Catholic schools should be encouraged in their mission to help pupils
grow into mature adults who can view the world with the love of Jesus.
(From Amoris Laetitia nr. 279)
In the family too, we can rethink our habits of consumption
and join in caring for the environment as our common home.
(From Amoris Laetitia nr. 277)
Single parents must receive encouragement and support from other families
in the Christian community and from the parish’s pastoral outreach.
(From Amoris Laetitia nr. 252)
Dear Fathers and Deacons, dear Sisters, dear Seminarians, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The year has only started and is already getting old. I suppose that you have already drafted your parish year programmes and that also Sodalities have drafted theirs (especially on diocesan level). Please let me have a copy of those which concern the whole diocese. It would be good to have them ready at the next Presbyteral Council meeting. I sent out the Pope’s pastoral letter with as theme ‘Amazement at what God has accomplished’ concerning the Day of the Sick via internet. It gives you some good ideas concerning the pastoral care for the sick. I also emailed to you a copy of the statistics form for 2016 together with a copy of the one you filled in last year. I put a hard copy in your pigeon hole at Bishop’s house. Please do not delay filling it in and returning it to the Bishop’s office (if possible hand it to me at the Presbyteral Council meeting).
Not so many things or events were on the programme of this past month but some important events happened, some joyful and others sorrowful. It was nice to meet with all our Seminarians at J.P. II Centre for the yearly Seminarians’ Day. All were in good spirits and also their seminary reports of last year were mostly positive. As part of the programme we met with some representatives of the vocation prayer groups who were interested to hear about the progress of our Seminarians and also brought a number of items responding to their Seminary needs. Their presence and their words and deeds of encouragement were very much appreciated. In name of you Seminarians and of the diocese I want to express my thanks for their continual support. Daniel and Cliff have already left for St. Augustine Major Seminary in Roma, Lesotho, starting their last year of philosophy. Ntefane has started his pastoral internship in Vrede parish. We have again 2 candidates for St. Francis Xavier Orientation Seminary near Cape Town who have both been accepted, Gabriel Lengoabala from Bethlehem-Bohlokong and Petrus Khala from Fouriesburg-Mashaeng, who will start their year on the 02nd February. The others will continue their Seminary formation at St. John Vianney Major Seminary in Pretoria in the beginning of February. Our newly ordained Deacon Tumelo is pursuing his pastoral involvement in Bethlehem-Bohlokong parish. I wish you all much courage and zeal responding to the Lord’s call.
I was present at the meeting of Kemolo representatives from a number of parishes all over the diocese. It was a very constructive meeting responding to a need for more unity between the various groups and for necessary guidance. Part of the programme was an input by Fr. Menyatso and myself about the origins, the aim and the life of this Sodality with some indications how they could imitate Mary, Virgin and Mother, in their daily lives. I thank Fr. Dikotsi for having accepted to advice and guide this Sodality in this very important stage of growth in the diocese. Fr. Menyatso’s presence – he was the one who has put a lot of effort in drafting their new constitution – was very much appreciated.
Members of Vocation Prayer groups from various parishes had a meeting at Kelleter hall, Bethlehem, led by Fr. William Kaupa. They truly are a blessing for our diocese.
Sad news was the sudden death of Mrs. Mapoea Mosala after a short period at the hospital. We shall always remember her for her continual commitment to BBTP. May her soul rest in peace and may the good Lord bring consolation to her children and relatives.
I would like to remind all Priests to look to it that parish contributions for the special collections of PMS (ended last October) and Provident Fund be transferred to the diocesan office. Up to now 9 parishes together with the cathedral community send in their PMS contributions. I already emailed you the list. We transferred to the SACBC secretariat an amount of R8221.50 in solidarity for the victims of the hurricane in Haiti. Give my sincere thanks for the communities which contributed.
Looking at the February liturgical calendar we are invited to celebrate some important Feasts and Memorials. First of all there is the Memorial of our first South African martyr, Blessed Benedict Daswa, on the 01st February. I emailed to you a letter which mentions the website where you can find a number of documents like the Benedict Daswa novena preparing for the Memorial (already starting on 23rd January), readings and prayers for the special Memorial Mass and reflections for a whole month. It is indeed very well done. Please make use of the material provided.
Thursday 02nd February we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. I shall celebrate it on Saturday 04th February in St. Monica’s, Reitz-Petsana, together with the Sisters of St. Paul and Sisters of the Religious Congregations present in the diocese for whom this Feast has a particular significance. Two Sisters of St. Paul, Sister M. Michaela and Sister M. Luciana, will celebrate their jubilees in the presence of some of their family members and other invited guests. All Religious present will renew their dedication to the Lord and His Kingdom. Moreover this year is also the jubilee of 90 years’ presence of the Sisters of St. Paul in our diocese.
On the 08th February we celebrate the Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, the Patron Saint of Sudan and a victim of human trafficking herself. This day was chosen as a Day of Awareness of the scourge Human Trafficking, which unfortunately is also present in South Africa. It presents us with a challenge to take action to get rid of this scourge.
On the 11th February we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes which is also the World Day of the Sick. It falls together with our yearly Day of the Sick in our diocesan Marian shrine at Tsheseng. I already emailed to all Priests the invitation as well as the programme. Let us encourage our people to attend.
On Sunday the 12th February I have been invited by the Missionary Society of St. Paul to celebrate with them their 25th Jubilee of missionary work in South Africa. A thanksgiving Mass will be celebrated at St. Peter Claver’s church, Ficksburg-Maqheleng, at 09h00. I want to express my sincere thanks for the presence and work in the diocese.
On Thursday 09th February we shall have our first Presbyteral Council meeting of the year as usual at J.P. II Centre starting at 09h30. Also the Permanent Deacons are invited. I want to stress the importance of this meeting where we share together about the life of the diocese and try to come up with solutions and a way forward concerning the many challenges facing the diocese. Looking forward to see you there.
I am sure that you already know our two Fidesco volunteers, David and Paul. David is engaged part-time in the Fazenda and part-time in our diocesan office. Paul is engaged full-time in CCS. He will receive the visit of his Seminary rector this month. Perhaps surprising to many of you Paul is indeed a diocesan Seminarian from France. Sekwele will receive also a volunteer, Paul Fotoh, a member of the Focolare movement. He will arrive on Sunday 05th February and be accommodated at Bishop’s house where also the Fidesco volunteers are accommodated. Dear volunteers I want to encourage all of you in your various fields of action in our diocese. We appreciate your service and commitment.
We also found a replacement for the deceased director of BBTP, Mrs. Mapoea Mosala, in the person of Mr. Petrus Ntsebe who will start this month of February. I wish him a good start that he may lead this precious project forward. Thanks to CCS, especially its director, for helping the project in this interim time.
The February Family Life theme ‘Love is Merciful and Tender’ reminds us that tenderness is a unique quality of true and committed love shown by God and expressed in different ways especially within marriage and in families. Tenderness is also an aspect of mercy, “opening our hearts to the pain and wounds of others” as Pope Francis writes. World Marriage Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of February each year (this year on the 12th February). It would be meaningful to celebrate with married couples inviting them to renew their marriage vows.
The Holy Father’s monthly prayer intention for the month of February is ‘Comfort for the Afflicted’ that all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized may find welcome and comfort in our communities.
Feasts of Patron Saints of various churches in the Diocese: none in February
Engagements of the bishop during the month of February
- 01st February meeting with Department of Laity at Santa Sophia, Pretoria
- 02nd February Mass at Tswalong
- 04th February main celebrant for Jubilee Mass Sisters of St. Paul at St. Monica’s, Reitz-Petsana
- 07th February meeting with Deans at Bishop’s house
- 07th February meeting of Executive DPC at Bishop’s house
- 08th February meeting with diocesan Consultors at Bishop’s house
- 08th February meeting with BBTP Board at Bishop’s house
- 09th February meeting of Presbyteral Council meeting at J.P. II Centre
- 10th February CCS Board meeting at CCS
- 11th February Day of the Sick at Marian shrine, Tsheseng
- 12th February celebration of MSP jubilee at St. Peter Claver’s, Ficksburg
- 13th till 18th February participation in M.Afr. meeting at Merrivale (Natal)
- 19th-20th February celebration of Bp. Zolile Mpambani’s jubilee in Kokstad
- 21st February Diocesan Priests’ meeting in Ladybrand
- 22nd February meeting of Diocesan Liturgical Committee meeting at Bishop’s house
- 23rd February meeting of FSCBE at J.P. II Centre
- 24th till 26th February meeting of Laity Council at Bertoni Centre, Pretoria North
- 28th February meeting with Council of Sisters of St. Paul at Reitz
Special Feast days
- Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of Fr. Lekhotla Papi Atoro on 21st February
- Birthday of Sr. M Michaela Masijane, CSP, on 02nd February; of Sr. M Dominica Seotlo, CSP, on 13th February; of Sr. M Lioba Motjotji, CSP, on 26th
May the Lord bless them and fill them with His Joy and Peace.
Wishing you lots of perseverance in the service of the Lord and His people,
+Jan De Groef, M.Afr.
Bishop of Bethlehem