S outher n C ross www.scross.co.za
April 17 to April 23, 2013
A hug that went around the world
Interview with Sr Joan Chittister
St Francis of Assisi: More than a pet lover
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SA Church impresses English bishop By CLAiRe MATHieSon
ATHOLICS in Britain “have so much to learn from the South African Church,” said an English bishop after studying the work of four local Catholic organisations. Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, England, and David Ryall, associate general-secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, met with four Catholic organisations based in Cape Town. The British visitors described their visits to the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO), the Goedgedacht Forum, Cape Town’s archdiocesan prison ministry, and the Scalabrini Centre for refugees as “eye opening” and “an inspiration”. “This was a way for us to strengthen the ties between the bishops’ conference in the UK and the bishops in Southern Africa, offering a sense of solidarity and support to the country and to find out how the Church can contribute to society,” said Bishop Lang, who serves as chairman of the funding agency Missio England and Wales. “Civil society has a responsibility and a role in democracy,” said Felicity Harrison, project director of the Goedgedacht Forum, which provides a space for talking. “There is a demand not just for formal dialogue but also for informal dialogue where government can be affirmed but also criticised in a constructive way.” As a version of the Chatham House rules—the principle that governs confidentiality—is used, participants in the forum are not confined by party laws or their organisations’ mandates. “In this way, we see people build relationships which we have seen to be very positive. These spaces are built on respect and are not confrontational, allowing people to interact differently to the past,” Ms Harrison explained. In the face of many NGOs closing down, Ms Harrison said the Goedgedacht Forum is even more important to ensure there is a forum in which people can talk freely and build working relationships.
he Scalabrini Centre for refugees sees 1 000 people per week in its offices. The centre offers programmes assisting with employment and education, welfare, outreach as well as advocacy work. Notably, the office recently won an appeal against the Department of Home Affairs which had illegally closed a reception office in Cape Town. Centre director Miranda Madikane said the biggest challenge it faces is dealing with a Home Affairs department which “is not properly managed”. “The government claims that 98% of those that come into the country are economic migrants. That’s not what we are seeing,” Ms Madikane said. “While the number may be high, there are people fleeing wars across the continent,” she said, pointing out that the asylum-seeking process was complicated, can be costly, and is time consuming—especially for those that have fled their countries with very little. Ms Madikane said while migrants are given health care and children given an education, real refugees are being refused visas and cannot apply for work visas which causes further problems. Crime affects all South Africans, said Cape Town’s archdiocesan prison chaplain Fr Babychan Arackathara. “The biggest problem facing the prison system is the lack of resources and support for released offenders, who struggle to find employment, have no structures of assistance and usually find the temptation to return to a life of crime too big,” he said.
A dominican sister embraces a novice. in this week’s edition we mark Vocations Sunday over six pages, from pages 9-14, in which Catholics who have responded to the call to the consecrated life speak about their experiences. (Photo: Sid Hastings, CnS)
WYD will focus on green themes At around 80%, reoffending numbers are extremely high, especially among the youth, said Fr Arackathara. “There is no structure to help those that are released, no sense of belonging and no work. These people fall into the same patterns that took them to prison in the first place.” Inside, prisons are overcrowded and programmes instituted within the prison simply cannot cope with the numbers, the priest told the English delegation. There is also a significant gang problem inside the prison system. “We find that offenders go into prison reasonably well behaved but tend to come out worse.” Fr Arackathara said lots of money was being spent on keeping prisoners inside prison, but only 2-3% on helping them stay out of prison once they are released.
ishop Lang and Dr Ryall had previously worked with CPLO director Fr Peter-John Pearson, including during a recent solidarity visit to Palestine. The CPLO presentation focused on the environmental and family life advocacy work being done by the office. “We are grateful for people who are committed to listen, to visit and to see. We need to listen to those that don’t have a voice,” said Fr Pearson. Dr Ryall said the bishops had great admiration for the work of the CPLO. “The Continued on page 3
By Cindy Wooden
HEN hundreds of thousands of young Catholics gather with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro in July, reflections on safeguarding the environment will be part of the programme. Like earlier editions of World Youth Day (WYD), the Rio celebration will include morning catechetical sessions and afternoon cultural events. “From the beginning of planning—under Pope Benedict XVI—we thought that a major theme in Brazil, known as ‘the lungs of the world’, would have to be the environment,” said Marcello Bedeschi, president of the John Paul II Foundation for Youth, a Rome-based organisation that assists with WYD planning. “We did not know that there would be a new pope and that in his first three major addresses, he would speak about safeguarding creation, not in political or ideological terms, but as a Christian obligation,” he said. Corrado Clini, Italy’s environment minister, has been working with the foundation, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Brazilian government and the Rio Church’s WYD organising team to promote the reflection of young people on the importance of biodiversity and protecting the environment. He also is working to encourage cooperation between several Italian and Brazilian companies to reduce the energy and water used at WYD and to recycle as much of the refuse they produce as possible.
At a news conference at the Vatican, Mr Clini said the fact that the youth gathering will take place one year after the international community gathered for Rio +20—a UN- sponsored conference on sustainable development—is a great opportunity to rally the passion Catholic youths have for protecting the world God created. “World Youth Day is the best context for expanding this vision of global solidarity,” which includes a commitment by industrialised nations to moderate their consumption habits, promote development in poor countries and share with them the knowledge and technology they need to build their economies without threatening the environment. At the end of WYD, the youths are expected to issue a “manifesto for safeguarding creation”, which will be drafted with assistance from Conventual Franciscan friars from Assisi, Italy.—CNS
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Cluster celebration STAFF RePoRTeR
HE dioceses of Polokwane, Witbank and Tzaneen celebrated ten years of working together as a cluster in the Education for Life programme, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s national youth programme. Held at Ave Maria in Tzaneen, youth from all three dioceses attended. The day started with a penitential service led by Fr Elias Ledwaba of Polokwane. He reminded the young people why we go for confession and that God is a loving father who will always forgive us when we humble ourselves before him. The confession service was followed by the opening Mass celebrated by Bishop Joe Sandri of Witbank. “The Mass was divided according to the three dioceses and the spirit was very high. In his homily, the bishop reminded the youth why we should stick to our faith and know God,” said youth worker Mthunzi Manda from Witbank. During the offertory, it began to rain and the youth moved into the
Fr Thaddeus oranusi of Kuils River parish in Cape Town with one of 12 handcrafted and painted statues of our Lady of Fatima which were donated to parishes around Southern Africa by a Portuguese businessman, who wishes to promote devotion to our Lady of Fatima. A condition of receiving the statue is that the recipient parish recites the Rosary from May through to october on the 13th of each month.
small chapel. “The young people were not discouraged! After Mass the rained stopped then we went outside to continue with the celebration,” Mr Manda said. The youth were addressed by various speakers. Bishop Hugh Slattery, retired of Tzaneen, was the first bishop to send people to be trained for the Education for Life programme. In his speech, the bishop reminded young people why it is important to abstain and why we should talk more about HIV/Aids so that we can educate as many young people as possible. Coordinator of Education for Life Sr Victoria Sibisi explained how the programme started in the diocese of Tzaneen and how it was moved to the bishops’ conference. She was joined by people who testified about how the programme helped them personally. The highlight of the evening was a special ceremony in which the national youth candle was lit by the national team and one candle handed to a representative of each of the dioceses. Mr Manda was also honoured for his work with the
youth by being given a candle. “We had a moment of silence before the rosary prayer to remember all the youth and Education for Life members who had passed on,” said Mr Manda. Other highlights including Fr Andrew Shingange from Tzaneen speaking to the youth about the Year of Faith; national youth chaplain Fr Sammy Mabusela CSS speaking about the pope; followed by a healing service led by Frs Vicky Rikgotso and Martin Magoro. “The service was the climax of the celebration because many young people witness the power of God and the praying spirit was so high even the devil didn’t stand a chance there. Young people were prayed for by the priests,” said Mr Manda. The all-night celebration ended with a closing Mass celebrated by Bishop João Rodrigues of Tzaneen. A national celebration for the programme is planned for the end of the year. Funds are being raised for underprivileged Education for Life members to participate. n To donate R10, SMS “Education for Life” to 38810.
Little Eden’s Matthew turns 40 STAFF RePoRTeR
ESIDENTS and caregivers at Little Eden, the home for the intellectually challenged in Edenvale, have celebrated the 40th birthday of one of its most beloved, long-standing residents and family member, Matthew. When he was just five days old, Matthew’s parents arrived at the house of Domitilla and Danny Hyams, founders of the Johannesburg home. “[His parents] requested Domitilla to please take care of their son who had Down’s Syndrome. Without any hesitation Domitilla said yes and took Matthew into her arms and into her home,” said Little Eden’s Nichollette Muthige. Ms Muthige said the family recalls the day as being one of great
confusion, but that soon turned into “acceptance, love and care for little Matthew”. Matthew would spend weekdays at Little Eden and went home on Fridays for the weekends to his new family, the Hyams. To celebrate Matthew’s birthday, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Danny and Domitilla gathered to have a special meal with Matthew. While Mr and Mrs Hyams have both passed away, “Matthew has always been regarded as part of the family and this is indeed a beautiful story of never-ending love and care,” said Ms Muthige. She said the home was proud of Matthew who still keeps the routine of being with his 119 friends at Little Eden Elvira Rota Village in Baps-
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fontein from Monday to Friday and goes home for family time over weekends. At the farm Matthew has many responsibilities, including sorting the pecan nuts and serving as an altar boy during the celebration of Holy Mass. In his local parish of St Thérèse, Edenvale, he is a regular server at the 17:30 Mass on a Saturday evening. Losing his parents is still a very painful and sad chapter in Matthew’s life, said Ms Muthige, adding that he is often heard saying, “I miss Mom and Dad so much”. Ms Muthige said Matthew’s birthday was a wonderful celebration for both the home and the Hyams family.
Lucy Slaviero, Ceo of Little eden and fourth daughter of founders danny and domitilla Hyams, helps Matthew to light up his 40th birthday candles.
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The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Bach choir for Jo’burg concerts
HE Johannesburg Bach Choir will perform two concerts of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, and the lesser-known Bohemian Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. The programme includes Bach’s cantata “Wachet auf” and Zelenka’s “Miserere”. The performances will be conducted
by Tim Roberts. The first performance will be at St Martin’s in the Veld, Dunkeld, on April 21 at 15:00, followed by a repeat on April 28 at Bryanston Catholic church at 18:00. Tickets in advance from Kevin on 011 706 4885, or at the churches before the performance.
Members of the imbisa delegation met with the president of Mozambique, Armando emílio Guebuza. (From left) Bishop José Luis Ponce de León, Bishop Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa, President Guebuza, Fr Richard Menatsi, a Mozambican delegate and Fr Claudio dos Reis.
Mozambique call STAFF RePoRTeR
F Cardinal Wilfrid napier received a donation of R1,3 million from Mgr James Curtin (right) of Missio: england & Wales, for the denis Hurley Centre, durban. in the middle is Professor Ahmed Bawa, vice-chancellor of the durban University of Technology, who sponsored a media breakfast briefing at which the presentation was made. Prof Bawa gave an amusing address in which he recalled discussions with Archbishop Hurley about quantum physics. He also committed the university to partnering the denis Hurley Centre in its social outreach. (Photo: Morgan Kisten)
UK bishop praises SA Church Continued from page 1 office puts the Church in a practical and symbolic position in society and the work done to sustain dialogue with the public is an inspiration.” Dr Ryall said the meeting with the organisations highlighted the very challenging circumstances South Africa is facing and included areas often forgotten. “It is clear that the best of the Church is also the best of South Africa. It is very moving to see people trying to live the Gospel in daily lives. “There was also a great level of honesty,” said Dr Ryall. “The willingness to
recognise strengths and shortcomings and the contrast between the urban and rural divide is quite staggering.” Reflecting on the meetings, Bishop Lang said: “It was an opportunity to learn more from the organisations on the ground in South Africa. “I was moved by the commitment of these organisations to speak to those forgotten and to empower people locally.” He commended the Church organisations’ work to make leaders aware of the forgotten, noting that “we have so much to learn from the South African Church”.
OLLOWING a successful visit with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, a delegation of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (Imbisa) met with President Armando Emílio Guebuza of Mozambique to ask him to assist in ensuring peaceful elections in Zimbabwe. The delegation included Bishop Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa of Mutare, Zimbabwe; Bishop José Luis Ponce de León of Ingwavuma; Imbisa director Fr Richard Menatsi; and Fr Claudio Dos Reis, representing Justice&Peace. The delegation shared with Mr Guebuza, who is also the chairman of the Southern African De-
velopment Community (SADC), the outcomes of the meeting held with Mr Mugabe in February regarding the forthcoming elections. The delegation presented the Mozambican president with a paper outlining the bishops’ appeal which included a request that the SADC support all parties signing up to the Zimbabwe Political Parties Code of Conduct and that international monitors and observers are deployed three months ahead of the presidential elections and remain on the ground for at least another month after the elections to minimise the possibility of violence after the elections. Bishop Muchabaiwa said the visit was intended to seek assistance in ensuring harmonised na-
tional elections in Zimbabwe later this year. “We have decided to make this request of you and other SADC leaders to avoid the rude awakening we had in 2008 when unprecedented violence was unleashed on the nation in the June presidential run-off elections,” the delegates told Mt Guebuza. The bishops described the dialogue that followed as “very good” as they shared their hopes, concerns and challenges with the president who thanked them for their interest on assuring peaceful elections in Zimbabwe. Finally, considering that most of the Imbisa countries are part of SADC, the bishops made themselves available to work together to ensure peace in Southern Africa.
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
A papal hug that went around the world By RiCK SnizeK
Y Easter Monday, it would be the shot seen around the world. But a day earlier, Christiana Gondreau could not have imagined that a chance encounter she and her 8-year-old son, Dominic, had with Pope Francis in the middle of St Peter’s Square following his first Easter Mass would touch the hearts of so many around the globe. While making his way in the popemobile through a sea of faithful estimated at 250 000, the pontiff smiled and waved. At one point in his second journey around the square, the white Mercedes transporting the pope stopped. Pope Francis reached over to greet Dominic after a compassionate Vatican usher named Augustino had repositioned mother and son at a corner of the path so the pontiff could better see them. Pope Francis lifted Dominic, who has cerebral palsy, while embracing and kissing him. He also spoke to the boy before gently placing the child back into his mother’s arms. “The pope definitely was whis-
pering to him, but there’s no way of knowing what he said. Is it a secret?” Mrs Gondreau said in an interview from Rome with the Rhode Island Catholic newspaper. She is certain, however, that the meeting was divinely inspired, and serves as a message that God shows favour to all his little ones. “I do believe that it was a kiss from heaven, to say this child is loved and I know him.” As the pope moved on through the crowd, camera shutters continued to click on Dominic as those in attendance quickly realised they were witnessing a very moving moment. “Your son is here to show others how to love,” Mrs Gondreau said one woman shouted out to her from the crowd after the pope departed. “There was a part of me that didn’t want to leave that spot,” she said, savouring the special moment. After the papal address she made her way back across St Peter’s Square from the special seating area offered to one parent or family member accompanying someone with a disability to the Mass.
This photo by AP photographer Gregorio Borgia of Pope Francis embracing 8-year-old dominic Gondreau, who has cerebral palsy, captured the attention of people around the world.
he met up with her husband, Paul Gondreau, a theology professor at Providence College in Rhode Island who is teaching a class in Rome this semester, and their four other children. Prof Gondreau had become
mesmerised by the encounter between his son and the pope that he had just witnessed on one of the large television screens. His elder son Lucas, 12, was the first to notice the loving attention his brother was receiving from the pope, and quickly pointed it out to
his father. “I was just speechless. Lucas and I started crying,” Prof Gondreau said. “It seems the pope was captivated by Dominic.” He likened the tender moment between pope and child to an encounter of a modern Francis with a modern Dominic, referring to an historic encounter tradition holds once occurred between Ss Francis and Dominic. Prof Gondreau believes no one shares in God’s cross more intimately than the disabled, and that he extends his hand over the weak and the vulnerable so that they may serve as models of inspiration. “No one plans to have a special needs child,” he said. “They are a tremendous blessing.” He describes Dominic as “cognitively normal”, meaning he understands what is going on around him and can speak some words and some simple sentences, but that his limitations are purely physical. “God has touched our family all our lives, now, he has touched the whole world with Dominic,” he said.—CNS
Jesuit: What we can expect from Pope Francis’ papacy By MARiA-PiA neGRo
OPE Francis’ priorities will include working for the poor, protecting God’s creation, strengthening interreligious dialogue, reforming the Roman curia and evangelising, a Jesuit priest told US journalists at an event at the National Press Club in Washington. Fr Tom Reese SJ, of Georgetown University, talked about how the first Jesuit and first Latin American pope could change the Church. “This is going to be a much more activist pope,” said Fr Reese, who covered the conclave from Rome for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper. “I think he told us his agenda when he picked the name of Francis.”
Like St Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis helped the poor when working in the slums of Buenos Aires as bishop; focused on peace and interreligious dialogue with evangelicals, Jews and Muslims; and highlighted the importance of God’s creation and human dignity. After Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope, he quickly showed the world his simple and open persona, signalling that he would stray away from “heavy-duty theology” to focus on biblically based evangelisation and living the Gospels’ message daily, Fr Reese said. For this, he would draw from his experience as priest and bishop, he added. “He is truly authentic. These are things that he was doing in
Buenos Aires,” Fr Reese said. “You know, as archbishop, you don’t take the bus because you think ‘I might become pope one day’.” The pope’s other priority, reforming the Vatican’s administrative government known as the Roman curia, could be more difficult, Fr Reese said. Though several cardinals agree to reform a curia accused of corruption, they don’t know how to do it, said Fr Reese, who has authored several books about the Church’s power structure. Conservatives might want the curia to better police Church issues while liberals would like the Church’s power to be more decentralised, he said. “The real question is: What should the members of the curia
do?” Fr Reese said. The Jesuit also mentioned that the curia’s problems influenced the cardinals’ decision to name a relatively unknown outsider as the new pope. During the official pre-conclave meetings, Cardinal Bergoglio talked against the evils of careerism and the need for the Church to “come out of herself and evangelise”. “Now, that made an impression,” Fr Reese said. He added that the cardinals knew that Cardinal Bergoglio had been the runner-up during the 2005 conclave. Pope Francis knows his acts of humility—such as paying for his own hotel bill and visiting Aids patients—send a message, Fr Reese added.
“I think he is using these symbolic actions as a way of preaching the Gospel and also as a way of sending signals to the clergy,” Fr Reese said. “He is modelling a certain attitude and practice. That is a change in culture that is very important for the Church.” This change includes Catholics seeing the Church not only as a do-gooder organisation, he added, in reference to Pope Francis’ remarks that the Church is not only a “compassionate NGO”. “We don’t just run soup kitchens,” Fr Reese said. “In reaching out to the poor, we are also preaching the Gospel. Taking care of people’s bodies we are also taking care of people’s souls.”—CNS
Souther n Cross on Pilgrimage 2014
HOLY LAND • ROME • PADRE PIO HOLY LAND YOUTH PILGRIMAGE 11 – 23 May 2014 with
5 - 14 July 2014
ARCHBISHOP STEPHEN BRISLIN
and Holy Land Trek author Günther Simmermacher Join The Southern Cross and the Archbishop of Cape Town (right) on a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Meet with local Christians before travelling to Italy to see the Pope in Rome and to pray at the places of Padre Pio.
HOLY LAND: Jerusalem (with Via dolorosa, church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mary’s tomb). Bethlehem. nazareth. Cana (with an opportunity to renew marriage vows). Mount of Beatitudes. Capernaum. Boatride on the Sea of Galilee. Mount Tabor. Jordan River Baptismal Site. ein Kerem. dead Sea. And much more.
ITALY: Rome with PAPAL AUDIENCE, the four major basilicas (including Mass in St Peter’s), catacombs, ancient sites. Monte Cassino. San Giovanni Rotondo (where Padre Pio spent almost all of his life). Lanciano (site of the first eucharistic Miracle recognised by the Catholic Church).
ISTANBUL: as a bonus, enjoy a day of sightseeing in the capital of Turkey, the ancient Constantinople. Both pilgrimages will be accompanied by licensed local guides on luxury tour buses and accommodated in 3-star hotels or better.
FR SAMMY MABUSELA CSS
A special pilgrimage designed specifically for young Catholics from 16-36, with Fr Sammy Mabusela, national youth chaplain, as spiritual director. The programme includes all the important holy sites, outdoor Masses, hikes in the footsteps of Jesus, encounters with local Christians and peace activists of other faiths, and much more. A time of faith, friends and fun
HOLY LAND: Jerusalem (with Via dolorosa, church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mary’s tomb). Bethlehem. nazareth (with visit to a recreation of 1st century life). Cana. Mount of Beatitudes. Capernaum. Boatride on the Sea of Galilee. Mount Tabor. Jordan River Baptismal Site. ein Kerem. dead Sea. And much more.
CAIRO: as a bonus, enjoy a visit to Cairo with the pyramids, sphinx and a nile Cruise.
FOR FULL ILLUSTRATED ITINERARY OR TO BOOK: Phone Gail at 076 352 3809 or 021 551 3923 or
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Pope meets head of United Nations
A worker paints a colossal statue of Bl John Paul ii in Częstochowa, Poland. The new monument to the late Polish pope is 14 metres high. The famous Black Madonna icon is housed at the Jasna Góra monastery in the city. (Photo: Agencja Gazeta via Reuters/CnS)
By Cindy Wooden
ECOGNISING the important role each other plays on the global stage, Pope Francis and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon met at the Vatican to discuss common efforts to promote peace and protect human dignity. “The United Nations and the Holy See share common goals and ideals,” the UN secretary-general told the pope as the two sat across from each other at a desk in the papal library. Reporters were ushered out of the room at that point. The pope and Mr Ban spent about 20 minutes speaking privately about “situations of conflict and serious humanitarian emer-
gencies, especially in Syria”, but also about the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and in several African countries “where peace and stability are threatened”, said a statement from the Vatican press office. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said the pope and Mr Ban also talked about the problem of human trafficking, especially of women—a global problem of particular concern to Pope Francis and one that he denounced in his Easter message as “the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st century”. Pope Francis spoke about the ways the Catholic Church, as a re-
ligious institution, promotes many of the same goals as the UN, particularly on behalf of a holistic protection of human dignity and in the promotion of a “culture of encounter”, the statement said. Fr Lombardi said the phrase is one the pope used often as archbishop of Buenos Aires to describe his approach to the promotion of dialogue, understanding and respect among people and among religions. Mr Ban told reporters that he invited the pope to visit the United Nations—an invitation the Vatican acknowledged, but without making a commitment to attend.— CNS
CAR Church calls for world’s help By JonATHAn LUxMooRe
HURCH leaders in the Central African Republic (CAR) appealed for international help in restoring order after a wave of attacks on Catholic clergy and churches. “Parishes, churches and communities of nuns have been pillaged and ransacked by rebel units, losing their cars and other possessions,” said Mgr Cyriaque Gbate Doumalo, secretary-general of the Catholic bishops’ conference. “Although the rebels have promised order here in the capital, this has broken down completely in the provinces, where Christians face danger and uncertainty. We appeal to the international community not to forget us, but to
help restore peace and security.” The interparty Supreme Transitional Council, set up by the rebel forces, had so far failed to stem an active campaign of attacks on churches, rectories and convents, he said. “From what we can see, this has been organised systematically—although the Church has nothing to do with the state, it’s seen as a public institution,” Mgr Doumalo said. “Security measures have been put in place, but these are not proving effective, since the transitional authorities aren’t controlling the different rebel elements.” Catholics make up around 30% of the country’s 4,4 million inhabitants. Insurgent groups calling themselves Séléka (“Alliance”) launched
Armed Séléka fighters patrol the streets of Bangui to stop looting. (Photo: Alain Amontchi, Reuters/ CnS) an offensive against the government in early December, accusing President François Bozizé of reneging on 2007 and 2008 peace deals to share government posts and in-
tegrate rebel forces into the national army. The alliance, composed partly of Arab-speaking Islamists, seized Bangui in late March, suspending the country’s government, parliament and constitution. Séléka leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president after Mr Bozizé fled to neighbouring Cameroon. UN sources said that by early April some 37 000 refugees had left the CAR since the start of Séléka’s rebellion, with a further 173 000 internally displaced. Mgr Doumalo said the Church had been invited to send a delegation to the 97-member Transitional Council, which is expected to act as a legislative body, drafting a new constitution for approval in a national referendum and prepar-
ing for the election of new president in 2016. He added that the bishops’ conference was also seeking talks with the provisional government to make its concerns and expectations known and would stress that there were “no quarrels” between Christians and Muslims, who could “rebuild mutual peace and harmony”. “But reparations must be made for what has been destroyed and stolen, preventing us from doing our work,” Mgr Doumalo said. “The public institutions are not functioning, and the hospitals have been ransacked and closed, leaving the sick and destitute without care. This is why we urgently need help in restoring and maintaining peace.”—CNS
Bishop on N. Korea nuke threats By nJ VieHLAnd
HE head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea said North Korea’s recent threats of aggression may be an attempt to shore up foreign aid while preserving pride. “It is our presumption that they wish to draw out some financial assistance from abroad without conceding their pride or self-esteem,” said Bishop Peter Kang U-Il of Jeju, South Korea. He said Catholic bishops “feel very sorry” that tension provoked by North Korean threats are making “the whole world very uncomfortable and anxious”. Though South Koreans “appear to be calm and tranquil”, they may feel uneasy about the present escalating atmosphere between two Koreas, Bishop Kang
said. South Koreans might have been very used to the threats, but “one could not deny the possibility of an unexpected military clash”. The bishop offered a prayer he composed appealing for mercy for a “silly flock” whose actions are causing hunger, suffering and drawing people to violence and death. On March 30 North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un declared a “do-or-die” battle against invasion after a US stealth bombers drill. Bishop Kang said North Korea might be threatening war because it cannot revitalise its economy and rise up from its “destitute situation” without foreign investments, but needs to maintain its “self-respect or self-reverence”, which the bishop traces to the
ideology declared by Kim’s dynasty. The ideology and philosophy of superiority of Korean history and culture advocated by the North Korean ruler and his predecessors have prevailed through the 60 years following the Korean War, he said. However, this philosophy of isolation and autonomous economy has only “completely demolished their economy”, Bishop Kang said. “I think we need much patience in dealing with the people of [North Korea] who have been isolated for a long time from the modern world.” “The violent way of presenting their requests to the world” is evidence of the desperate situation that they could not survive, he said.—CNS
Pope demands ‘decisive’ action on sex abuse By CARoL GLATz
OPE Francis has reaffirmed the importance of responding decisively to the problem of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and called on the Vatican office dealing with suspected cases to continue carrying out its mandate. In a meeting with Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the pope discussed the office’s various responsibilities. However, he made a particular point of highlighting its work to counter clerical sexual abuse,
telling Archbishop Müller that he wanted the congregation to continue with the policies of Pope Benedict XVI and “to act decisively concerning cases of sexual abuse”, the Vatican said. The pope, the Vatican statement said, asked the congregation to continue “promoting measures that protect minors, above all; help for those who have suffered such violence in the past; necessary procedures against those found guilty; [and] the commitment of bishops’ conferences in formulating and implementing the necessary directives in this area that is so important for the Church’s witness
and credibility.” As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, he had said that moving an abusive priest to another parish in an effort to protect the image of the Church had appeared as a “solution” at times in the United States, but that it was “foolishness” because the abusive priest only takes his problem with him to a new parish. “I don’t believe in those positions that propose supporting a kind of ‘corporate’ spirit in order to avoid damaging the image of the institution,” the future Pope Francis said.—CNS
italian Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti died on April 10 at the age of 90. ordained in 945, he had spent more than 35 years at the service of the Vatican as a diplomat and a financial manager, and he’d been the papal delegate for the basilicas of St Francis and St Mary of the Angels in Assisi, italy. Born in Romagnano Sesia in the north-western italy, Cardinal Antonetti was ordained to the priesthood in 1945. He served as nuncio to nicaragua and Honduras, zaire and France, where represented the Vatican in Paris for seven years. Cardinal Antonetti was named propresident of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See in 1995 and retired in 1998. Pope John Paul ii named him to the College of Cardinals in 1998.
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The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Our future priests
RITING in our special focus on vocations this week, Anthony Gathambiri IMC argues that poor conduct by clergy has the undesirable consequence of inhibiting young men in following the path to the priesthood. This means that the reverse must also be true: the example of a good priest living his vocation with joy and integrity should stimulate young men with a calling to the priesthood to seek sacerdotal ordination. Indeed, most clergy will recall one or more priests whose good Christian example, holiness and energy inspired them to follow in their footsteps. At a time when the reputation of the Catholic priesthood is diminished by scandal and a culture that is losing esteem for clerics and religion in general, the Church needs young men who can represent a positive alternative to a discouraging public understanding of the clerical office. New and recent vocations especially have the opportunity, and obligation, to give witness to the inherent goodness of their office. The commitment and aptitude for good leadership exhibited by younger priests is perhaps the best advertisement for the priestly vocation. It is therefore imperative that the youth ministry—on national, diocesan and parish levels—should take a place of priority in the life of the local Church. Priests who show a knack for connecting with young people— and this is a specialised ministry to which not every priest is suited—must be supported and their ministry be nurtured. The creative use of the Internet, and the social media in particular, offers the Church opportunities to reach a broader audience than ever before. These already are hugely important fields of mission and ministry; there is no reason why modern technology cannot be employed to promote and foster vocations. Lay people also have a role to play in encouraging vocations, by prayer and by presenting the priesthood (and consecrated life in general) as an ideal that is still worth aspiring to, the offences of a minority of priests notwithstanding. Parents must not stand in the way of a genuine vocation, even
if the consecrated life fails to realise their dreams for their children. Young people must be shown that the consecrated life is a radical but viable option, and that is fulfilling. However, as the Church promotes vocations, and prays for them, there are also good reasons to be cautious. For example, experts in the field of formation say that vocations tend to leap in environments of economic uncertainty, such as it is in South Africa. To some, the priesthood may represent an avenue towards a secure future. It may be a poorly paid job, but nevertheless one that offers protected employment and some social status. A priest who enters the ministry for utilitarian purposes may not embody the ideal, but he will not necessarily be a bad priest. At the same time, if the vocation is subject to calculation— cynical or just misguided—rather than a genuine desire to serve God and his people, then the product of formation might well be of poor quality. In the past decades, dioceses worldwide have adapted and fine-tuned the processes by which candidates to the priesthood are selected or rejected. The criteria usually include the applicant’s physical and mental health, his capacity to live a life of celibacy, and his orthodoxy. (Candidates are also supposed to be screened for homosexuality; many vocations directors circumvent that controversial requirement.) More complicated than these yardsticks, however, is the function of discerning whether the applicant indeed has a genuine calling to the consecrated life, and also whether he can fruitfully relate to congregations. While the Church must be cautious in choosing its priests— and the People of God have a reasonable expectation that all new ordinations are indeed a source of joy, not of future disappointments—it must also allow for imperfections. The day before he announced his abdication, Pope Benedict explained that “human weakness shouldn’t make people afraid if God calls”, but people must trust in the power of God’s mercy, “which transforms and renews”. Let us trust in God and pray that he will continue to provide us with sufficient vocations.
The Editor reserves the right to shorten or edit published letters. Letters below 300 words receive preference. Pseudonyms are acceptable only under special circumstances and at the Editor’s discretion. Name and address of the writer must be supplied. No anonymous letter will be considered.
Cultish elitism mars vocations
NE hastens to respond to Name Withheld (“Vocations wrongs”, April 3) with the words of the Good Shepherd: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me; my sheep listen to my voice”. While one can agree with the general thrust of the letter, it is important to understand that the common thinking of the ministerial priesthood is one that is clerical, purist and elitist. Instead of being understood as men called upon to be mere elders (presbyterate), they are put on pedestals and everything is done to ensure that they are kept high up there. Often “acting in the person of Christ” is confused with thinking that the individual priest is Christ himself.
REFER to your editorial in the April 3 Southern Cross and the article by Sarah-Leah Pimentel on the facing page. Your editorial opinion of the Nolan/Napier interview was: “The interview took an unexpected twist, and neither Nolan nor Cardinal Napier were prepared for it.” This differs considerably from Ms Pimentel’s view that: “Nolan used his skills as a hard-hitting journalist to force Cardinal Napier into a corner.” Someone sure got it wrong! No matter, in either case, the subject of paedophilia has been exercising the meetings and minds of our Church for many, many years now, and surely our leaders at that level (and I include the SACBC) have learned how to deal with it, whether “unexpected’’ or “forced”? So, yes, you are both correct in that our leaders surely need to know what they are talking about and how to explain the Catholic position in such a way that it cannot be misinterpreted. And that we, the laity, also need to be clearly and unambiguously informed on topical issues, so that we can set our own minds at ease as well as others’ when faced with the inevitable questions. Ms Pimentel makes this very point in her account of the late night radio talk show when the presenter apparently empathetically asked about the role of women in the Church, and “a Catholic caller was unable to provide meaningful explanations and became very defensive when asked further questions”. At least that person had the courage of his/her convictions and did try to put the Catholic viewpoint. Ms Pimentel’s account begs the question: “Did she then phone in
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The vast reaction, and/or lack thereof by the hierarchy, to any scandal plaguing the ministerial priesthood comes from this misunderstanding that these are men who are Christs rather than pilgrims with the rest of the faith community. Cover-ups, lack of response and even today’s inappropriate response to scandal speaks to this notion that all must be averted to continue to portray the priest as a man in need of mercy himself. They are not to be seen as men who are weak and vulnerable. They are not to be seen as men needing the help of other members of the common priesthood, but instead are literally trained to think, like the pre-Vatican II understanding, that the fullness of Orders lies in them. Some bishops, priests and lay peo-
ple themselves are guilty of perpetuating this kind of thinking. We must pray for vocations despite the many vocations that are being denied. We must continue to pray for vocations of men who are crucibles of compassion and mercy. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin “to call” or “to be called”. In this instance, we believe being called by the Lord. If a man (or woman, in the case of the religious life) believes he/she has been called by the Lord, then no matter what a seminary rector thinks or says, that person, cooperating with the help of the Lord, will, in faith, fulfil his/her vocation. Remember that humans look at appearance but in choosing who to lead God’s people, as elder rather than as cultic priest, God looks at the heart and what God seeks above all is a contrite heart! Wesley Seale, Cape Town
and correct the impression given, or did she remain silent?” If not, what a wonderful opportunity was missed for an informed person to correct the “defensive” impression of our Church. I couldn’t help wondering what I would have said had I been involved, so would appreciate an official opinion on the role of women in our Church. Perhaps it might be an appropriate future subject for an editorial or guest columnist, followed by other controversial issues? Geoff Harris, Rooi Els, Western Cape
Jews had risen up against the unpopular Hasmonean king, Jannaeus, which led to the Judean civil war. During the Herodian era, more familiar with Christians, persecution of Jews continued and the Jews rose in revolt. Out of this cauldron of martyrdom Christianity took root. “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”, (Isaiah 11:1). And Peter 2:24: “He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…” Patrick Dacey, Johannesburg
Jesus risen anew
OUR editorial “Jesus is indeed risen” (March 27), concerning Mary Magdalen finding the empty tomb, is very much the Church’s accepted version of the resurrection. Yet Catholic theologian Fr Schillenbeeckx gave us another insight into the resurrection which is as faith-driven as that of the gospels. When Paul says in Corinthians, “Last of all, to one untimely born, he [Jesus] appeared also to me”, is he [Paul] not alluding to his Damascus experience of the resurrected Christ and, if that is the case, could this experience also not have occurred to the “500 brothers and sisters”? It is evident that martyrdom in the first century BCE was increasing. opinions expressed in The Southern Cross, especially in Letters to the editor, do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or staff of the newspaper, or of the Catholic hierarchy. The letters page in particular is a forum in which readers may exchange opinions on matters of debate. Letters must not be understood to necessarily reflect the teachings, disciplines or policies of the Church accurately. Letters can be sent to PO Box 2372, Cape Town 8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 021 465-3850
HE “Church Chuckle”(March 27) is in very poor taste, if not blasphemous—Our Lord being miffed about Good Friday. Good Friday is the only day of the year when Mass is not said, and this because we recall the supreme sacrifice of Our Lord, priest and victim, on the Cross. His death on the Cross was the greatest act of charity that has ever existed. By his death life was given back to the world; the way to heaven, the way of salvation was opened for us. The Southern Cross is the only Catholic Southern African weekly newspaper. Please do not make light of our holy religion. God will not be mocked. Fr Anthony Esposito, Durban
READ with interest Fr Bonaventure Hinwood’s article on limbo (March 27). He mentioned the last four things as hell, heaven, purgatory, and limbo. I always thought and heard that the last four things are death, judgement, heaven, and hell. PR Margeot, Durban
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The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Freedom to be...what?
ITH Freedom Day coming up on April 27, the concept of freedom has lately been milling around in my head. Who, if anyone, is ever truly free? But then one has to ask: what is freedom? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “being unrestricted, having the power to act speak or think as one wants”. In the South African sense it could also be the “absence of subjection to a despotic government”. The phrase “the freedom of the children of God” is another idea that was germinating, alongside the simple (churchy) definition of freedom that I have had in mind: ”Freedom is being able to choose to do what is right.” However, this being the Year of Faith, I consulted the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I found the section on freedom (1730-8) helpful, but it is also quite difficult to understand and because of its style of language rather too difficult to share within a family. It needs to be teased out. Article 1731 reads: “Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.” In simple language it says that freedom ultimately has to do with choosing what is good, and that choosing what is not good is sin. Clearly there is a very distinct difference between the world’s understanding and the Church’s teaching in the catechism. The idea of choosing what is good might be implicit in the dictionary definition, but that would apply if society was
geared towards the good. But is it? Recently I came across a newspaper article reporting that pagans and/or satanists were claiming the right to have their say in the school environment as this is a free country and everyone has rights. Applying all that in a family setting can be a very meaningful discussion with those who can reason it through. Tell youngsters that freedom does not mean you are free to do as you want, disobey family or school rules, waste money, smoke, drink, bully others, fight with siblings or your mother-in-law. Ask them to debate if true freedom is really about having the conditions that make it possible to do what is good; in other words, to act in a morally acceptable way. One might ask: “Is a very poor young girl who heads her family because her parents have died, and sees the possibility of earning money through sex work re-
“Were we free to gorge on easter eggs while others didn’t have a crust of bread?”
Rights are about the person
HE Catholic social teaching is centred on the human person, especially in promoting human rights and dignity. Besides the Church, there are other organisations equally engaged in promoting human rights. The question is, what is the basis of human rights? Is it a matter of human decision though political declarations or legislations? In this article we are going to explore the foundation of human dignity and rights, and also put in its proper perspective the meaning of the centrality of the human person in society. Every person is created in the image of God in which resides his or her inalienable dignity. That is why in her social teaching, centred on the human person, the Church calls all people to recognise in every person a brother or sister, despite what differences there might be. A human person is the centre of every sector and expression of society. From there we draw the consequences. Firstly, a human person is the subject and never a mere object of society, and so “every expression of society must be directed towards the human person” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church [CSDC] 106). Unfortunately, not every person is conscious of this truth, and often even those who know it do not respect human dignity. In her role as prophet, the Church warns society against tendencies that risk distorting and violating this dignity of the human person. There are lessons from history. “History attests that it is from the fabric of social relationships that arise some of the best possibilities for ennobling the human person, but it is also there that lie in wait the most loathsome rejections of human dignity” (CSDC 107).
The human person’s position in society is compromised by sin that damages relationships, in particular the social sin of injustice in forms of relationships contrary to the plan of God for human society. God intends that there be peace, justice and freedom between individuals, groups and peoples. Such structures of sin risk polluting the entire world when injustice and all sorts of social evil are accepted as normal. (CSDC 119). “Every political, economic, social, scientific and cultural programme must be inspired by the awareness of the primacy of each human being over society” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2235). Hence, a person cannot be reduced to a means for carrying out economic, social or political projects.
hen we talk about rights, some people will think of declarations or legislations regarding human rights, of countries that are signatory and those that are not. This implies that human rights are a matter of human decision. Yet, promotion of human rights is nothing more than a mere recognition of and response to the demands of the dignity that already properly belongs to a human person. Of course, we cannot ignore the great revolution in the universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, which is “a true milestone on the path of humanity’s moral progress”, as John Paul II told the UN General Assembly in 1979. However, it is also important to bear in mind what Pope John XXIII said in his 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris: “The ultimate source of human rights is not found in the mere will of a human being, in the reality of the state, in public powers, but in
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ally free to make a choice? Is a family breadwinner who sees fraud being committed at work really free to do what is right and blow the whistle at the risk of losing his or her job and so not be able to support the family?” In other words, is freedom relative, dependent on circumstances and personalities? One person with a passion for truth will behave differently to another who fears the consequences of actions. Is there not an unwritten natural law, one which should apply to society in general, that underlying freedom is a need for order, for acknowledging the rights of others, and—the golden rule—to do to others what you want them to do to you? But then “the freedom of the children of God” asks even a little more from us. Pope Francis is going to be a challenge to us in our families, with his preferential option for the poor. Were we free to gorge on chocolate Easter eggs while others didn’t even have a crust of bread to eat? April’s family theme was “God in the Family” and May will be a special month for Family and Life so a good question to ask ourselves especially in the family at home, is, “What would Jesus do in all these situations facing us?” Even more, acknowledging God’s presence in our home we can ask, “What is the life-giving thing to do so as to be truly free, free from oppression, doubt or guilt, free from restrictions or recriminations?” My answer: Free to be me.
Evans K Chama M.Afr
Catholic Social Teachings
man himself and in God his creator.” However, a true recognition of a human person’s dignity and centrality should also take into account man’s deference to his Creator. There are two errors to beware of: firstly, the tendency to absolutise man as if his life depended on himself, and secondly, to consider man as a simple tool whose value depends on his function in the system (CSDC 125). The human person as corporeal is “linked to this world by his body, and he is a spiritual being open to transcendence and to the discovery of more penetrating truths of mind” (CSDC 129). Just like society can dehumanise a human person, one can also dehumanise oneself by forgetting our constitutive relation with God. Hence, the human person should use the things of the world without forgetting his fundamental relationship with God. St Augustine in his Confession put it like this: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” The dignity and rights that we expect others to respect oblige us with the same duty towards others. Hence, rights go with duty. Here, I find no better words to conclude the article than the words of John XXIII in Pacem in Terris: “In human society to one man’s rights there corresponds a duty in all other persons.” And he adds, “those, therefore, who claim their own rights, yet altogether forget or neglect to carry out their respective duties, are people who build with one hand and destroy with the other”.
youth and Mission
The young Church is alive in SA
YEAR or so ago, I wrote an article in The Southern Cross called “Catholic heroes”. In it, I spoke about how we need more Catholic role-models and how awesome it is when people do stand up for Christ and live their faith in the world around us; especially when they use their gifts to build up the Church. I don’t fully know if things have changed or if I’m just seeing with new eyes, but there is so much good happening and so many lives being changed and renewed in our Church in South Africa. Young people are searching for truth, searching for love. They are struggling, for sure, but are also finding peace in Christ and living for him. There have been a few gatherings and events over the past few months which have been especially encouraging. The recent “Catholic Youth Leaders’ Training Conference” in Cape Town was a joyful and lifegiving weekend where leaders from around Southern Africa, and even from Uganda, came together to receive input on how to be better witnesses. They were built up in the faith and left really excited about the part we youth leaders have to play in leading others to Christ. The “Exalt” evening in Johannesburg in February saw teenagers and adults worshipping God in adoration and queuing for hours to receive forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. There was a weekend away for young adults in Johannesburg who lead retreats based on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Young people (from different communities) are struggling with how to be pure, where to find true love and how to love genuinely in today’s society. Leaders on this retreat were no exception, but they’re finding truth in this teaching of freedom and are growing in what it means to live out holiness every day. Some people think the Church is dying, irrelevant or out of date, that people are leaving and not many are living the faith. But this is not true. There is so much good and so many people living by the Spirit. If you’re disheartened, isolated or feeling alone in your walk with God, don’t lose hope! Keep seeking, keep talking to others, Christ is there around you and there are others going through the same thing. If you’ve seen the joy, the fruit of the Spirit, and great things happening in your community, I challenge you, share your joy, excitement and faith—we are Christ’s hands and feet.
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The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Good Shepherd parish in Bothasig, Cape Town, celebrated parishioner Bob Skinner’s 90th birthday. Mr Skinner is pictured with his wife Meryl and daughter Carol.
dominican Convent School, Begravia in Johannesburg pre-primary school staff, learners and parents teamed up to raise over R2 000 to assist the Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (CHoC) in their outreach to children with cancer and their families. Pictured are head of department deidre MacKenzie, event coordinator CHoC Sophie ndhlovu and dominican Primary School head dalene Rostovsky.
The Association of Catholic Tertiary Students held a meeting with the national executive Committee at Christ the new Man centre, Ga-Rankuwa, in the archdiocese of Pretoria, to evaluate ACTS and to plan for the forthcoming 20th national conference.(Back from left) Takalani Phethi, Sobane Motlomelo, zithulele Tshabalala, Siyabonga Mkhize, Moleboheng Morobe, chaplain Fr Sammy Mabusela, Stephen Phiri, Mmabatho Tsimane. (Front) Linda Fekisi, Gladys Shelaloke, irma Thantsha and noella Tam.
Catholic Women’s League members from St Jude’s parish in Vredenburg, archdiocese of Cape Town, spent an afternoon with Fr Aloysius Abone to celebrate his birthday.
The Community of Sant’egidio celebrated its 45th anniversary. The year has been marked with celebrations all around the world, and the South African Community celebrated a Mass at the University of Pretoria. The main celebrant was Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria, with Fr Giorgio Ferretti from the Mother Community of Rome and university chaplain, Fr Finbarr Flanagan.
Parishioners of St Patrick’s parish in east London broke their fast with soup and rolls after praying the Stations of the Cross. A parish fast day was part of the parish’s Lenten programme.
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Springfield Convent School in Cape Town celebrated its 142nd birthday with a Mass celebrated by Fr PeterJohn Pearson in its gardens followed by the blessing of its new art centre.
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Archbishop Buti Tlhagale visited Assumption Convent in Malvern, Johannesburg. The archbishop gave an address to the school and 13 of the senior girls shared their testimonies in return.
Learners from Marist Brothers Linmeyer in Johannesburg supported the Cancer Sprayathon.
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23 2013
Religious life call stirs in us sacrament of reconciliation and not in theories about metaphysical meaning of sin. Scandals involving clergy are a problem in the decline of vocations today. Sexual abuse, keeping mistresses, materialism—these are recipes for losing vocations. Disunity among religious people is a HOSE who come from farms scandal that defaces our image know that cows moo and today. sheep bleat whenever someIt is time we redeemed our idenone passes by, even a stranger. tity as religious men and women. However, when it comes to folAlthough it will take years and lowing, sheep and cows don’t just years to heal the communities we follow anyone. Sheep, particularly, have wounded, I believe that it is will only follow the one who shows possible to reshape the model of recompassion, care, and concern to ligious persons. them. You don’t expect sheep to folSince Pope Francis took the chair low a shepherd who starves, beats, of Peter, he has been reminding us scolds and neglects them. to choose the life of simplicity and When one receives a call to be- direct our concern at those on the come a shepherd, one doesn’t be- margins. come different from the rest of the If we leave our comfort zones community, nor does one become and be simple in order to reach out an angel, but is frail like any other to the poor, this alone can speak person. volumes to our Kodi Bath, a USyoung people who based Kenyan jourare looking for nalist, has written “stars” with whom Every priest behind that “every priest bethey can identify. hind the altar is actuGood shepherds, the altar is actually ally a man. He is and shepherdesses, overcome by sleep, will come from our a man. He is he gets drunk, he can families. If we have dream of excessive overcome by sleep, God in our families, riches and forbidden then we will have he gets drunk, he holy sex, even murder”. shepherds. And It is crucial for when we have God can dream of those called to reliin the family, we will gious life to accept have God in our reliexcessive riches this reality, and to gious men and and forbidden sex, women. apologise to the community whenever Family is the first even murder. they make mistakes. “religious house”, For instance, when a where we learn to be priest arrives half an humane people. It is hour late, it would be an environment to imbibe human inexcusable not to apologise for values. It is a bakery in which to keeping people waiting. This is “bake” good shepherds and shepwhat it takes to be a shepherd who herdesses who love people, who are is sensitive to the feelings of the compassionate and tolerant of peocongregation. ple when they make mistakes. Many centuries ago, St Francis of It is important to remember that Assisi said: “Sanctify yourself, and we have a call to feed the flock of you will sanctify society.” This slo- Christ and not feed on them. gan remains relevant to a Church Wolves feed on the flock while the that needs good religious men and shepherd feeds the flock. We feed women. One bad religious is on our own flock when we abuse enough to ruin the whole commu- them sexually, when we direct their nity, and one good religious is money to our own projects back at enough to edify it. home or to our friends. God forbid. Young people of today are interThe world is in dire need of carested in how well we live our lives. ing, religious people. A good shepOur testimony of life speaks more herd will display the qualities of than any excellent homily that we love, compassion, kindness and might deliver. concern for others. Jesus’ gentle For example, our young people character attracted multitudes of might be interested in the prayer people to him. life of a religious person, but not The vocation to the priesthood is about the Augustinian theory of declining in many parts of the grace a priest learnt in the semi- world. Could it be because our lives nary; they may be more interested don’t touch the young anymore? in our personal experiences of the When asked how their call came
The People of God need vocations, but not at the expense of quality, argues ANTHONY GATHAMBIRI IMC of Pretoria.
A calling to the religious life must be encouraged in youngsters, but they must not be forced to join the seminary or convent contrary to their wishes. about, most people in the consecrated life will recall the influence of a good nun or a committed priest; of people who served others unreservedly. When they are young, boys and girls who feel drawn to the religious life might talk about it openly. As the time goes by, they lose that initial desire because of some worldly temptations. Christian communities have a huge responsibility to encourage youngsters who show some signs of
Spreading the Good News We invite young men to apply We DOMINICANS are priests and brothers, living a Religious life together in communities, dedicated to contemplative prayer and the study of God’s message, with the aim of communicating it to the world, so that all people may benefit.
Contact: The Vocations Promoter PO Box 100150, Scottsville, 3209 or email us at email@example.com Check our website www.zaop.org
calling. There is a tendency of family members to think that when one of them decides to answer a religious calling, the family might lose them. It is not a loss, however, but an honour because they will have a person to pray for them. On the other hand, parents and the Church community are not to force their children to join the seminary or convent contrary to their wishes. Their work is to encourage them and let the will of God be done.
Sometimes the young people say “what if I answer this calling and along the way I backslide, will this not bring shame to me and my family members?” There is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes entering the convent or seminary could be an opportunity to pick good habits of prayer life, responsibility, hospitality and so on. They could later become a leaven or yeast in the society of today that needs authentic Christians.
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Vocations: Just a job or a true calling?
Sr Van Rhyn oSFS: “i wanted to give myself to Jesus.”
Fr Larry Kaufmann CSsR: no specific event which brought his calling to light
The Catholic Church has many ways in which individuals can be called to religious life as priests, nuns, and brothers. STEPH JORDAN looks at some accounts of the way in which God has called upon them.
HE word “vocation” is another way of referring to a “calling”. Yet both of these words refer to the same thing: the unique way in which God has chosen an individual to fit into his great plan for the world. To have received a calling also means that an individual is acutely aware that they have been called by God to live with a specific purpose. Paul stated in Romans 8:28 that Christians are “called according to God’s purpose”.
Sr Therese-Anita Van Rhyn OSFS
MEMBER of the Oblate Sisters of Saint Francis de Sales, Sr Van Rhyn became aware of her calling while in high school in 1970. She attended high school in Springbok, where they were taught
Br Michael de Klerk CFC: his faith was passed on to him by his mother
by nuns and also had regular visits to the families in the area by the Oblate Sisters. Sr Van Rhyn says that “I always told myself that I want to be like them, I want to give myself to Jesus” when asked how she felt when the Oblate Sisters visited their school or homes, further saying that she “admired the way they were and carried themselves”. Sr Van Rhyn joined the Koelenhof Noviciate in 1973, became a novice in 1974 and an Oblate Sister of Saint Francis de Sales in 1975.
Br Christopher Zimmerman FMS
he Marist Brother said that his religious calling came to him during his ten years as a boarder at a Marist School. According to Br Zimmerman, the first two questions in the old penny catechism were: “Who made you?” and “Why did God make you?” He says “in the classroom some of the lay teachers and brothers helped me to deepen my own answers to these questions,” and that “all these things impressed me and enkindled in me the desire to join these men”. He also said that during his years as a Marist Brother he has realised that “religious life gives us the freedom to be in many different situations where we have to dig deep to be faithful”.
Salesians of Don Bosco
Sr Cecelia Mkhonto SSB: “i always said that i was going to be a nun.”
Fr Larry Kaufmann CSsR
he provincial superior of the Redemptorist Community, Fr Kaufmann said that although his calling only really became compelling in his final year at school, there was no specific event which brought his calling to light. “My awareness of a call goes back as far as I remember in my childhood,” he said, and that he experienced a “gradual inner awareness of a sense of call” as he grew up. He decided to apply to the Redemptorist Congregation halfway through his final year and joined them straight after he finished his schooling, and has been with them ever since.
Br Michael De Klerk CFC
r De Klerk’s calling to religious life happened during the last three years of his high schooling about forty years ago. “The commitment and dedication of the Christian Brothers that taught me was a huge source of inspiration for me” and “I had a strong faith in the Catholic Church that was passed on to me by my dear prayerful mother” he said. He added that although there may not have been a specific incident which called him, there was always a “strong urge to serve the Church in the religious educa-
Sr Kathleen Mitchell HF: was inspired by the life of the Holy Family Sisters
Fr Makhomba Khanyile oFM: always wanted to be a priest while growing up
tional sphere with generosity” and that the “challenge is to keep on responding faithfully and anew to the call that was received years ago”.
Sr Cecelia Mkhonto SSB
he superior general of the Sisters of St Brigid, comments that she cannot specifically say when she received her vocation, “all I can remember was when we talked about married life at home I always said that I was going to be a nun. “My mother, who at the time belonged to the Ladies of St Anne, went on a retreat with the group, and on her return home she told us about the Sisters of St Brigid and how they spent their lives working for God. “It was then that I really decided to join these women, and in 1966, at the age of 13 I went into the convent to become one of them.”
Fr Makhomba Augustine Khanyile OFM
rovincial superior of the Order of Friars Minor, Fr Khanyile says that he always wanted to be a priest but never told anyone or knew how to go about becoming one, and that while growing up “I admired priests and I used to play a priest when we were playing games”. He was an altar boy and ap-
The mission of Carmel is to keep PRAYER alive
proached the visiting priests about work in their religious life while their parish priest had gone on an overseas holiday. After the priest’s return, he then called in Fr Khanyile and his family, telling them that their son wanted to become a priest. “That was in October 1971. “That was the beginning and I have never turned back ever since,” said Fr Khanyile. He has been in religious life for 34 years and a priest for 27 years.
Sr Kathleen Mitchell HF
s a member of the Holy Family Sisters in Rusloo, Johannesburg, Sr Mitchell said that her choice to join the religious life was definitely a calling from God, and that “although it is a life of sacrifice and taking up your cross” she cannot deny “the joys of serving God’s people and promoting the faith”. She felt her calling while attending high school under the teaching of the Holy Family Sisters, and she was very inspired by their way of life, saying that they were very good religious leaders who stressed vocations. “I grew up Catholic, and when I told my parents I was going to become a nun my mother was very happy, and although my father was not he did not oppose my decision.” She went on to join the Holy Family Sisters in 1965.
Good Shepherd Sisters We are an International Congregation of Sisters, present in 74 countries.
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Maybe you are called by God to help realise Don Bosco’s dreamof helping teens grow happier, healthier and holier! If so, contact: Fr Alberto firstname.lastname@example.org 076-9359442 www.salesians.org.za
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Sr Loretta oliphant HC: thought of becoming a nun in her childhood
Sr elizabeth Mathabathe diHM: she always knew which convent she would join
Br Atty Sobayeni CFC: a member of the Christian Brs became his mentor
Sr Loretta Oliphant HC
stand vocations in general, but understand that he himself had received a calling. He joined the Christian Brothers in 1979.
“I didn’t know much about what a religious priest is or what being a secular priest means, I just knew that I wanted to be a priest,” he said. “I don’t remember any specific event but I drew inspiration from my school principal, Fr James, because of the manner in which he dealt with us school children, I always felt like I wanted to be in his shoes”.
rovincial leader of the Holy Cross Sisters in Parow, Cape Town, Sr Oliphant said that like many of the other Holy Cross Sisters she has come to know, she started thinking about becoming a nun during her childhood and that she was attracted to the idea of becoming a nun. “I had one particular aunt who was part of the religious life who inspired me, and also the Holy Family Sisters who were always visiting the Catholic school I attended,” she said when asked where her inspiration to join came from. She has been a member of the Holy Cross Sisters since 1982.
Fr Sonny Gadai OFM Cap
s a member of the Capuchin Friars Minor, India, Fr Gadai, who is currently the parish priest at Immaculate Conception parish in Parow, said that his religious calling came to him while in grade 11.
Sr Elizabeth Mathabathe DIHM
ccording to the general superior of the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Witbank, Sr Mathabathe always felt that she would become a nun, and that she would specifically become one of the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The sisters from the convent had always been present in her village, and although she visited other congregations and met nuns from other convents, she always knew which convent she would join. Her greatest inspiration from the Daughters was their “charism, the way in which they work with the youth, the aged and the way in which they help the poor,” she said about what attracted her to join them so much. She became a member of the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1983.
Br Atty Sobayeni CFC
member of the Christian Brothers and currently the principal at St Mary’s Primary in Batho, Bloemfontein, Br Sobayeni says that he first learned about the Christian Brothers while attending his Catholic primary school in Kimberly. “The Brothers were always at our school, and I used to always look up to and admire them,” he said. “It was their visibility and their teaching in our community.” He says that although he may not have understood having a vocation during his childhood, a member of the Christian Brothers became his mentor and helped him not only under-
ARCHDIOCESAN CATHOLIC HEALTH CARE WORKERS ASSOCIATION (ACHCA)
GATHERING OF ALL CATHOLIC HEALTH CARE WORKERS & NURSES IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF CAPE TOWN on SATURDAY 4th MAY 2013 AT NAZARETH HOUSE, VREDEHOEK (021 4611635) (above Gardens Centre – take Vredehoek / Devils Peak taxis from Grand Parade)
With Archbishop Stephen Brislin Beginning with MASS at 10h00
After Mass we will have input and reﬂection by Archbishop Stephen Brislin, followed by discussion and sharing BRING & SHARE LUNCH Ending with BENEDICTION & BLESSING OF HANDS
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THERE!!
The Southern Cross, April 17 to March 23, 2013
Fr Sonny Gadai: his religious calling came to him while in grade 11
Fr Chris Townsend: other priests helped him fulfil his voacation
Fr Chris Townsend
Tuohy, as his source of inspiration as “you only want to become a priest if you see your own parish priest and his work”, adding that he was inspired by the way in which Fr Tuohy spent his “life and health working with the Chinese based in Johannesburg”. He also cites two more priests, Fr Brian van Zeil and the late Fr Lionel Sham, as sources of inspiration and as people who helped him really fulfil his vocation.
ccording to Fr Townsend, parish priest of Christ the King in Queenswood, Pretoria he had always been thinking about whether he wanted to join the priesthood, “like many young catholic boys do”, yet only fully accepted his calling after returning from the United States where he had been an exchange student. He named his parish priest, Fr
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Brothers are Church’s bestkept secret Religious brothers are living their vocation without the burdens of the priesthood, as BETH GRIFFIN reports.
ELIGIOUS brothers say they are an invisible group in the Church—but that it’s not such a bad thing because it allows them the freedom to be ordinary men performing an extraordinary ministry. That’s the view of brothers and other participants at a think tank convened in the United States to examine their vocation. “Our vocation is one of the Church’s best-kept secrets,” said Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, executive director the US National Religious Vocation Conference. “We are vowed religious who commit ourselves to a particular ministry, live in community and share prayers. “We are not part of the hierarchy of the Church, which gives us more freedom in ministry to respond to those most in need,” he said,
adding, “Our vocation complements the religious priesthood.” The number of religious brothers in the United States fell from 12 271 in 1965 to 4 477 in 2012, according to statistics compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. More than half are at, or close to, retirement age. A steady decline in the number of brothers and a persistent need for the witness to dedicated discipleship they provide inspired four groups to discuss the future of the vocation. Brothers are laymen who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They belong to communities comprised of brothers only or of both brothers and priests. Religious brothers are dedicated to the particular charism of their community, expressed in service and prayer. By tradition, some work in schools, hospitals and parishes. Others are monastics. The brotherhood is a distinct vocation, not a step on the route to priesthood. The think tank affirmed the brotherhood as the heart of male religious life and examined ways to
Do you desire a life that proclaims God’s goodness to the world? If you are a courageous woman, strong in faith and generous in love then perhaps you have a vocation as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur
Br Andrew dinegar visits a resident at a seniors’ home. Religious brothers say that not being part of the Church’s hierarchy gives them greater freedom in ministry to respond to those most in need. (Photo: Lisa Johnston, St Louis Review) promote it as a serious vocational option for young men. Br Bednarczyk said the brothers in his community, the Congregation of Holy Cross, “share a communion of vocation with the priests and each is more complete because of the presence of both within the religious institute”. “This vocation is vital to the Church. Brothers have contributed significantly to the development of the Church, in ministry and as consecrated men, by giving of ourselves to humanity and to God,” Br Bednarczyk said. “Every religious community says something appropriate for the times,” said Christian Brother Robert Berger, associate professor of religious studies at Manhattan College. Br Berger said the charism of some religious communities can be distilled to an individual word. “For the Benedictines, it’s stability; the Franciscans, poverty; Christian Brothers, education; Trappists, silence; Dominicans, preaching. Since the Second Vatican Council, the gift has taken a new form, but is still vital to the Church,” he said.
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anhattan College was founded by the De La Salle Christian brothers. Br Berger said although there are more Lasallian schools, with more students now
than there were at the opening of Vatican II, the focus is now on the teaching charism, not on the brothers who live it. “At educational institutions themselves, there is a responsibility on the laypeople’s part to struggle to understand what the identity of the Catholic school means,” Br Berger said. “They may look to the religious order for guidance, but it’s up to them” to promote and sustain it. Br Berger said men considering a religious vocation today “are joining a seed, rather than a large plant”, but are attracted to the communal life and worship and the timeless values they promote. “The technology and speed of the way things are done in the 21st century is countercultural to a group of men who pray over psalms that are 3 000 years old,” he said. The brotherhood offers an opportunity to be present to young people in a way married men and priests cannot, Br Berger said. “I teach at Manhattan, but am also in charge of a residence hall. How many 61-year-old men are living with 263 undergraduates? It’s a gift of brotherhood that we’re with young people and not within the trappings of a parish structure,” he said. “The sense of freedom has been phenomenal,” Br Berger said. “To be working with young people who will be the Church of the 21st century is exciting. I get glimpses, but I have no idea how the spirit will work.”
Think tank participants said to promote interest in the brotherhood, religious communities should honour the distinct vocation, enhance its visibility in the church, reinforce the identity of brothers and make them more accessible to young people. “There is nothing so unique that brothers do in the church that others cannot do,” Br Bednarczyk said. “But the heart of our life is our communal life and prayer life, which is not always visible to people. It’s a challenge to make that hidden part visible to a world that craves community.” He said people drawn to religious life are “seeking a balance of prayer, community and ministry”. Marianist Brother Steve Glodek, director of the office of formation for mission for the US province of the Society of Mary, said brothers are somewhat invisible in Church circles and “not generally under the same ecclesiastical microscope” as priests. While this does not allow them to “do more or less” than others, Br Glodek said the lessened scrutiny allows brothers to focus “our vocation in this community we love”. He said the downside to invisibility is “as our institutional presence diminishes a bit, so does people’s familiarity with what we do and why. “Even people going through a university that oozes our spirituality and charism don’t have the interaction with brothers they would have had in the past.”—CNS
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The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23 2013
Heeding the convent’s call years, the Assumption sisters were teachers as the need at schools was great. Today, most teaching orders have withdrawn from schools to a degree and are dedicated to needs far greater in the communities they work. Prior to Vatican II, religious sisters did not do much training. “Recently, we consider theology and philosophy training for our sisters We look at the needs of the congregation and the sister who is presented to us. We consider her skills and potential and will help steer her to make the most of her talents.” Sisters learn the history of the Church, dogma and the Church’s teachings. Furthermore, each congregation has its own history and founder. “To live a charism, one must first know it and understand it, then love it,” said Sr van Rhyn.
CLAIRE MATHIESON looks at what inspires women to become nuns and follows their training.
HOOSING a religious life has never been a popular path. For many nuns, it was the last thing they had expected to do, but “when one follows a true calling with conviction, happiness is found”.
The call “At first I did not understand what was going on inside me,” said Sr Therese-Anita van Rhyn, superior of the Oblate Sisters of St Francis de Sales based in Koelenhof, Stellenbosch. “It was only when I came in contact with the sisters that I realised what my vocation meant.” “When I first felt the call, I was scared. It was the very last thing on my mind when I was younger,” recalled Missionary Sister of the Assumption Sr Mary McAteer from Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth diocese. “It always seemed old-fashioned, even to me years ago. Following a religious vocation will always be out of step with society because we focus on something other than consumerism and climbing the corporate ladder.”
The first step “I kept it secret for a long time,” said Sr van Rhyn. “Some girls speak directly to their parish priest and he directs them to the sisters.” When a prospective sister first shows interest, she is invited to spend time with the religious order—to find out if it’s something she might like to look into. “The ‘come and see’ helps the girls to be more certain of their vocation,” said Sr van Rhyn. The Sisters of the Assumption also believe in the importance of the “come and see” weekends. These can go on for a long time until the interested party is sure.
Women drawn to becoming nuns go through several steps to make sure they truly have a vocation.
Postulancy Once she has answered the call, the candidate will live in community as a postulant. This can last a year and is a time to discern the decision, while working with the religious community. “She fully shares the sisters’ life and discovers its beauty and its demands,” said Sr van Rhyn. The candidates are not yet referred to as “sister” as they have yet to take vows.
her desire to consecrate herself to God,” said Sr van Rhyn of the Oblate order, adding that traditions can vary from congregation to congregation, but tend to be similar. “The first year of the novitiate is specially consecrated to the formation in religious life in the spirit of the congregation.” During her second year, the novice shall be initiated into the apostolic spirit of the Oblate Sisters.
The candidate then spends two years as a novice, a time of “withdrawal and strong personal prayer,” said Sr McAteer. It is here that spiritual formation takes place. “In the beginning of the novitiate, the postulant is clothed with the habit of the congregation and gets a new name as external signs of
At the end of her two years of personal and spiritual formation, the novice will offer herself totally to God through religious profession. “By the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, she makes herself totally available to the mission within the congregation,” said Sr
Benedictine Sisters of St Alban
“Listen my daughter… with the ear of your heart”
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van Rhyn. These vows will be renewed annually over the next five years. This is a trial period where the newly professed sister can deepen her human, intellectual, spiritual and professional life, said Sr McAteer. Traditionally, when sisters professed their first vows, ties with their families could be cut, but today things are very different. “When you become a sister, you are not cut off from your family. We have time to go for visits to our families and they can even come to us for a visit,” said Sr van Rhyn, adding that she is still very close to her family and not at all estranged. In fact, she said, a deeper relationship is often formed. “The family has a sort of high esteem for you, as you belong to God through the vows you took. They have a certain confidence in you and will share their daily burdens with you, knowing you will pray for them.”
Final Vows After five years of temporary vows, the sister will make her final profession, giving herself totally to God and the congregation. But this is not the end of her growth. Religious orders believe in on-going formation for their sisters.
Training “We respond to the need of the day,” said Sr McAteer. In previous
“Yes, it is a happy life,” said Sr McAteer. “If you answer the call, you will find happiness.” Sr van Rhyn said she has grown spiritually, emotionally and intellectually and she feels fulfilled in her daily life. “This fulfillment is for me a personal story. You yourself work on it, no one can do it for you, you can only be helped on the road towards your goal.” When that goal is the same as the congregation, because you felt the calling, then it is easily achieved. Sr van Rhyn added that being a religious sister is not all hard work. “Recreation is of huge importance for us. During recreation, a bond of unity and sisterly love is formed. We are of different families, but we become one family.” Whether it’s playing netball, taking long walks or just spending time together, recreation is a time to “boost the spirit and the body”.
Advice Sr van Rhyn said she believes it is “cool” that she loves her work and is happy living in the convent. “I am at ease and in love with God, and with my fellow sisters with whom I travel on this same journey. I have never regretted the choice I made.” “If you feel a call, you have nothing to lose by speaking to a parish sister about your thoughts and feelings,” said Sr McAteer. That something could be a fulfilling and truly happy vocation, she said. “Many who are called struggle to say that final ‘yes’ and so they never reach the destination where God wants them,” said the Sr van Rhyn. “I know it is not easy to say your final ‘yes’ to God, but it is worth it!”
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Interview with a veteran missionary nun As the years of life seems to ebb away, it is good to ask a person who has completed 80 years of her life and 50 years as a missionary in South Africa in the Society of St Ursula (Ursulines of the Blessed Virgin Mary), how meaningful and graceful these years have been. Sr LiSSy THoMAS interviewed Sr Iniga Kneubuhler.
Sr Lissy: As you walk down the memory lane of your past 80 years of life, how do you feel? Sr Iniga: I feel very excited. (tears of gratitude) Tears of joy well up in my eyes in gratitude to the Lord for keeping me well both physically and mentally. I do not know how to express my feelings because I cannot name them all. All I can say is that it was all not my doing, but the Lord’s doing. Sister, as you look back, what were the most fulfilling experiences of your life? One of the most fulfilling experiences in my life is that I could help
Founder, St eugene de Mazenod
the children of South Africa as I was a teacher for the past 30 years at Mount Nicholas School Libode [in Mthatha diocese]. I enjoyed seeing the way they have grown and developed themselves to be what they are today. I am also happy that I could help in the initial formation of our candidates to be Ursulines. In one way or the other I have been educating people through formal and informal ways. Whenever I had difficulties in the school with regard to the non-cooperation of the teachers, my sisterly community supported me and empathised with me. Another reason for me to thank God is that two of my own sisters in Switzerland are in the Benedictine convent where nuns pray day in and day out. Can you recall a situation which was most difficult for you? As you know I have been through the thick and thin of the apartheid regime. We couldn’t admit black South African children to Mount Nicholas School Libode. It was very painful to see how these children were denied the privilege of education. Only after 1976 when Transkei became independent, could we admit pupils of all races. Besides these, the teachers were striking at times for an increase in their pay.
This of course caused difficulties to the students as they had to miss many lessons. What message do you want to convey to the young religious of today? Daily prayer is very important. Take time to be with the Lord. How can we keep the flame of our religious life alive unless we pour the oil of prayer into our lamps? Religious vows can be at times difficult, but they free us from the burdens of life. Trust your superiors, fellow Sisters, and give to the Lord whatever is hurting you. What message do you want to give to the youth of today? Prepare well for marriage, for it is a one-time commitment to one partner. Be faithful to your life partner. What are your dreams and visions for the years to come? My dream and vision for the morrow is to spend more time with the Lord and draw closer to his heart. I am glad that other people are taking my responsibilities. I am also uncertain of my future, but I trust in the Lord and in my superiors and abide by whatever they ask of me.
Sr iniga Kneubuhler: “How can we keep the flame of our religious life alive unless we pour the oil of prayer into our lamps?”
“Come and lear n w h o yo u ar e in the e ye s o f God.”
Oblates choose to live in community, sharing their life in faith and prayer,working in solidarity with those who are poor, excluded or searching for meaning. Like Eugene, every Oblate desires to lead people to recognise their human dignity and come to know the life that is offered in Jesus Christ, life to the full, free of injustice, alienation, and lack of opportunity.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
northern Province of South Africa Po Box 44029 Linden 2104 GAUTenG
Holy Cross Sisters
We are: A community of consecrated women, bearing the title ‘Sistersof Nazareth’ who try to live the Gospel values through the vision of our foundress Victaire Larmenier. We see: Ourselves as part of the wider community, witnessing to it and providing care and support to needy elderly people, children and Hiv/Aids sufferers of our surrounding area.
We seek: To exemplify the attribures of Jesus Christ in our daily choices and in our dealings with all those lives we touch. Contact: Sr Helen O’Connell 072 229 9201 email@example.com
Your task is the teaching and education of Christian youth. This task you may, and must fulﬁl everywhere—in the schools, in the hospitals, in the streets, in the parishes, with all humility and loving service, day in and day out...’ (Fr Theodosius Florentini, H.C. Co-founder 1844)
If you wish to embark on a journey of seeking to know God’s Will for you contact Sr Bernadette Duﬀy, P.O. Box 44807 Linden, 2104, Gauteng. Email: berduﬀy@yahoo.co.uk Tel: 011 782 0643/072 678 7449
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
What attracts Pope Francis to the saint of Assisi? The pope’s decision to name himself after St Fancis of Assisi is the talk of the taverns. Fr PATRiCK noonAn, a Franciscan, tries to explain.
HO is this 13th century holy man that everyone wants to explain? Who was this frail-looking, unorthodox little man who outfoxed and outpaced the pope’s medieval military machine, the fifth Crusade? What does Pope Francis from South America see in St Francis from Europe that he took his name? Today, for many, Francis is associated with animals. Soon after his death people started talking of how much he had liked animals when he was alive; of how he spoke to them easily. The birds listened to him too and even obeyed him, and a man-eating wolf accommodated him nicely in a forest near a place called Gubbio. Today white doves still sleep on the head of his statue metres away from where he died, in a chapel that is now within the walls of the basilica of St Mary of the Angels, just outside old Assisi. And some people have their animals blessed on his October feast day. Some know St Francis only because he loved animals, but that diminishes the man; it trivialises his message. Francis of Assisi was a medieval swank who appalled his contemporaries when he voluntarily became a medieval tramp. Curiously, so many centuries later, the world is still debating why he did this. Francis Bernadone was still a playboy when he joined the army. He learned what army life was about. His language was that of the barracks. His swagger was studied. The experience would help him when he joined the Crusaders. Captured by soldiers from his neighbouring town, Francis was made a prisoner of war. The humiliation was devastating. The endless months as a prisoner in a medieval dungeon took their toll. It was when he came out of jail that his close friends, the ex-combatants of Assisi, noticed first. They said he was a little spaced out; a little removed from them in space and time. Francis began to act strangely, to do things differently—which caused more talk. His closest friends were baffled. Some drifted away. There was no point, they said. The bawdy humour had diminished. The girls were fading from his hitherto clear line of vision. He no longer pinched wenches, banged tankards and called for more ale. Peer influence was less and less a
Pope Francis leaves the Sistine Chapel after being elected pope and shortly before appearing for the first time on the central balcony of St Peter’s basilica at the Vatican on March 13. The Jesuit, previously Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had just chosen the pontifical name Francis, after the great saint of Assisi (pictured above). (Photos from CnS) factor in his life. At home Francis had lost interest in carrying on his father’s business. He was no longer motivated by profit, hard work, success and achievement, the ingredients that drove the family business. One day he was caught giving away bales of imported linen from the family shop. His father went berserk, justifiably.
he lure of something beyond the family was becoming more insistent, definite and demanding. This reached a crisis level one afternoon when he publicly, before bishop and citizens, stripped and returned the clothes from his back to his uncomprehending father. His poor father was completely crushed at this crazy behaviour. He had hoped that the bishop would knock some sense into his son’s stupid head. Not long after that it was rumoured that Francis Bernadone had a peculiar experience before a cross in an abandoned church called San Damiano. Kneeling to pray before the main altar, that morning he heard a voice, coming from the crucifix, say three times, “Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is falling completely into ruin.” He had received from God a mission. A vocation! This further confirmed his recent reflections. It helped him to see a way forward. It was one of many life-wrenching experiences he had had lately, a sort of vague divine approval. And, of course, there was Francis’s life-changing meeting with the leper while he was out riding. That blew his mind, his whole being. He had embraced a leper, the supposed scum of the earth. It happened all alone in an open field pathway just below the town
of his birth. Outcast and abandoned lepers were never allowed near a residential area. For Francis, it was life-splitting, an emotional lightning bolt, a spiritual tsunami—verily, the hand of God. Francis was heading in a new direction. People wondered where his ideas came from. Soon he was knocking at the door of the nobodies of society, asking to be admitted to their world: the world of the poor. Yes, he was discovering in the poor the different faces of Christ and beginning to see events in his own life from their perspective. That was quite unusual for the time (or for any time, really). It was liberation theology before its time. Some theologians today would call it “solidarity with the poor”. Pope Benedict XVI agreed when he said in Brazil a few years back that the “preferential option for the poor is implicit in Christological faith”. Francis is hardly remembered by writers and preachers in the northern hemisphere for his extensive
A dove nestles in the rafters at the chapel of St Francis’ death in Assisi, italy.
travelling throughout medieval Italy in the cause of peace-making and reconciliation. An austere Ghandi-like figure, he was able to intervene quite imaginatively to bring peace where he found bloody discord, violence and tribal faction fighting. His later local political interventions were notable too. One day, outrageously to many, he publicly provoked politicians by declaring at his treasonous best that he was a “servant only of God, and no longer owed allegiance to civil authorities”. We will remember that the churches in South Africa came close to this point of witnessing in the final years of apartheid.
ho will forget his astonishing peace pilgrimage to the African city of Damietta, in Egypt, where he created an international incident by interfering with the war plans of the opposing Christian and Muslim armies? And where did the Church stand (in this case the hierarchical branch of the church)? What was the position of the Church, the place of the Church, in this dysfunctional society? What witness, if any, did the bishops and priests give? What was their role and vocation? Pope Benedict XVI, speaking of St Francis in February 2010, offered an interesting answer: “The ruinous state of that Church was a symbol of the dramatic, disturbing situation of the entire Church of that age, with its superficial faith that did not form and transform people’s lives, and with a clergy that was not zealous.” The Church, Pope Benedict observed, was “decomposing from within”. Now think of the recent explosion of child abuse and corruption scandals which rock that same
Church today. Did Francis abandon this “decomposing” Church, like so many today, when its human side showed signs of failure? Not Francis. He was made of something else. He had already submitted himself to Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. Nothing could budge that conviction, not even a corrupt and sinful clergy. Furthermore, didn’t he admonish his friars to respect even the rotten priests by virtue of their priesthood and their ministry of the Eucharist? Counter-cultural indeed. We live in the hope that God will continue to intervene, purge and purify his Church every time it needs it, whether by raising up people like St Francis or by sending the media legions to expose the accumulating evil within the ranks. But let us move on. Because of his poetic and spiritual engagement with all creation, Francis was named patron saint of the environment in 1980. And look how crucially important that is today. Francis already knew that “our world, our small blue planet in the midst of the vast Milky Way, is in truth a sacred sanctuary, a dwelling place for the divine”. Always hovering in the background was the beautiful, determined and unorthodox Clare, bent on becoming part of Francis’s growing movement. No wilting lily she; one time she repelled attacking Muslims by raising a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament over them. She insisted until her dying day that the pope approve her radically new rule for religious women. He gave in, defeated. It was an early victory for religious feminism. It was at St Clare’s convent that Francis wrote “The Canticle of the Creatures”, a beautiful poem opening up in praise to all created things. All serious students of Francis of Assisi agree that somehow he had succeeded in penetrating the mind of Christ better than most. This Francis-on-Christ phenomenon, distilled through his larger-than-life personality and his experience of conflict and violence has fascinated the world for 800 years. And this is the world that speaks to Pope Francis.
n Fr Noonan is the author of They’re Burning the Churches, now in its third edition. He serves in the archdiocese of Johannesburg.
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Interview with a ‘beacon of hope’ Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister is one of the best-known, and controversial, nuns in the United States. She tells ALICIA VON STAMWITZ about her spirituality.
EVER mind that she has a dozen honorary doctorates and a dizzying number of international awards, nor that she lectures alongside some of our generation’s spiritual supernovas, like the Dalai Lama. Sr Joan Chittister, the globetrotting Benedictine nun and prolific author from Erie, Pennsylvania, is worth watching for the same reason any serious Christian is worth watching: She’s a transformed person, and transformed people have a habit of transforming other people. Sr Chittister is a social psychologist with a doctorate in communications theory and a contemplative’s keen eye. To many, she is a beacon of hope. Be forewarned, though: this is not your grandma’s holy-card kind of hope. Joan is pious—six decades in a convent will do that to you—but her piety is laced with the potent, wildly exciting insights of modern science. Some will warn you to keep
your distance from “that radical, feminist nun”, but read her words and decide for yourself. Sr Joan puts it like this: “We sisters are not radical. We are highly traditionalist. All of us. That’s what got us where we are. We are not where we are because we don’t believe what we were taught. We are here because we do believe it.” Sr Chittister spoke at Benetvision, a resource and research centre for contemporary spirituality in Erie that she founded and directs. She also serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organisation of the United Nations, and is a regular columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. You’ve been speaking about theology and evolution lately. Can you tell us about that? Science has become one of the spiritual teachers of our era. We’re living in a completely different world now from when I was a child. We have to ask ourselves: Who is God in an evolutionary world? We have to get over our old ways of thinking about heaven, hell, and maturity. For example, you don’t tell seven-year-olds, “You cannot sin.” You tell them to try not to sin, but you have to know that they will make mistakes because evolution is quite clear: mistakes are built right into the process of our growing.
“evolution is quite clear: mistakes are built into the process of our growing.” (Photo: nancy Wiechec, CnS) Mistakes are there so we can become more mature tomorrow than we are today. We need to have the
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wisdom to recognise that because of our failings, we have learned a great deal about life. We’re called to take that learning and to become more and more grounded in the love of God and in the following of Jesus. So we’re moving, you see, from one world and the spirituality that it engendered—so much pain, and a very rigorous, even neurotic acceptance of asceticism—into a cosmos that is pure delight, all about possibility and development. In that new spirituality, creation is a work-in-progress and God shares responsibility for the work with the human race. Our job is to make the earth just like the “Our Father” says: as close to heaven as we can get it.
So you have hope for the future? Yes. But we have to stop thinking in terms of systems and begin to think in terms of ongoing creation. We’re all here as co-creators. God left the world unfinished so you and I could do our part. If we don’t step forward, there will be holes in this life. When we are one with God’s creative intention and activity, then we’re moving into holiness. That is sanctity. That is the beginning of union with God. It’s a wonderful moment to be alive! But soon we’ll begin to see gaps between a theology of the past and a theology of the future. In the theology of the past, it’s all about me. It’s a kind of spiritual narcissism that places us at the centre of the universe and describes God as a “gotcha” God who waits for us to make a mess of things so we can be condemned to hell forever. But the theology of the future describes God as a summoning God who is saying, “Grow! Grow! Follow me and grow! Find me. Come. I’m waiting for you. I’m right here. I’m with you. I’ll help you. You have nothing to fear. We’re in this together because you and I are going together now, creating this world.” If readers are moved by your words, where can they go to learn more? My monastery! Seriously, I believe religious communities have a lot to share. Many of them are taking in lay people now, and there’s such a nice movement between us. People visit monasteries and experience the depth of the spiritual life there, and then they take it out; they carry it back to their own parishes, their neighbourhoods, their families. So my advice is: Find an intentional community near you. Find a group whose members are talking about technology and exploring the new demands being made by scientific and social changes. For example, when I was a little kid we were taught that you could not go into somebody else’s continued overleaf
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PERSONALITY church because that would be a mortal sin. Now, we are beginning to realise that we’re all in this together, and that our respect for one another is biblical. You and I have a lot to learn from the Jewish tradition, the Protestant tradition, the Buddhist tradition, and the Hindu tradition. We have much to learn about the Face of God from the many faces God has taken in this world. Life is rich with God, thick with God, full of God. God is not here to terrify us, to drive us away, to destroy us, to ignore us, or to make us suffer. God says, “I have come that you may have life—and have it more abundantly.” That’s where it’s at. That’s where God is. What is the role of religious life today? There’s something about religious life, especially religious life for women, that is yet to be completely understood. The role of religious life is always to live the Gospel at the grassroots, to be where the people are, to be where the issues are, and to be more concerned about the gospel on the streets of the world than about the custody of institutions. The liturgy of the Church belongs to the Church itself, and the sacraments of the Church are priestly acts. But the role of religious is to be a bridge between the streets and the sacristies. To take the sacristy to the streets, and to bring the people in the streets to the sacristy. That is our spirituality. How does your own Benedictine community reach out to people on the streets? When the murder rate began to rise in Erie, the Benedictine Sisters began a street liturgy in Erie called “Take Back the Site” to honour homicide victims and to “reconsecrate to life” the land where the bodies had been found. If your son was murdered on 9th and Ash streets, for example, the sisters went there with as many people as they could gather, and they held a prayer service, a “living liturgy” of psalms, hymns and prayers for the family. Now hundreds of people come, and two other religious communities have joined us. Families look forward to it, because it is publicly comforting to them in the face of their public humiliation and pain. Can you say more about prayer? All I know about prayer is that it gets deeper and more real every day. We Benedictines say that the contemplative is the person who sees the world the way God sees the world. Prayer comes through the eyes. What do you see when you look at the world? When you try to see the world as God sees the world, you open yourself to the movement of the spirit, the presence of God. In the Scriptures, you see Jesus walking from Galilee to Jerusalem healing the sick, contending with the officials, and raising the dead. He did not allow despair to take
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
“God left the world unfinished so you and i could do our part. if we don’t step forward, there will be holes in this life.” (Photo: Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin, CnS) over. He did not leave death in his path. He raised death every time he saw it. And he has not stopped. He has not stopped because he now functions in us. So when you see the world as God sees the world, when you see the trip from the temple to the street through the eyes of Jesus, then you’re very, very aware of the movement of the spirit, the presence of God. That is prayer. In times of struggle, what helps you remain faithful? I really believe in the Holy Spirit, and I really believe in creation. I believe that some of us who are at turning points in history, moved by the spirit and committed to an ongoing creation, will suffer dearly for that commitment. Some will indeed be rejected and declaimed. I have no doubt about it, because that’s the nature of change. But having said that, I do not think of us as a people of the cross. I think of us as a people of the empty tomb. Alleluia people. People who go through whatever you have to go through to be part of the salvation story. I believe that if your heart knows something is right, or your mind knows something is true, and you act out of love, refusing to attack anyone, in the end it will be right. You start by assuming that everyone wants what you want, but others might see the way forward differently. And that’s all right. We have 14 rites in the Catholic Church, because we have forever recognised the fact that people often come to the same truth by different means. More personally, what do you cling to in tough times? The New Testament. The Jesus story and my real honest-to-God belief that there is a God, here present, with me, with you, in us, and leading us on.
what you think of that. We’re stumbling, we’re making to be evil. That has to be wrong. a terrible mess of things, we take I don’t care what reason you I believe that we’re all called to one step forward and ten steps give for it: once you refuse to allow union with God. I believe that back—but I get up every morning other human beings to develop to we’re all called to speak the word to reclaim those steps I lost. the fullness of themselves, that’s of God in ungodly places and to Oh, I get tired. I get weary. I get the epitome of evil. ungodly situations. frustrated. But at the same time, And it is residual in every single So my answer is that we’re all every day of my life—well, not society. You can call it by any called to be prophets and mystics. every day, but from a certain point name you want—racism, sexism, The important thing is that you in my life when I became con- classism—that is the great evil that know who you are at all times. scious of these things in a very per- we perpetrate on one another. Be who you are at all times! sonal way—I have never ceased to If you and I sit back and say Never let any words seduce or conknow the presence of God. nothing about it, we’re part of it. fuse you. Put the centre of your And I know it partly because of You’ve been described as a heart in the hands of God and you my religious community. We al- prophet and a mystic. I wonder will be fine. ways maintain that the strength of the Erie Benedictines is that we are never all down at the same time. There’s always somebody “dragging us up” to where we were before! From a global perspective, what do you think is the most dangerous heresy or evil facing the world today? I think the greatest evil starts with the suppression of any peoples. When any group feels that they have the right to destroy, enslave, suppress, or ignore any other part of the human race, God is not there. I do a lot of work with women, and cordially invite you join us in reaching out to our brothers when you look around and realise & Sisters, by preaching, teaching & healing. what is happening to the women of the world because they Please contact, The vocation promotor, are women—because P.O. Box 95 Malkerns , Swaziland, Southern Africa someone, some00268 25283520 / 00268 76414043, firstname.lastname@example.org where, has decided that women need less, want less, or deserve less—that has
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God and evolution: Where did we come from? GOD AND EVOLUTION? Science Meets Faith by Gerard M Verschuuren. Pauline Books and Media (2012) 189 pp. ISBN: 9780819831132 Reviewed by Agostino Bono EAVING together science and religion while respecting the autonomy of each has never been easy. The task has become more complicated in recent years as science and religion have been thrown into the culture wars, including marked efforts in the United States to wedge creationism and intelligent design alongside evolution in the science classroom. In God and Evolution? Dutch geneticist Gerard Verschuuren makes a valiant, sometimes confusing effort at intertwining science and religion. He does an excellent job
debunking the claims to science made by creationism and intelligent design and defusing the efforts by some thinkers to transform scientific evolution into a worldview substituting for religion and philosophy and their value systems. Verschuuren frames the science and religion issue within the broader one of faith and reason. He freely acknowledges that he is writing from within Catholic tradition. The book is dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI and quotes extensively from him and John Paul II on the compatibility of faith and reason and religion and science, even when they seem at odds. The first three chapters are the best part of the book. They deal with the Catholic position on faith, reason and evolution; a theological understanding of biblical creation
accounts, which emphasises that they are not meant to give scientific explanations of the physical world; and the scientific support for evolution. Verschuuren points out the difference between creation, as a religious and philosophical concept that helps to explain why human life exists, and evolution as the scientific process explaining how human life got to be what it is today. These chapters could well serve as a textbook for Catholic high schools and parish religious instruction classes. They give students the intellectual tools to critically challenge creationism, intelligent design and evolutionism, which the author defines as an effort to convert evolutionary concepts such as natural selection into a worldview that explains why human life exists.
The final two chapters, however, are preachy, confusing and repetitive. Verschuuren tries to convince supporters of creationism, intelligent design and evolutionism that their views make no sense without the Catholic theological concept of God the Creator and the Catholic philosophical concept of God as the primary cause of the physical universe. His arguments make sense to people who are part of Catholic tradition. But they are liable to fall on deaf ears to those who insist on religious and philosophical explanations and to people who see in the randomness of natural selection a basis for atheistic ideologies. The fact that a decade into the 21st century a book needs to be written telling why science is not
religion or philosophy and why religion and philosophy are not science shows the chasms created by today’s cultural wars.—CNS
The spirituality of English 14th century mystic can inspire us today MAKING ALL THINGS WELL: Finding Spiritual Strength with Julian of Norwich, by Isobel de Gruchy. Canterbury Press (2012). ISBN: 978-1848252400 Reviewed by Fr Roger Hickley HIS book comes with a highprofile endorsement. In his foreword, Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu says of this book: “I cannot recommend it highly enough.” Author Isobel de Gruchy, who is both a poet and an icon-writer, presents us with 40 meditations or spiritual reflections designed to bring strength and guidance from
the surprising source of a 14th century woman mystic, Mother Julian of Norwich. Across the centuries a medieval British contemplative has spoken into the heart of a modern South African woman. The result is a dialogue of life, and of God’s gracious purpose, revealed with such truth and beauty that these Revelations written down seven centuries ago have stood the test of time. De Gruchy helps us see why. Each chapter begins with an appropriate Scripture quotation, followed by a short introduction to a particular passage or two of Julian’s writing, which evokes further com-
ment from the author, sometimes with a poem, or a paraphrase of the original, and always ending with a prayer. In “Four Quartets”, T S Eliot abbreviated Mother Julian’s most famous quote of all: “And all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” de Gruchy has moving, wonderful insights into this passage, struck as she was by the sudden death of her son, and the difficulty believing that “all manner of thing
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shall be well” in the face of such tragedy. The book is filled with her own reactions, as a Christian believer, to what Julian is saying or revealing. There are of course those who struggle with the idea of personal revelations from God, and most Church authorities are wisely cautious about accepting them. But Mother Julian stands with her fellow medieval mystics such as Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and the anonymous author of The
Cloud of Unknowing, whose experience of God still carries authenticity for those who have followed later. De Gruchy is a contemporary witness to Christian faith who has done what is rare and beautiful in the world of spiritual writing, namely, to hear a voice many centuries old, and to present that voice in a way that speaks powerfully to us today. In this little book she is like the householder who, in Christ’s words , “brings out of her treasure-house things both old and new” (Mt 13:52).
Franciscan analyses the Eucharist THE HEAVENLY BANQUET AVAILABLE ON EARTH: The Eucharist of Jesus Christ, by Christopher Neville OFM. Selfpublished (2012). 90pp. ISBN: 978-0620539337 Reviewed by Michael Shackleton HIS is Franciscan Father Christopher Neville's second book, using again the framework of St Francis of Assisi's eco-spiritual understanding of the reality of the cosmos and humanity's intimate relationship with created things. In his first book, Francis of Assisi: Call to Freedom, the author demonstrated in simple style how St Francis was the first to appreciate the importance of respecting and preserving the natural world around us, centuries before any Green Party came on the scene. Now, with similar matter-offact insights, Fr Neville analyses the Eucharist in its sacramental
matter and form, its value and its celebration. The spirituality of St Francis is a strong feature of his explanations, while he also uses some of the reasoning of Scott Hahn, whose book The Lamb’s Supper is a fine exposition of the eucharistic mystery. Christianity is the glorification of the senses. Jesus said: “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see and the ears that hear what you hear” (Lk 10:23-24), and consequently the knowledge of Christ is the fulness of the senses, not merely an intellectual appreciation. It has to be an experience of the whole person, and our senses need to be educated in order to appreciate this. In the eucharistic liturgy, as in
one’s daily experiences, the body is involved with all its senses, and the soul as well. Fr Neville guides the reader in how to put this into practice at Mass and in one's acceptance of the mystery of the eucharist in all its profound reality. Towards the conclusion, there is a eucharistic interpretation of the Our Father which, rather curiously, is presented in reverse order, starting with the Amen. Fr Neville throws open some new doors to view the liturgy and prayer with a Franciscan eye and in a modern setting. Here we have a readable treatise that Franciscans and others who desire a deeper look into the Mass today, will take to heart.
Priest’s poetry grows with each re-reading ON POETIC WINGS, by Fr Ralph de Hahn. Self-published (2012). 99pp. Reviewed by Michael Shackleton NE of the memorable things I was taught at school, was that you cannot appreciate a good poem unless you can first appreciate a good work of the visual arts such as a painting or a sculpture. You need to amble around an art gallery, find a picture that attracts you or even repels you, and then sit and gaze at it. Even after one viewing, you will not have discovered hidden details, hints, colours and forms that will astound you when you come back to sit and gaze again. Fr de Hahn's poems are like that. Written over many years he now gathers them under six headings: Creation, Mary, Christmas, The Crucified, Eucharist and Insights. At first glance they may appear trite, some of them containing dated words and
phrases. Then, as with the visual artwork, when you return to read them again, the writer's intention and feeling begin to well up and present you with a deeper appreciation of the content. In the first poem, “Creation Magnificent”, the author is in awe of his nothingness as he contemplates “the touch of the Divine in every phase in this enormous galaxy of mystery”. The reader can be moved to a similar state of wonderment. In this sense his poetry has a contemplative worth. A poem entitled simply “Eucharist”, presents the overwhelming thought of being in the presence of the eucharistic Christ: “For I cannot conceive nor dare explain, except by faith where deaf can hear and
blind can see, and searching faith bows low and speaks Amen to mystery.” As a priest and poet, Fr de Hahn understands the value of emotion in our expressions of love of God and his creatures, and each of his poems would be useful for meditating on our connection with creation and its mysterious yet generous Creator. With a preface by Archbishop Emeritus Lawrence Henry of Cape Town, this is a pleasant and devotional contribution, in imagery and optimism, to affirming the truths of our faith in his Year of Faith. Proceeds of the book go towards the building fund of the archdiocese of Cape Town. n Order from rdehahn@ cybersmart.co.za
The Southern Cross, April 17 to April 23, 2013
Sr Áine Hardiman OP
ISTER Áine Hardiman, who died peacefully in Cape Town, will be remembered as a lively and inspiring teacher and principal at Dominican schools in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, as a catechist and trainer of parish catechists, and as a community development worker. Sr Áine, Nancy to her family, was born in Dublin in 1926, the middle child of seven and “a born extrovert”. After religious profession and studies at University College Dublin she came to South Africa in 1952. In the words of her Sisters: “Sr Áine was a community person at the heart of her local Dominican community and she created and fostered community wherever she went. She was a woman of deep spirituality and creativity, full of new ideas, some a bit harebrained, others deeply visionary, and even prophetic. To go anywhere with her was to be ready for an adventure. She rocked all our boats.” Colleagues recall: “Sr Áine was known for drawing others into her projects, sometimes bringing out gifts they were not aware of.” In the late 1970s, while she was principal of St Mary’s Primary School in Nyanga, Cape Town, she found teachers for illegal matric classes for students excluded from school after the school boycotts. In the early 1980s, concerned about young children playing on the
streets in Nyanga, she inspired the Early Learning Resource Unit to develop a model for early childhood development that built on the knowledge and strengths of parents and other caregivers living in poverty and very difficult circumstances. Within ten years, the Etafeni Playgroup Project spread from one woman, her good friend Rose Mbude, and a hundred children on a vacant lot in Nyanga, to 28 women with playgroups across two townships and several informal settlements. Through Etafeni and its partners, many women have been trained to run playgroups and some have gone on to become trainers, trainers-of-trainers, and leaders in preschool education. Sr Áine’s strength was her faith and her ability to listen, to contribute without claiming owner-
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CAPE TOWN: Mimosa Shrine, Bellville (Place of pilgrimage for the Year of Faith) April 25: Feast of St Mark, 7.00pm Rosary, 7.30pm Holy Mass. Tel: 076 323 8043 May 11: 9.00-10.00am Holy hour and benediction, confession available. May 16: 7.30pm Rosary. May 30: Vigil of the Feast of the Visitation - 7.00pm Rosary, 7.30pm Holy Mass Padre Pio: Holy hour 3:30 pm every 3rd Sunday of the month at Holy Redeemer parish in Bergvliet. Helpers of god’s Precious Infants meet the
last Saturday of the month except in december, starting with Mass at 9:30 am at the Sacred Heart church in Somerset Road, Cape Town. Mass is followed by a vigil and procession to Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Bree Street. For information contact Colette Thomas on 083 412 4836 or 021 593 9875 or Br daniel Manuel on 083 544 3375
NELSPRUIT: Adoration of the blessed sacrament at St Peter’s parish. every Tuesday from 8am to 4:45pm followed by Rosary divine Mercy prayers, then a Mass/Communion service at 5:30pm.
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 546. ACROSS: 1 Facets, 4 Fresco, 9 In the conclave, 10 Gnostic, 11 Unled, 12 Tiffs, 14 Weary, 18 Offer, 19 Inhabit, 21 Initial letter, 22 Ephods, 23 Asks us. DOWN: 1 Fringe, 2 Catholic faith, 3 Treat, 5 Recluse, 6 Small tributes, 7 Overdo, 8 Touch, 13 Ferried, 15 Novice, 16 Bills, 17 Starts, 20 Heeds.
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ship of ideas, to shoulder criticism, very intense at times, and to build trust between people and encourage respect for different points of view. She showed what community development should be. During the heightened repression and resistance of the 1980s, Sr Áine lived in a backyard shack in Nyanga “to come to a better understanding of community”. She took part in public protests, and was arrested with others, and spent the weekend in jail, after a Free Mandela march in Cape Town. She shared the dream of a free and fair South Africa. Sr Áine had very wide interests. She kept up with developments in theology, education, environment and other fields. A conversation with her might be about Celtic spirituality and pilgrimage or about composting toilets for township preschools. A month before her death, she was busy gardening and planning a worm farm project for unemployed young people. In the words of a death notice from the Cape Times: “Sr Áine Hardiman, woman of compassion, wit, generosity, vision and dreams, creative leader and feisty activist, touched so many lives. Remembered with love by friends near and far. Lala ngoxolo sisi othandekayo.”
Liturgical Calendar Year C Weekdays Cycle Year 1 Sunday, April 21, fourth Sunday of Easter Acts 13:14, 43-52, Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5, Revelation 7:9, 14-17, John 10:27-30 Monday, April 22
Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4, John 10:1-10 Tuesday, April 23 Acts 11:19-26, Psalm 87:1-7, John 10:22-30 Wednesday, April 24, St Fidelis of Sigmaringen Revelation 3:7-8, 10-12 or 2 Timothy 2:8-13; 3:1012, Psalm 119:137-144, John 10:11-16 Thursday, April 25 St Mark Friday, April 26 Acts 13:26-33, Psalm 2:6-11, John 14:1-6 Saturday, April 27 Acts 13:44-52, Psalm 98:1-4, John 14:7-14 Sunday, April 28, fifth Sunday of Easter Acts 14:21-27, Psalm 145:8-13, Revelation 21:1-5, John 13:31-33, 34-35
Word of the Week NEOPHYTE: From two Greek words that mean “new plant”, a neophyte is someone who is new to a particular way of life or form of work. The word is used in adult initiation to identify new initiates who have just been baptised and confirmed and have shared in the Eucharist for the first time. CHASUBLE: From the Latin word for “little house”, the chasuble is the outermost vestment worn by a bishop or priest at Mass. Originally shaped like a poncho that covered the person from shoulders to shoes, with a hole in the middle for the head, the chasuble is now cut away on the sides, to make it easier to wear during the liturgical action.
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LINDSELL—Mary. died April 18, 1997. My mother died 16 years ago, at the age of 94. She will always be remembered in our prayers. John and family.
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o Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Holy Mary, i place this cause in your hands. Say this prayer for 3 consecutive days and then publish. HOLY SPIRIT, you who make me see everything and who shows me the way to reach my ideal. you have given me the divine gift to forgive and forget all that is done to me, and you are in all the instincts of my life with me. i want to thank you for everything and confirm once more that i never want to be separated from you, no matter how great the material desire may be. i want to be with you and my loved ones in your perpetual glory. Amen. Say this prayer for three consecutive days and without continuing to ask; no matter how difficult it may be and you promise to publish this dialogue as soon as your favour has been granted. d.S.
HOLY ST JUDE, apostle and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you i have recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. in return i promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. RCP YOU, o eternal Trinity, are a deep sea into which, the more i enter, the more i find. And the more i find, the more i seek. o abyss, o eternal Godhead, o sea profound, what more could you give me than yourself? Prayer of Awe—St Catherine of Siena. O MOST beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, blessed Mother of the Son of God, immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. o Star of the Sea, help me and show me where you are, Mother of God. Queen of heaven and earth i humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in my necessity. There is none who can withstand your power,
FOR YOU created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. i praise you because i am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, i know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when i was made in the secret place, when i was woven together in the depths of the earth. your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139 ST MICHAEL the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May
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God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, o Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
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5th Sunday of Easter: April 28 Readings: Acts 14:21-27, Psalm 145:8-13, Revelation 21:1-5, John 13:31-35
Follow Christ’s 11th commandment
Nicholas King SJ
HRISTIAN discipleship is not easy; but we are getting the Easter season horribly wrong if we can only see sadness and misery ahead of us. If we are feeling a bit like that, next Sunday’s readings offer us some Paschal joy. The first reading continues the story from Acts of the building-up of the Church in Central Galatia, modern-day Turkey, as Paul and Barnabas “strengthen the lives of the disciples, comforting them to remain in the faith, and how “it is through many trials that we have to enter the Kingdom of God’.” Then they set up church structures, “appointing elders in each church, and they prayed and fasted and offered them to the Lord in whom they had faith”. Then the church moves on: Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia and finally by boat to Antioch. “When they arrived, they gathered the church, and reported what great things God had done with them, and how God had opened a ‘door of faith’ for the Gentiles.” That “door of faith” was of course picked up by Pope Benedict, as one of his last gifts to the Church, and we shall do well to reflect joyfully on it this week. The psalm is the middle section of a lovely
hymn of praise to God: “The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and great in faithful love”, and the poet sings that “all your creatures shall praise you, O Lord, and your faithful shall bless you”. Count for yourself the number of times that our extract refers to God’s “rule” or “reign” or “kingship” or “glory”: when God’s reign is in place, then it is time for us to rejoice. In the second reading, we are coming towards the end of the book of Revelation which we have been following since the beginning of Eastertide, and here we are given the vision of the “new heaven and the new earth...and the holy city, new Jerusalem I saw coming down out of Heaven, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband”. Then we are offered the joyful description of what is going on: “Look! God’s tent with
human beings, and he will pitch his tent with them, and they shall be his peoples, and he shall be God with them.” It is not that the vision fails to recognise the existence of mourning, for there are tears, but (in a gesture borrowed from Isaiah), “he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and Death shall be no more, nor mourning nor weeping, nor labour”. Then we hear the very emphatic declaration: “And the One Sitting on the Throne said: ‘Look! I am making everything new’.” There is cause for joy here. The gospel for next Sunday is taken from Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper in John’s gospel. It takes place immediately after Judas has gone out, at which the evangelist tellingly comments “and it was night”. He does not, however, dwell on the darkness of the scene. Instead, he uses the image of “glory”, which is how the fourth gospel presents Jesus’ death on the cross: “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him.” We stumble a little as the author continues his comment in the same vein, although we can grasp his drift: “If God is glorified in him, then God will glorify him in him, and will
Living in a secularised world W
E live in a highly secularised culture. Generally this draws one of three reactions from Christians struggling to live out faith in this context. First, a growing number of Christians of all denominations see secularity more as an enemy of faith and the churches than as an ally. In their view, secularity is a threat to religion and morality and is, in the name of freedom and open-mindedness, slowly suffocating Christian freedom. For them, secularity contains within itself a certain tyranny of relativism which can aptly be labelled “post-Christian” and “a culture of death”. A second group simply accommodates itself to the culture without a lot of critical reflection either way. They adjust the faith to the culture and the culture to the faith as suits their situation. For them, faith becomes largely a cultural heritage, an ethos more than a religion, though this is not as much of a blind sellout as it first appears. Deeper struggles go on beneath, prompted not just by the soul’s perennial questions but also by the Judeo-Christian genes inside the DNA of both the culture and the individual. So these individuals selectively take values from both the Judeo-Christian tradition and the secular culture and blend them into a new marriage, seemingly without a lot of religious anxiety. A third group has a more nuanced approach. Writers such as Charles Taylor, Louis Dupré, Kathleen Norris and, a generation earlier, Fr Karl Rahner, see secularity as a mixed bag, a culture of both life and death, a culture that in some ways is a progression in and a purification of
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
moral and religious values, even as it is losing ground morally and religiously in other ways. Of major importance in this view is the idea that secular culture, secularity, is the child of Judaism and Christianity. JudeoChristianity, at least for the most part, gave birth to René Descartes, the principles of Enlightenment, the French revolution, the Scottish revolution, the American revolution, and thus to democracy, the separation of church and state, and the principle that so much undergirds secularity, namely, that we agree to organise public life on the principle of rational consensus rather than on the basis of divine authority (allowing, of course, for divine authority to influence rational consensus). In this view, the opposite of secularity is not the Church, but the Taliban or any view that holds that public life should be governed by divine authority irrespective of rational consensus. Secularity then is more our child than our enemy. However, if that is true, then why is secularity often so bitter and overly-critical in its attitude towards the Christian churches? This can seem like a contradiction, but secularity can be anti-Christian for the same reason that adolescents can
be bitter and overly-critical towards their own parents, namely, adolescence is often immature and grandiose. But an immature, grandiose adolescent isn’t a bad person, just an unfinished one. Viewing secularity from this perspective, it is equally important to highlight both the moral and religious ground that has been lost in secularity as well as the moral and religious ground that has been gained. Both can be seen, for example, by looking a highly secularised culture like the Netherlands. On the one hand, it is very weak in church attendance and in explicit Christian practice. Along with this there is the tolerance and legalisation of abortion, drugs, prostitution and pornography. On the other hand, they are a society that takes care of its poor better than any other society in the world and one that is recognised for its emphasis on generosity, peace, and the equality of women. These are not minor religious and moral achievements. Where do I stand? Mostly with this third group and its belief that secularity is not our enemy but our child and that it carries inside itself both highly generative streams of life and asphyxiating rivulets of death. On the one hand, I draw a lot of my life and joy from its creativity, colour, exuberance and generative energy, often against my own Germanic-propensity for greyness and acedia. I am also uplifted on a regular basis by the real generosity and genuine goodness that I find in most people I meet. Importantly too, I reap its stunning benefits—freedom, protection of my rights, privacy, opportunity for education, wonderful medical care, information technology, access to information, wide cultural and recreational opportunities, clean water, plentiful food, and, not least, the freedom to practise my faith and religion. On the negative side, I recognise too its elements of death: the tolerance of abortion, the marginalisation of the poor, the itch for euthanasia, lingering racism, widespread sexual irresponsibility, a growing addiction to pornography, and an evergrowing trivialisation and superficiality. As reality television becomes more indicative of our culture, I begin to despair more for its depth. As an adult child of Descartes, I breathe in secularity—a very mixed air, pure and polluted—and I find myself torn between hope and fear, comfortable but uneasy, defending secularity even as I am critical of it.
glorify him immediately.” That raises, however, the question of what happens to us: all sorts of broad hints are being offered about Jesus’ imminent departure, and over the little group hangs the “sad question” of how they are to survive without Jesus. The answer is that they do not have to, for he goes on: “Children I am with you still for a little while”, and that presence will be evident in the love that they have for each other: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love each other, as I loved you, that you also may love each other.” We may remember that this long discourse started with Jesus washing their feet, and so all they (we) are asked to do is to continue in the same vein: “This is how everybody will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other.” Once again, we see the same pattern: there is pain and discomfort here, but that is not the end of our Easter story. Joy should predominate in our lives, because the victory is already won. The darkness may appear to dominate, but Jesus is the light of the world, and “the darkness did not understand”.
Southern Crossword #546
ACROSS 1. There are many of them on a cut gem (6) 4. Plaster painting in the church (6) 9. The new pope begins here (2,3,8) 10. Costing the ancient heretic (7) 11. Like sheep without a shepherd (5) 12. Sit back with two fellows having quarrels (5) 14. Tired (5) 18. Lord, accept the gifts we ... (hymn) (5) 19. Dwell where you see the monks (7) 21. First epistle. It's a beginning (7,6) 22. Ed hops about in high priest's robes (6) 23. Makes a request of our group (4,2)
DOWN 1. Hair even over the brow (6) 2. It’s summed up in the Creed (8,5) 3. Will the doctor do it as a gift? (5) 5. He favours the solitary life (7) 6. Little compliments to be paid (5,8) 7. Exaggerate and spoil the steak (6) 8. Feeling sense (5) 13. How they crossed the river Styx (7) 15. Her profession is yet to come (6) 16. William’s debts (5) 17. Commences (6) 20. Pays attention (5) Solutions on page 19
young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him: “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your school marks up, study your Bible a little and get your hair cut and we’ll talk about it.” After about a month the boy came back and again asked his father if they could discuss the use of the car. They again went to the father’s study where his father said: “Son, I am really proud of you. You have brought your marks up, you’ve studied your Bible diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut!” The young man waited a moment and replied: “You know Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair...” To which his father replied: “Yes, and they walked everywhere they went!” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, Po Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.