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Johannesburg’s ‘Lemon Squeezer” turns 50
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Seeing God in the ashes after shack fires
600 people went homeless for one night STAFF REPORTER
W B-Sexy! B-Holy! Grade 9 students from Assumption Convent in Germiston, Johannesburg, took part in a LoveMatters workshop at Don Bosco Centre in Walkerville, south of Johannesburg. LoveMatters is an educational lifestyle and sexuality programme for teenagers designed to encourage moral and responsible sexual behaviour among teens, with the emphasis on abstinence and fidelity. The programme aims to provide an open and understanding environment in which young people can seek solutions to various related problems. LoveMatters also provides HIV/Aids education.
Win trip to Mother Teresa’s canonisation in Rome R ADIO VERITAS have launched their annual Pilgrimage Competition, with the prize being a trip for two to Italy to witness the historic canonisation of Bl Mother Teresa on September 4. The raffle, tickets to which are R300, is an important fundraising initiative for South Africa’s only Catholic radio station. “With only 2 000 tickets available, the odds of winning are very good,” said Fr Emil Blaser OP, director of Radio Veritas, who is scheduled to lead the pilgrimage. As always, the winning ticket will be drawn live on air on July 1. The pilgrimage, which is headlined jointly by The Southern Cross and Radio Veritas, will run from September 2-11. The programme in Rome includes a general audience with Pope Francis, as well as visits to the Eternal City’s major basilicas, a tour of some of Rome’s great squares and sights, and much more. It also includes a visit to Assisi, the town of St Francis and St Clare where many of the saints’ belongings are preserved, and the
Rieti Valley, where St Francis invented the Nativity Scene in Greccio and wrote the Rule for the Franciscan Order in Fonte Colombo. In Greccio, one can see St Francis’ cell and the place where the first Nativity scene was staged, and in Fonte Colombo the cave in which he wrote the Rule and the tiny church of Mary Magdalene where he prayed. The itinerary is available at www.fowler tours.co.za/motherteresa and places on the pilgrimage are still available (contact email@example.com to book). Past pilgrimage raffles have been very popular, Fr Blaser said, and he hopes that this historic pilgrimage will attract much excitement. “They are an excellent way of helping Radio Veritas, and to help ensure that we can continue serving the Catholic Church and community,” the priest said. n To enter the competition, simply SMS the word “ROME” and your name to 41809, or email your name and your cell number to firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone Lydia on 083 601-6177 or Julia on 082 871-8360.
HEN the Denis Hurley Centre (DHC) challenged the people of Durban to show that they “dare to care” by sleeping out on the streets around City Hall for one night, some 600 ordinary members of the public responded and shared the streets with 200 homeless people—those who have no choice but to sleep out every night. “The night before had been wet and cold, for Durban, but prayers to God through a variety of traditions ensured that the night was particularly mild and especially safe,” said Raymond Perrier, director of the Denis Hurley Centre. This was the second Durban Dare2Care and was organised in close partnership with another NGO, iCare, which helps street children in Durban. A wide range of people rose to the challenge: Catholics, Protestants, Hindus and Muslims; groups from schools such as Our Lady of Fatima and St Henry’s, universities, parishes, local corporates and a Muslim radio station; residents of upmarket, middle-class and working-class areas; young and old. A famous local Catholic family provided the oldest sleeper: Louise Russon who is 80 years old and who for many years has been making small parcels to share with the homeless at traffic lights. Her daughter, Ursula Collings, is a teacher at St Benedict’s School in Pinetown, chair of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and the newest trustee of the Denis Hurley Centre. “When my mom heard about the sleepout initiative, without hesitation she said, ‘Yes, I am going to sleep out with the homeless, we need to understand and experience their life’,” Mrs Collings said. Three generations of the family were present and found the sleepout to be a spiritually humbling experience. The DHC set up a clinic for the evening and provided healthcare to more than 100 homeless people. In addition, 30 people were helped to get replacement IDs thanks to the pledges of individual donors. “This was part of a strategy to make sure that the homeless see themselves—and oth-
Among those who took part in the second Day2Care in Durban were Amanda Russon, Keith, Daniel, Ursula and Dale Collings, Louise Russon and Raymond Perrier. ers see them—as citizens,” Mr Perrier explained. Mr Perrier addressed the crowds, drawing a comparison with the prophetic stand of the late Archbishop Denis Hurley who for many years stood on a nearby street corner to protest against apartheid. “We are here sleeping on the same streets where the great Hurley stood up for the poor. He wanted to make sure that they did not feel abandoned—and we are doing that by being here,” Mr Perrier said in his address. Archbishop Hurley “wanted to make sure that their voice was heard—and we are doing that by hearing their stories and sharing them. And he wanted to make sure that uncaring government authorities were held to account, and we can do that by protesting and by voting. Durban claims to be the most caring city in Africa—let us make sure that they give us more than just promises.” The deputy City manager, Musa Gumede, praised the work of the DHC and iCare, though neither of them receive any funds from the city. But members of the public raised significant funds for their work. Among the most successful fundraisers were Fr Donovan Wheatley and Deacon Mike O’Neill from Virginia parish who slept out all night with about 20 fellow parishioners. Photos are available on the Denis Hurley Centre Facebook page.
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The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
Young people mobilise to take social action M
St Charles parish in Victory Park, Johannesburg, celebrated the 50th jubilee of its iconic building, known locally as “the Lemon Squeezer”, with Mass presided over by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale.
‘Lemon Squeezer’ lights up on its half-century
HE parish of St Charles Borromeo in Victory Park, Johannesburg, celebrated the 50th jubilee of its church building with a Mass presided over by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale. The building was consecrated on May 31, 1966—six months after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. Its iconic design, from which it derives its local nickname of “the Lemon Squeezer”, received an architectural design award. In his welcoming address, pastoral council chairman Patrick de Laroche reminded parishioners that the celebration was not about bricks, mortar and stained-glass windows, but rather about the living stones that make up St Charles: the people, the generations of families, visitors and immigrants, the Oblate priests and deacons, the bishops, the faithful departed, who have passed through its doors to worship and experience God’s mercy, and proclaim his holiness. For this reason the words of Psalm 6:4 were chosen as the jubilee theme: “We are filled with the blessings of your house.”
Archbishop Tlhagale in his homily congratulated parishioners and spoke about the central role that the Eucharist had played in the life of the St Charles community. Generations of parishioners had built St Charles by passing on the faith and their love of the Eucharist, the archbishop said. He commended the parish for its commitment to assisting poorer parishes with building projects and helping those in need. Parish priest Fr James Ralston OMI noted that many of the parishioners who witnessed the building going up 50 years ago and who were present at its consecration, were also present at the jubilee Mass. Parishioners were treated to cake and refreshments after the Mass, while a youth brass band provided a festive atmosphere. The jubilee was also celebrated with a concert by the Chanticleer Singers in the church, with works by classical composers whose anniversaries coincided with the jubilee, as well as commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
ORE than a hundred young people from across South Africa gathered to celebrate the culmination of a nine-month leadership programme titled “enke: Trailblazer”. Among them were ten Catholic high school learners from Cape Town. Enke is a youth development organisation which inspires, trains and supports young people to take action on the most urgent social issues in their community. From the seTswana word for “ink”, enke empowers young people to make their mark on their community, their country and our world. Young leaders are mentored to “think globally but act locally”. The mission is to connect across socio-economic barriers, equip people with the tools for success, and inspire a move towards action. Rufaro Mudimu, the CEO of the organisation, congratulated and encouraged the Trailblazer graduates: “Every single one of our young people...prove that no matter where you’re from in South Africa, no matter what city or village, no matter what you’re passionate about, it is possible to unite with common purpose and drive positive change across the country.” Young people often are seen as a problem, a “ticking time bomb” that needs to be fixed. The Trailblazer programme holds that young people are the solution and within them are the most innovative and inspired ideas to solve real issues facing their community. A rigorous selection process was undertaken and ten Catholic school learners were successful. They attended a week-long residential retreat where they honed their leadership, communication and critical thinking skills. Thereafter, the participants facilitated their own community action project. Throughout the nine-month programme they received support from Trailblazer mentors. Taydren van Vuren, head prefect of CBC St John’s, was one of the graduates who received special mention because of the powerful
Young people from across South Africa, including Catholic learners, gathered to celebrate the culmination of a nine-month leadership programme titled “enke: Trailblazer”. Enke is a youth development organisation which inspires, trains and supports young people to take action on the most urgent social issues in their community. impact that her community action project is having on her community. Upon returning from the residential retreat, Taydren decided that the most effective way that she could address social injustice was to design social awareness programmes.
he set about implementing programmes which raised awareness about inequalities in society. She believes in the maxim, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” She engaged her fellow learners in a number of campaigns which addressed issues such as human trafficking, xenophobia and racism. Taydren was the only learner from her school to attend the residential retreat and she acknowledged that it moved her way beyond her “comfort zone”, teaching her to appreciate diversity and
giving her greater insight into the hardships that many young South Africans contend with on a daily basis. Through their religious education and outreach programmes, Catholic schools are committed to making a difference in society. “While charitable works have always been encouraged, we are now called upon to critique the structures which underpin injustice,” a statement from the Catholic Schools Office in Cape Town said. “We also try to challenge our learners to engage in outreach programmes which facilitate a shift in consciousness. “Our children live in a complex world and they will need a distinctive set of tools to navigate their way through it. We believe that programmes like Trailblazers go a long way to equipping them with these skills,” it said.
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The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
Key roundtable on SA’s new Refugee Act SR ALISON MUNRO OP
HE Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees of the archdiocese of Johannesburg, and Jesuit Refugee Services and other agencies serving refugees and migrants hosted a roundtable discussion on the issues around migration, and policy and legislative changes to the Refugee Act affecting migrants and refugees in South Africa. In his welcoming remarks Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg referred to the need for policies, noting questions around unfairness, injustice and inhumanity facing refugees. Church agencies in South Africa are called to be welcoming, sharing information to improve co-ordination of services and enhancing charitable works, he said. An official of the Department of Home Affairs noted the policy processes currently underway on international migration, on integration and repatriation of refugees, and on The Refugee Amendment Act. Challenges experienced by refugees and asylum seekers at Marabastad, a refugee reception centre in Pretoria, are being addressed; improved policies, infrastructure, the training of officials, and an improved IT system are among the measures being put in place to address bureaucratic issues, the official explained. Discussion after the presentation highlighted the difficulties asylum seekers and refugees, and those assisting them, have experienced and continue to experience when Home Affairs policies are not implemented correctly and when corruption flourishes.
Samson Ogunyemi of Jesuit Refugee Services addressed the issue of the limited rights there are for asylum seekers around health care. South Africa’s new National Health Insurance will cover all South Africans, and is meant to ease the burden of financial contributions for those least able to pay, limiting direct out of pocket payments. It is intended to cover all South Africans and permanent refugees, but cover for asylum seekers is reduced, with provision only for emergency services. “While refugees and asylum seekers do contribute to the economy, why is there just a contingency fund for them?” Mr Ogunyemi asked. “The scheme does not promote equal treatment for all.” Sergio Carciotto, director of the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa, examined the question of why migration policies fail. He noted that “people place too much faith in policies to regulate migration”. What policies in fact do is to introduce selection and admission criteria, but they cannot determine numbers and flows and patterns of migration. “And so it is important to understand why people migrate,” Mr Carciotto said. All too often there is an implementation gap and bureaucratic failure. And often migration policies are implemented in isolation from health and housing needs. “Every policy,” he stressed, “needs to look at national interests [security rights of citizens], and at human rights issues. Ideally they need to have the same weight.” During apartheid, South Africa’s migration policy was based on a racialised system, with black mi-
Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg opened a roundtable talk on refugees and migrants. grant labour not permanently in the country; there was no refugee legislation, and it was easy to control migration.
ost-1994 there was the so-called “liberal paradox”, with closure to migrants and at the same time an openness, according to Mr Carciotto. There were conflicting approaches: allowing the free movement of people because of a skills shortage; and attempting to balance democratic principles and human rights principles. Later the position became more restrictive because of concerns that migrants might have a negative impact on social services, and at the same time a recognition that de-
porting people and building fences is an expensive system. The police were given the task of controlling the system, leading to possible violations of human rights. Further amendments to the Refugee Act scrapped public participation, giving more power to the Department of Home Affairs and the minister, and limiting access to basic services for refugees. High numbers of asylum seekers from Zimbabwe led to further policy shifts, the closing of refugee reception centres and a large-scale regularisation for Zimbabweans. The 2015 Refugee Amendment Bill, if passed, allows the ministers to withdraw and end refugee status. There is a strong emphasis on na-
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Teenage sexuality and risk STAFF REPORTER
EDICAL practitioners, medical students as well as nonmedical people made up the 45-strong audience at a seminar on Fertility and Natural Family Planning (NFP) at Bryanston church in Johannesburg. It was the first seminar of its kind given by Dr Heinz Wirz and organised by the Foundation for the Person and the Family. Balancing the science and physiology with natural law and Church teaching, Dr Wirz highlighted the serious issues of the “risk avoidance”approach to the “prevention is better than cure”, which is interpreted as “risk reduction” by the medical and allied professions. Dr Wirz explained fertility development in the adolescent, the effects of contraception on cervical mucus fertility crypt development, the predisposition of immature breast duct cells and breast cancer, teenage increased risk to HIV as well as the sympto-thermal method of Natural Family Planning. He also touched on adolescent brain maturing development and the character factors that teenagers need
to master in order to develop into mature responsible adulthood and subsequent NFP use. This led to a discussion on NFP. Because time was limited, Dr Wirz briefly touched on Church teaching and the Theology of the Body, and also mentioned recent research and understanding of the role of vasopressin and oxytocin in bonding. Dr Wirz amplified Pope Francis’s call for improved pre-marriage preparation and age-appropriate human sexuality education in the home and schools. The seminar was well-received by participants. A medical student noted that “the presentation on basic physiology that is left out of our syllabus was most fascinating, [as well as] the bits about the flawed science that is fed to us”. Another participant expressed appreciation at receiving the information “from a doctor who is not mainstream, and does his own research”. Marie Anne Te Brake of the Foundation for the Person and the Family said that there is a call to repeat this seminar annually, “so watch this space”.
tional sovereignty and security and a limited interest in moral obligations. Finally, Mr Carciotto asked, “How do we balance human rights and security in a policy?” A speaker from Mozambique outlined the refugee situation there. Most refugees are Congolese. They are required to declare their request for asylum status when they cross the border into Mozambique from Tanzania. Registration processes take place in the refugee camp and only those recognised as refugees can live outside the camp. From 1991 Mozambique has had a law to regulate migrants. After ten years they can apply to become citizens. “Irregular migrants” are arrested, forced to leave the country or deported. Many in the south where there is no conflict are likely to attempt to go to South Africa. The Scalabrini Sisters work in the Ressano Garcia, Mozambique border area, ministering to diverse groups, among them illegal immigrants arrested, jailed and then sent back to Mozambique from South Africa. The sisters note that some immigrants say things like “We jumped the fence in search of a better life. Here our families are starving. It is difficult to cultivate, there is no water, no money.” The sisters assist immigrants deal with border police, help women and children and those who are sick, let them rest before they continue their journey, provide assistance with food, communication, hygiene, and advice on documentation. The roundtable discussion event with the various Church agencies is committed to further collaboration around interventions and responses in the service of refugees and migrants.
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Oblate Father Papi Mothai of Bloemfontein celebrated his tenth anniversary of ordination and his birthday at Thabo Ya Kriste church in Thaba Nchu with a reception put together by the St Rose Missionary Associates of Mary Immaculate, a voluntary lay organisation that collaborates with and shares in the spirit, life and mission of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He is seen here with Francis Lebaka and Tshepo Zikhali. (Submitted by Mongali Chabalala)
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A group of South African priests and deacons travelled to Italy to attend the jubilees for deacons and for priests in Rome. They are seen here having a group photo taken at the sanctuary of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. (Photo courtesy Fr APS Cele)
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The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
Pope to YouTubers: Stop the bullying BY CAROL GLATZ
H A group of cloistered nuns visited a women’s prison in Chile where they sang and prayed with inmates as part of the Year of Mercy.
Cloistered nuns visited a prison in Chile
GROUP of 61 cloistered nuns from six monasteries in Santiago, Chile, made an historic visit to the local women’s prison centre to spend time with the inmates and attend Mass celebrated by the city’s Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati with them. Cardinal Ezzati said that the nuns made the request to visit with the inmates as part of the Year of Mercy, “so the sisters who contemplate the face of God every day in prayer could contemplate him in the face of people who are suffering, going through a hard time in their lives”. “The dear cloistered nuns are the city’s uplifted arms to intercede before God for all of us, especially those who are suffering the most,” he said. After the Mass, the religious sang a traditional Chilean song to honour
the Virgin Mary, and to everyone’s surprise, four of them got up to dance. They then went to the prison courtyard where they continued visiting with the inmates. For Carmelite Sister Maria Rosa, the day was “a grace to share with them, to really feel like a sister with them, to feel their sorrow, their joy and to become one with them”. Railín, one of the inmates, said that “it was good that they came and prayed for us. The sisters and bishops coming helped support us, we need a lot of people to come and see us”. Ana Chacón, another inmate, said that the religious “give us the spirit of the Lord; it’s a blessing to have them here. Seeing the cloistered nuns doing the traditional dance and swinging the kerchiefs was something new”.—CNA
Oldest cardinal dies at 100 BY CAROL GLATZ
HE former secretary to a saint and the oldest member of the College of Cardinals died on May 26 at the age of 100. Italian Cardinal Loris Capovilla, who served Pope John XXIII before and after he became pope, died in Bergamo, near Milan. Cardinal Capovilla was born in Pontelongo, Italy, on October 14, 1915, and ordained to the priesthood in 1940. A journalist before working for St John XXIII, he was an energetic and eloquent storyteller, drawing on his remarkable and vividly detailed memory. The cardinal outlived his employer by half a century and was a dedicated custodian of his legacy, running a small museum dedicated to the saint’s memory in the late pope’s native town of Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, near Milan.
Italian Cardinal Loris Capovilla. (Photo: Paul Haring/CNS) He turned many of his stories into numerous writings, including a memoir published in English as The Heart and Mind of John XXIII. He was made archbishop of Chieti-Vasto in 1967 and appointed prelate of Loreto in 1971, retiring in 1988. Pope Francis made him the world’s oldest living cardinal in 2014 at the age of 98.—CNS
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ELP wipe out bullying and aggression by being better listeners and offering concrete gestures of tolerance and patience, Pope Francis told a group of top YouTubers from around the world. “The level of aggressiveness in our world needs to be dialled down. The world needs tenderness, meekness, people listening and walking together,” he told them and others taking part in a world congress sponsored by Scholas Occurrentes. “Pride, arrogance—eradicate them. Because pride and arrogance always have a bad ending,” he said at the close of the three-day meeting at the Vatican. The pope met privately—for an informal closed-door Q&A session— with a dozen young YouTubers, people who create their own videos or vlogs, or video blogs, and share them on YouTube. The YouTube “celebrities” who were invited to meet the pope have, when tallied together, about 25 million subscribers. The pope sat in on the closing portion of the world congress, which was dedicated to dialogue and social integration. He heard personal testimonies, including from a young woman who was born in Mexico,
BY ANTONIO ANUP GONSALVES
HE Israeli government’s policies for Christian schools and unfair education budget cuts put them at risk of collapse, the Catholic Church’s Office of Christian Schools in Israel has charged. Fr Abdel Masih Fahim, general secretary of the Office of Christian Schools, urged the Israeli government to recognise the importance of continued Christian education in the country. These schools are a “vital component of the Christian presence in the Holy Land”, he said in a statement. “Christian schools in Israel are now in immediate danger of collapsing financially,” he warned. The statement said that about 47 Christian schools educate around 33 000 Christian, Muslim, Druze, and Jewish students around Israel. These schools are owned by various groups from the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches. The Christian schools criticised the Israeli government, saying it drastically reduced the budget al-
Israeli-Arab fourth-grade students pray in Aramaic during language class at Jish Elementary School. Dozens of Christian schools in Israel may be shutting their doors due to financial pressure. (Photo: Debbie Hill/CNS) location for Christian schools. Over the past six years the national budget allocation for the schools has been cut by 45%. Furthermore, the education ministry has issued regulations to restrict the limit on the collection of school tuition fees from parents. In September 2015 Christian schools made a continuous 27-day protest about the measures, and
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moved to Chicago and was the victim of bullying for years. The pope called for an end to “aggression, bullying” when answering one of two questions from the audience. “Bullying is an aggression that conceals profound cruelty, and the world is cruel” with wars representing “the monuments of cruelty”, he said. Recalling photographs he received from a nun picturing a child massacred in a civil war unfolding in
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Pope Francis shows photos of killed children during a meeting of Scholas Occurrentes. (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano/CNS)
Africa, Pope Francis said bullying is the same kind of cruelty because it “massacres” the mind. In order to build a better world, “we need to eradicate all forms of cruelty”, he said. It is important to listen to others and ask questions—not argue right away—but inquire in order to truly understand the other person’s point of view and find points in common, he said. Dialogue isn’t a soccer match or a debate because “in dialogue everyone wins, no one loses”, he said. “Even if I think differently, don’t argue, but rather, persuade softly.” It’s also important people feel like they belong, which can even include “a virtual belonging”—being part of something meaningful online, he said. “It’s urgent to offer some kind of belonging,” he told his audience. The pope also urged participants to work harder at practising the “language of gestures”. “Sometimes we like to talk, talk,” he said, but “we risk paying lip service and this doesn’t work”. Talking is not enough and sometimes what is needed is “a smile that gives hope, looking in someone’s eyes, gestures of approval, patience, tolerance”.—CNS
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constraints on their ability to raise funds. The demonstrations ended after the government promised an agreement with the Christian schools, and to supply 50 million shekels (R203 million) by the end of March 2016 to compensate for budget cuts in previous years. This promised agreement has remained unfulfilled.—CNA
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INTERNATIONAL Pope Francis greets actor George Clooney (centre) and his wife Amal (left) at a private audience which also included film stars Richard Gere and Salma Hayek. The actors were honoured at the Scholas Occurrente congress (see page 4). (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano/CNS)
HE story of a young migrant girl who drowned at sea was at the heart of Pope Francis’ address to some 400 children who had travelled to the Vatican from the southern Italian region of Calabria. Speaking off the cuff to the children who had arrived by the “Treno per Bambini” (Children’s Train) and who represented various religions, cultures, and ethnicities, the pope asked them to come up with a name for the unknown girl. “Let us think of this little girl: what was her name? I do not know: a little girl with no name,” the pontiff said. “Each of you give her the name you would like, each in his heart. She is in heaven, she is looking on us.” Pope Francis told the story of the little girl as it was recounted to him by a rescue worker who had at-
BY CINDY WOODEN
tempted to save the child, only to succeed in saving her life jacket. “He brought me this jacket,” Pope Francis said, showing the life jacket to the children, “and with tears in his eyes he said to me, ‘Father, I couldn’t do it—there was a little girl on the waves, and I did all I could, but I couldn’t save her: only her life vest was left’”. The pope told the children: “I do not tell you this because I want you to be sad, but because you are brave and you should know the truth: they are in danger—many boys and girls, small children, men, women—they are in danger.” The annual “Treno per Bambini”, which brings a group of young boys and girls, is an initiative of the Pontifical Council of Culture. The theme of this year’s event is “Carried by waves”, which is meant to evoke the image of both danger and hope experienced by migrants.—CNA
Colombian missionary Fr William Cañón with children from his parish in Cameroon who he coaches and has formed into a soccer team.
Priest evangelises young people through soccer
ATHER William Cañón is a Colombian missionary in Cameroon who transforms into a soccer coach every Sunday, helping to bring joy to some 60 local children through sport and camaraderie. “After going to the Eucharist, we gather and provide a time of Christian formation; then, with my limited knowledge of sports, we play soccer,” Fr Cañón told the Colombian daily El Tiempo. He has been a missionary to Mamfe, in south-western Cameroon, since 2014. When he arrived there he was assigned to a parish where the first evangelisation has yet to be done. They also face disease, a shortage of food, and a lack of electricity and safe water. But Fr Cañón noticed the boys in Mamfe had a special love for soccer, and so he decided to take advantage of this opportunity to bring them closer to God. Every Sunday, he says Mass before about 60 boys get together to play soccer. Many of the children walk for up to three hours to get there, and the matches are held on a dirt field with makeshift goals. They always
Deacons gather in Rome for jubilee
Death of refugee girl frames pope’s talk with children BY ANN SCHNEIBLE
The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
begin with a prayer. “Seeing them arrive is an unimaginable sight. Some come barefoot, but with great joy on their faces. Most of them are spontaneous and sincere boys. And, above all, they’re grateful, because it’s the only time they have to have fun and dream. Despite the circumstances and difficulties, they’re always there,” the priest told El Tiempo. During the week, the priest says Mass every day at 6am. Then he heads off to the local hospital where he spends almost the entire day as the chaplain. The priest’s favourite club, Independiente Santa Fe of Bogota, was moved hearing about the missionary’s work. During a trip to Colombia, he asked for donations for his Cameroon team and the club, which won the Copa Sudamericana last year, gave him footballs and Santa Fe kits for the boys. “I’m very grateful to God for this beautiful opportunity that he’s given me. And to Santa Fe, for the uniforms. From here, I continue to support my team,” Fr Cañón told El Tiempo.—CNA
HOUSANDS of permanent deacons and their wives began their Year of Mercy celebration by cutting straight to the heart of what it means to be a deacon, how the ministry impacts their families and the challenge of explaining their vocation to others, including bishops and priests. The pilgrims, including South Africans, divided into language groups and hundreds of English, German and Portuguese-speaking deacons and their families gathered at Rome’s basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Whether alone or with their wives, dressed in clerical collars or Tshirts because of the afternoon heat, they began sharing experiences of formation, homiletics training and ministry assignments even before the formal programme began. The Jubilee of Deacons concluded with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square. In the informal conversations and the sharing afterward, the women were active participants. Many of them had accompanied their husbands to formation classes, and all of them are directly impacted by their husbands’ ministries. At the jubilee Mass, Pope Francis told deacons that they are “called to be servants who set aside their own self-serving plans and are generous with their lives”. A servant “is not a slave to his own agenda”, but rather always is
Deacons attend Pope Francis’ celebration of a Mass for the Jubilee of Deacons in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (Photo: Paul Haring/CNS) prepared for the unexpected and responds, even if that means ignoring the parish schedule”, the pope said. “It pains my heart when I see a schedule in the parishes—‘from this time to that time’—and then, the door is closed. There is no priest, no deacon, no layperson to welcome the people. This is wrong. Have the courage to ignore the schedule,” he said. ‘ Deacon Anthony Gooley of the archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia, and a lecturer in theology at the Broken Bay Institute, told the crowd after Mass that deacons were instituted in the early Christian community to minister to people whose particular needs were not being met by the disciples. They have the same mission
today to reach unserved or underserved populations, he said. In fact, their potential contribution to the new evangelisation “is limited only by imagination and by the will of those who engage in placements and pastoral planning in the dioceses”. “Too often a deacon is left to work out the details of his own pastoral ministry,” Deacon Gooley said, and arrangements are made with “a handshake deal with the parish priest”. His remarks led to a ripple of agreement around the basilica. Pope Francis said in ending his homily: “The first step in becoming good and faithful servants is to be available to others and detached from living life in one’s own way.”— CNS
The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Surviving the fires
INTER is the season of fires in informal settlements as the use of hazards such as paraffin and open flames to heat and light dwellings increases. It takes one small mishap with a stove or candle to start a fire. Because of the building density in informal settlements, a fire that breaks out in one shack can easily spread to neighbouring structures and beyond—especially when water sources are remote. Often a fire that breaks out in one place can devastate a whole community, sometimes leaving hundreds of people homeless and robbed of their meagre belongings. It must shock us that between 2000 and 2015, more than 500 000 people were made homeless by fires in South Africa. This number exceeds the combined populations of Kimberley, Polokwane and Klerksdorp. Relief agencies, as we read in an article this week, respond in alleviating the most immediate material needs in the form of food, clothes and blankets. This is necessary, and Catholic parishes, institutes and schools may well consider cooperating with relief agencies to meet the needs of those affected by fire. But for some victims of fire the suffering is not only material. Those who sustain burn injuries are confronted with medical conditions which the state cannot always adequately meet, and with concerns for their future that range from limited employment opportunities to social exclusion. Individuals with severe burn injuries are South Africa’s forgotten people. They are often ostracised—or feel ostracised—because of their appearance, especially when the burn injuries are facial. Many withdraw from society and disappear from public view altogether. How often do you see a person with severe burns injuries in public—a supermarket, a restaurant—or even on television? How many such people do you know? The vast majority of burn survivors are poor. To illustrate: 98% of the children treated for burns at Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital are from disadvantaged communities. Children especially are vulnerable when their appearance makes schooling and other forms of engaging with their peers difficult. Many reach adulthood with little by way of education and skills
when they enter a job market that is already difficult to access. It is perplexing that, after more than a decade of lobbying, the government should still exclude non-amputee burn survivors from applying for disability grants. The government might claim that in theory a burns survivor could obtain employment. In practice, however, people with burns often have sparse employment opportunities—because their physical appearance dissuades potential employers from offering them a position; because their skin damage (especially hand injuries) precludes the performance of many tasks; because of deficient schooling on account of social stigma. As it casts aside its moral duty to care for burns survivors, the state compounds the marginalisation of already vulnerable people. The government must also become more proactive in implementing fire prevention education. This should not be left exclusively to firefighters, non-governmental organisations and interested individuals, though these do have an important role to play. It would be beneficial if comprehensive fire prevention education was included in school curricula and extended to those communities most at risk, with a view to modifying behaviour and environments. However, for many South Africans living with burn injuries such prevention strategies would come too late. A moral obligation rests on the state and on society to secure the reintegration of burn survivors into all walks of South African life. In our edition of May 11 we encouraged readers to register as organ donors; this week we urge readers to also register as tissue donors, so that in the event of their death, skin can be harvested for treatment of people with severe burns. According to Dr Nikki Allorto, a specialist burns surgeon: “161 children are severely burnt every month in South Africa. Six of these children die due to an inadequate burn care system, and the availability of donor skin is crucial to alleviate suffering and to contribute towards reducing these high mortality rates.” Tissue donation also includes bone, cornea and heart valves, all of which are subject to a critical shortage in South Africa. Sign up at www.recycleme.co.za/pledge-form/
Give life in death as organ donor While not in the same league, Y prayers go out to Fr Xolisile M Kondlo in his distressing con- does this not parallel what our Lord dition (May 18 and 25). It must be and Saviour achieved on the Cross? terrifying to be so relatively young and daily have to literally fight for every precious breath, which we all take for granted. I enlisted as an organ donor several years ago—an easy process which provides peace of mind that “in death you can give life”.
And, just as our Lord left his instructions with his disciples, so each organ donor receives a free “kit” with instructions and stickers to alert medical and other facilities. Instead of leaving Fr Kondlo to wage his lonely battle, surely we, the Southern Cross readers as a
answer for those women who insist, “It’s my body I can do what I like with it!” She quite simply tells them: “It’s not your body you are getting rid of!” After all that uneducated reasoning, I’d still like an answer to my original question “Where do the souls of the unborn go?” Kevin Murphy, Johannesburg
Where do souls of the unborn go?
TOOK part in a three-day 1 000 000 Rosary for the Unborn. The first day I said my normal rosary, that is mind-wandering, all kinds of thoughts, total distraction, at the same time inserting the prayer for the unborn in between decades. The second day the automatic saying of the rosary was interrupted by one thought: “Where do the aborted babies’ souls go?” Miscarriages are for one reason or another rejected embryos (I can still see our third one). Clinical (man-made) abortions must make up at least 99% of lost babies. These children, through no fault of their own, are killed, for one reason or another. Perhaps some clever theologian might have an answer for me? With my limited brainpower and lack of theological education, I’d like some input. Then another thought struck me. In early spring, as the blossoms on the fruit trees appear, the blossoms will eventually produce fruit (in my case peaches). Even after the blossoms fall off and a tiny green furry egg-shaped object appears, we all know this will eventually become a “grown up” peach. Surely the same process must happen in a mother’s womb. Once the ovary has been fertilised, the “blossom” begins to grow. As it grows, the shape of a human being begins to appear, when after nine months the complete human being is born. My limited powers of reason asks the question: if the blossom in the mother’s womb is growing, how can it not be murder by aborting the growing human baby, no matter in what state of growth the blossom is? In a recent Crime channel programme on DStv a 6- to 7-month pregnant lady was shot and killed. The person who killed her was tried and convicted of a double murder! Again, I ask the question, if the blossom has grown to six or seven months, where did it appear from? What was its point of origin? It must have begun as a tiny blossom in the mother’s womb. A long-time family friend has an
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HE Catholic Institute of Education (CIE) will not name Catholic schools that have been affected by the government’s report on the “teacher posts for sale” scandal in case such schools will be victimised by those involved in the scandal or be subjected to departmental restrictions. Mduduzi Qwabe, CIE spokesman, told The Southern Cross that a number of Catholic public schools had been part of the Department of Basic Education’s ministerial task team investigation into allegations of the sale of teacher posts in South Africa. Education minister Angie Motshekga released the probe’s final report in late May. Professor John Volmink, the chairman of the education standards and certification authority Umalusi, headed the investigating team. Six provinces were in the spotlight: Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North-West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The final report found that KwaZulu-Natal had the highest number of alleged jobs-for-cash cases. The scandal focused mainly on alleged
this issue the importance it deser ves by appointing a task team to investigate”, Mr Qwabe said. “We further call on the ministry to ensure that the recommendations are implemented effectively. The seriousness of the report is indicated by potential witnesses being unwilling to be interviewed as they feared for their safety,” he said. The CIE particularly singled out the report’s recommendation that the 38 cases pointing to wrongdoing and criminal conduct be handed over to the South African Police Ser vices for further investigation. Disciplinary action had to be taken “against those officials who failed to ensure that the processes of recruitment were free of corruption”, Mr Qwabe said. The CIE also supported calls for the strengthening of school governing bodies in their role as “mediators between schools and communities”, pointing out that the ministerial report recommends independent panels be appointed to handle recruitment processes. I t t t th b i d ti d t
UKY Whittle in her letter (May 11) bemoans the absence of a crucifix in the Denis Hurley Centre. Having visited the centre, this absence does not offend me because I feel I understand the reason of this omission. The centre is a place of refuge, shelter and learning for all God’s people. The question we will be asked is: “I was hungry and did you feed me? I was thirsty and did you give me to drink? I was naked and did you clothe me?” In the issue of May 18, Fr Ron Rolheiser wrote on the upcoming 200th anniversary of the founding of his religious congregation, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I was very pleased to read the following: “As a writer I don’t normally highlight the fact that I’m a professed religious, just as I don’t usually highlight the fact that I’m a Roman Catholic priest, because I fear that labels such as ‘Catholic priest’, “’Father’ or ‘Oblate of Mary Immaculate’ attached to an author’s name serve more to limit his readership than increase it.” Fr Rolheiser’s discernment is identical to what I visualise is the thinking behind not labelling the Denis Hurley Centre as being for “Christians only” by putting up a crucifix. Other religions have also been involved in creating this centre, named after the late Catholic archbishop. Whatever the belief of others, they will know we are Christians by our love. Molly Hayward, Durban
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Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, who as the patriarch of Antioch and all the East is the spiritual leader of Catholic Maronites worldwide, enters the Our Lady of Lebanon church in Mulbarton, Johannesburg, during his visit to South Africa’s Maronite community. (Photo: Mark Kisogloo)
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group—and Catholics generally— can make a real difference by signing up as organ donors? The gift of life is truly precious— the possible gift of seven lives even more so! In this Year of Mercy, let us together help Fr Kondlo by “putting our bodies where our mouths are”—and all it will cost is a few minutes of your time. Geoff Harris, Rooiels, Western Cape Several questions could be asked. Was she not able to speak to the priest about this; why? Did her religious community not feel the same, and was she not able to discuss this matter with them? How much is the community of the parish involved in anything that pertains to liturgy and the parish? Perhaps the priest is suffering from “burnout” or he has had very little support in the parish at large. On many occasions, the liturgy of the Mass is not well prepared due to a lack of knowledge. Everyone involved in any ministry should be well instructed, knowledgeable and deeply appreciative of what is celebrated at Mass. Is this than not the responsibility of the bishop/priest to make sure that parishioners are well-instructed? Does every lay minister read the Pastoral Instruction to the Order of the Mass or the General Instruction of the Roman Missal? Many, many years ago I used to travel on a few occasions to Durban to workshops on liturgy. I was thinking back to that time when this year in our parish we seemed to stop celebrating Easter on Easter Sunday and reverted back to Good Friday hymns on Divine Mercy Sunday. Not once during the Easter season did we sing the Mass with the Gloria, neither on Pentecost nor Trinity Sunday. However, we did sing to our Blessed Mother after Communion. In the Vatican II document on sacred liturgy, chapter 1A, it reads: “Suitable catechesis is essential if the mystery of the Eucharist is to take deeper root in the minds and lives of the faithful.” One would do well to read this chapter and I would encourage all lay ministers to do so. G Hoff, Ladysmith 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 email@example.com or faxed to 021 465-3850
The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
My friends in high places W HEN I was growing up I had a special friend. He was very wise and very holy. He knew all about Italy which was one of my passions. He was a great public speaker, which was another passion—and he worked for the Church. He was also about 800 years older than me and dead. Because my special friend was my patron—St Anthony whose feast day is on June 13. Before I continue let me strike a diplomatic compromise between the majority who call him St Anthony of Padua (since that is the city in Italy where he died) and the proud Portuguese community for whom he is always St Anthony of Lisbon (since that is where he was born). So I shall just call him St Anthony and assume that one name, like Sting or Madonna, is enough. In fact, the Italians go even further and just call him “Il Santo” (The Saint). So how can I call this man whom I never knew my friend? Because it feels like I do know him and that he knows me. My late grandmother, who lived with us till I was ten and had a huge influence on my religious education, was very devoted to St Anthony. So when I was born she insisted that my middle name be Anthony. Being a curious child—and with scant information about or interest in St Raymond, the Spanish Dominican canon lawyer—I was determined to find out everything I could about St Anthony. I learnt that he was born in 1195 and initially joined the Canons Regular (thus he is the second most famous ex-Augustinian after Martin Luther). He had already given up a lot of family wealth, but when he encountered the recently founded Franciscans, he was even more determined to lead a life of poverty and joined them. When Francis of Assisi later met him he felt that here was a definite kindred spirit and he entrusted Anthony with the theo-
logical training of the novice friars. St Anthony died at the very young age of 36 and was declared a saint within a year of his death—the fastest on record. When Pope Gregory IX was asked how he could canonise Anthony so quickly it is claimed that his simple reply was: “I knew the man.”
hen non-Catholic Christians ask me about our relationship with the saints, my explanation is that, just as I might ask a friend to pray for me, I can also ask a saint to pray for me. Because even if they are long dead, a different nationality, a different background and even a different gender,saints can be equally intimate as our friends and thus we can ask for their help. One way in which Anthony is often invoked is to help find things that have been lost. I understand that the origin of this is
A statue and relic of St Anthony in the church in Lisbon that stands on the birthplace of the great 13th-century saint. (Photo: Günther Simmermacher)
Faith and Society
that one of St Anthony’s novices was leaving the order and at the same time a muchtreasured book of his also disappeared. St Anthony prayed for its return and miraculously it reappeared! History does not record what became of the novice. I am a quite a forgetful person who often loses things. Was it a coincidence that I had been given Anthony as my middle name? It seemed not. Similarly, as I was pursuing my studies I could ask my friend, who happened to have been declared a Doctor of the Church, to pray for me. And he could even be of assistance in my emerging practice in public speaking. St Anthony was renowned for his eloquence and ability to preach spontaneously. When his corpse was disinterred several years after his death to be placed in a grand tomb, it was found that his body had disintegrated but his tongue—the source of his eloquence—had remained intact. I finally had the chance to visit that ornate basilica that dominates Padua and I was thrilled to see in a glass reliquary the famous tongue, somewhat dried but still intact after almost 800 years. So is this all ghastly morbidity or sentimentality? To me our relationship with the saints is one of our greatest Catholic treasures. Through redemption in Christ— promised to us on earth and already realised by the saints in heaven—we are all united as one Church through time and through space. That is a very powerful community of prayer. It means that we are never alone. And it means that we can have special friends who help us with special requests. Continued on page 11
Youths can be ‘champions of mercy’ Toni Rowland W HEN we consider the situation of young people, should we speak of youth with families, without families, or youth in families? When one asks in a group, “What is a family?”, the stock answer is that of the nuclear unit: father, mother and children. But ask, “Who is your family?”, and groups might well mention neighbours as well as biological relatives. But back to youth. It is my perception that quite often in youth programmes the focus is on the immediate needs of the young people, their sense of self-worth, their education (including sexuality education), the job they hope or plan to have one day. And yet youth remain, and need to remain, an important part of a family through these challenging years. Relationships with parents or parent-figures remain strong but not necessarily easy; up one day and down the next. Families continue to support young people in an environment where youth unemployment is so high. Ideally the relationship can be of interdependence, to a degree. Those who work bring in the money. Those who don’t work can contribute in other practical ways, such as taking care of home and children. It is difficult for parents who work for long hours to come home and still have to cook and clean while the youth are lazing about or are out. Consider too the childheaded family where a young person who may still be at school has to take on a parenting role. Pope Francis celebrated the Mercy Jubilee for Youth in April. He told the youth that love is their Christian ID document. Love is beautiful and it means to give and to care. A relationship with Jesus, who is ever faithful, is a source of strength and a
model. Youth have a growing desire for affection and “the Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection more beautiful, to love without being possessive”, the pope said. A longing for freedom is natural at this time—and we are reminded of that this month as South Africa observes national Youth Day on June 16. Personal freedom is not just doing what you choose but is being able to choose the good. Pope Francis writes: “Love is a free gift, a responsibility, but a noble responsibility and a daily task.”
family is a school of love. The pope has much to say on this in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, or The Joy of Love. There is a strong emphasis on marriage and the married couple, but he also speaks at length about marriage preparation which is ideally a normal natural part of growing up. This remote preparation happens through exposure. The proximate stage begins during late teens and early adulthood when the young adults are looking for and finding partners. But today there is also a trend for later marriage, or no marriage, or an option for the single life.
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The immediate preparation is the time before a wedding which is not just a weekend or short course but a more intensive reflection on the responsibilities and joys of this new state of life. Youth think of sex but often do not think seriously about marriage or may be put off by not seeing positive, happy marriages around them. Is that why many say, “I’m not interested in marriage, I want to do my own thing”? Pope Francis wrote: “Jesus wants us to be up on our feet. He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise’. Jesus’ hand is often given through the hand of a friend, through the hand of one’s parents and those who accompany us through life.” And addressing the young people at the jubilee in April, he issued this challenge: “Let your daily programme be the works of mercy. Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice. Be champions in life, champions in love! That is your Christian ID.” Marfam’s family focus for Youth Month is “Youth for Mercy”. Do they experience mercy in their young lives from God, their families and others? Do they offer mercy to others in whatever kind of needs there are? Protesting for free tertiary education or schooling or services can be seen as seeking mercy but beneath and beyond that must be the sense of the common good which begins through “Building Homes of Merciful Love”, this year’s family theme. n For more on Marfam visit marfam.org.za
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Change can be a good thing
HE levels of migration out of the Middle East into Europe and elsewhere has achieved what many years of work by communications and advocacy departments had failed to do: it has placed the issue of migration squarely onto the front pages of newspapers and into the minds of most people. This point was made last year, by way of a quip, by Antonio Guiterrez, outgoing commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. At the same time a handful politicians and leaders generally have used the situation to incite fear and to boost wall-building as a solution to stop such people movements. More widely governments are interpreting people movements in terms of a threat to security— both in terms of the possibility of criminals or terrorists entering countries but more widely the possible change that new people with different customs or religions might bring to a country. Any movement of people brings with it both opportunity and also risk, but it will always bring change. All change is potentially threatening but, often when seen in hindsight, can be ultimately beneficial. Countries have a right to control movement across their borders; this is a key function of government on which it will be judged. However, this right is not absolute. In 2008, South Africa took a principled decision to admit Zimbabweans who were fleeing the economic collapse of their country. The government realised that there are occasionally humanitarian imperatives that outweigh other considerations. In short, people have a right to migrate for their own safety and survival. With all the talk about migration it was refreshing to see a statement by Brother Alois, the current prior of the ecumenical community at Taizé in southern France. In it, he speaks so sensibly and humanely about the current migration “crisis”. “Around the world, women, men and children are forced to leave their homes. They are motivated by a distress that drives them to leave everything behind. This distress is stronger than any obstacles we can put in their way,” Brother Alois wrote. “The great migratory movements which we are experiencing are inescapable. Pretending otherwise is extremely shortsighted. Looking for ways to regulate this flow is legitimate and even necessary, but wanting to stop it by building walls is useless. We cannot allow the rejection of foreigners to become engrained in us because refusing others is the seed of barbarism. “The first step should be for wealthy countries to become fully aware that they are partially responsible for the wounds that have caused, and continue to cause, huge flows of migrants, namely from Africa and the Middle East,” he continued. “The second step is to overcome their fear of foreigners and bravely start shaping the new face that these migrations are already bringing to our societies. “Instead of seeing foreigners as a threat to our affluence or culture, we should welcome them as a member of humankind. …. People who knock at the door of countries richer than their own incite these countries to show their solidarity. Don’t they help provide these countries with new momentum?” Brother Alois was, of course, speaking in the context of Europe, but these words clearly apply anywhere. We are being called deeper to the heart of our various faiths, all of which ask us to recognise that a person in distress as a sister or brother of my human family. They have a call on us, for our solidarity. And we will eventually be judged by the manner by which we respond. n Fr David Holdcroft SJ is the regional director of Jesuit Refugee Service Southern Africa.
The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
COMMUNITY Youth at Ss Peter and Paul parish in George, diocese of Oudtshoorn, were confirmed by Bishop Frank de Gouveia. (From left) catechist Alba Weldon, ToranJean, Julia, Kiara, Bishop de Gouveia, Shannon and Wade.
Salesians from the AFM province (Southern Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland) gathered at Bosco Youth Centre in Johannesburg for their tenth provincial chapter, reviewing progress made since the last general chapter held in Rome three years ago. Representatives from the various communities and members of the provincial council are pictured with provincial Fr Francois Dufour (centre front) and moderator Fr Edmund O’Neill (second row, second from left). They are seen with a picture of St Dominic Savio.
The U14A and U15A netball teams of Assumption Convent School in Johannesburg participated in the Catholic Schools Festival held at St Teresa’s Convent. The teams won their pool and finished 2nd overall out of 16 schools. The U15 netball team (from left) Chinenye Ngwu, Kendall Cox, Teah Slabbert, Carmen Mileder, Jodie Langdon, Ntokozo Yende and Amy Weinerlein.
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Students from Alma Mater International School in Wentworthpark, Krugersdorp, and their teachers, ground staff and cleaners, walked to the Holy Rosary church, where parish priest Fr Ignatius Fidgeon OMI celebrated a Mass for the feast of the Ascension.
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A seminar for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and catechists was held at Don Bosco Youth Centre in Dysseldorp, near Oudtshoorn. (From left) Dawn McMaster, Bobbi MorganSmith, Fr Enrico Parry, Deacon Lucas and Agnes Timmers from St Anthony’s parish in Sedgefield.
St Benedict’s College in Johannesburg joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to celebrate the feast day of their founder St Eugene de Mazenod. The Oblates celebrate their bicentennial this year. St Benedict’s chaplain Fr Thabo Mothiba (left) welcomed Oblate novice master Fr Vitalis Marole (centre) along with a group of novices from the novitiate in Germiston.
Parish priest Fr Jude Fernando TOR sells delicacies to parishioners during a cake sale at Our Lady of Good Help in Verulam, archdiocese of Durban, as part of fundraising activities for a community hall and catechism classrooms.
The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
Making God seen in the ashes after fire Winter is fire season in informal settlements and emerging suburbs. KEVIN ROUSSEL explains how the Catholic development organisation he directs responds in bring God to people affected by fire.
I A woman looks at the destruction left after a fire ravaged Zolo informal settlement in Hout Bay, Cape Town. More than 60 families were affected by that fire. In his article, Kevin Roussel urges that in its response the Church must make God visible in the ashes of fire destruction. (Photos courtesy Catholic Welfare & Development)
After she lost all possessions in a shack fire in the Hill View Capricorn informal settlement in Cape Town, a woman sleeps in two armchairs.
N the book of Hebrews, God is described as a burning fire. At Pentecost, just a few weeks ago, we were reminded that the Spirit descended on the disciples like tongues of fire. On the road to Emmaus the two disciples realise that their hearts burned within them. And throughout the Old Testament, there is fire as a sacrifice, fire as a sign of God’s anger and fire as a way in which God communicates through a burning bush. In the Scriptures, fire is a recurring theme to signify the presence of God. In the secular world, fire is synonymous with destruction, bad luck and the lack of the presence of God. Fires capture news headlines as they sweep across the environment threatening billions of rands worth of human settlements and other worldly goods. Any and every effort is put in place to protect the assets of people with the brave women and men of the fire service working extra hours to fight the blazes. Religious organisations respond to the aftermath of fires. Our Islamic brothers and sisters through the Gift of the Givers and the Red Crescent are popularly known for their disaster relief efforts. How can two conflicting worldviews make sense to a Catholic development organisation in discerning our call to respond to
What causes fires? F
IRE statistics in South Africa make for alarming reading. In 2013, the latest year for which comprehensive figures are available, nearly 10 000 homes were destroyed in formal (4 859) and informal residential dwellings (4 886). That year 573 people were killed in fires, more than in any year in the preceding ten years. Almost half of the victims, 280, died in shack fires, according to the SA National Fire Statistics. In both formal dwellings, the leading three main causes for fires were electricity (925), followed by open flames (805) and cooking (388). In informal dwellings, the leading cause was open flames (1 177), followed by electricity (511) and cooking (349). The cost of damage to formal dwellings amounted to more than R770 million; to informal dwellings nearly R118 million. Winter is a particularly hazardous
time in informal settlements as people use appliances like heaters, paraffin stoves and container fire to warm their homes, Gauteng emergency services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi told africancleanenergy.com. “In particular people who live in informal settlements are the most vulnerable to fires as their home structures are normally built too close together, which can allow fire to break out and spread easily,” Mr Mulaudzi said. He said young children are often left unsupervised with candles, paraffin lights and stoves, having been given responsibility beyond what they can cope with for their age, such as taking care of their siblings while they are away. “The children will then attempt to cook, boil water, or switch the lights on, inadvertently causing a house fire. And in crowded living spaces a single house fire can have disastrous effects on a community,” he said.
the people of God when virtually every day fires destroy family homes? Here there are no brave fire service personnel or newspaper headlines but instead the triumph of the human spirit and a small team of emergency responders from Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD), the development agency of the archdiocese of Cape Town. From June to December 2015, some 1 500 families received support from CWD to perform the miracle of rebirth following fires that destroyed their homes. One year ago this month, CWD responded to supporting a student from one of the “Jobstart” programmes. The student had lost his home during a fire. He ran into a burning shack to save two things, his chef’s uniform, and his student card, the two items of most value to him.
e began to look at what we could do and soon realised that regular donations in kind and some generous financial donors had made it possible for CWD to develop a small emergency response team. With limited financial resources we discerned that we should follow the Bible lesson of leaving the 99 sheep behind and finding the one lost sheep, after all larger operations were responding to the fires that make headlines. Our team therefore would find families whose house was taken by fire where no other houses were affected. Six months later, 1 500 families were assisted. These families would have received no other support had this team not been formed. The support we provide is to assist people rebuilding their lives against limited sympathy by using our leverage to fast track the re-issuing of documents from home affairs, coordinating with
the City to provide building materials, provision of a food basin to provide essential nutrition, basic kitchen equipment such as pots, pans and utensils, basic bedroom materials including mattresses, linens and duvets, and also provide additional materials to ensure flood prevention and limiting the risk of another fire affecting the home. As we respond to fires, God’s presence is felt. With homes destroyed due to poor spatial planning, use of fossils fuels for the underprivileged (paraffin burners), or in some extreme cases arson, empty devastated spaces are transformed into new homes, often larger than their predecessors, that can be built with zoning space to prevent fires. Our team also works with communities during this time to increase Disaster Risk Reduction by providing education on how to prevent fires, providing sand bags and rain-proof roof sheets. Last Christmas we also introduced a bigger 20-litre “Bucket of Love” which has been distributed across fire prone areas. Most fires can be stopped if there are 10 litres of water in close proximity to the fire. In emerging suburbs, homes have access to a communal tap usually too far for residents to reach to stop a fire. Psalm 66 and Proverbs 17 reveal that as the silversmith uses fire to purge the dross from the precious metal, so God uses the Spirit to remove our sin from us. His fire cleanses and refines. In Acts we read that after the apostles received the Spirit at Pentecost, they had a passion that lasts a lifetime and impelled them to speak the word of God boldly. And so, in our small way, CWD today ensures that those affected by fires see and feel the presence of God. n Kevin Roussel is the director of Catholic Welfare and Development.
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Mary, the mother of Christians, Muslims In Lebanon, Muslims and Christians alike visit a Marian shrine near Beirut. DOREEN ABI RAAD examines how this place of pilgrimage is uniting people in a common devotion.
IGH on a summit overlooking the Mediterranean, Our Lady of Lebanon stands majestically with her arms outstretched, welcoming her children. Muslims and Christians alike come to the shrine, 25km north of Beirut. To Muslims, Mary is known in Arabic as “Seidatna Maryam”, Our Lady Mary. Even though Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, in the Quran, a chapter is devoted to Maryam. In Lebanon, the feast of the Annunciation is celebrated by both Christians and Muslims as a national holiday. Some Muslims come to Harissa as tourists to enjoy the spectacular views from the shrine’s 575m summit, and some Muslims even visit its churches to pray, said Maronite Father Younen Obeid, rector of Harissa. “It depends on each person. But for sure, all of them have a big respect for Mary,” he said of the Muslim visitors. At times, one can see as many Muslim pilgrims in Harissa as Christian. Thousands of Muslim pilgrims
People visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in the village of Harissa near Beirut. Muslims and Christians alike come to the shrine. (Photo: Dalia Khamissy/CNS)
A woman prays at the monument of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, Lebanon, 125km north of Beirut. (Photo: Cynthia Karam, Reuters/CNS)
come from Iran each year, for example. During the Marian month of May, the shrine receives about 1 million visitors, Fr Obeid said. For Lebanese, particularly Maronite Catholics who have a deep devotion to Mary, this May pilgrimage is an annual tradition. Marie Rose Hajj Boutros, a Maronite Catholic, has fond childhood memories of her parents taking her and her four siblings to Harissa several times each month. “You find peace here,” Ms Hajj Boutros, 45, said during a visit to
“As soon as we started singing, a bird flew over the Virgin’s crown and a cloud enveloped us,” Ms Hajj Boutros recounted. “It was beautiful. For us, it was a symbol of the presence of God.” Ms Hajj Boutros relayed how a group of Muslim teenagers, visiting the shrine as part of a school trip, “listened intently to our hymns”. “It’s nice to see how Our Lady can unite us, Christian and Muslim. She’s the mother of us all,” Ms Hajj Boutros said.
the shrine with her Bible study group. “It’s like you are under the Virgin’s mantle, under her protection. When you come to Harissa, you feel like your problems will be solved.” As part of the Bible study group’s annual May pilgrimage, the eight women first prayed the rosary, offering intentions for their families, Lebanon, the Middle East and the world. They then climbed the 103 spiralling steps—with a guitar in tow —to sing Marian hymns in English at the feet of the Blessed Mother.
HOLY CROSS SISTERS’ SCHOOL
Holy Cross Sisters’ School is an Independent Catholic School established in Bellville in 1969. The school has a caring family atmosphere in the Holy Cross tradition and a record of quality valuesbased education. It is nestled in the leafy suburb of Bloemhof with extensive grounds and excellent sporting facilities.
PrinCiPal of SCHool
applications are invited for the following post commencing 1 january 2017
the successful candidate will: Preferably be a practising Catholic Have an understanding and be committed to the Catholic ethos and mission of the school Have a teaching degree / diploma / M+3 Have an understanding of present developments in education and experience in CAPS Be familiar with the Religious Education Policies and Programmes in Catholic Schools Have strong leadership skills Have good interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate at all levels in diverse situations Have excellent organisational skills Have a minimum of 10 years teaching experience Have held the position of Deputy Principal or at least HOD in a Primary School in South Africa Have a satisfactory record of innovation, commitment and professionalism Be registered with SACE Be either a South African citizen or hold permanent residence in South Africa
Manage and provide leadership in accordance with principles and policies of the school Manage the Pre-Primary, Primary and Aftercare facility Co-ordinate and direct the Academic, Extra Curricular, Liturgical and Religious programmes in the school Ensure that all staﬀ meet appropriate professional standards Provide appropriate pastoral care for staﬀ and learners Manage all aspects of Human Resources Manage all administrative tasks Manage Quality Assurance in the school Administer and take responsibility for the Annual Budget approved by the Board Be accountable to the relevant authorities mainly the Holy Cross Provincial, the Board and WCED Facilitate adequate planning and ensure appropriate development Ensure that the school acts in accordance with the Vision and Mission of the Holy Cross Sisters at all times Conduct the school as a Christian community in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church and the charisma of the Holy Cross Sisters. Collaborate with the Catholic school network, including Provincial and national structures
he shrine’s origins trace to 1904, when Maronite Catholic Patriarch Elias El-Hoyek and the Vatican nuncio to Lebanon decided to commission a token of devotion to Mary on the 50th anniversary of the dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. The statue was consecrated in May 1908. The statue, molten bronze painted white, was crafted in Lyon, France. It is 8,5m high and 5,5m wide. The stone base, or pedestal, is 20m high, with steps spiralling up to the statue. Many Christian pilgrims leave their shoes at the foot of the pedestal and make their way up barefoot. One 21-year-old Sunni Muslim university student from Beirut, who identified herself only as Zeina, visited Harissa for the second time in May with her Maronite Catholic friend, Charbel Eid, who introduced her to the shrine less than a month earlier. “This time I suggested it, but Charbel brought me here,” Zeina said, expressing their mutual desire to be at Harissa. Zeina asked that her name not be published because her family is not aware that she is dating a Christian. “My family is very traditional,” she said. Dressed in a hijab, colour-coor-
dinated with her T-shirt, Zeina said that during this visit, she entered the Mother of Light Chapel at the base of the statue’s pedestal. “I felt a little awkward at first, but the people there weren’t bothered at all by my presence, and that made me feel comfortable,” she said. “Honestly, I came here to pray and to ask many things of Maryam al Aadra [the Virgin Mary]. I asked her to protect the people I love and to make clear for me the way I should go. I prayed at her feet,” Zeina said. “I lit a candle for the first time,” she proudly added. “I hope what I came here for will happen and that I can stay positive.” Mr Eid said he considers Mary “the most important person in my life”, and he visits Harissa frequently. “When I’m sad, I come here. When I’m happy also,” he said. Most Christian pilgrims come to Harissa “to pray about their troubles or problems, to ask the Virgin Mary for something, to give thanks, to cry”, said Fr Obeid. Many go to Mass and to confession. Nine priests staff Harissa for the sacraments and for spiritual direction, and the shrine offers an extensive Mass schedule, with ongoing confessions: on weekdays, seven Masses and 18 hours of confession; on Sundays, 12 Masses and 20 hours of confession. Harissa is open 24 hours, every day. During a special Mass on June 12 in Harissa’s basilica—which seats 3 000 people—Maronite patriarch Cardinal Bechara Rai, who recently visited South Africa, will reconsecrate Lebanon to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Cardinal Rai has renewed the consecration there each year since the first time he consecrated the country on June 13, 2013.—CNS
applicants must submit a comprehensive CV together with 2 referees including 1 from your parish priest to: the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, Holy Cross Sisters’ School, P.o. Box 1016, Bellville 7535 or Submit it in a sealed envelope to the secretary of the school or electronic application: email@example.com Closing date: 17 june 2016
Holy Cross Sisters’ School reserves the right not to proceed with the ﬁlling of the post. An application in itself will not entitle the applicant to an interview or appointment. Failure to meet with the requirements of the post will automatically disqualify the applicant.
Our Lady of Lebanon chapel is lit at night. (Photo: Jamal Saidi, Reuters/CNS)
God puts mercy into action
ANY spiritual leaders have observed that the experience of loss and being overwhelmed with misery brings us to the edge of what it means to be human, and ironically makes us most open to an experience of the mystery that we know as God. Perhaps these raw moments in life bring us to present ourselves to God in a fully honest and even dangerous way. The psalms of God’s people express the human situation of bitterness and rivalry, joy and hope, in language that is blunt and void of any desire to pretend to feel otherwise. We might wish that we could feel at home with the world and at peace with all, but our lived experience teaches us that as often as not we feel out of balance and even abandoned. The psalmists cry out to God demanding to be heard, longing to be answered and hoping to be transformed. This is a relationship that is vital to the human search for meaning, the language of a people who are wed to a God who embodies mercy and faithful love. God made a covenant with his people in the desert, renewed it with them in the monarchy as they settled in Israel, and renewed it again in the return from exile in Babylon. This covenant relationship was to be marked by the very qualities of God: righteousness, justice and mercy. The mercy we speak of in this relationship is expressed in the Hebrew word hesed, which also may be translated as “faithful love” or “loving faithfulness” or
Year of Mercy
even “loyalty”. Hesed is not simply a state of being or a feeling but it is something that is done for another. God shows mercy and we are to show mercy. In Psalm 118, the opening and closing refrain is the same: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.” The psalmist goes on to describe how in times of danger God and God alone was worthy of trust. God showed mercy and faithfulness by coming to the aid of Israel who was surrounded by enemies, by providing strength and might that saved them.
salm 89 begins with a verse to drive home to God that divine faithfulness is needed even when it seems Israel’s kings have been defeated: “I will sing of your mercy forever, Lord, proclaim your faithfulness through all ages.” Mercy and faithfulness are God’s eternal attributes. Similarly, in Psalm 90, when God’s chosen community is in distress, the words of prayer are intended to remind God to be faithful and merciful to his people. They feel God’s wrath and confess their own sinfulness and cry out “Have pity on your servants! Fill us at daybreak with your mercy…show your deeds to
Our bishops’ anniversaries This week we congratulate: June 11: Bishop Francisco de Gouveia of Oudtshoorn on his 65th birthday June 13: Auxiliary Bishop Barry Wood of Durban on his 74th birthday
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO710. ACROSS: 4 Odyssey, 8 Nought, 9 Affront, 10 Easels, 11 Nectar, 12 Undamned, 18 Narrator, 20 Bypass, 21 Stream, 22 Unbound, 23 Gaelic, 24 Blunder. DOWN: 1 Angelus, 2 Subside, 3 Shalom, 5 Defender, 6 Strict, 7 Ennead, 13 Nonsense, 14 Steeple, 15 Primacy, 16 Hymnal, 17 Maroon, 19 Retrap.
Liturgical Calendar Year C – Weekdays Cycle Year 2 Sunday June 12 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13, Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11, Galatians 2:16, 19-21, Luke 7:36--8:3 Monday June 13, St Anthony of Padua 1 Kings 21, 1-16, Psalms 5, 2-3.5-7, Matthew 5, 38-42 Tuesday June 14 1 Kings 21:17-29, Psalms 51:3-6, 11, 16, Matthew 5:43-48 Wednesday June 15 2 Kings 2:1, 6-14, Psalms 31:20-21, 24, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Thursday June 16 Sirach 48:1-14, Psalms 97:1-7, Matthew 6:7-15 Friday June 17 2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20, Psalms 132:11-14, 1718, Matthew 6:19-23 Saturday June 18 2 Chronicles 24:17-25, Psalms 89:4-5, 29-34, Matthew 6:24-34 Sunday June 19 Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1, Psalms 63:2-6, 8-9, Galatians 3:26-29, Luke 9:18-24
your servants” (13, 14, 16). Again, mercy is action. The most profound hymn of lament in Scripture could arguably be Lamentations. Written at a time when Judah’s leaders had been forced into exile by their Babylonian enemies, Lamentations reads as a long funeral dirge. The royal city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and its temple lies in ruins. It seems that God’s people have been abandoned, that their God cannot compete with the power of Babylon’s deity Marduk. The people are grieving their loss and accepting their exile as punishment for their own sin, but they are conflicted since their God seems to be absent when they are most in distress. The writer describes the taunting that they must have heard from people who see only the loss and do not know their proud history. Out of this loss, words of grace appear in 3:22-23: “The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!” Perhaps, when at rock bottom, it takes a sunrise to remember that darkness is not our only friend (Psalm 88:19). As with God’s people in ancient times, we too can call on the mercy of God and trust God to turn mercy into action. And then prepare ourselves to act in mercy as well. n This is the third column in a 13part series. This article was originally published in Arkansas Catholic.
Friends in high places Continued from page 7 Our lives are made up of lots of little details and we might be afraid about “troubling God” about these. That of course is a mistake but it is psychologically understandable. Saints, who have been involved in lives as complicated and as trivial as ours, are people to whom we can turn without embarrassment to help us with those little things. Of course, it is still God’s power that is at work, but these individual saints, with their special focuses and special interests, can make us feel more comfortable about asking for that help. So I encourage you to look again at your names and confirmation saint, and see if there is special help that God is offering you through your patron. Or look at the needs you have in your life and find the saint who has been named for us by the Church to help us with that need. If you are not sure which saint to invoke then turn to the Internet which can help fill in the details. And if you are struggling with Google, a quick prayer to St Isidore of Seville will help. Because in his age Bishop Isidore tried to record everything that was known to humankind, so St John Paul II declared him the patron saint of the Internet. n Read more articles by Raymond Perrier at www. scross.co.za/category/perspectives/raymond-perrier
The Southern Cross, June 8 to June 14, 2016
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O’CONNOR—Joyce. Passed away on June 1. A wonderful friend to our late mom, Agnes Houghton. Lovingly remembered by Barbara, Mary, Margaret, Bridget and families. May her dear soul rest in peace.
there be an end to division, strife and war. May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
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. Thank you for prayers answered. Thanksgiving to Ss Jude and Rita. Jenny Randles.
O ViRGiN Mother, In the depths of your heart you pondered the life of the Son you brought into the world. Give us your vision of Jesus and ask the Father to open our hearts, that we may always see His presence in our lives, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, bring us into the joy and peace of the kingdom, where Jesus is Lord forever and ever. Amen
lORD, inspire those men and women who bear the titles “husband” and “wife”. Help them to look to You, to themselves, to one another to rediscover the fullness and mystery they once felt in their union. Let them be honest enough to ask: “Where have we been together and where are we going?” Let them be brave enough to question: “How have we failed?” Let each be foolhardy enough to say: “For me, we come first.” Help them, together, to reexamine their commitment in the light of Your love, willingly, openly, compassionately. fAtHER, you have given all peoples one common origin. It is your will that they be gathered together as one family in yourself. Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure justice for all. By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure an equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May
about African Stigmatist Reverend Sister Josephine Sul and Padre Pio among others. REStORAtiONS Of StAtUES, immaculately done. Please contact Jade, 011 665 2921/061 409 4406.
O HOlY SPiRit, in thanksgiving for favours granted. Chris H St JUDE, in thanksgiving for favours granted. Chris H.
AbORtiON is murder. Silence on this issue is not golden, it’s yellow! Avoid pro-abortion politicians. See www.hli.co.za AbORtiON WARNiNG: The truth will convict a silent Church. See www.valuelifeabortion isevil.co.za fOR All ROSARY requirements, chain rosaries in various colours and sizes, also luminous ones, contact Fr Dominic Muheim CMM, cellphone 082 489 0706 or write to PO Box 11077, 3624 Marianhill, KZN ViSit PiOUS KiNtU’S official website http://ave maria832.simplesite.com This website has been set up to give glory to the Most Holy Trinity through the healing power of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. View amazing pictures of Pious Kintu’s work in Congo and various African countries since 2007. Also read
ST. KIZITO CHILDREN’S PROGRAMME St. Kizito Children’s Programme (SKCP) is a community-based response to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children, established through the Good Hope Development Fund in 2004 in response to the Church’s call to reach out to those in need. Operating as a movement within the Archdiocese of Cape Town, SKCP empowers volunteers from the target communities to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) living in their areas. The SKCP volunteers belong to Parish Groups that are established at Parishes in target communities. Through the St. Kizito Movement, the physical, intellectual, emotional and psycho-social needs of OVCs are met in an holistic way. Parish Groups provide children and families with a variety of essential services, while the SKCP office provides the groups with comprehensive training and on-going support. In order to continue its work, SKCP requires on-going support from generous donors. Funds are needed to cover costs such as volunteer training and support, emergency relief, school uniforms and children’s excursions. Grants and donations of any size are always appreciated. We are also grateful to receive donations of toys, clothes and blankets that can be distributed to needy children and families.
If you would like to find out more about St. Kizito Children’s Programme, or if you would like to make a donation, please contact Wayne Golding on 021 782 2880 or 082 301 9385 Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be deposited into our bank account: ABSA Branch: Claremont, 632005; Account Name: St Kizito Children’s Programme ; Account Number: 4059820320 This advertisement has been kindly sponsored
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Traditional Latin Mass Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel 36 Central Avenue, Pinelands, Cape Town Call 0712914501 for details. Email:email@example.com The
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12th Sunday: June 19 Readings: Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1, Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9, Galatians 3:26-29, Luke 9:18-24
S outher n C ross
The price is worth paying
T seems that suffering is an inevitable part of our discipleship; but we do not follow the vocation because we long to suffer—rather we do so because once you have heard God’s invitation you know that there is no other way to go. God is the deepest longing in our soul, and then nothing else matters. In the first reading for Sunday, we have the prediction of a servant of God, a prophet who has been ill-treated by “the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem”; but because God is at work: “They shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son.” So “on that day there shall open up for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem a fountain, for purifying from sin and uncleanness”. This prophecy, including the statement that “they shall look upon him whom they pierced”, was taken up by the early Christians as referring to Jesus. The psalm likewise fits Jesus; here the key is the profound longing to which it gives voice: “God, you are my God [and this is two
different Hebrew words for “God”]: I seek you, my soul is thirsting after you.” That is the keynote of Jesus’ life, from his baptism (“my Son, the beloved”) to his agony (“Abba, Father”), and God is the only thing that matters: “Your steadfast love is better than life… my soul clings on behind you.” For Paul, likewise, in the second reading, arguing with his Galatians, God, and in particular his beloved Jesus Christ, is what matters above all: “You are all children of God, through the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” Then he explores with them the meaning of being “in Christ”: “As many of you as are in Christ, you have put on Christ”, so that in a sense they actually become Christ. This then means that “in him there is no such thing as Jew or Greek, no such thing as slave or free, no such thing as ‘male and female’.” So all these artificial distinctions are simply abolished, once we put God and Christ at the centre of our lives: “For you are all one in
Christ Jesus.” Then comes the climax of the argument: “If you all belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.” This means engaging in the suffering that comes from moving out of a familiar cultural setting, but we do this, not because pain is good, but because God and Christ represent our deepest longing. In Sunday’s Gospel, we have Luke’s version of Jesus’ first prediction of his suffering; it is typical of Luke that he presents Jesus at the start of the story as “praying on his own”, and (somehow) in the presence of his disciples. Then he throws them a double challenge, first, “Who do people say I am?”, to which they give various suitably religious-sounding responses: “John the Baptist…Elijah…some one of the ancient prophets has risen up”; then, secondly (and it comes to us as well): “What about you; who do you say I am?” Peter, God bless him, comes up with the cor-
If you think you pray wrong T
HE spirituality writer Tom Stella tells a story about three monks at prayer in their monastery chapel. The first monk imagines himself being carried up to heaven by the angels. The second monk imagines himself already in heaven, chanting God’s praises with the angels and saints. The third monk cannot focus on any holy thoughts but can think only about the great hamburger he had eaten just before coming to chapel. That night, when the devil was filing his report for the day, he wrote: “Today I tried to tempt three monks, but I only succeeded with two of them.” There’s more depth to this story that initially meets the eye. I wish that years ago, I had grasped how both angels and great hamburgers play a role in our spiritual journey. You see, for too many years, I identified the spiritual quest with only explicit religious thoughts, prayers and actions. If I was in church, I was spiritual; whereas if I was enjoying a good meal with friends, I was merely human. If I was praying and could concentrate my thoughts and feelings on some holy or inspiring thing, I felt I was praying and was, for that time, spiritual and religious; whereas if I was distracted, fatigued or too sleepy to concentrate, I felt I had prayed poorly. When I was doing explicitly religious things or making more obvious moral decisions, I felt religious; everything else was, to my mind, mere humanism. While I was not particularly
Manichaean or negative on the things of this world, nonetheless the good things of creation—of life, of family and friendship, of the human body, of sexuality, of food and drink—were never understood as spiritual, as religious. In my mind, there was a pretty sharp distinction heaven and earth, the holy and the profane, the divine and the human, between the spiritual and the earthly. This was especially true for the more earthy aspects of life: food, drink, sex and bodily pleasures of any kind. At best, these were distractions from the spiritual; at worst, they were negative temptations tripping me up, obstacles to spirituality.
ut by stumbling often enough, we eventually learn. I tried to live like the first two monks, with my mind on spiritual things, but the third monk kept tripping me up, ironically not least when I was in church or at prayer. While in church or at prayer and trying to force mind and heart onto the things of the spirit, I would forever find myself assailed by things that, supposedly, had no place in church: memories and anticipations of gatherings with friends, anxieties about relationships, anxieties about unfinished tasks, thoughts about my favourite sports teams, thoughts of wonderful meals with pasta and wine, of grilled steaks and bacon-burgers, and, most pagan of all, sexual fantasies that seemed the very antithesis of all that’s spiritual.
Nicholas King SJ
rect answer—“the Messiah of God”—but then Jesus goes on to say what this entails: “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and on the third day be raised.” Then it gets worse, as Jesus goes on to indicate that it is not only himself, but also his would-be disciples, for whom suffering is a non-negotiable: “If someone wants to come after me, they must deny themselves and take up their cross every day, and follow me.” Then a characteristic teaching, often enough heard on Jesus’ lips: “For anyone who wants to save their life [or soul] will lose it; but anyone who loses their soul [or life] for my sake will save it.” The point is the familiar one; if we get Jesus right, then God is the only thing that matters, and therefore the suffering that may be involved in following Jesus as our Messiah is a price worth paying.
Southern Crossword #710
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
It took some years and better spiritual guidance to learn that many of these tensions were predicated on a poor and faulty understanding of Christian spirituality and of the real dynamics of prayer. The first faulty understanding had to do with misunderstanding God’s intent and design in creating us. God did not design our nature in one way—that is, to be sensual and to be so rooted deeply in the things of this earth— and then demand that we live as if we were not corporeal and as if the good things of this earth were only sham and obstacles to salvation, as opposed to being an integral part of salvation. Moreover, the incarnation—the mystery of God becoming corporeal, sensual, taking on human flesh—teaches unequivocally that we find salvation not by escaping the body and the things of this earth but by entering them more deeply and correctly. Jesus affirmed the resurrection of the bodily, not the flight of the soul. The second misunderstanding had to do with the dynamics of prayer. Initially, in its early stages, prayer is about focus and concentration on the sacred, on conversations with God, on trying to leave aside for a time the things of this world to enter into the realm of the sacred. But that’s the early stage of prayer. Eventually, as prayer deepens and matures, in the words of John of the Cross, the important things begin to happen under the surface, and sitting in chapel with God is not unlike sitting down with someone you sit down with regularly. If you visit someone on a daily basis, you won’t each day have deep, intense conversations; mostly you will talk about everyday things—family concerns, the weather, sports, politics, the latest TV programmes, food, and so on—and you’ll find yourself looking at your watch occasionally. It’s the same with our relationship to God. If you pray regularly, daily, you don’t have to agonise about concentrating and keeping the conversation focused on deep, spiritual things. You only have to be there, at ease with a friend. The deep things are happening under the surface.
4. Homer’s epic poem (7) 8. Nothing (6) 9. Font far from insult (7) 10. Three-legged supporters (6) 11. Divinely sweet beverage (6) 12. Not destined for hell (8) 18. The teller not in the bank (8) 20. Detour to the surgery (6) 21. Master upset in the flow (6) 22. Unrestricted and unobligated (7) 23. Angelic language without number (6) 24. Burn led to serious error (7)
1. Prayer to honour the Incarnation (7) 2. Slide down and become calm (7) 3. Peace among the Hebrews (6) 5. Title of the Faith of King Henry VIII (8) 6. Severe religious rule (6) 7. Need an alteration for group of Egyptian gods (6) 13. This has no meaning (8) 14. This chase has church in sight (7) 15. State of the archbishop (7) 16. Congregational song book (6) 17. A colour to isolate? (7) Solutions on page 11 19. Snare a second time (6)
N Irish farmer named O’Riley lived alone in the countryside with a small dog that he loved and doted on. After many long years of faithful companionship, the dog finally died, so O’Riley went to the parish priest: “Father, my dear old dog is dead. Could you be saying a Mass for him?” Father Patrick replied: “I am so very sorry to hear about your dog’s death. But, unfortunately, I can’t say Mass for the poor creature…” O’Riley said: “I understand, Father, I do. I guess I’ll go to this new denomination down the road; no tellin’ what they believe… Do you think 500 euros is enough to donate for the service?” Father Patrick: “Ah, Mr O’Riley, but why didn’t you tell me your little dog was Catholic?”
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