Each crisis has a lesson to teach us;
we need to learn how to listen for it with the ear of the heart.
(Amoris Laetitia nr. 232)
Couples should be helped that surmounting a crisis need not weaken their relationship;
instead, it can mature the wine of their union.
(Amoris Laetitia nr. 232)
Greater emphasis needs to be placed on the fact that
children are a wonderful gift from God and a joy for parents and the Church.
(Amoris Laetitia nr. 222)
Dear Fathers and Deacons, dear Sisters, dear Seminarians, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Indeed the year is near to its end. This is my last circular for 2016. But the end leads into a new beginning. This is also the message of the beginning of this special time of Advent.
I heard that the workshop, dealing with the Sunday service in the absence of a Priest and with the new confirmation journey, organized for Priests and Permanent Deacons was quite informative and appreciated. I hope that it has led to a better understanding and strengthened our resolve to implement it in our pastoral situation organizing the necessary workshops for all those involved in the next year’s formation program.
I encourage all Priests to be present at our last Presbyteral Council meeting on Wednesday 07th December (please be in time; we start at 09h30). I already communicated to you that the main item of the agenda will be a thorough evaluation of the year especially of your involvement as chaplains and as Priests responsible for a number of committees and workgroups. We shall also include a prayer at our Diocesan Priests’ cemetery. We shall conclude with the traditional braai.
I would like to remind you of the invitation coming from Pope Francis and our own SACBC concerning a prayer tridium including a day of fasting from Friday 02nd December till Sunday 04th December while it is understood that we have to adapt it to our own local pastoral situation. Included is the pastoral letter entitled ‘A Call to Fasting and Prayer for Victims of Sexual Abuse’. I already emailed the Sotho version to all Priests. Unfortunately I did not yet get the Zulu version. I shall email it to the parishes concerned as soon as I get it.
I hope you did not forget to hold the Advent Provident Fund collection which is always held on the first Sunday of Advent. May I remind you to send the proceeds of the special collection for the people of Haiti held on the Feast of Christ the King to the diocesan office before the 04th December so that we can forward it to the SACBC office. If some of you did not yet forward the moneys of the PMS collection, please do so urgently. There are still a big number of PMS calendars. Some parishes did not take any yet. I shall bring them to the coming Presbyteral Council meeting (cash and carry).
Dear Seminarians, by now, I suppose, you are all home and enjoying some days with your families. Fr. Mosebetsi will let you know when and where you are called to go for your pastoral engagements (including perhaps some manual work). I am looking forward to meet all of you on the 16th (day of arrival, be at Bishop’s house at 17h00) and 17th January (departure the following day after breakfast) at John Paul II centre. I already shared with you the good news of the Diaconate Ordination of your brother Tumelo. It will take place at the cathedral on Monday 12th December at 10h00. I wish Tumelo a good preparatory retreat animated by Fr. Fons.
The Bana ba Maris will have a rally on Saturday 10th December at our Diocesan Marian shrine at Tsheseng most probably closing the many diocesan events which took place at our Marian shrine this year. It is good to remember at all times – and the Bana ba Maria remind us of this – that Mary is our mother in the faith. This Advent time too reminds us of this. Mary is the key figure of Advent leading us into Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. During this rally we shall launch the new constitution (handbook) of Bana ba Maria (sold at the price of R50.00) which we got thanks to Fr. Menyatso. A special thanks to him. We hope and pray that his health may continue to improve.
The Sisters of St. Paul want to celebrate in a special way the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary – which of course is also celebrated by all Congregations and Societies who have Mary as their patron saint including the Missionaries of Africa to whom I belong – on the 08th December.
Bethlehem diocese will be the host of the Mariapolis – a family gathering organized by the Marian Focolare movement – from Tuesday 13th till Saturday 17th December at John Paul II centre. Please feel welcome.
This month’s Family Life theme ‘Building the new World of Justice and Merciful Love’ challenges all families, but also all of us, to celebrate with Mary, the ever loving and merciful mother, and the Holy Family a new season preparing us to contemplate the birth of the helpless baby in a manger, God’s revelation and sign of love and mercy. All of us as Church are called to be credible witnesses to mercy (even if the Year of Mercy as ended), professing it and living it.
The Holy Father’s monthly intentions for the month of December are: the universal one ‘End to Child-Soldiers’ that the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over and the one dealing with Evangelization ‘Europe’ that the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.
Feasts of Patron Saints of various churches in the Diocese:
- 08th December, Immaculate Conception, at Tsheseng, (Makeneng Parish)
- 08th December, St. Mary Immaculate, at Ntabazwe, (Harrismith Parish)
- 25th December, Tswalo ya Morena, at Bohlokong, (Bethlehem Parish)
- 29th December, Holy Family, at Monontsha, (Makeneng Parish)
Engagements of the bishop during the month of December:
- 01st December recollection of the Diocesan Liturgical Committee at Harrismith
- 02nd December Sekwele Board meeting at Sekwele
- 03rd December meeting with confirmandi at Clocolan
- 04th December confirmations in Clocolan parish
- 06th December meeting with consultors at Bishop’s house
- 07th December Presbyteral Council meeting at J.P. II
- 08th December Feast of Immaculate Conception, Sisters of St. Paul, Reitz
- 09th December meeting with Shrine Committee at Tsheseng
- 10th December rally of Bana ba Maria at Marian shrine, Tsheseng
- 12th December Diaconate Ordination of Tumelo at cathedral
- 13th till 17th December participation in Mariapolis at J.P. II
Special Feast days:
- Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of Fr. Menyatso Menyatso on 15th December
- Birthday of Fr. Cyprian Agene on 05th December; of Sr. M Emmanuela Mokoena, CSP, on 08th December; of Sr. M Antonia Mokhethi, CSP, on 10th December; of Fr. Menyatso Menyatso on 12th December; of Sr. M Imelda Nkatlo, CSP, and Sr. Lydia Tlali, SNJM, on 13th December; of Sr. M Charles Mofokeng, CSP, on 21st December; of Sr. M Clara Motsoari, CSP, on 22nd December; of Msgr. George Wagner on 23rd December; of Sr. Catherine Owens, OP, on 24th December; of Sr. M Stephania Molofi, CSP, on 26th December.
May the Lord bless them and fill them with His Joy and Peace.
A fruitful time of Advent and a blessed Christmas to all of you,
+Jan De Groef, M.Afr.
Bishop of Bethlehem