Finishing our formation period during the pandemic

We give thanks to God who bestowed on us this precious gift of priesthood up on us. We thank our families for their blessings from the beginning of our journey for the past ten years ago to twelve years ago. We also thank our the bishop, the clergy, the vocation team, our parish priests, vocation prayer groups, our home parishes, and the entire people of God in Bethlehem Diocese for always keeping us in their prayers.

Though last year was a difficult year for all of us, on the 23rd of October 2020, four of us: Brs Makibi Hosias Seabata, Skotha Cederic Paballo, Sepatala Ntefane and Matabane Lucky Thabiso made a milestone when we obtained Bachelor of theology. This achievement was one of the requirements for completion of formation for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church in Southern Africa.

Academic formation is one of the four pillars of formation for the Catholic Clergy as request from the Mother Church. There are four pillars of formation which each candidate has to be formed upon for Holy Orders which are Spiritual, Human, Pastoral and Academic formation. Four of us graduated and it was a happiest day of our lives as we concluded our academic formation at St John Vianney Seminary NPC.

Graduating did not mean the end of academic formation but a continuation of ongoing formation on all four pillars of formation but on the different level.

A priest is expected to be a man who is able to read the signs of the times and that will only be possible if a candidate to priesthood is aware of the developments of theology and other academic disciplines.

Therefore, we will continue to read different spiritual and academic books to equip ourselves with knowledge and mostly on what is happening around us so that we may become what the Mother Church is calling us to become for the Kingdom of God to be known on earth.

To God be glory and honour for protecting us through the past ten to twelve years of priestly formation.

Article by Diocese of Bethlehem 2021 Deacon Elects.

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My journey with Comfirmandi 2021

My appointment resumed in Lindley on the 3rd January 2020. Upon arrival, I started my mission by conducting a funeral Mass on the 4th, before officially meeting the congregation in different communities on Sunday. However, after visiting all four communities, Srs. Agnes, Anne, Gabriel and the Sacred Heart, I decided to  meet the PPC and PFC, where we discussed the situation in the parish, among matters discussed was whether the parish has candidates due for Confirmation,and other Sacraments. It emerged that there are young people due for Confirmation, date was set for 28th June, to familiarize myself with candidates, and catechists to see what they have done so far in matters of formation according to the policies of catechism regards to the Sacraments, especially Confirmations. Indeed, I was satisfied with the findings, and I did the best they could. Little did we know, in March, we will be a Lockdown, affected by the conclusion of the preparations, we failed. 
God does not leave His own, Churches were opened a few months later. Despite the challenges, like the numbers of attendees didn't affect us much, Since our communities are not that big to be less than fifty attendees, It is normal PPC/ PFC meetings were set again, with other matters, We reviewed the Confirmations again,  set a date, 28th February 2021. We go frustrated,  since Lockdown was again announced just soon after our meeting and setting a date.
Fortunately,  just a few weeks before the date of Confirmations, it was announced Churches are open again, We quickly met and decided to go ahead with our plans  of Confirmations: scheduled for 28th February. All the logistics were sorted out, including numbers of  attendees.  We opted for open air Mass. The Bishop agreed to our proposal, though shocked with the number of confirmandi (which was fifty five), and how did we manage to keep them in church,  especially that we were still in Lockdown Level 3, as one of the Diocesan Catechetical Committee commented, "I have come to believe,  indeed, despite Lockdown, God is still at work. ''Lindley Parish, we are the witness of that experience. Despite the lockdown, the fifty five young people always looked forward to coming back to Church as soon as Churches were open, they were there. Their unwavering faith due to Lockdown gave us hope and the courage to let them receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. 
Brothers and Sisters, even in Lockdown, God is at work. We cannot fold our arms and wait for COVID-19 to dictate how God should work in us, but us to open our hearts, let Him still be incharge in any situation. Believe in  him in all situations, and us observing all the regulations stipulated, we will win the battle.  
I Keep on praying for our fifty-five Confirmands who received the Sacrament of Confirmation on 28th February 2021, remain faithful in the journey. 
God bless you all.
Lindley Parish 
Fr. William Kaupa (Lindley Parish Priest). 
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BETHLEHEM Fr. Dikotsi Mofokeng
D C M.D. MofokengFr. Tumelo Mohlaping
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Mini world youth day: Durban 2017

December 6-10 (Dbn exhibition centre)


The South African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) in honouring the youth of their Conference region thought it would be best to motivate and encourage the youth by inviting them to the Arch-Diocese of Durban in KZN, and bid farewell to…. READ MORE


Invitation and Motivation Feast of the Holy Rosary

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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Mary, whom we call our Lady of Bethlehem, and the Marian shrine in Tsheseng, Qwaqwa, are very precious for us as the local Church of Bethlehem diocese. That is why we gather every year twice as the People of God coming from all over the diocese to honour our Mother in the Faith, once in February, a whole-day event, and once in October, a vigil.

I want to invite you wholeheartedly to the vigil which will take place throughout the night of 07-08 October when we celebrate the memorial of our Lady of the Rosary at our Marian shrine at Tsheseng. Arrival time is planned for 18h00 on Saturday and we shall continue till Sunday morning. For this year’s celebration we chose the theme of ‘Mary the Comforter of the Afflicted’ taken from the litany of Mary. Throughout the night we want to focus on what Pope Francis expresses in his Encyclical Letter called ‘Laudato Si’ on our care for our common home hearing the ‘Cry of the Earth’ and the ‘Cry of the Poor’ and the role the Blessed Virgin Mary plays in this. I personally believe that those two cries are very much linked together. When there are disasters like floods and droughts, which are caused not just by nature but also as a result of abuse of the resources of the earth by us, human beings, the poor are always more vulnerable and suffer more under these calamities.

Part of the programme this year will be the proclamation of those who will receive the Star of Bethlehem for their faithful and loving service in their local Christian communities. Included too will be the annual diocesan fundraising. At the end of the celebration, in the morning, there will be a special blessing and sending of the young people of our diocese who will participate in this year’s Mini World Youth Day, which will take place in December in Durban.

I hope to see many of you in a few weeks time at Tsheseng,


+Jan De Groef







Violence against the vulnerable especially women and girls be it physical, sexual or psychological is defined by the UN declaration of 1993 as being gender-based. Such violence has been diagnosed to be rooted in gender inequality factors. Though recognised as a world-wide human right abuse, it has been diagnosed to be predominant in medium and low income countries with 46% of affected women found to be in Africa (in a study carried out across 80 countries by the UN).

In a study funded by the embassy of Finland and carried out by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, published under the title Gender –Based violence (GBV) in South Africa: A Brief Review, some alarming statistics confirms that GBV in South Africa remains one of the highest in the world. For example, 77% of women in Limpopo, 51% in Gauteng, 45% in western cape, 36 % in Kwazulu-Natal acknowledged to have experienced some form of violence in their life perpetuated by men (mostly intimate relations account for 51%) with sexual-related violence recording higher prevalence: 64,419 cases reported by SAPS in 2012; 62,226 cases in 2013; 66,197 cases in 2014, and 53,617 cases in 2015.

These figures are far less than real as many women are culturally afraid to report such abuses because of future reprisals or because of ignorance of their rights. Mathew et al., (2004) confirmed through another study that 8.8 per 100 000 females were killed by their partners and this remains the highest rate worldwide. Rural women and girls are especially exposed to GBV as indicated by 80% in the Southern Cape rural women report for having experienced domestic violence. Nationwide the rate remains high at 24.6 percent of domestic violence (SAPS reported cases only).

Sekwele endeavours to contribute, with others to the development of a strong, rights-based and compassionate civil society. It does this by nurturing and cultivating a tradition of social reflection and action in communities and by cooperating with those already active in the social sphere to support their efforts in social transformation.

As violence especially gender motivated violence remain high in our society, Sekwele saw it fit to embark on pursuing activities that would go a long way to stamp out GBV in our society and create a new culture of respect and responsible citizenship by conscientising young people and communities about gender based violence and its effects, build youth activism and provide youth with information in order to reduce risky behaviour which makes them vulnerable to GBV.

Sekwele targeted learners from grade 10 and 11 from the following Schools: Bodikela Junior; Khanyeng Intermediate; Ntsu Secondary; Tiisetsang High; Thabo-Thokoza Secondary; Bethlehem Comprehensive; Clocolan High; Harrismith Secondary; Lerato-Thando Secondary; Ladybrand High; M.J.Mohlahli Secondary; Meqheleng Secondary; Lereng Secondary; Reahola Secondary; Kgola Thuto; Phukalla Secondary; Sehlabeng Secondary; Ipokelleng Secondary; Kgetha-Tsebo Secondary; Akofang Intermediate; Qwa-Qwa Combine; Breda School.

Realising that the root causes of GBV are linked to lack of knowledge of women’s rights and general human rights, low literacy rate and low awareness of where to get help as well as lack of adequate structures to manage sensitive complaints while respecting and protecting the victims. Other phenomenon such as drunkenness, patriarchy gender inequality implicitly supported by some societal structures and laws equally contribute to the GBV. Certain cultural norms and beliefs that promote masculinity and traditional practices that subjugate women, eg Ukuthwala, or false belief in male manhood test or unfounded rumours of HIV cure by having sex with a virgin, etc. are ingredients to justify GBV in some communities.

Sekwele is working together with SAPS, Thuthuzela Care Centre, Child & Family Welfare, DDI, Atlehang Youth Development to deliver programs to approximately 500 learners to improve on their understanding of the concepts of gender based violence, its causes, impact, and outlined principles for mentorship which would enable them to acquire the necessary skills for addressing gender based violence in schools as Human Rights Ambassadors.

At the school level, learners organised activities such as research on GBV within their school environments, carry out awareness campaigns and dialogues on their own and some of the schools integrated the GBV prevention model into their existing school’s programmes. This initiative from these schools help ensured the sustainability of the project and facilitated learners’ outreach. This has greatly contributed to the reduction GBV incidences in schools as acknowledged by the school authorities.


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Bodikela Learners sharing their GBV School project with others

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Reahola Secondary Learners engaged in GBV campaign



Diaconate Ordination of brother Tumelo Stephen Mohlaping At Holy Ghost cathedral, Bethlehem, on 12th December 2016

On this Monday just after having celebrated Laetare Sunday, in this time leading up to Christmas, the diocese of Bethlehem got a new Deacon. Many members of the Bohlokong Church communities – where Tumelo was involved pastorally and where he will go on to fulfil his diaconal ministry – but also from other parishes, most of the Priests together with Permanent Deacon Vincent Mohlaping (representing also the other Permanent Deacons), and a number of Women Religious joined in the celebration. The Kgotsong choir really expressed that deep joy we all felt, myself and our new Deacon Tumelo included.
In my homily I recalled that Tumelo’s way to Diaconate has been much longer than usual. His discernment has been a long process but all along he felt in his heart this burning desire to serve the Lord and His people as a Priest. God’s ways are indeed wonderful. I am sure that his yes today to the questions I put to him came from the depth of his heart matured and enriched by a rich life experience not just enjoying life but caring for his younger brother. When I met with him the evening before his ordination he shared with me that he really wanted to live this God-given time to the full, not letting fall anything into oblivion.
In the readings I chose for this celebration I wanted to highlight that such a calling does not come from man but from God. We only have to discern and to receive the gift in good soil where it can bear fruit in due time. A true prophet as Jeremiah recognizes this with humility and trust being aware that he is called to proclaim God’s Word and not just his own opinion. I think that this struck a cord with Tumelo who is not that shy and does not have to search for words to express his opinion. God’s Word is surely Good News but it also cuts and challenges, first of all the proclaimer himself. In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and in the gospel taken from St. Matthew I emphasized that, more important than the kind of activities a Deacon can be involved in, is the way he does things. What is required are attitudes of humility, gentleness, patience, mutual support and service.
After the Diaconate Ordination, sharing a meal prepared by members of Vocation Prayer groups, who were already at work last night, people took time to share with one another: an experience of Church as family.

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Article by
Bishop Jan de Groef

Altar boys arrive in procession during a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI to commemorate cardinals and bishops who died this year, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 3, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The Installation of Acolytes

The minor orders are import, because they are the steps towards priesthood. They prepare a person towards the ministry of priesthood. That is why one is installed to these minor orders while he is still in formation stage in order that he is able to practise these ministries fully. Last term it was the installation of lectors and now this semester in preparation for internship, there was installation of acolytes. These ministries are installed to people who are doing second year of theology in St. John Vianney seminary. These installations forms put of the formation stage of the seminary.

The seminary stages are about to come to an end if one approaches the altar. In 18 May 2016 I was installed as a lector and my work was to proclaim the word of God. Now, I have being installed as an acolyte on 26 0ctober 2016, this mean that I must assist the bishop, priest and deacons at the altar. It also means to help distributing communion to the faithful and the sick. During the installation the bishop give us the challis that has the wine and the bread as a sign to work closer to the Eucharist. This is a sign that we need to prepare the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist.

His excellence Bishop Victor Palane of the diocese of Klerksdoorp was the one who installed us to this ministry of acolytes. There were about 18 brothers or seminarians who were installed. This is the minor order that leads to deaconate. It is significance to us as we about to go for internship. Ministry of acolyte is the last minor order that leads to the ordination. It was a great joy, as it is a step closer towards the ordination.


The Installation of Lectors

In the seminary we have different stages that a seminarian should undergo. When start his theology he is to be accepted as candidate to priesthood. This is a stage or step that one receives as to show that now is getting closer to priesthood or of becoming a priest. During the later stages of his formation he will also be installed in different ministries. Here at St. John Vianney seminary, when a student reach his second year of theology studies he is installed in these different ministries to prepare him for his pastoral internship that take place during his third year of theology studies. Those different ministries are lector and acolyte.

This year as one student (Sepatala Ntefane) of the diocese of Bethlehem I was installed in the ministry of Lectors. The installation took place at St. John Vianney Seminary, by Bishop Zungu of Port Elizabeth diocese. This event took place on 18 May 2016. It was a moment of taking a step feather. It was a wonderful experience, knowing that one has achieved a certain step in life of priesthood. This meant that one is getting closer and closer to his vocation of priesthood. A lector is someone who is made an official proclaimer of God’s word. He is a reader of God’s word and he can even preach or share the word of God. He is installed by his Bishop or by his superior (if he is a religious). The church entrust you to proclaim the word of God. To be installed as a lector, one needs to apply to his Bishop, and as a result Ntefane Sepatala did apply to his bishop (Bishop Jan De Groef) and the reply was positive or was granted a go ahead by his Bishop. This is to show that no one forced you, but you chose it freely and willingly. It is a great joy.


Epic Church, Epic Life

10 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong at Mass

Maybe it’s because we’ve just adopted these habits, maybe we’re just lazy…let’s take a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at some common practices that may need correction during the Holy Mass. Here are 10 things you might be doing wrong at mass.

1. Changing posture early
Seriously, what’s the deal? Why can’t we just wait ’til we actually finish the Sanctus before kneeling? Do you love kneeling that much? Do you think being the first person to sit will get you a prize? “Hey Bill, what’s that medal for?”  “Well, I sat the fastest after the collect at a mass back in ’85”  Yeah, not gonna happen.  Let’s make a point to do things together next time. Cool? Cool.

2. Leaving before the Mass is over
AKA the “Judas Shuffle”.  I’m sorry, did you think Mass was over as soon as you received the Eucharist? It’s as though some people think the proper response when receiving Holy Communion isn’t “Amen”, but “Goodbye”. We should observe proper decorum for Mass: depart after the celebrant.

3. Genuflecting toward the altar
I see this constantly! Genuflecting is the most pronounced gesture we employ at Mass, so it is reserved for the highest good — the Eucharist Himself. Where’s the Eucharist? In the Tabernacle. Some might be in this habit because the tabernacle is often directly behind the altar.  Before getting in your pew, if and only IF the Tabernacle is visible, genuflect toward it. If it’s not in view, bow toward the altar. Now you know. And this applies outside of Mass too.

Speaking of bowing…
4. Nodding your head instead of a proper bow
Wherever bowing is called for in the Mass (when the congregation is incensed by the thurifer, in the middle of the Creed, etc.) it is always a “profound bow”, which just means that you bow from the waist. The only time that we are told to bow our head only is “when the three Divine Persons are named together, and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated”.

5. Standing in the Orans position during the Our Father
No. Just no. You’ll see priests assume the Orans position (hands extended to the side) a few times; it is a posture that indicates that he is praying on our behalf, but not in the way that I pray for you. He’s praying on our behalf in persona Christi capitas. This is why the rubrics don’t allow for deacons to adopt the Orans posture, and it’s the main reason we shouldn’t either.

6. Walking around at the Sign of Peace
What is this, social hour? Not only is this obnoxious (my opinion), but it’s illicit. The rubrics tell us that it is “appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner”.  We all love you, but stay where you are.

7. Not saying “Amen” before receiving Communion
I can hardly believe this needs to be said, but it does. When the priest, deacon, or EMHC elevates the host or chalice and says, “The Body/Blood of Christ”, you had better not be silent. It is imperative that those who receive can affirm belief in the Real Presence, so do what the Church asks. Say “Amen”. Amen? Amen!

8. Not singing
Admittedly, this might not be crucial, but neither the congregation nor the choir is singing for your amusement. Hymns, which are representative of the antiphons, are a response of the faithful as part of the Mass; making them a part of the prescribed “full, conscious, and active” participation in the Mass. Don’t fall prey to individualistic tendencies. We worship together, and that means singing together. Sacrosanctum Concilium on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council says,

“Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out…” (118)

RING. OUT. Skill is not a prerequisite. Just, please, sing to the Lord.

9. Not saying the responses
Now, this one is more important than carrying a tune. How does somebody think that active participation in the liturgy is going to be accomplished without actively participating in the liturgy. Yes, it is primarily about interior disposition, but habitually refraining from the responses is a pretty solid sign of a poor disposition. Again, we worship together.

10. Arriving late
I know what the problem is, somebody told you that if you arrived by X and left after X, then you “officially” went to Mass and fulfilled your obligation. Sed contra, my friend! There are no such limits. Our obligation is to attend a Sunday Mass, and that Mass begins and ends with the introductory rites and the concluding rites. If you happen to be late because of circumstances beyond your control, if you made an honest effort to be there on time, but you walked in at the Psalm, so be it; you’re fine. But if you had to catch the last 7 minutes of a game, and that’s why you’re late, then stop reading this and re-prioritize. (Confession might even be required.)

We’ll be looking at more of these liturgical no-no’s in future posts. (Round 2: 10 More Things You Might Be Doing Wrong at Mass) The rubrics for the mass can be found in the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM).  Check it out.

Article shared by
Thabo “Dakalo” Moloi
(Harrismith Parish: Mpumalanga deanery)