The Southern Cross, March 2 to March 8, 2011
A history as diocese SA artwork finds new home in Vatican Museum readies for new bishop BY VuSI TukAkHOMO
BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
ELIGIOUS artists from around the country showcased their work at the January plenary session of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), as part of the first Sacred Art Competition. The winning piece was a hand-painted glazed half ostrich egg called “Our Lady of the Rainbow Nation” by Jennifer Summers of Port Elizabeth. The piece will be donated to the Vatican as an example of South African sacred art. The competition drew 16 original Africa-themed pieces from across the country, in various media. Entries were delivered to the SACBC by the bishops who attended the plenary session each with two pieces of art from their diocese. The final decision was made at the plenary session with input from the public via the SACBC website (www.sacbc.org.za). According to contestant Diane Shaw, the competition was organised to encourage South African art and came after a request from the Vatican Museums for distinctly South African Art representing the uniqueness of the southern African people, their customs and their culture. The competition called for pieces made specifically for the competition reflecting God, his
“Our Lady of the Rainbow Nation” by Jennifer Summers was the winning piece of art in the SACBC’s Sacred Art competition.
mysteries and faith in an African context. Ms Shaw said preparing a piece of art from the contest became a spiritual journey. “God was definitely at work and it has been an honour and a very beautiful project for me to take part in,” she said. “I really would like to encourage more people to take part in this com-
petition next year. Who knows what journey God will lead you on.” While Ms Summers’s work is en route to the Vatican Museum, the other works of art have been donated; most to the SACBC where they will be displayed to the public at the conference’s headquarters, Khanya House in Pretoria.
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HE new bishop of Kimberley will be ordained on March 19 at St Patrick’s Christian Brothers’ College. Bishop-designate Abel Gabuza, former administrator of Pretoria archdiocese, succeeds retired Bishop Erwin Hecht (pictured) whose resignation upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 was accepted in December 2009. Bishop Hecht, a German-born Oblate of Mary Immaculate, came to South Africa as a young priest in November 1961 and first worked at St Boniface parish in Kimberley as assistant priest, then as priest-incharge from 1970. He was elected Oblate provincial superior in 1970. In May 1972 he was ordained auxiliary bishop to Bishop John Bokenfohr, and appointed bishop of Kimberley in July that year. At his retirement, Bishop Hecht was the longest-serving bishop in Southern Africa. Bishop Hecht said the diocese of Kimberley has seen a lot of development in the nearly 40 years since his arrival. “Most of the formerly private Catholic primary schools were handed over to the government. In addition to CBC and St Boniface in Kimberley, high schools were developed in Taung (St Paul’s), in Mafikeng (St Mary’s), and many pre-schools were started, especially in the Kuruman-Moshaweng as well as the Taung and Mafikeng areas,” Bishop Hecht said. “Full-time employed catechists were phased out and replaced by voluntary catechism teachers. Various other voluntary ministries were introduced in most communities,” he recalled. He said that in 1972, when he became bishop, the diocese’s clergy comprised 99% Oblate priests. Some priests were born locally, but most were from Germany and Belgium. In the 1980s the clergy were reinforced with diocesan fidei donum priests from Poland, India and Germany. “Later candidates from Uganda joined our diocese and finally members from two African missionary societies strengthened our clerical team. At present among the 40 priests, 19 are locally-born diocesan priests, and a dozen young men are studying for the priesthood at St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal, and in Port Elizabeth.” But the biggest changes concerned the female missionaries,
he said. The Poor Sisters of Nazareth had to give up their home in Kimberley, but could stay on at Fourteenstreams. The Holy Cross Sisters could not continue at Taung or at Mafikeng. Likewise the Holy Family Sisters, the Pallottine Sisters and the Sisters of Perpetual Help could only spend several years in the Kimberley diocese. The Dominican Sisters of Oakford extended their presence at St Boniface for some years but moved to Bendel, the resettlement village in the Moshaweng valley. The Franciscan Sisters of Assisi moved from Devondale to Batlharos and for some years served the Portuguese-speaking community at Pomfret. New Sisters came to the Kimberley diocese in 1993: the Contemplative Sisters of Mount Carmel settled at Mafikeng and more recently the Missionaries of Christ came to Taung. Several Oblate Brothers served mainly from Taung, and Irish Christian Brothers at St Patrick’s College and St Boniface. For a number of years Marist Brothers served the people of Moshaweng resettlement area, residing at Slough/Loopeng. Then came the Focolare movement with the first male members sent to Taung, where they served as medical doctors in the then private Catholic hospital. They presently run a carpenter training project. They were later joined by a group of female members at Mafikeng. Speaking on external development, Bishop Hecht said hundreds of churches and other buildings were constructed, including halls, classrooms, crèches, houses, clinics, and toilets. Boreholes were drilled and windmills erected for villages in the Kalahari.
Published on Feb 28, 2011