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).

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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).

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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).

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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)

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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

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