Sunday, December 9, 2012



Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles,whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit,and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink.If the whole body were just an eye,how could it hear?And if it were only an ear,how could it smell?As it is however,God put every different part in the body just as he wanted it to be.There would not be a body if it were all only one part. As it is there are many parts but one body.
( 1 Corinthians 12, 12 – 20).

The on-going development of the sodalities in the parishes and diocese requires that their members understand the constitution of their sodality and that they be committed members faithful to the spirit and content of their constitutions. The leadership of the different associations should ensure that they complement one another and together assist in the common apostolic services of the Church in a spirit of Catholic communion. There is a special need for the development of a Catholic men’s association in all the parishes of the Diocese of Tzaneen. All our Catholic associations and sodalities need to cultivate a deep solidarity with the Catholic communion in service of parish and diocesan needs. There should be no rivalry or superiority or inferiority complexes among them but a clear awareness of their special charisms and how they complement and complete the building up of the one and same Body of Christ which is the Church. Priests and pastoral leaders should be especially concerned about ensuring that this Catholic communion be maintained and that any signs of unhealthy competition and conflicts be addressed immediately for the sake of the Christ and the unity of His Gospel.


Various syncretistic movements and sects have sprung up in Africa in recent decades. Sometimes it is hard to discern whether they are of authentically Christian inspiration or whether they are simply the fruit of sudden infatuation with a leader claiming to have exceptional gifts. Their nomenclature and vocabulary easily give rise to confusion, and they can lead people in good faith astray. These many sects take advantage of an incomplete social infrastructure, the erosion of traditional family solidarity and inadequate catechesis in order to exploit people’s credulity, and they offer a religious veneer to a variety of heterodox non-Christian
beliefs. They shatter the peace of couples and families through false
prophecies and visions. They even seduce political leaders. The Church’s theology and pastoral care must determine the causes of this phenomenon ,not only in order to stem the haemorrhage of the faithful from the parishes to the sects ,but also in order to lay the foundations for a suitable pastoral response to the attraction that these movements and sects exert. Once again, this points to the need for a profound evangelization of the African soil.(Africae Munus,91).






Who are these people dressed in white robes and where do they come from?
I don’t know sir, You do. He said to me: These are the people who have come safely through the terrible persecution. They have washed their robes and made them white with the blood of the Lamb. That is why they stand before God’s throne and serve him day and night in his temple. (Revelations 7, 13 -15).

Catholics should promote the cause of the Servant of God Benedict Daswa with the hope that he will be recognised as the first Catholic martyr in our Southern African region. Dissemination of information concerning the cause should reach out to the whole diocese: every parish should be involved in promoting the story and devotion for the cause of Benedict Daswa.
For example the Novena Prayer which is on the diocese website should be promoted especially during the month of February.
The importance of making known throughout our diocese and the SACBC region the cause of the servant of God Benedict Daswa and to seek his intercession for our needs should be part of the pastoral programme of every parish in our diocese as well as of our associations.


I encourage the Pastors of the local Churches to recognize among servants
of the Gospel in Africa those who could be canonized according to the norms of the Church ,not only in order to increase the number of African saints, but also to obtain new intercessors in heaven to accompany the Church on her pilgrim journey and to plead before God for the African continent. I entrust to Our Lady of Africa and to the saints of this beloved continent the Church that dwells there.
(Africae Munus, 114)























Then the King will say to the people on his right, “Come you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world.I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me to drink ;I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me. The righteous will then answer him, “When Lord did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? The King will reply, “I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these people of mine, you did it for me.” Then he will say to those on his left, “Away from me, you that are under God’s curse. Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels .I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink.” (Matthew 25, 34 – 42).

Parishioners should give support to outreach projects in their parishes by initiating some as well as co-ordinating others through a parish Justice and Peace Committee. Projects such as sewing, poultry, gardening, fish ponds, tree planting, animal rearing should be considered to raise funds and empower the needy people in the parish where possible. Through our health care ministries, we touch people’s lives, not only  materially but holistically – body –mind – spirit.  We wish to see our “spiritual teams” being supportive especially of the bereaved and the sick as well as reaching out to the orphans, the vulnerable and refugees in the parishes. The “Called to Serve” ministers need on-going nourishment and formation for them to continue in their works of mercy. Bible ministry should be integrated into all organised ministries involved in different works of mercy. Home visiting by priests and religious encourage lapsed Catholics to return to the Catholic community.

In the spirit of the Beatitudes, preferential attention is to be given to the poor, the hungry, the sick – for example ,those with AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria – to the stranger, the disadvantaged, the prisoner,the immigrant who is looked down upon, the refugee - displaced person..The response to these people’s needs in justice and charity depends on everyone. Africa expects this attention from the whole human family as from herself. However, it will have to begin by resolutely implementing political, social and administrative justice at home; this is part of the political culture needed for developmentand for peace. For her part, the Church will make her specific contribution on the basis of the teaching of the Beatitudes.
(Africae Munus, 27).






Instead, you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, with its thousands of angels. You have come to the joyful gathering of God’s first-born sons, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God who is the Judge of all mankind, and to the spirits of good people who have been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, who arranged the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that promises much better things than does the blood of Able…Let us be thankful, then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe; because our God is indeed a destroying fire. ( Hebrews 12,22 – 28).
There is a need for Catholics to develop in their Catholic identity with regard to the way they worship and express their faith. Catholics should learn to practice the great variety of faith expressions and worship which is part of the authentic tradition of the Catholic Church and which enriches the local cultures through proper liturgical adaptation. For example - praying the rosary in family and communities of faith, the proper use of holy pictures and sacramentals, charismatic healing prayer groups and spiritual retreats, Gospel -sharing groups, Eucharistic adoration, The Stations of the Cross, novenas, devotion to saints and the Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual reading and lectio divina with the Bible, Penitential Services with individual confession, Liturgy of the Word  celebrations during meetings and special  conferences. Catholic hymns need to be translated and sung regularly. In order to sing well in church, we need to have one or two people who take on the responsibility of leading the singing or choir in each parish. Liturgical catechesis should be part of the formation of the Catholics with the aim of making the Eucharist central to the life of the people. Training of altar servers, lectors, lay ministers of Holy Communion, sacristans, caring for the altar linen and vestments, need constant attention. Every parish should have a liturgical committee – ideally a priest, choir leader, lectors, altar servers leader, ministers of Holy Communion – which should meet regularly for preparing the Sunday liturgies according to the Ordo and liturgical seasons.
Here I exhort the whole Church in Africa to show particular care for the celebration of the Eucharist, memorial of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus,sign of unity and bond of charity,paschal banquet and pledge of eternal life.The Eucharist should be celebrated with dignity and beauty,in compliance with the established norms.Eucharistic adoration,individually and in community,will lead to a deeper appreciation of this great mystery.Along these lines,a continental Eucharistic Congress could be celebrated.This would bolster the effort of Christians to testify to the fundamental values of communion in every African society.To ensure respect for the Eucharistic mystery,the Synod fathers recalled that churches and chapels are sacred places,to be used solely for liturgical celebrations,avoiding to the extent possible that they become simply places for socializing or cultural places.
 (Africae Munus, 153 -154)



I would like you to be free from worry. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord’s work, because he is trying to please the Lord. But a married man concerns himself with worldly matters because he wants to please his wife; and so he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord’s work, because she wants to be dedicated both in body and spirit; but a married woman concerns herself with worldly matters because she wants to please her husband. I am saying this because I want to help you. I am not trying to put restrictions on you. Instead I want you to do what is right and proper, and to give yourselves completely to the Lord’s service without any reservations.
(1 Corinthians 7, 32 – 35).

Local vocations to the priesthood and religious life should be promoted in parish prayer groups and families. Parish vocation-promotion teams should be established. Special workshops and retreats for young people searching for their vocation in life should take place regularly in the parish. Also - at diocesan level - priests and religious sisters should cooperate and get involved and support vocation promotion prayer drives and workshops. Literature promoting vocations should be made available to young people. On-going communication with young people interested in religious life and priesthood should be maintained with follow – up meetings. Parents should be helped to encourage their children to consider God’s call to the priesthood and religious life.

Wherever an integral pastoral ministry – with families, young people or in the mission field – develops and grows together with pastoral ministry for vocations,here is a flowering of priestly vocations and religious life.Thus,the vocational dimension is not simply the adding on of  programmes and suggestions,but becomes the natural expression of the whole community…The family remains the primary community for the transmission of the Christian faith.It can be seen everywhere that many vocations to the priesthood and religious life are born in families where
the example of a Christian life in keeping with its calling and practice of the
evangelical counsels give rise to the desire for complete self-giving.Care for
vocations presupposes,in reality,a strong family pastoral ministry…The witness of priests united to Christ ,happy in their ministry and united in brotherhood among themselves,has a strong vocational appeal for young men. ( Pastoral Guidelines For Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry,Vatican City 2012, par.3).






A man does well not to marry. But because there is so much immorality,
every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband. A man should fulfil his duty as a husband ,and a woman should fulfil her duty as a wife and each should satisfy the other’s needs. A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way, a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is….For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord’s: a wife must not leave her husband; but if she does,she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife. (1 Corinthinas 7,1 – 11).

The Catholic family should receive a stronger focus in parish life. Young people of each community should have regular opportunities to discuss issues on marriage and family life led by someone knowledgeable and trained in these matters. An important guide and resource for Christian living, marriage and family, published by the SACBC is called: God & Love, Life & Sex. Catholic sexuality education should be part of the formation for couples preparing for marriage in order to counteract the “culture of death” prevalent in our South African society. A vigorous family life ministry programme should be implemented in the parish with proper formation and catechesis. Prayers in our families should be promoted with special devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as to St Joseph and the Holy Family. Retreats for married couples should be done in the parish for their support and enrichment. Mature Catholic married couples should be involved in the parish family ministry. There is a deep need for our Catholic families to discover the Sacrament of Marriage as foundational for their family relationships and growth in the Spirit of Christ. Catholic sodalities and associations should help cultivate the values of fidelity and loving communion in married life where the husband and wife share an exclusive and sacred union of equal dignity.




The family is the best setting for learning and applying the culture of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.In a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters,the role of authority expressed by parents,loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth,sickness or old age,mutual help in the necessities of life,readiness to accept others and,if necessary to forgive them.For this reason the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace.By virtue of its central importance and the various threats looming over it – distortion of the very notion of marriage
and family,devaluation of maternity and trivialization of abortion,easy divorce and relativism of a “new ethics” – the family needs to be protected and defended,so that it may offer society the service expected of it,that of providing men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony.  (Africae Munus, 43).

Download Vision2020 PDF file at:


3.YOUTH and ANIMATORS and Vision 2020


They answered,"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and
your family."Then they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all the
others in his house.At that very hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds;and he and all his family were baptized at once.Then he took Paul and Silas up into his house and gave them some food to eat.He and his family were filled with joy,because they now believed in God.
(Acts 16, 31 – 34).


The salvation of Christ touches every member of the Catholic family, parents as well as the youth and children. Family prayer and Bible sharing is vital for the faith of the young at home. Also parents need to give their youth more support and motivation in parish life. The Diocese of Tzaneen Youth Manual needs to be used by all involved with the formation of youth groups for our young Catholics.There is a great need for parishes to identify mature and committed adults who will willingly and gladly help animate the youth – chosen by the youth and acceptable to the parish priest. The animator must be a person of faith with adequate knowledge of the Catholic teachings; a person of integrity, maturity and conviction, sensitive to the cries and longings of young people, and capable of responding to them. There needs to be more involvement of youth in church activities and in parish projects and ministries. The absence of many young people in parish life and ministries cannot be accepted as normal in a healthy parish life. A specific Sunday every month should be focused on the formation of the youth and their participation in worship. Education for Life programme should be linked with parish youth ministry. Youth need to be recruited into choir and other ministries such as children’s ministry. Also the young adults can be linked with Catholic university students. The parish leadership (priests and Parish Pastoral Council executive) should ensure that the youth are properly organised in their parishes according to the guidelines given in the diocesan Youth Manual. The youth group annual programme should be evaluated to ensure it is in accordance with the mind and Spirit of Christ and his Church and should include a parish spiritual retreat for the youth.


As I said on the subject of young people in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini: "Youth is a time when genuine and irrepressible questions arise about the meaning of life and the direction our own lives should take.Only God can give the true answer to these questions.Concern for young people calls for courage and clarity in the message we proclaim;we need to help young people to gain confidence and familiarity with Sacred Scripture so it can become a compass pointing out the path to follow.Young people need witnesses and teachers who can walk with them, teaching them to love the Gospel and to share it,especially with their peers,and thus to become authentic and credible messangers. (Africae Munus, 61).

Download the Vision2020 PDF file at:

2.SELF-RELIANCE and Vision2020


Remember that the person who sows few seeds will have a small crop;the one who sows many seeds will have a large crop.Each one should give, then ,as he has decided, not with regret or out of a sense of mere duty;for God loves the one who gives gladly.And God is able to give you more than you need,so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause.As the scripture say: "He gives generously to the needy;his kindness lasts forever."And God who supplies seed to sow and bread to eat,will also supply you with all you need and will make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity.He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times,so that many will thank God for your gifts which they receive from us.For this service you perform not only meets the needs of God’s people ,but also produces an outpouring of grateful thanks to God.

(2 Corinthians 9,6 – 12).

Catholics need to be taught about their financial responsibilities towards their parish and diocese as a concrete expression of their love and gratitude to God. Parish finance committees should be up to date with the administration of parish funds and give quarterly reports to the parish as well as to the diocesan office for evaluation in terms of budget expectations for the year. Such administration and reporting expresses appreciation for the support of the people and affirms the necessary trust which needs to be maintained between the community and those in charge of the financial administration of the parish. Financial accountability of Catholics should always be related to parish and diocesan pastoral needs. The diocesan policy and guidelines for administration of parish funds should be followed by all parishes in a transparent way. The giving of time, talent and money should be understood as normal in a spiritually healthy parish life. People need to be continually motivated and educated to give financial support to their parish and diocese in view of the vision of the diocese to be more self-reliant. Even if people go to the cities for jobs, they should maintain support of the parish of origin while they are still members of their home parish. Fund-raising projects should be planned for the year especially for maintenance of buildings and vehicles, and also for the annual seminarians fund and diocesan fund.

Precisely in this context the Synod Fathers emphasized how necessary it is for each Christian community to be organized so that as far as possible it can provide for its own needs.Besides qualified personnel,evangelization requires material and financial means,and the Dioceses are often far from possessing them in sufficient measure.It is therefore urgent that the particular Churches in Africa have the objective of providing for their own needs as soon as possible,thereby assuring their self-sufficiency.
Consequently I invite the Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses and all the Christian communities of the continent’s Churches,insofar as it is within their competence,to see to it that this self-sufficiency becomes
increasingly evident.
(Ecclesia in Africa 104).

For a PDF file download of Vision 2020 go to:



1. EVANGELIZATION AND CATECHESISBut as for you, continue in the truths that you were taught and firmly believe.You know who your teachers were, and you remember that ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth,rebuking error,correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living,so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.In the presence of God and Christ Jesus,who will judge the living and the dead,and because he is coming to rule as King,I solemnly urge you to preach the message,to insist upon proclaiming it,(whether the time is right or not),to convince,reproach and encourage,as you teach with all patience.The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine,but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear.(2 Timothy 3,14 – 4,3).

There is a need for proper training of volunteer catechists who can help in the catechetical formation programmes of the parish for different age groups. The purpose of each catechetical programme should be explained and the resources for each programme should be made known and made available. Catechetical Programmes should be clear and properly coordinated and strictly adhered to and monitored and evaluated by the parish catechetical committee. There should be an on-going formation and evangelisation programme for adults in all the parishes to support and ensure that Catholic parents are actually forming their children in the Catholic faith in their homes. Parishes need materials and a resource library for catechesis. Priests need to explain to the communities about the calling of a catechist and recruit and train volunteer catechists in the parishes and commission them for a defined period of ministry. The adult catechumenate programme (RCIA) needs the community involvement through faithful and well-informed sponsors who accompany new members and introduce them to lay pastoral ministries. Community worship should express support and prayers for the new members. Parish catechetical planning should include marriage preparation and family enrichment courses. The month of September should be set aside for raising awareness of the call for all in the parish to play a role in serving the catechetical needs of the different communities of the parish by honouring the volunteers catechists and making known how everyone can contribute and support the catechetical formation of the Catholics in their communities.

Dear catechists, remember that for many communities you are the first embodiment of the zealous disciple and a model of Christian life.I encourage you to proclaim,by your example, that family life merits great exteem,that a Christian upbringing prepares young people to live in society as persons who are honest and trustworthy in their dealings with others.Be welcoming to all without discrimination :rich and poor,native and foreign,catholic and non-Catholic.(James,2,1).Do not show partiality.
By your own assimilation of Sacred Scriptures and the teachings of the magisterium,you will be able to offer solid catechesis, guide prayer groups and propose lectio divina to the communities in your care.
(Africae Munus 127)

Download Vision2020 PDF file at:






The Lord is pouring out the Holy Spirit on our sons and daughters who are proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ; our young men see visions and our old men  have dreams inspired by God. Yes, God is pouring out the Holy Spirit on both men and women in the Catholic Church in our days in the Diocese of Tzaneen. We have a vision, Vision2020, and God is urging us to embrace it and live it in his grace so that God’s presence and love may be made more manifest in our Catholic lives.

(Acts of the Apostles 2, 17-21).


Vision2020 does not cover every aspect of the church’s life and mission in this diocese but it does provide areas of common concern and a general direction for the pastoral ministries in the diocese for the next 7 years. Generally speaking these areas concern matters internal to the Church’s life. This indicates that the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Tzaneen still needs much more development and deepening of its own roots in this region of Africa.Vision2020 will help guide the pastoral priorities and planning of parish ministries for next few years. Vision2020 will serve as a mirror for evaluating our pastoral work from year to year. Prayer remains central in our Vision2020 in order to cultivate an authentic witnessing Church in this diocese because “if the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the workers labour.” (Psalm 127, 1)..


During the new year 2013, the whole diocese, with the help of a coordinator, Ave Maria Pastoral Centre and the DPC, is focusing on the priority area of “Evangelisation and Catechesis” in line with the Year of Faith which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council as well as the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a most important fruit of that Council.

In this Year of Faith, then, the Catechism of the Catholic Church will serve as a tool providing real support for the faith, especially for those concerned with the formation of Christians, so crucial in our cultural context.”(Porta Fidei,12). The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. (James 2:14-18).

Our faith is our response to and through our encounter with the revealed Word of God, Jesus Christ, who is made known to us in a variety of different ways but in particular through the Holy Scriptures and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Our faith-response is itself inspired by the Holy Spirit given to us and working within us so that Christ may become more clearly manifest in our personal and communal lives. Generally speaking in our diocese, formation in the Catholic faith too often stops at the elementary stage, and the sects easily profit from this ignorance. Also the few Catholic schools in our diocese are struggling to maintain their Catholic faith and ethos which require a strong religious will by the leadership in this regard. (Africae Munus, 134)


A serious deepening of the faith is thus urgently needed, because the rapid democratization of South African society has given rise to new challenges linked to the phenomena of family uprooting, urbanization, unemployment, materialistic seductions of all kinds which are manifested in the spread of HIV, corruption at the highest levels of our society as well as violent crime of all kinds.(Ecclesia in Africa, 76). Let us understand that all Catholics, irrespective of age, need to deepen their roots in the Catholic faith by continually nourishing their faith through on-going catechesis and spiritual formation. Without this on-going formation, the roots of faith will remain very shallow and as a result the Catholic Church in our region will not be able to grow.

Vision2020 focuses on our Catholic roots and on our awareness that we ourselves need to be better evangelized, be it our marriages and families, be it our children and youth, be it our catechists, our catholic associations and our future priests and religious vocations. This is the only way that God will be able to manifest the Good News of Jesus Christ through us and our Catholic communities and make us attractive to more and more new members in our region who are thirsting for the saving truth and love of Christ.

“May the Catholic Church in Africa always be one of the spiritual lungs of humanity, and become daily an ever greater blessing for the noble African continent and for the entire world.” (Africae Munus,177).  And may our Lady of the Sacred Heart and St Joseph, her most chaste spouse, pray for us and help us realise Vision2020.

May God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have mercy on us all.

+Joao Rodrigues

Bishop of Tzaneen Diocese

For a PDF file download of Vision 2020 go to:


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bishop Michael Vincent Paschal Rowland, O.F.M.

Bishop Michael Vincent Paschal Rowland, O.F.M. the Bishop Emeritus of Dundee,died on 23 September 2012.May his soul rest in the peace of the Lord.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bishop Louis Ndlovu OSM died on 27 August 2012

The late bishop of Manzini Diocese,Swaziland.
May he rest eternally from his labours in the peace of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What happens to the POSITIO on Benedict Daswa?

The Diocese of Tzaneen is in the process of finalizing the Positio which is a collection of documents related to all the different aspects of the Cause.A sufficient number of copies will be published for the members of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. One copy, called the copia publica,will be kept in the archives of the diocese. This work is being done by a priest Fr Lucio de Stefano MSC who is residing in Rome.He is woking on the Positio under the relator Fr Kijas OFM Conv. from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
Once this is done the next steps will be as follows:
1. The Positio is presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
2. A group of theologians will scrutinize the evidence and documentation. If majority pass it, it goes to the prelates of the Congregation.

3. If the prelates of the Congregation approve, the Prefect of the Congregation publishes the "Decretum Super Martyrio of the Servant of God " and authorizes that the person be called Venerable.
4. The Prefect of the Congregation will then present the cause to the pope for the pope to decide on whether the Venerable martyr can be beatified or not.
5. Finally the pope declares beatification at a special Mass in honour of the newly acclaimed "Blessed martyr."

The process in the Congregation can be quite slow but we have an advantage because a miracle is not required for the beatification of a martyr. As soon as his martyrdom is approved by the Congregation then the door is open for the pope to declare him a martyr for beatification.

Tell people about Benedict Daswa

Why not join and become a member of the Group "Benedict Daswa - Apostle of Life" (which fits in the group category of Saints and Holy People). Tell other people about the life and martyrdom of the Servant of God Benedict Daswa. God chooses the humble in order to impart great blessings.

Pray for Fr Lucio MSC and Fr Kijas OFM Conv

 I think we should continue to pray to God for Fr Lucio de Stefano MSC who is in Rome doing all the work on the Positio documents and also remember to pray for Fr Zdzislaw Kijas OFM Conv. who is the relator appointed by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints specifically for the cause of Benedict Daswa.We pray that the Holy Spirit may guide them and help them to co-operate well together so that the work can be completed successfully before the end of the year.We also continue to pray to God for more people to give financial support so that we can have the work published successfully.Servant of God Benedict Daswa pray for the successful outcome of this work which we are doing for the greater glory of God.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Deaconate Ordination of Vicky Rikhotso

Seminarian Vicky Rikhotso will be ordained a deacon on 17 June this year at Motupa in the parish of Tzaneen. He completed his formation at St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria.We all wish him well and pray that God may affirm his calling with all the graces that he needs for his life and mission in the Diocese of Tzaneen.

Servant of God Benedict Daswa Cause

Promoting the Cause for the Beatification



                         Greetings in the grace of Christ from Tzaneen.

 I am pleased to give you an update on the recent developments concerning the Cause of the Servant of God.

At the moment we are in the process of obtaining the plot for the development of the Benedict Daswa Pilgrimage Site in the Thulamela Municipality We are deeply grateful to the following Dioceses who contributed towards our appeal for the purchase of the plot: The Archdioceses of Cape Town and Johannesburg, the Dioceses of Dundee, Francistown, Kimberley, Witbank and the Vicariate Apostolic of Ingwavuma and the generous donation from Bishop –emeritus Fritz Lobinger.

Father Lucio is completing his work on the Positio document in Rome on our behalf. We are hoping to have it published by the end of this year. An Official copy is to be presented to the Roman Congregation for the Cause of Saints, and other copies – in summary form -  will be presented to all the Bishops of SACBC Region as well some member churches of the SACC. The cost for the printing and publication of the Positio is estimated to be around Euro10 000.00 (R100 000.00+) which is the responsibility of the Tzaneen Diocese.

This year we have set up a desk in our Diocesan Office for the promotion of the Cause. This has added to our financial burden. I have appointed Sister Claudette Hiosan fdnsc as Promoter and Secretary for this desk. It is my belief that this Cause really belongs to the SACBC Region in line with the conviction of the Post-Synodal Exhortation, Africae Munus (# 114), which encourages us to recognise those who could be canonised according to the norms of the Church.

Your financial contribution would be an encouraging sign of your sharing in the common hope for the beatification of the first martyr in the Catholic Church of Southern Africa.

God bless you and may Our Lady of the Sacred Heart pray for us and the Cause.

+ Bishop Joao Rodrigues                                            (Sr) Claudette Hiosan (Promoter)

The particulars of the special Bank Account for the Cause are:

Bank:                           Standard Bank of South Africa
Branch:                        052749
Name of Account:       Diocese of Tzaneen: Benedict Daswa Cause
Account Number:       330911538
Swift Code:                SBZAZAJJ

Diocese of Tzaneen

* PO Box 261, Tzaneen, 0850

( 015 307 5244; Fax 015 307 3078; :

Friday, April 20, 2012

Need for Vocation Promotion

The Need for Vocation Promotion and on-going support in the Diocese of Tzaneen of our seminarians:Letter from the Bishop to all parishes.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Every year on Fourth Sunday of Easter the Catholic Church throughout the world prays for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It is a good time for us to reflect on this vital aspect of our Christian lives and consider the huge challenge we face in this regard especially because there are so few local and religious vocations in this diocese.

1. The Cost of supporting a seminarian

In general the seminarian is at the seminary for 8 and a half months of the year, that is
from Feb to mid June and then from mid –July to end of November. At John Vianney Seminary,they also have a week’s holiday in Easter as well as week’s holiday in September.The total cost for a seminarian for those 8 1/2 months of the year is presently calculated to be R 69 500. This means that the Catholic Church pays
R 8 176 per month for a seminarian at St John Vianney Seminary.
(NOTE from official SACBC website: St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria is projected to cost R8.35 Million in R2012. This may seem expensive, but as a stand-alone institution, this is realistic. There are some 120 students resident this year, giving a cost per student of R69 500. Each Bishop pays R 42 000 per year per student. This leaves a shortfall of R 27 500 per student (or approx R3.54 Million) that must be found. In 2011, St John Vianney Seminary received a grant from the Bishops’ Lenten Appeal of R 2.1Million. A small grant is received each year from the Pontifical Mission Society’s Opus Sancti Petri Trust (in 2011 R500 000) leaving a deficit of nearly R900 000.)
As a diocese,we pay R 42 000 per seminarian per year to the seminary and the rest of the balance of R 27 500 is subsidised by funding from outside of the diocese. Of course the diocese has extra costs because the seminarians also get pocket money and a travel allowance. The diocese is also responsible for the payment of medical costs and any other extra expense which a seminarian may incur while in seminary formation such as paying for the seminarian to obtain a driver’s licence. Your continual generosity to the Seminarians Fund is a source of great encouragement to me and to the diocese as a whole.

2. The four seminarians
Presently – 2012 - we have four seminarians:

Three seminarians at St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria:
i) Vicky Rikhotso – final term;
ii) Boitumelo Magoro – fourth year theology;
iii) Tebogo Modiba – third year theology (doing internship at Dwars River Parish until June)

One seminarian at St Francis Xavier Seminary in Cape Town:
iv) Boniface Chabalala – orientation year.

3. Future Prospects
It is difficult to predict the future concerning local vocations to the ordained priesthood but we can thank the Lord for the few dedicated seminarians of this diocese. They need our friendship, financial support and prayers. As a diocese we will need to continually help our youth to be formed in the love of Christ and to challenge some of them to a more radical response to God’s call as future religious and priests.
We are also proud of Fr John Selemela who has been assigned to teach and help with the formation our seminarians at St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria.

4.Promoting vocations to the religious life and priesthood in your parish
There is no easy way of promoting local vocations. It is a continual challenge for Catholic parents and families to express a great love and appreciation for the priests and missionaries in the parishes and to pray that God may call at least one of their children to the religious life or priestly ministry. We realise that many of our catholic parents do not desire this for their children and for this reason there needs to be a continual reminder in our parishes that God is calling some of their children to a priestly and religious vocation.

A practical way for cultivating a positive attitude towards the special vocation to a religious or priestly life is for each parish to establish a vocations promotion group of young adults and parents.This group would set aside some time once a week for praying for their own children to hear this special call of God. This group in the parish could also organise days of learning about vocations for the children as well as special outreach visits to Catholic children in the public schools in their area.

At the same time we need to be authentic, prayerful and happy missionaries and priests in this diocese, attracting the young to the profound beauty of a religious and priestly vocation, convinced in our hearts and convincing in our ministry so that some of our youth may consider this way of life as a real option for their future. Where the light of faith and love of Christ is alive in our catholic families, communities and associations, there also is the seed of a future priest and religious vocation.

5. The Challenge to all parishes and communities:Vision 2020

Pray for our priestly and religious candidates. Ask the uncomfortable question in your Parish Pastoral Councils: Where is the vocation promotion group in our parish? Can this not be part of our Vision2020 for the diocese, that by 2020 all parishes will have an enthusiastic, prayerful and active vocation promotion group of adults helping our children to respond to this most wonderful call of God. There is work to be done. Do not doubt that God is pouring the graces of a religious vocation and of priesthood in the hearts of our youth today. Reach out to where ever they are, teach, form and challenge them. Pray with them and sing with them songs of faith constantly. God will lead some of them to the next level of love and service, to the religious life and priesthood.
St John Vianney,Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,Pray for us and our children.
St Joseph, guard the flame of faith of our future priests and religious.
Risen Lord Jesus, have mercy on us, mothers and fathers.

May God bless you all with fresh hope.

From: Bishop Joao Rodrigues
Tzaneen, 20 April 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

2012 Easter Celebration - until the end of time.

The Easter Celebration of the Church can be seen as a celebration of a sudden explosion of Light and Love in a world that had been condemned to experience only evil and darkness, a depressed and depressing world which at best could only dream of a light but which never appeared. Easter is like the new “Big Bang,” the beginning of a New Creation (2 Cor 5,17), a Light that continues to expand and influence the world until the end of time.

The Lord Jesus conquered our sins by means of his sacrificial death on the cross and, by rising from the dead into his eternal glory, Jesus ignited a flame in every sincere believer’s heart, a flame of faith fuelled by the interior Gift of the Holy Spirit which the world of non-believers cannot extinguish (Rom 6,11). This is the Easter Proclamation of the Church for every generation until the end of time.

We are no longer helpless victims of our sins and evil. We are no longer condemned to the once self-defeating hope of seeking salvation from others who are themselves condemned in their sins and in need of salvation. Yes this was the tragedy – that we were all in sin and therefore unable to save ourselves from sin and from all the consequences of sin. We needed a Saviour. We needed Someone like us but the perfect Image of God, spotless, sinless, who loves as perfectly as only God can love. In other words we needed God’s own Eternal Son to save us (Rom 3,23-24). Easter celebrates this Saviour who came at last and brought us everlasting joy. Alleluia! The Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and He is the one and only Saviour of all humanity who alone can conquer our sins and give us Eternal Life. Jesus Christ is and will be the only One who can do this for all generations yet to be born until the end of time (Acts 4,10).

We praise God and give thanks to God with a joy the world of unbelief cannot enjoy or understand because the Risen Lord Jesus has also given us Believers in his Catholic Church all the Sacramental means and Divine Teachings for us to experience our salvation (Acts 2,42). We are no longer condemned to die in our sins but now we can receive all the spiritual and sacramental help in the Holy Spirit and live and die as God’s redeemed people in His grace and ultimately to enjoy Eternal Life with Jesus in his glory . We are assured of all these blessings by Jesus Christ himself who promised to be with his Church until the end of time (Mat 28,20).

How privileged we are to have heard and responded to this Good News in our life time. What a wonderful blessing and message of hope for the whole world. Easter is the life –giving Message for all. It inspires us and renews our missionary purpose as well.

How can we who enjoy such blessings and be quiet or keep it to ourselves? That’s not possible. If we carry the light of Christ in our lives then people looking for direction and salvation will seek from us that same Light. Yes, Easter is like the new “Big Bang,” the beginning of a New Creation, a Light that continues to expand and influence the world until the end of time. Let’s embrace that Light of Christ even more than before. Let us remain in that Light until the end of time.

Bishop Joao Rodrigues

Tzaneen Diocese

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Pontifical Council for the Laity is organising a Congress of Catholic laity in Africa

Africa is close to the heart of Benedict XVI. The pope has demonstrated this fact by visiting the continent twice, by calling for a second special assembly for Africa by the Synod of Bishops, and by delivering the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Africae Munus to the lay faithful of Africa on the occasion of his visit to Benin on 19 November last.

The pope does not look on Africa as simply a place of suffering for its people. Of course he does not close his eyes to the extreme poverty of large numbers of the population, to the wars being fought on their territory or to the pandemics that often take even more lives than armed conflict. The Holy Father maintains that the African continent is “a spiritual lung for humanity”. He believes that the African view of life predisposes people “to hear and to receive Christ’s message and to appreciate the mystery of the Church” (Africae Munus, n. 69).

The message that Benedict XVI conveys is demanding, but at the same time it is energising. It asks the Christians of Africa to be committed to the service of reconciliation, justice and peace on their continent as well as throughout the universal Church. Many of the priorities that we see in the apostolic exhortation Africae Munus pertain to the secular sphere. This means that they concern the lay faithful in a special way and that they extend an invitation for renewal in ecclesial and civil commitment.

It is against this background that the Pontifical Council for the Laity is organising a second Pan-african congress of Catholic laity. It will be held in Yaoundé in Cameroon from 4 to 9 September 2012. In line with other continental congresses that have been held, the theme will be “Witnessing to Jesus Christ in Africa today”.

The main objective is to sustain the lay faithful at a time when Africa is being asked “to explore its Christian vocation more deeply”. The pope says at the beginning that “Africa’s commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ is a precious treasure” (ibid., no. 1).

With the Congress less than a year away, the Pontifical Council for the Laity is involved in studying the magisterium and looking at the ecclesial and civil challenges facing the African lay faithful at this time in history. An ad hoc group of experts have been invited to help the dicastery in the preparation of the event. Since December 2010, representatives of ecclesial associations and movements present in Africa have been involved in the preparations.

The Congress is expected to have about three hundred delegates from bishops’ conferences and associations and movements from all over Africa. After an initial study of the geopolitical situation and the Church priorities on the continent, there will be discussion on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful. Reference will be made to the apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici in discussions on the special features of the lay vocation in Africa. Emphasis will be given to the need for adequate faith education.

“The Church as God’s Family” (ibid., no. 7) is the ecclesial context in which the congress will take place. The co-responsibility of the lay faithful in building up communion will be an important point for discussion. This will include the subject of the new ecclesial movements and communities that are present on the continent.

Special attention will be given to the commitment of the lay faithful in the many areas of public life and in the efforts being made to achieve justice, peace and reconciliation. This topic will take up the whole of the last day of the Congress.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Apostolic Nuncio for South Africa

On 10 March 2012 H.E. Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, was appointed by
Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LENT 2012

Bishop’s Message for LENT 2012:Diocese of Tzaneen

Christ must grow greater, I must grow smaller (John 3,30).
The Christian life can be described as a continual spiritual struggle in which we try to become less and less self-centred and more and more God-centred in everything;a struggle which is initiated and continually maintained by the Holy Spirit given to us through our baptism and faith in Christ. This struggle is described in the words of John the Baptist: “Christ must grow greater, I must grow smaller.” (John 3,30).

The season of Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter which encourages us to return to this basic spiritual struggle and challenges each one of us to face this fundamental question of faith:  Am I honestly trying to be less self-centred and more God-centred in my life?

Less self-centred means we need to fast and abstain where necessary

Lent is identified with the practice of fasting. There are many dimensions of fasting.Fasting means that we cut down on activities that are merely self-indulgent which do not help us to grow in the likeness of Christ. Fasting means eating and drinking only what is necessary for our nourishment and health; it also means spending less time on superfluous activities such as excessive TV watching and internet browsing. Fasting is also spiritual such as refraining from the pleasure of gossiping and from indulging in an immoral imagination and other sins described by St Paul in Romans 13,13-14. The practice of fasting cultivates an awareness of our sacred dignity and opens our hearts to recognise this same sacred dignity in others where God is present.

More God-centred means we need to love and give more.

Lent is also identified with neighbourly love. We do not fast for its own sake but for God’s purposes to be achieved in us. Fasting makes it possible for more spiritual and material resources to be available and shared with whom these ought to be shared according to God’s will. Disciplining our use of water and electricity makes it possible for more people to use the available water and electricity which they need.

By eating and drinking less we are able to share more with those who are less fortunate than us. Lent is a season whereby we give more – more of our time and talent in the love of Christ. The Lenten Appeal collection is fundamental in this regard and complements our fasting. Cutting down on the excessive hours wasted on TV watching every night gives more time to worship and love God – in family prayer and community Lenten devotions.It also makes more time available for you to be alone with God in your own need for quiet prayer and reflection. Less time in self-indulgence means we have more time to reach out to those who need our loving presence especially people who are confined to hospitals or their homes because of illness. If we are to share in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy in any meaningful way then it means sacrificing time for these loving services.

I pray that as we reflect on the saving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ,God may stir within us a deep desire to share more fully in the fruits of that sacrifice during this Lenten season. May the Holy Spirit help us. May our Blessed Mother Mary pray for us. May Christ grow greater.May we become smaller.

Bishop Joao Rodrigues

Diocese of Tzaneen