Report from the Diocesan youth Ministry on MWYD

A mini, localised World Youth Day week was celebrated at Don Bosco Youth Centre, Johannesburg on the 03 -06 December2015, that’s where an estimated number of 40 young people including the seminarians from the diocese of Bethlehem had an opportunity to be part of this exciting lifetime experience. The main purpose of the camp was for the South African Youth to develop and experience what the World Youth Day offers. It was also an opportunity for those who will be attending the WYD in Poland to do some soul searching and make spiritual preparations ahead of the big upcoming event scheduled to take place with the Pope in July 2016. The theme of the Camp was from Matthew 5:7

The program for the Mini World Youth Day (MWYD) 2015 included: Catechesis, Holy Masses, Festivals, Stations of the Cross, Confessions and Presentations on different programs and testimonies, with many bishops within the SACBC umbrella who were also present to offer catechism to all the youth attending the camp. And the catechism was also aligned again with Mercy and Reconciliation

 The Mini World Youth Day was attended by the youth and the young adults from all over the country and beyond countries such as Botswana and Swaziland. The Youth from Bethlehem, Kroonstad and Bloemfontein were teamed up as the Bloemfontein cluster whereby they were the last cluster to sing the holy mass (closing mass) in the night vigil from the 5th -6th December and as a result they made a remarkable statement by closing the mass with a very high standard. They all did this because of the team spirit they had and also some good relations amongst them.

The experience was a very exciting one for the youth of Bethlehem diocese to be part of the event that even words cannot describe, to have learned so much and having the opportunity to experience the feeling of praying with other young people and also to have learned on how they live their different lifestyles as the Catholic Youth who are committed to Christ as they have not had the privilege to attend the World Youth Day abroad.

It really was a very good opportunity and a very great experience.

Thanks to our very own priests namely: Rev.Fr Lucky Khumalo (Diocesan Youth Chaplain, from Mpumalanga deanery), Rev.Fr Buang Mofokeng (Qwaqwa Deanery) and Rev.Fr Tsolo Mohlahli (Centeal deanery) for accompanying our young people to the camp until the last day.

Don Bosco ora pro nobis.

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Report by
Falala Innocentia Mokoena
(Central deanery youth chairperson)


CCS Origins and Mission

Over the years since its foundation in 1997, CCS has developed from a welfare organisation to a service provider in developmental activities in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bethlehem, Free State Province, South Africa.

As a development organisation we aim to help people to help themselves. CCS is an accredited skills centre and training provider with AgriSETA and is developing opportunities in income generation to be more self-sustainable.


VISION: To work together with others, to alleviate poverty and strengthen community organisations, to bring about healthy, just and compassionate communities in the eastern Free State. (The Diocese of Bethlehem and beyond.)

CCS is helping people through three main programmes:

Thuthukani (Skills Transfer):

Capacity development (training, monitoring and mentoring) to community-based organisations (NPOs) and primary co-operatives. We cover the basic topics of governance, planning, financial management, report writing, business plans, resource mobilization, project management, conflict management, leadership and communication.

Life Skills Education, adapted to need but usually over 15 days to in-school and out of school youth.


MARU (Food Security):

 Assists communities across the Eastern Free State and Northern Cape to address food security issues by training individuals, and forming cooperatives in organic vegetable production and poultry production.


IMPILO (Psychosocial Support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children):

Has helped the original “soup kitchens” to become independent NPOs assisting children at 11 sites throughout the diocese. Care workers/volunteers are trained in psychosocial support, fundraising & proposal writing as well as the rights of children, and health and safety such as First Aid and fire safety. CCS assists our partner organisations in having a suitable venue where the children can gather each day. More awareness programmes are planned as well as support groups for families caring for orphaned children.


Article by
Mr Brian Aldworth
(CCS Project Manager)



Though a bit late in the year, the youth of QWAQWA DEANERY met on the 06th of February to resume 2016 programmes. the following are the details of the gathering:

1. The gathering took place at St Martin de Porres Phuthaditjhaba from 10am
2. The groups that attended were: Children of Mary, Altar Servers, Youth Association.
3. Estimated number of the attendees is 200 young people including those who belong to none of the mentioned organizations.
4. aims of the gathering: The gathering was aimed at motivating the youth in our deanery to work hard in fostering unity among them as there have been signs of unhealthy competition within the deanery. They were also encouraged to join hands in rebuilding some pride and love for their Church.

They were encouraged to look at change with a positive eye as it is meant to create a sense of growth and development: both spiritual and human.

The main change that was presented to them was the formation of the Young Adult Association that was not present in the Deanery. The association is formed out of the existing youth association. The division is made according to age. It will be launched as soon as its membership is clear according to numbers. General feeling around the change is that of fear of having both groups growing in strength. some of the old members feel discouraged.

Other groups were monitored on how far their registrations and leadership elections went by. This is still been continued.

The day was concluded with Holy Mass in which all the young people enrolled for the 2016 year of studies received a special blessing by the Priests.

Article by
Fr Buang Mofokeng
(Qwaqwa deanery youth chaplain)

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Closing of a year of concecrated life

It was on the 7th of February at Mofumahadi wa kgotso cogregation, in Bohlokong parish. All Religious congregations, in the dioces of Bethlehem were present. Srs of st Paul, sacred heart, Holy names and Good Shepherd.

During Mass srs were the ones who were doing the readings, bringing gifts, doing the intersessions and they renew their vows. During offatory they brought their logos according to their respective congregations.

The letter of Pope Francis Said the congrdgation should go back to their roots and should read the signs of the time. Wake up the world! Before final blessing they explained to the congregation what does those logos mean to their congregations, respectively.

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Article by
Sr Sylvia Lerata
(Chairperson of the religious)


Being a Seminarian of the Diocese of Bethlehem in 2016

Another year has dawned on us. While 2016 started on a very saddening note with the passing of Fr Mpho Mona, a time came for us as seminarians to roll up our sleeves and get back to business. It was time to take another academic year head on. We were also encouraged by seeing one of our brothers, Rev Lerato Mokoena, get ordained a Deacon at Holy Ghost Cathedral on the 21st of December 2015. This event helped to be more focused on the goal to which we are aspiring. It was also a moment of reflection to see how far we have come and how the Lord has been good to us.

From the 3rd to the 5th of January 2016 we met with our Bishop, Ntate Jan de Groef, and Fr Mosebetsi at JPII centre. This is an annual get together at which things range from discussion and presentation sessions, to one on one meetings with the Bishop, to relaxing with snacks and cool-drinks. This time serves to keep seminarians abreast about the diocese and ensures that they feel connected with the diocese at all times. It is a very informative time that also strengthens the bond between brothers and their fathers. This time around there was another twist to this wonderful time. Vocations groups came to meet us as well. They joined us for Mass and then we had a meeting with them after Lunch on the 4th of January. They gave us a glimpse of what they as the people of God think and expect of us as seminarians. It was indeed a great time for everyone involved.


Having come back to the seminary we all went to the semester retreat at different places according to   our classes. Upon our return we had orientation and classes started. On the 17th of February something very special happened. The seminary had a feast to celebrate two things. Firstly, it was the installation of the new rector who took office on the 1st of January 2016. Then it was the acceptance to candidacy of the brothers who are starting their theology this year. We are proud that the diocese of Bethlehem had three brothers accepted as candidates to Holy Orders; namely, Thabiso Matabane, Sabata Hoseas Makibi and Paballo Cedric Skhotha. We congratulate them on getting this far. May the God who brought them this far carry them through their whole seminary formation.


Article by
Br Tumelo Stephen Mohlaping

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SISTERS OF St. Paul – Reitz

Ka Mantaha wa la 25 Pherekgong 2016, kopano ya Baitlami ba Paulosi ya halalelang e ne e amohela Monovice Sr. Maria Immaculate Nkhatho mokgahlelong wa dikano tsa hae tsa pele. Sehlabelo sa Mmisa se ne se eteletswe pele ke Ntate Mosebetsi Mokoena. Dibini e ne e le Baitlami ba kopano ya habo ya Paulosi ya halalelang ba ileng ba bina hamonate kannete. Motsamaisi wa mosebetsi  e bile Sr. Maria Christophora Lephoto ya ileng a etsa mosebetsi o mkgethe kannetw.

Hgothatsong ya hae, Ntate Mosebetsi o eleditse Moitlami ya motjha ho tsamaya maotong a Paulosi ya halalelang le ho latela pitso ya hae ka botlalo, le ho ipeha tlas`a tshireletso ya hae. O eleditse Sistere ho rapela haholo le ho rapella kopano ya hae kamehla.

Bakriste ba phutheho ya habo ba ne ba le teng ho tla rapela le ho leboha Morena Modimo mmoho le Sistere. Sister Immaculate, ka moo a bitswang ka teng, o ekeditse lenane la Baitlami ba batjha ba kopano ya habo ho ba ba leshome le motso o le mong (11), le palo ya Baitlami ba Paulosi ho ba mashome a mararo a metso e mene (34).

Batswadi ba hae ba ne ba le teng ho tla tlotlisa letsatsi leo. Sr. Lidwina Mosikili o ile a leboha bohle ba atlehileng hot la moketeng mmoho le batswadi ba ileng ba fan aka lekgabunyane la bona ho Morene Modimo kopanong ya Baitlami ba kopano ya Paulosi ya halalelang.


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report from Sr Maria_Charles Mofokeng


2016 Building Healthy Christian Families

It is essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message
that she herself live and testify to mercy.
(From Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy)

The Church wants to show herself as loving mother to all;
patient, kind, moved by compassion and goodness.
(Pope Francis quoting St. John XXIII)

The signs Jesus works …. In the face of sinners, the poor, the marginalised,
the sick and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy.
(From Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy)

In the parable of the Prodigal Son we find the core of the gospel,
because mercy is presented as a force that overcomes everything.
(From Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy)


Dear Fathers and Deacons, dear Sisters, dear Seminarians, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is my first circular of this new year 2016 – a double one as it includes also February – and I want to start with wishing you all a blessed and joyful new year. I want to quote some words from the Pope’s message for the World Day of Peace, celebrated on 01st January: “God is not indifferent! God cares about mankind! God does not abandon us!” Pope Francis encourages us all to build a culture of solidarity and mercy to overcome indifference and this has to start in the family as he says himself: “I think first of families, which are called to a primary and vital mission of education. Families are the first place where the values of love and fraternity, togetherness and sharing, concern and care for others are lived out and handed on.” At the end of his message Pope Francis offers some examples of praiseworthy commitment which demonstrate how all of us can overcome indifference. He concludes saying: “Compassion, love, mercy and solidarity must become our true way of life, a rule of conduct in our relationships with one another. This requires a conversion of our hearts: the grace of God has to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, open to others in authentic solidarity.” Let us make this our New Year resolution.

The Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita on the 08th February keeps us aware of the scourge of ‘Human Trafficking’ and, I hope, that our Justice & Peace groups will continue to remind us of being alert and active in our drive against it. Bishop Joao of Tzaneen diocese, where the beatification of Blessed Benedict Daswa took place last year, invites us to celebrate our first South African martyr on 01st February. He provided us with texts and prayers we could use for the Eucharistic celebration that day.

Everybody who was present will agree with me, I think, when I say that the opening of the Year of Mercy in our diocese on the 12th December at our Marian shrine in Tsheseng was a well-attended (however only few from our town communities turned up), joyful and meaningful celebration. Thanks to all who prepared and animated it. I hope that something happened as well in the parishes after that day and that ‘Mercy’ will be focused on in our pastoral programs all throughout the year. I shall in the course of the week forward to all parishes the resolutions of the last DPC meeting which also include the Year of Mercy during the first year.

Thank your people who contributed so generously to the PMS collection. Two parishes still have to send in their contributions. Please do so urgently. We also expect the moneys of the Provident Fund collection held on the first Sunday of Advent to come in during this month of January.

Thanks for your presence and support for the celebration of the Diaconate Ordination of Lerato Mokoena which took place on 21st December at the cathedral. I wish our new Deacon a fruitful apostolate in Ladybrand parish. Our Seminarians will be (or have been for some) involved in some pastoral work in a number of parishes (including helping with inventories). I hope that it will be a formative time for all of you and I am looking forward to meet with you at J.P. II centre starting on Sunday evening, 03rd January (be at Bishop’s house before 18h00) and finishing on Tuesday morning 05th January for our yearly meeting. Good news! We have two new candidates, Tshepang Vincent and Lesetla Gabriel, both from Bethlehem parish, who will start a preparatory year at St. Ambrose Formation House near Durban on 29th January. Let us support them with our prayers.

I already sent out a liturgical diocesan year program. Please let me have the year programs of Sodalities and Diocesan Committees as far as diocesan activities concerns so as to avoid clashes between various activities. Please do not wait planning with me concerning dates for confirmation and parish visitation (for those parishes I could not visit last year).
The Year of Consecrated Life which we started in February last year will come to a close with the feast of the Presentation of the Lord on 02nd February. This will be celebrated on Bishops’ Conference level in the Sacred Heart cathedral in Pretoria on Saturday 16th January during the Bishops’ Plenary. But on diocesan level there will be a special closing celebration in Bethlehem parish on Sunday 07th February. Let us give thanks to the Lord for the marvellous work done by Religious of various Congregations in our diocese. Let us be united too in prayer and thanksgiving with all those who will take or renew their temporal vows or make final vows these coming days, especially those belonging to Religious Congregations present in our diocese.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated on Sunday 10th January, has always been a special day for the catechists known as Commissioning Sunday. From this year onwards, catechists, who have been selected for this service in the Church, will make a temporary commitment in all parishes throughout the diocese. They will then be monitored in their performance by the Parish Priest and those in charge of catechesis on parish and diocesan level and eventually will make a full commitment either on Easter or Pentecost. To have capable and committed catechists is of prime importance for the faith growth of our adult catechumens, our children and youth who are being catechized. Let us pray for them and support them.

As already indicated in my previous circular Priests in our various parishes are asked to organise the World Day of Prayer for the Sick and the Health Care Givers in their parish on Sunday 14th February which is also the first Sunday of Lent.

This year Lent starts early. We start this precious time, even more precious during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, with Ash Wednesday on 10th February. This time has been singled out to organize activities on parish level celebrating the Year of Mercy. I shall forward to all Priests the Lenten message of Pope Francis in due time. Let us also remember to encourage our people to contribute to the Lenten collection as one of the ways to live this special time. Lenten material will be available at the diocesan office.

We shall have our first Presbyteral Council meeting on Tuesday, 01st March, a bit later than usual because of my participation in the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu from 22nd January till 08th February.

I shall be participating in the SACBC Plenary session from Thursday 14th till Thursday 21st January. Part of the agenda is elections for various departments and offices. I ask for your prayers that we, bishops, may be truly guided by the Holy Spirit.

The year theme for Family Life is chosen in the light of the Year of Mercy: ‘Building Homes of Merciful Love’. January has as theme ‘Merciful Love. A New Vision’ which is the vision of Jesus Christ who is the face of the Father’s mercy. A practical tip for the month: add an image depicting Christ – it could be also a Divine Mercy poster – at the family’s prayer corner at the home. February has as theme ‘Love is at the Heart of Mercy’ recognizing that families need healing from wounds inflicted through selfishness and lack of kindness and tenderness. Let us intensify our actions of charity in the spirit of Lent (corporal and spiritual works of mercy) and reflections on Scripture as Pope Francis suggests (making use of the SACBC reflection booklet) and ask for the intercession of Blessed Benedict Daswa.

The Holy Father’s monthly intentions for the month of January are: the universal one that sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice and the one dealing with Evangelization ‘Christian Unity’ that by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions. Those for February are: the universal one ‘Care for Creation’ that we may take good care of creation – a gift freely given – cultivating and protecting it for future generations and the one dealing with Evangelization ‘Asia’ that opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter between the Christian faith and the peoples of Asia.

Feasts of Patron Saints of various churches in the diocese:
01st January, Mofumahadi wa Kgotso, at Bohlokong (Bethlehem parish)
21st January, St. Agnes, at Mamafubedu (Lindley parish)
31st January, St. John Bosco, at Bluegumbush (Phuthas parish)

Engagements of the bishop during the months of January and February
03rd January Mass at the cathedral
03rd till 05th January meeting with Seminarians at J.P. II centre
05th January special meeting with consulters at Bishop’s house
05th and 06th January participation in AGM of Sacred Heart at St. John Vianney Major Seminary, Pretoria
07th January meeting of Department of Laity at Khanya house, Pretoria
08th January meeting Sotho translators at Bishop’s house
09th till 10th January visitation and confirmations at Reitz parish
12th January meeting with Department of Education in Bloemfontein
12th till 13th January participation in meeting of Missionaries of Africa in Hartebeest
14th till 21st January SACBC Plenary at St. John Vianney Major Seminary, Pretoria
22nd January till 02nd February participation in International Eucharistic Congress at Cebu, Philippines
02nd till 07th February visit Missionaries of Africa at Cebu and Farm of Hope at
09th February BBTP Board meeting at Bishop’s house
10th February Ash Wednesday liturgy at cathedral
11th February meeting of Social Awareness Committee at Sekwele and of Justice & Peace Committee at Bishop’s house
12th February CCS Board meeting at CCS
12th till 14th February visitation of Lindley parish
15th February meeting of Missionary group at chancery Johannesburg
16th February Sekwele Board meeting
16th February John Paul II Board meeting
17th February meeting with Deans at Bishop’s house
17th February meeting of Executive DPC at Bishop’s house
18th February meeting of CBE Free State at J.P. II centre
19th February meeting of Diocesan Liturgical Committee at Bishop’s house
23rd February participation in reflection day of Priests at J.P. II centre
24th February participation in Diocesan Priests’ meeting at J.P. II centre
26th till 27th February meeting of Laity Council at Lumko, Benoni
29th February meeting with consulters at Bishop’s house

Special Feast days
Anniversary of Priestly Ordination Fr. Mokesh Morar on 07th January; of Fr. Lekhotla Papi Atoro on 21st February.
Birthday of Bp. Jan De Groef on 07th January; of Fr. Mpho Mona on 25th January; of Dc. Vincent Mohlaping on 29th January; 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 February.
May the Lord bless them and fill them with His Joy, Mercy and Peace.
I wish you all a blessed New Year,

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


The Opening Of The Jubilee Of Mercy

The pilgrims of the Diocese of Bethlehem, gathered at the Marian shrine: our lady of Bethlehem on the 12 December 2015 for the opening of the jubilee of Mercy.
We begun by welcome note and expiation of the theme, by Fr Menyatso Michael Menyatso (the rector of the Shrine). The Bishop opened with prayer, and followed by reading of the Papal Bull by Fr’s Mosebetsi Simon Mokoena (vicar general) Mpho Mathias Mona (diocesan MC) and William Kaupa (vacations).
In light with the theme of the day, be merciful like the father, the procession led by the pilgrims praying the lumen mysteries to the Shrine via the stations.
By the entrance of the Shrine, the door of Mercy was covered with Basotho blankets, to be blessed by the Bishop for all to enter through and the blessings with sprinkling with holy water by Frs Tslolo Julian Mohlahli and Anselm Njoku
The ceremony in the Shrine begun by the Sacrament of reconciliation lead by Fr Buang Julias Mofokeng, followed by the anointing with oil by Bishop Jan the Groef and Fr Mosebetsi Simon Mokoena.
To sum up and conclude the celebration, the holy Eucharist was celebrated by the Bishop, where all the diocesan priests renewed their ordination vows and promises before the Bishop and the pilgrims of the Dioceses

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Report by:
Rev-Fr Khahliso Bonaventure Mofokeng (Diocesan media and communications)


The Cradle of Jesus (Nasir-i-Khusrau) -Jerusalem Achaeological Park

Adjacent to the East Wall, and when you have reached the south (eastern) angle (of the Haram Area)—the Kiblah-point lying before you, south, but somewhat aside—there is an underground Mosque, to which you descend by many steps. It is situated immediately to the north of the (south) Wall of the Haram Area, covering a space measuring 20 ells by 15, and the chamber has a roof of stone, supported on marble columns. Here was of old the Cradle of Jesus. The Cradle is of stones, and large enough for a man to make therein his prayers prostrations, and I myself said my prayers their. The Cradle is fixed into the ground, so that it cannot be moved. This Cradle is where Jesus was laid during His childhood, and where He held converse with the people. The Cradle itself, in this Mosque, has been made the Mihrâb (or oratory); and there is, likewise, on the east side of this Mosque the Mihrâb Maryam (or Oratory of Mary), and another Mihrâb, which is that of Zakariyyâ (Zachariah)—peace be upon him! Above these Mihrâb are written the verses revealed in the Kurân that relate respectively to Zachariah and to Mary. They say that Jesus—peace be upon Him!—was born in the place where this Mosque now stands. On the shaft of one of the columns there is impressed a mark as though a person had gripped the stone with tow fingers; and they say that Mary, when taken in the pangs of labour, did thus with one hand seize upon the stone, leaving this mark thereon. ThisMosque is known by the title of Mahd ‘Îsâ
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St Martin De Pore’s Phuthaditjhaba parish liturgy members, who were preparing the cradle. Assisted by our two seminarians, br Mohapi and br Ntefane. On the 16th December 2015



Academic achievements 2015

Rev-Dr Dikotsi William Mofokeng will be celebrating his thanks giving for his doctorate on the 20/12/2015 at his home parish
The graduation ceremony was held on the 21st of May 2015.

see upcoming events for details of the celebrations.


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Br Lerato achieved his second degree BTh (Bachelor in Theology) on 21/10/2015. His 1st being a Bachelor of philosophy in 12/10/2011)

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