregations around the theme of ‘Finding new paths to evangelization through sharing the joy of the Gospel (Evang. Gaudium 33)’. We shall start with Mass at 09h00 at the Archbishop’s chancery.
I would like to announce already a universal Church initiative propagated by Pope Francis and adapted and worked out by our own SACBC through the Commission for Liturgy concerning victims of sexual abuse by members of the Church. It will take the form of a tridium from Friday 02nd December till Sunday 04th December including prayer, reflection and fasting. There will also be a pastoral letter accompanying it. Of course one will have to adapt it to the local parish situation but we should all show our solidarity with the victims of such hideous crimes. We chose this time so that it links up with the international initiative of 16 days of activism ‘No violence against women and children’ which takes place every year from 25th November till 10th December. I shall email you the text as soon as it has been finalized (I hope also the Sotho and Zulu translation).
The Family Life theme for November is ‘Mercy leads from Suffering to Celebration’. November is traditionally a time to commemorate those who have died but at the same time we remember with mercy those left behind and all others experiencing loss and loneliness in different ways. We can ask ourselves: “Do we witness to others and experience the joy of seeing the face of Jesus reflected everywhere?”
The Holy Father’s monthly intentions for November are: the universal one ‘Countries receiving Refugees’ that the countries which take in a great number of displaced persons and refugees may find support for their efforts which show solidarity and the one dealing with evangelization ‘Collaboration of Priests and Laity’ that within parishes, priests and lay people may collaborate in service to the community without giving in to the temptation of discouragement.
Feasts of Patron Saints of various churches in the diocese:
• 03rd November, St. Martin de Porres, at Phuthaditjhaba
• 03rd November, St. Martin de Porres, at Qalabotjha (Frankfort Parish)
• 10th November, St. Leo the Great, at Clocolan
• 15th November, St. Albert, at Lindley
• 17th November, St. Elizabeth, at Mashaeng (Fouriesburg Parish)
• 17th November, St. Elizabeth, at Fateng tse Ntsho (Senekal Parish)
• 24th November, Christ the King, at Senekal
• 26th November, St. Konrad, at Namahadi (Frankfort Parish)
Engagements of the bishop during the month of November
• 07th November meeting with SGB of St. Benedict school at Ladybrand
• 08th November meeting with Deans at Bishop’s house
• 08th November meeting with Exec. DPC together with members of Year of Mercy and Diocesan Liturgical Committees at Bishop’s house
• 09th November meeting with Provincial team of Sisters of Holy Names at their house in Phuthas
• 10th November meeting with Sekwele Board
• 10th November meeting of Diocesan Finance Committee at Bishop’s house
• 11th November meeting with SMTs of Independent schools at Bishop’s house
• 12th November DCC meeting at Kelleter hall
• 13th November participation in a meeting of the Focolare council in Joburg
• 14th November participation in meeting with Misereor leadership at Sekwele
• 15th November participation in meeting of Diocesan Priests at Phuthas
• 16th November meeting with Fidesco volunteers at CCS
• 16th November meeting with Deacons at Bishop’s house
• 16th November meeting of J.P. II Board at J.P. II
• 17th November meeting of Social Awareness Committee at Sekwele
• 17th November meeting of Diocesan Justice & Peace Committee at Bishop’s house
• 18th November meeting of CCS Board at CCS
• 19th November presence at elections Sodality of St. Anne at J.P. II
• 19th November meeting with confirmandi at Ficksburg parish
• 20th November confirmations Ficksburg parish
• 20th – 21st November visit Seminarians at St. Augustine Major Seminary, Roma, Lesotho
• 22nd till 26th November participation in IMBISA meeting in Lesotho
• 26th November participation in AGM J.P. II
• 28th till 30th November meeting of Metropolitan Province concluding with Joint Witness meeting at Bloemfontein
Special Feast days
• Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of Fr. Mahlomola Lucky Khumalo on 13th November
• Birthday of Sr. Paulina Tjamela, SCIM, on 01st November; of Sr. M. Luciana Mnyandu, CSP, on 04th November; of Sr. Scholastica Ntsoebea, SNJM, on 20th November; of Fr. Mokesh Morar on 22nd November
May the Lord bless them and fill them with His Joy and Peace.
May we all grow in unity, the living and the dead, as members of the one Body of Christ, who wants to be all in all.

+Jan De Groef, M.Afr.
Bishop of Bethlehem

Posted in Bishop's Corner.

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