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