2017 Building Healthy Christian Families

The preaching of the Gospel thus becomes a vital and effective word

that accomplishes what it proclaims (cf. Is 55:10-11):

Jesus Christ, who constantly takes flesh in every human situation (cf. Jn 1:14).

(From the message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2017)

Many things have to change course,

But it is we human beings above all who need to change.

We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging,

and of a future to be shared with everyone.

This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes

and forms of life.

(From the Encyclical of Pope Francis ‘Laudato si’ nr. 202)

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

The October month is above all the Mission month. I hope that you will draw inspiration from the message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2017 which I emailed or sent to you before. The October month is also the month of the rosary. Let us use this special meditative prayer asking for Mary’s intercession for our diocese and for peace and reconciliation in today’s world.

PMS calendars are still available at the diocesan office especially on Monday and Tuesday. The Fidesco volunteer, David, will gladly assist you.

I am happy to hear that the workshop for those conducting the Sunday service in the absence of a Priest will now also take place in Qwaqwa deanery.

The Bongwana pilgrimage at Tsheseng was, I think, very well attended as only one parish was absent. As always with great crowds it is not that easy to conduct it in an orderly way, but Fr. Tsolo got quite a lot of support from bajada to lead it well. It took a bit more time than foreseen (especially lunch) and also the weather was not that brilliant but overall the children were full of joy and vibrancy. Lindley parish took over the trophie in the song festival making us aware that also small communities can exceed. Congratulations to the Lindley participants. It was good to diversify activities having both the song festival and the bible quiz though, of course, that takes more time. A special thanks to Fr. Tsolo and his bajada collaborators. Keep it up.

Though I could not be present the whole time, I was present for two days at the Priests’ ongoing formation gathering at Mtunzini in Eshowe diocese from Monday 25th till Friday 29th September. Though quite far for all of us it was felt by all present to be very worthwhile. Unfortunately not all Priests could be present because of various reasons. They truly missed something but we hope that they will pick it up in some way so that we can progress together as one Priest-body. The programme was quite varied with sharing and inputs. Quite a number of recommendations were made which present quite a challenge to all of us. Though we cannot implement them all at once it is important to make a start. We were warmly welcomed by Fr. Sifiso and Bp. Teddy Khumalo, who forgot in his words of welcome that he was no longer in Bethlehem diocese so much did he feel at one with us. Thank you Bp. Teddy for your friendliness, even paying for all the catering. Thanks to Fr. Leuta and the organizing committee. Much appreciated.

Saturday night, 07-08 October is already very near. I hope that you encouraged your congregations to plan for it and that many of your parishioners will be present. This year it will be again a vigil with basically the normal programme. However included will be the diocesan fundraising and the handing out of the Star of Bethlehem to three persons who showed a lot of dedication and zeal in Christian service in their parish communities. The theme chosen for this year is: ‘Mary, the Comforter of the Afflicted’.

I also want to welcome my Missionaries of Africa confreres to J.P. II centre for a few days for their quarterly meeting. Feel at home in our diocese. I was very happy too to welcome a confrere with whom I collaborated for a number of years in Siyabuswa parish, Kwa Ndebele, Fr. P.J. Cassidy, though I only managed to see him at breakfast the day I left to join the Bethlehem Priests in Mtunzini. But Fr. Fons surely made him to feel at home in Bethlehem. Fr. Fons is slowly rounding off his stay with us in Bethlehem diocese and in South Africa visiting some friends in the various places he worked. Though still too early to say farewell I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for his presence at Bishop’s house, having a confrere after many years of having none, being ready to render service and spotting wherever things needed repair. Also on behalf of Bethlehem parish, where he celebrated Sunday Mass regularly, and the diocese, where he gave a helping hand in various diocesan bodies, I want to thank you. We shall surely miss you when you depart at the end of November this year.

I want to welcome too Jakes from the Philippines who joined again the Farm of Hope as a Facenda missionary. Good news is that the whole water purification system is now in place.

Let us pray for our matriculates this month who will soon start writing exams. Two of our Seminarians, Nhlanhla Mokoena and Paballo Skotha, obtained a Degree and a graduation ceremony will be held at St. John Vianney Major Seminary on the 18th October. Congratulations to both of you. Keep it up. Some of you will be receiving the ministry of Acolytes soon. Dear Seminarians, this is another step on the way to Priesthood. Do not take it lightly as it is an important moment of discernment.

On Thursday 26th October there will be a meeting of Joint Witness at the Bloemfontein archdiocesan chancery of the Religious Superiors (Provincial, General or Regional Superiors) whose congregations are present in the Bloemfontein Metropolitan Province (invited are the Religious Superior together with one member of a community present within the Metropolitan Province) together with the Bishops and their Vicar Generals. A letter of invitation has already been sent. This is just a reminder. I hope that those concerned will respond to this invitation.

The Family Life theme for this month is chosen in the light of the October Mission Month: ‘Our Mission’ emphasizing that the mission in the family, according to Pope Francis, is to go beyond just doing good for others but ideally to be brothers and sisters to them, to care for and “bind one another’s wounds”.

The Holy Father’s monthly intention for the month of October is ‘Workers and the Unemployed’ that all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.


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:

  • 03rd October meeting with Deans
  • 03rd October meeting with DPC Executive at Bishop’s house
  • 04th October meeting with bajadi at J.P. II centre
  • 05th October meeting with Auditors in Kroonstad
  • 07th – 08th October Diocesan Pilgrimage at Marian shrine at Tsheseng
  • 09th till 12th October participation in M.Afr. meeting at J.P. II centre
  • 14th October meeting with confirmandi at Tswalong
  • 15th October confirmations at Kizito
  • 16th October participation in graduation ceremony at Ekwaluseni, Vrede
  • 24th till 25th October Bloemfontein Metropolitan Province meeting at chancery in Bloemfontein
  • 26th October participation in Joint Witness meeting at chancery in Bloemfontein
  • 26th – 27th October visit St. Augustine Major Seminary in Roma, Lesotho

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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