DITABA No. 14 – January 10, 2014

  1. Happy New Year to all! I hope you got my letter reflecting on Pope Francis’ recent exhortation.  People can get a copy of the Pope’s letter on the internet or you can buy it at the Paulines’ for R40 it’s called “The Joy of the Gospel”.
  2. Make sure, parish priests, to have parish registers and have them up to date. Of particular importance are baptism and marriage registers. When I visit for confirmation I will have a look at these registers.
  3. The Health Desk at Khanya House, Fr.Lawrence Ramaema and Angelina MLilwane, remind you that if some of your parishioners are admitted to a hospital around Tshwane advise them on their admission to specify their religion as Catholic and not as Christian. This will help our ministers/visitors to find them. Please let the desk know, through contacting Fr. Lawrence at 072 – 3812954 or to Angelina 078 – 2234008.
  4. DITABA can always be found on our website www.archdioceseofpretoria.org.za . It is also available on smart phones.  Advise our people.
  5. Everyone was shocked to see that our Vicar General Fr. Victor was viciously attacked doing his pastoral duty. Thank God, Fr. Victor is much better again after his bad experience. People were very edified by his spirit of forgiveness and understanding with which he approachs the whole experience.
  6. We were involved with the ceremonies for our former President Mandela. Many of us were at the FNB Stadium for the memorial service. I was at UNISA and in Central Prison for their services. Many went for the viewing of the body at the Union Buildings and we had a beautiful Mass in the Cathedral presided over by Cardinal Turkson who was the Pope’s representative for the occasion. The Minister of Primary Education, Angie Mosekga gave a beautiful address at the end of Mass.
  7. Gratitude to all those who responded to the Lineamenta inviting people to discuss and give suggestions regarding the future of Church ministry in Family and Marriage situations. These are now being put together to be sent to Rome.
  8. As you know the RENEW program will gradually come into operation during 2014 and will become the pastoral program of the Archdiocese over the next few years. So I invite all priests to encourage the people to become involved. We are blessed in this diocese with wonderful Catholic people and many of them will be trained as leaders for the renewal  I’m sure it will mean a growth in knowledge and love of the faith and of our Church during these next years
  9. The Building Committee continues with new buildings. We wish to start almost immediately with a church for Naledi ea Meso in Soshanguve  We need to find a site and to build a big Church for Olievenhoutbosch and at St Ambrose. To relieve the pressure on Pretoria North we will need a site in Acacia/Orchards. Msgr. Marc Muelenare will head the Buildings Committee. This year will involve much work as we need to plan a future use for Santa Sophia and to see how that might impact on Jolivet House and our neighbouring garage..
  10. The Catechetical team headed by Fr. Geoffrey and the priests and committees from each deanery are already far advanced in their plans for a Catechetical program for 2014. This can be found on our website.  It’s very important that our parish’ pastoral councils and priests promote the Catechetical Program in the parishes. This is our chief means of passing on our faith to the youth and young people and to those who are seeking the Lord.
  11. The Mandating Ceremony will take place at St. Anne and St. Joachim in Hebron on February the 2nd. The Bishop will mandate those Catechists who are present from the various deaneries.
  12. We congratulate those Handmaids of Christ the Priest who celebrated their Silver Jubilees. There was a splendid celebration provided by the deanery, by the parish and by the Congregation itself. The Diocese expresses sincere appreciation and congratulations to Sisters who have dedicated their lives to building up the Church.
  13. The Closing of the Year of Faith at the Pilditch Stadium was also a fine witnessing to the faith. I congratulate the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council for their work in making that Sunday a festivity of faith. Many people such as the Neocatechumenate Way and our Communication Office were involved in planning the program. Perhaps 8,000 – 9,000 people attended.
  14. We encourage people to go and participate in the 2014 elections as they are all citizens of our country.
  15. Priests should encourage our Catholic parents who have children in government schools to offer themselves for the School Boards. In school policy the school board has authority in important matters. They can advocate for specific religious programs within schools. It is very important that Catholics take an active part in this and in other aspects of civic and community life.
  16. Sr Rita, Fr Sithole, Deacon Molebale and Sr Eileen have trained 30 people who are committing themselves to Prison Ministry. This is something that the Lord himself had urged. “I was in prison and you visited me.” More parishes should find persons of faith who may offer to visit our brothers and sisters in prison.  And I thank Sr. Rita for her work.
  17. Congratulations again to Fr. Thokozani Chudze Masina on his ordination to the priesthood in Hammaanskraal on the December the 7th. Father prayed his first Mass with his home people in Swaziland. We wish him many years of priestly service in our diocese.
  18. On the 16th of December in a beautiful ceremony at the Cathedral, 4  men were ordained  deacons for the Archdiocese. We congratulate Deacon Ernest Matsei from Garankuwa; Deacon Mike Olien from St. Mary’s Mamelodi West; Deacon Samuel Manyokole from St. Anne’s in Atteridgeville; and Deacon Tshepiso Matle from Zwavelpoort. We wish them every blessing in their ministries to build up the Church and we thank them and their families and wives for giving them the freedom to minister.
  19. We sympathize with the Holy Cross sisters who lost their Superior in the person of Sr. Margaret Devoti who has passed away. She was woman of great hospitality with a sincere love for people. May her soul rest in peace.
  20. We congratulate heartily our seminarians on doing so well in their exams in Port Elizabeth in Capetown and in John Vianney’s. Once more let me remind you that Fr. Isaac Ramakgolo is now the Vocation Director so I encourage all priests and parishioners to co-operate with him in encouraging more vocations.
  21. Moira Tothill passed away before Christmas. Moira was 89 years of age; she was a teacher in the seminary for quite a while. She also lectured at UNISA and was for many years the secretary of Santa Sophia which allotted bursaries from the Institute of Catholic Education for post-graduates Catholics in many disciplines. She was a person of refinement and love for the Church, may she rest in peace.
  22. It was a joy to have so many guests for the Christmas lunch at Santa Sophia on December the 27th. More than a 160 people were present and we enjoyed being together. Thank you for coming together. It is a gift to our brothers and sisters when we come on such occasions. We thank Maria and her family who provided an excellent meal and hospitality.
  23. Terrible damage was done to two of our missions by hail storms. St. Peter Claver had its roof and windows smashed in the priest’s house, the school, and the sisters’ convent. It will cost over R200,000 to repair. Worse than this was Pumula which suffered severe damage. About 150 birds nesting under the roofs were killed by chunks of ice This will cost over R700,000 to repair. Thank God both were insured.
  24. There will be Confirmation at St. Joseph’s in Pretoria West on January the 19th. Not all but most of the Sundays of 2014 have already been booked for confirmations.
  25. The Bishop will be away in Swaziland for the SACBC Meeting from the 22nd to the 30th of January.
  26. I wish to express sincere appreciation to Fr. Augustine and Fr. Johnson, our priests from Nigeria, who have taken over the pastoral area around Jericho. The house needed much repairs. They have trouble with water, and transport, and roads. We appreciate the generosity with which they have committed themselves to the place. They are very welcome.
  27. Our protocol contact person is still Fr. Patrick Rakeketsi. .You will remember that we must be careful to maintain proper relationships with children and with women. But complaints made against church personnel in the areas of sexuality will have to be referred to Fr Patrick for investigation. Sexual abuse issues over the past years have done enormous damage to innocent children. For the Church the protection of little children is an absolute priority and every effort must be made to ensure it happens. There is a copy of the “Protocol (Procedure) for the Investigation of complaints against clerics and religious in regard to sexual abuse of minors” is available on the SACBC website and there is a copy of the document available for anyone in the chancery. Parishes should know that complaints of this nature in our Archdiocese of Pretoria must be brought to the attention of Fr Rakeketsi.
  28. The Archdiocese expresses gratitude to Monsignor Marc Muelenare for his many years of service not only to the Archdiocese but to whole country in Marriage Tribunal. A new team will be coming into operation this year.
  29. Next Consultors’ meeting at Jolivet House on January 21st.
  30. The Bishop will meet the seminarians individually at the Chancery on January the 15thand 31st.
  31. The house, convent and chapel of Vincent de Paul Sisters will be blessed in Ivory Park on January 18th. We welcome the Sisters to the Archdiocese and assure them of our interest and joy in having them ministering  in the spirit of St Vincent here.
  32. February the 1st the Bishop will meet the Catholic teachers of the Schools of Johannesburg at Rosebank. The subject of Mass and Talk will be Faith, Knowledge and Service.
  33. The Diocesan Finance Committee will meet on 4 o’clock in the afternoon of February the 4th.
  34. The Evangelisation Team will meet on the same day February 4 at 9h30. We thank Sr. Laura Lepori for her  administration of this important committee which supervises the departments of Justice and Peace, Prisons, Catechetics, Health, Marriage and the Family, Youth and Education for Life.
  35. The Property Committee will meet on February the 5th, Wednesday at 16h00 at Jolivet House.
  36. We offer sincere congratulations to the 8 Jubilarians who will be celebrating their Jubilees at Lady Selborne on February 8th at Mass at 10h00. For 3 it is Silver while others are thanking God for 60 and 70 years of religious life.
  37. Confirmation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, West Park on February 9th.
  38. The first meeting and lunch for the priests at Santa Sophia will take place on Tuesday the 11th of February. And as you know all priests are invited on the first Tuesday of each month for the rest of the year to Santa Sophia to relax, to share together and to enjoy each other’s company.
  39. Notices were sent out with the image of Benedict Daswa. Benedict as you know is been examined by the Vatican with the hope of proclaiming him Venerable and indeed Blessed as a martyr for the faith. He died in the Diocese of Tzaneen and on Saturday the 15th of February there will be a Vigil celebration with the Bishops of the province at Mokopane Mater Dei Centre. Please try and make the people aware of Benedict Daswa so that a spirit of devotion will grow up around him.
  40. The opening Academic Mass for the New Year will take place in Tukkies on the afternoon 16th of February. Tell your university students that Fr. Hyacinth is there every Sunday for Mass.
  41. February 23rd the Bishop will say Mass and meet the parishioners of Siyabuswa.
  42. The 11th of February, Our Lady of Lourdes, is the world day of prayer for the Sick. Having a healing service, Mass, common celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick around this time would bring the healing of Jesus closer to all who suffer from illness.
  43. January, Sunday 26th, is the national day of prayer for the Police. To offer prayers for the police, the correctional services, security personnel on that day will be deeply appreciated. St George in Saulsville last year conducted such a service last year and it greatly appreciated. At the end of Mass a representative of the police can address people and invite community co-operation.
  44. It is sincerely appreciated when parishes pay assessments, insurance and medical cover to the Chancery. Our  insurance bill alone this year will be over R700,000.oo
  45. All services which cater for the devotional life or parishioners will draw people to the Lord. Popular piety is a way of life which deepens belief, brings people spiritually together, allows for the expression of the individuals faith, brings God closer to peoples’ hearts and allows for the public expression of faith. Adoration times, family rosary, Way of the Cross, pilgrimage-even within parishes, youth days and vigils, parish feast days, marriage jubilees, Bible groups all allow us to feel our faith more intensely.

Archbishop William Slattery ofm

January 10 2014