Monday, October 7, 2013

Year of Faith 2013

The Third Catechetical Weekend for Southern and Western Regions of Tzaneen Diocese during this Year of Faith was held at Ave Maria Pastoral Centre October 4th – 6th 2013 and facilitated by the Lumko Team of Fr Gabriel and Sr Thandi.

May the Holy Spirit be the Teacher in each catechist’s heart and mind through Christ our Lord. May God protect them and give them the grace of perseverance in this awesome ministry. Amen.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Questions answered about the cause of the Servant of God Benedict Daswa

1.Why is the cause going to be examined only next year – why such a long wait?
This cause is one cause amongst thousands! According to an article in the website published on 29 March 2008, there were 2 200 causes being investigated and most of these have not yet reached the stage for examination by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints’ theologian consultors.The decree by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on the validity of the diocesan inquiry on Benedict Daswa was issued on 5 November 2010 and the copies of the actual Positio Book for examination by the CSS theologian consultors were handed in on 3 April this year. In fact October next year is not a long wait at all. On the contrary it is an unusually short wait for a cause such as ours. Unlike the globally recognised public figures of the Catholic Church such as Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II for whom public calls of “subito santo” were made with the backing of all the important Vatican officials, Benedict Daswa in contrast was unknown by most of the world and was killed in a relatively obscure poor village in the north of Limpopo Province of South Africa. It is very encouraging for the Catholic Church of the SACBC region that such a relatively obscure cause has caught the attention of the Prefect of the CCS and that even Pope Francis is now aware of it!

2.What will happen between now and then?

We need to make this cause known among the faithful people throughout the SACBC region, in Africa and the world. Furthermore we need more and more people of good will to pray for the success of the cause by seeking the special intercession of this Servant of God. We are hoping that the Novena for the Cause of Benedict Daswa will be prayed by more and more groups in all the dioceses of the SACBC region. We have a special request for a united Novena prayer campaign for the cause to begin on 6 until the 14 February next year. And then we intend to have a special Prayer Vigil and Eucharistic Celebration in memory of Benedict Daswa beginning on Saturday 15 at 6pm at Mater Dei Pastoral Centre near Mokopane in the Diocese of Polokwane.The Prayer Vigil will end with Holy Mass early Sunday morning around 6am. We are hoping that many people including bishops and other church leaders will participate in this important event for the cause. Also during the SACBC bishops ad limina visit to Rome during Easter next year, Archbishop Brislin will include in his address to Pope Francis the importance of this cause for the Church and people of Southern Africa. We would also like Catholic youth groups to learn about Benedict Daswa and to pass on the message of his life to their peers through a simple but well  performed drama. There is also a team of people (from the parish where Benedict Daswa lived and died) who are ready and willing to visit parishes in any diocese and present the story to the congregation.

 3.How strong is the case?

The cause for Benedict Daswa to be recognized as a martyr of the Catholic faith in Jesus Christ is very strong. Many people knew him and the events that led up to his being killed have been recorded and explained by many credible witnesses. People of faith of all cultures who hear about his life and death for the first time are always moved – some are even moved to tears – and they sense an inner conviction that he is indeed a martyr and prophetic figure of faith for Africa. I believe this is the reason why his cause has reached this critical stage in which it can now spread through a concerted prayer campaign throughout the SACBC region. God does not only choose the well-known or famous people for sainthood but usually chooses the lowly and unknown of this world to reveal God’s glory. It is up to the faithful of Southern Africa in particular to recognize this and to testify to the world that God does indeed raise the lowly to the altar of the saints such as we believe the Servant of God Benedict Daswa is.

4. What are the people of Tzaneen hoping for/doing – praying etc?

Many people of Tzaneen Diocese are very hopeful for the cause to succeed. The private devotion and interest in the cause continues to spread among young and old. Certainly it will be quite a challenge for the Diocese to take new steps in promoting the cause and this will also make new demands on the people of this diocese. Moving from a normally very localized and parish- driven memorial Mass to a Diocesan Event next year will be a big step.

Presently the diocese is in need of more funds for the development of a new pilgrimage centre where a special church - shrine will be built in honour of the Servant of God.

This plan will also mean that the mortal remains of Benedict Daswa will need to be authenticated and transferred to a more secure location. As the cause progresses there will be a need to choose an appropriate date of his feast day and to develop suitable liturgical texts of prayers. Finally there will be a need to prepare for the actual day of beatification at a venue where the faithful from Southern Africa and beyond may be able to gather together and give thanks to God for the newly acclaimed “Blessed” of God. These are some of the hopes of the Diocese of Tzaneen concerning the cause. May God’s will be done.
Bishop Joao Rodrigues

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Launch: A Story Worth Telling

On Tuesday 6 August 2013 a new book was launched at St Anne's Chapel in Mariannhill called: A STORY WORTH TELLING: Essays in honour of Cardinal Napier compiled and edited by Stuart Bate OMI and Anthony Egan SJ. The book contains 24 essays by 32 locally- based authors which cover various aspects of the Roman Catholic Church's life and ministry in the SACBC region in which Cardinal Napier has been playing a central role. The essays have been placed under three broad categories: A story of Evangelisation - bringing Good News to the strata of society;A story of justice,peace,development and integrity of creation in our world;A story of Christian Formation and Education.

Fr Stuart Bate OMI,the general editor,addresses the people at the book launch.In the background is a poster advertising the new book.

Bishop J. Masela - newly ordained bishop of Polokwane Diocese

Bishop Jeremiah Masela was ordained as the new bishop of the Diocese of Polokwane on Saturday 7 September 2013 at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. May the Lord bless him with wisdom,courage and health to be able to fulfil the mission the Lord has given him.


Bishop -elect Joseph Sephamola omi

Bishop -elect Joseph Sephamola omi will be ordained Bishop of Qacha's Nek Diocese in Lesotho on 21 September 2013.

On 19 June 2013, the Pope named as Bishop of the Diocese of Qacha’s Nek (Lesotho) Reverend Father Joseph Mopeli SEPHAMOLA, O.M.I., Provincial Superior of the Oblates in Lesotho.

Reverend Father Joseph Mopeli Sephamola was born in 14 March 1960, in the parish of St. Francis Mission in Tsoelike Ha Atali, diocese of Qacha’s Nek. In 1983, he was admitted to the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate; on 6 January 1984, he made his first religious profession and he final vows in 1989. After having completed his studies of philosophy and theology (1984-1990), he was ordained a priest on 27 April 1991.

After his priestly ordination, he had the following assignments: 1991-2000: Missionary in Zambia; 2001-2003: scholasticate in Roma (Lesotho); 2004-2008: Master of Novices at Villa Maria, Quthing, Qacha’s Nek; 2009-2011: studies in spirituality in South Africa. Since July 2011, he has been the provincial of the Oblates in Lesotho.

He succeeds Bishop Evaristus Thatho Bitsoane who died in 2011. With this appointment, all of the active bishops and one retired archbishop in Lesotho are Oblates. The country has three dioceses and one archdiocese.

The Diocese of Qacha’s Nek was established in 1961. In 2010, of the 395,000 inhabitants, 49.5% of them were Roman Catholics.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bishop's Letter to Catholics of Tzaneen Diocese

6 September 2013                                

 Dear Family of God

During this Year of Faith we have been focusing on the importance of the catechetical ministry in the Diocese of Tzaneen. During September we give praise to God for the many volunteer catechists to whom we are most grateful for willingly and diligently teaching and forming our young and old in the way of the Catholic Christian faith. I appeal to all the parishes to consider September month as a “Month of Catechesis” and to celebrate on Sunday 15 September “Catechetical Sunday” during which the importance of the catechetical ministry can be presented anew with an appeal for more to be done in organising the programmes of religious formation in our Catholic families and adult catechumens. Formation in the Faith is concerned with our character and how Christ calls us in the grace of the Holy Spirit to be people of dignity who act with justice and peace in all our relationships both near and far. I urge you to consider Sunday 22 September as a day to emphasise this and to pray for the needs of many people in the world today who are crying out to God for justice and peace because of human selfishness shown in violence and greed. Pope Francis has made a special appeal for us to pray and fast for the people of Syria who are involved in a terrible civil war and to remember many other nations that are caught in violent conflicts.

October month is World Mission Month for our diocese and the 20 October is World Mission Sunday. During October we are challenged to share more of ourselves and resources in the missionary work of the Church throughout the world. Tzaneen Diocese is still heavily dependent on the missionary congregations of priests and sisters who serve in many different ministries and projects. During October we give thanks to God for the missionaries and at the same time we are called to make a substantial financial contribution to the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Propagation of the Faith and Holy Childhood. We are still benefiting from these mission societies so in a very real sense we are helping ourselves as well when we take up these special mission collections in our parishes.

Because of widespread corruption in the public and private sectors of South Africa, I make a special appeal that during October month we also pray that corrupt practices may be exposed, that “whistle-blowers” may be protected, that the guilty may be justly punished and that better ways of preventing corruption may be implemented in our work life. Honesty is the best policy for South Africa to develop as a united nation.

May God bless you all with the peace of  Christ.

Bishop Joao Rodrigues                                                


Pope Francis meets Bishop-emeritus Slattery msc and Fr Bohas msc

On 4 July 2013 Bishop-emeritus Hugh Slattery msc and Fr Andre Bohas msc celebrated Mass with Pope Francis in Domus Santa Martha.Afterwards they greeted the Pope and gave him a copy of the Novena and DVD on the Servant of God Benedict Daswa whose cause of martyrdom will be examined by the Theologian consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in October next year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tebogo Modiba,seminarian of Tzaneen Diocese,meets Pope Francis

       The arrow is pointing at Tebogo Modiba from Tzaneen Diocese

The end of June and beginning of July, 2013 was a dream come true for the 10 Seminarians and their Spiritual Father, Fr Jerome R Nyathi who found themselves chosen and joining 6000 young people from across the globe for the International Pilgrimage to the Tomb of St Peter, in Rome under the theme ‘I trust in you’. This pilgrimage was initiated by the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who wished that in the year of Faith the Seminarians and Novices and those considering their vocations would do well sharing their faith experiences and thus strengthen their vocations and call. It could rightly be said that; What Benedict XVI begun, Pope Francis completed.

The Seminarians travelled to Rome on the 30th
of June, 2013, a few days before the beginning of the pilgrimage (4 – 7 July), and were able to spend sometime visiting the historic sites of Rome. This was an eye opener and put to life the history that they have read about in their studies.

The procession from the gardens of St Angelo to St Peter’s Basilica marked the beginning of the pilgrimage. The rainbow that was visible to many was a beautiful sight to view, as if the Lord was reiterating his presence and promise amongst his people; ‘I will be with you always’. Furthermore, the drops of rain and the showers that fell on us, as we continued with our procession, were seen as the blessings from above accompanying us into profession of faith and the veneration of the tomb of St Peter. This experience of a lifetime indeed nourished our spirits.

The second day saw a group of Seminarians, Novices and those considering their vocations with their formators being divided into major language groups for Catechesis in different Churches in Rome on the theme of ‘Vocation in the teaching of Vatican II’. The Archbishop of Jersey in the USA brilliantly shared with us the many times in which the Latin words; vocare – to call and vocatio- a call are used in the Vatican II documents. He further articulated how Moses journeyed with God in his calling, thus to say that we too are called to live a life of witness as we journey with God in our vocations as Priests and Religious.

Taking the seminarians through the streets of Rome where there is living history of the Catholic Church brought forth many emotions and feelings. The opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation was yet another blessing that we received on this pilgrimage. One seminarian was heard continuously singing Simeon’s song; Now let your servant depart in peace for my eyes have seen…

The formators had a chance of meeting with Archbishop Fisichella who spoke on: "The importance of formation in our modern age". He emphasized the need to form new evangelizers for this era of New Evangelization.

The climax of the pilgrimage came when we met with the Pope at Paul VI Hall on Saturday, 6th and at the celebration of Holy Mass on the 7th of July.

Just before his arrival at 5pm, we were entertained and inspired by the performances of the Three Singing Priests from Ireland and the Rector in the USA who shared on his contribution on Evangelization on the U-Tube.

The arrival of the Pope aroused great joy in the Hall with clapping and the chanting of "Francesco! Francesco! Francesco! Viva il Papa!!!" Pope Francis engaged the people with his exhortation for seminarians and novices to be joyful in their vocations, for consistency and authenticity in their lives, about the need for a missionary spirit when the confines of the church building is left, in other words the territory outside a church is missionary territory. He also spoke about the need for a holistic formation involving the four pillars: spiritual, intellectual, apostleship and community (human).

What really got the participants stirred up was his comment about the sadness he experiences when he sees seminarians and novices focused on fancy cars and cell phones (material goods). The audience was followed by a Rosary procession through the picturesque Vatican gardens. Mary is indeed our Mother, Model, Exemplar and Ideal.

The pilgrimage closed off on the 7th of July with a Mass in a packed St Peter’s Basilica presided over by Pope. Looking back at this pilgrimage, the universality of the Church gathered in unity around the Holy Father really stood out and affirmed our vocations in the perspective of love, fraternity and unity with the universal church.

The visits to the churches where many different saints are buried encouraged us to, like the saints; give our lives in a continual witness of Christ. The Pope’s homily and angelus address on the 7th rounded off the pilgrimage most appropriately with his reflection on the mission of the 72 disciples. This was a sending out by the Pope, as it were, of all of us to go into the world and proclaim the gospel in both word and deed.

We flew back to South Africa in the evening of the 7th of July having been refreshed and renewed. The experience of the universality of the Church was moving and affirming to our faith. The need to form ‘new evangelizers for new evangelisation’ still sounds to me as a challenge to formators in Seminaries. It was a special moment of intense prayer feeling very much part of the many ‘giants’ and ‘saints’ in the faith. Listening to a humble and down to earth Pope Francis addressing us was indeed a blessing and a dream come true!

On not so happy a note it was felt that this universal gathering simply annexed Africa and Africans. We hope that in future such gatherings will consider involving Africa and Africans not as mere spectators, but as participators.

We are most grateful to the Southern African Bishops’ Conference (SABC) for paying for two seminarians, SECAM who paid for two other seminarians. Many thanks also go to friends, relatives, benefactors and Parishioners who supported and paid for the rest of the seminarians. We are grateful to the Rector Father Molewe Machingoane for taking this invitation up and we are most grateful to the Students at St John Vianney for sacrificing and contributing some pocket money to their fellow seminarians who went to Rome.

We prayed for you all and we continue to pray that the Lord will always bless you abundantly and perhaps more importantly, that you continue knowing Him better, Loving him intimately and Serving him worthily!

Welcome the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary

The Diocese of Tzaneen is blessed with the recent arrival of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary from East Africa:Sisters Nancy,Mary and Agripina.May the Spirit of God inspire and lead them in their new mission.

Monday, August 19, 2013

At the margins of South Africa, ‘Musina’

Musina is a town on the South African side of the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is a small town, but flooded with people mostly from neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Congo Malawi etc. as well as people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and India. Already one can imagine what goes on in this little town. On one side of the coin the mixture enables people to learn about different cultures and those with businesses flourish rapidly. On the other side of the coin shocking and frustrating things are happening. I hear about and see a lot of mercilessness, brutality and inhumanity. We all are aware that today women and children are the most vulnerable group in society; as a result they are the victims of these merciless and brutal and inhuman actions.

As a social worker I work closely with some of these victims and survivors at the Catholic Women and Children Transit Shelter in Musina. One can already imagine what kind of cases I have to deal with almost on a daily basis. I work mostly with migrants from Zimbabwe and refugees from the DRC and also a few Ruanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia and other neighboring countries.

The majority of these migrants do not have documents, but they get asylum here at Home Affairs. The main push factor is the shortage of employment and economic problems at home; as a result they cross the border illegally looking for green pastures. Unfortunately, many attempt to cross through the Limpopo River where there suffer all kinds of abuse at the hands of a notorious group of lawless gangsters known as ‘Maguma-guma’.  They face rape which sometimes results in pregnancy, brutal beatings, robbery, being stripped naked, being held in captivity and custardy starved for some days. They are sometimes driven around Musina and then told that their money has finished. Apart from these abuses, some of these women and their children face abuse from their own husbands or boyfriends and the children from their fathers such as being beaten to the point of losing their teeth or an eye. Losing consciousness and waking up in hospital.

Refugees from war torn Congo have especially heartrending experiences: some have lost members of their family, while running away they take different directions thereby missing each other. Some arrive at the shelter with open blisters and wounds on their feet as a result of walking for such a long time;  Their clothes are filthy and ragged and they themselves are dirty and starving, with white dry mouths from hunger. It is indeed pathetic to look at these poor women and their children. Few of them women understand a little bit of English, some know few words of Shona – my mother tongue. Their own languages are French and Kiswahili. I am trying to learn French for their sake. So far I can speak just the basics. Body language mostly with my hands and eyes is a great help.

A listening ear and being there is vital in these cases, not forgetting the other crucial role; linking clients with resources. Besides listening to them and counselling I link them with different resources according to their different cases and needs. Thank God, Musina is really blessed with numerous NGOs which cater for different services. Among them are: Thuthuzela Centre which deals mainly with people who have been raped; Lawyers for Human Rights  assist especially those who give birth here to get some kind of documents; Doctors without Borders normally help with those who need medical attention as well as access to ARVs; The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR both work closely with refugees and migrants; The Musina Legal Advice Office (MLAO) with whom I work closely mostly in burial procedures when women lose their babies. I, myself, conduct the funeral service when no pastor is available.

In addition to these NGOs I work also with people from the Legal Resource Centre based in Johannesburg. This group frequently visits the shelter. They take some cases to court such as cases for women who were locked in a ‘Mukuku’ (Shack) for about 3 days by ‘Malaichas’ without food only water. Whilst all these are a great support to my work, of crucial importance is the support of our Catholic Diocese of Tzaneen channeled through Sr Anita O’Leary and Fr Michael Bennett, representing the Bishop, who not only provide some funding and material needs but patiently listen to my sharing and often give words of encouragement. The Provincial Leader of the Holy Cross Sisters and the Sisters in our Holy Cross Province support me in many ways.

These miseries come to the shelter on a daily basis; most of them appear at the gate with sad faces that portray little hope for the future. Within a few days, these same faces begin to slowly lighten up. This gives me inner joy as I realize that my efforts do not go in vain. As a result I indeed find joy in my work. I mostly share my experiences of the day with my Holy Cross community members and I bring all to the Lord in my prayers where I drew strength from Him for the next day:  he was also the friend of the marginalized.
Sister Rudo


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bishop-elect for Polokwane Diocese - Jeremiah Masela

On 10 June 2013,The Holy Father, Pope Francis, appointed

Rev Fr Jeremiah Madimetja MASELA, as Bishop of Polokwane.

Apostolic Administrator of the same diocese since 09 December 2011, Fr Masela was born on 28 June 1958 in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Doornspruit, studied at Pax College and did his priestly formation at St John Vianney Seminary before being ordained a priest on 15 December 1984 at his home parish.

As a priest, Fr Masela has served his diocese in various parishes including as administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral (2005-2008). He was a Vicar General from 1990-2004 when he joined the formation staff of his alma mater, St John Vianney Seminary as spiritual director and lecturer. On his return, his predecessor the late Bishop Paul Nkhumishe appointed him Vicar General again. He holds a Master’s Degree in Spirituality from St Augustine’s College.

He is expected to be ordained a bishop on Saturday 7 September 2013 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.We wish him well in his new ministry

Fr Andrew Shingange about to leave for studies in Rome

On Sunday 23 June the Parish of Tzaneen said a special farewell to Fr Andrew  who has been helping in the parish as well as directing the youth and vocations promotion to priesthood and religious life in the Diocese of Tzaneen. He will be studying at the Pontifical Urbania University for a licentiate degree in Canon Law. The bishop gave him a special blessing and everyone wished him  well and success. It was pointed out that living and studying in another continent and culture will not be easy for him but with the grace of God and the support of his teachers and fellow students,he will manage and adapt to the new situation. May the Lord protect him on his journey and may he learn well and continue to grow in the Spirit of God.
We will miss him and will be waiting for his return.Arrivederci!

Fr Andrew will soon be in Rome


World Refugee Day was commemorated at the Makhado Catholic Church hall on Saturday 22 June. The theme of the day was: "One family torn apart by war is one too many." The people who participated in this event came from different NGO groups and Government departments as well as as many people - young and old - who have benefitted from the work done by these groups in helping the displaced people forced to find refuge in South Africa. The day was organised by the Jesuit Refugee Service directed by the Project Director Bertha Chiguvare. There were a number of guest speakers representing the following organisations: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees;Jesuit Refugee Service;Department of Social Development;Musina Legal Advice Office;Somali Association of South Africa;International Organisation for Migration;Lawyers for Human Rights;Makhado Mayor's Office representatives.The the Catholic Church women choir as well as the Catholic youth sang songs of worship and the young people of the Musina Theatre Production put on a drama about the sufferings and consolations often experienced by refugees crossing from Zimbabwe to South Africa.The  day concluded with prayer and a lunch for everybody.

Inauguration of Tzaneen Catholic Women Association (CWA)

On Saturday 15 June,members of the Catholic Women Association from different parts of Southern Africa assembled together at the Holy Rosary School Hall in Malamulele for the inauguration of the Tzaneen CWA Diocesan Structure. It was a special event for the Diocese of Tzaneen women because they were officially mandated by their Pretoria mother body to function independently as a CWA Diocesan structure led and guided by the Tzaneen Diocese CWA executive committee for the first time. The executive as well as the newly enrolled members pledged their allegiance to the CWA before the bishop who blessed them after which they all received their badges of allegiance. Afterwards the women from the different branches proudly displayed their CWA flags in procession with great joy and thanksgiving to God. After the Holy Mass everyone enjoyed a meal of friendship with grateful hearts.The following are the executive members of the CWA Tzaneen Diocese:
President: Johanna Thabathi;Deputy-president:Patricia Mahuntsi;Secretary:Glory Mativandlela;Deputy-secretary:Audrey Mboweni;Treasurer:Rebecca Maphoru;Additional members:Cecelia Matshaka,Selina Ramahana,Zodwa Molapo,Maria Mpho Mojela.

The bishop appealed to the women with the following words:
You are now full members of the Catholic Women's Association.CWA is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit.The aim of the association is to encourage Catholic women to grow spiritually,lead a life of prayer and experience the power of the Holy Spirit within them.You are encouraged to utilize the gifts of the Holy Spirit to serve God and humanity.You are expected to serve the Diocese under the guidance of the bishop and the priests.These services must be rendered in the spirit of humility,love and prayer,following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ,who was always led and inspired by the Holy Spirit.May the Holy Spirit guide you and our Father in heaven bless you. AMEN.



Fundraising Event at Senwamakgope,St Scholatica Parish

On Sunday 16 June Bishop Joao visited the Catholics of St Scholastica Parish at Senwamakgope for the annual diocesan fundraising event.It was a special day because it coincided with "fathers'day" as well as the national Youth Day memorial. It was one of the most lively events of the year with a special marimba choir from Tiyani leading the singing during worship.
Bishop Joao blessed the fathers and the youth and children during the Mass. After the Mass the fundraising took place with singing and dancing by the the 17 smaller and bigger communities which make up the parish as a whole.Everyone contributed according to their abilities and the day was a wonderful success.God loves a cheerful giver!Below are some photos of the event.


Deacon Boitumelo Magoro

On Sunday 9 June Boitumelo Dominic Magoro was ordained a deacon by Bishop Joao Rodrigues in Dwars River Parish. Of special significance was the testimony about Deacon Boitumelo's family background and the pioneering missionary work by his grandfather,the late Mr J.Magoro, who initiated and organised the first Catholics in the Dwars River region.The first holy Mass in that region was celebrated on 31 August 1934 at the Magoro's home.Deacon Boitumelo has a brother who is also an ordained priest,Fr Martin Magoro. It was a wonderful celebration and people came from as far as Phalaborwa and Thohoynadou to witness his ordination. Deacon Boitumelo is now serving in the parish of St Scholastica.
May the Lord continue to protect and sustain him in his life and may his ministry be blessed with the fruits that will last.

The picture of the late Mr J.Magoro being shown to the congregation

St Brendan's Confirmations and farewell to Fr Joachim

On Corpus Christi Sunday 2nd June, 28 learners were confirmed by Bishop Joao during a special holy Mass at St Brendan's Secondary School in the Parish of Dwars River. It was also an occassion for the Bishop to wish farewell to Fr Joachim Sangu who had been serving at the school as a chaplain for the past few months.He returned to his home diocese in Tanzania on 10 June.

Fr Joachim Sangu



On Wednesday 3 April 2013 our Roman Postulator for the cause,Fr Jean-Jules Chassem MSC, handed in copies of the Positio – book to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Positio – book will be studied first by the group of theologian consultors. We expect this study to be completed by the end of this year,God willing. If majority pass it, it goes to the prelates of the Congregation.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.
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.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.

We are now praying the special prayers of the Novena in honour of Benedict Daswa.Copies of the Novena prayers can be found in the Diocese of Tzaneen website:

We are prayerfully confident that the Lord is already blessing Southern Africa in a new way through the intercession of Blessed Benedict Daswa. We are also praying that the the Lord will open the way for his beatification in the near future.May God in his mercy enlighten the hearts and minds of the members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to confirm what we already believe - that Benedict Daswa is indeed a martyr of the Catholic Church.

Friday, June 7, 2013

New Executive of the Diocesan Pastoral Council

The Diocese of Tzaneen has been blessed with a new executive of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.They are as follows:

Chairperson: Mr Sam Shitlhangu
Deputy Chairperson: Ms Rendani Mabaso
Secretary: Ms JohannaThabathi

They will serve the diocese for three years - from 2013 until the end of 2015. May the Lord guide and protect them and grant them the wisdom and courage they need to serve the people of God faithfully.

Johanna and Sam and Rendani

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Silver Jubilee of Fr Mathope Philemon Thobela

On Holy Trinity Sunday this year the whole parish of Tzaneen celebrated with great joy and thankgiving silver jubilee of priestly ordination of Fr Philemon Thobela. The celebration was held at the Tzaneen Showgrounds.Fr Mathope Philemon,born in 1954,studied for the priesthood at St Peter's and at St John Vianney Major seminaries and was ordained a priest on 22 May 1988 by Bishop Hugh Slattery msc at Lorraine Village in the parish of Ofcolaco. Fr Philemon served as parish priest of Sibasa Parish and then as parish priest of Tzaneen parish. He continues to serve also as the Vicar General and consultor of the bishop and as spiritual advisor of the Sodality of St Anne and in other portfolios.

May God continue to protect him and bless him with health and courage to serve the people of God and help many more souls receive the saving grace of the Lord Jesus in their lives. Ad multos annos vivat!

Deacon Philemon Manabela

BORN: 1931 - 06 -27                                 DIED: 2013 - 05 - 20

It was with sadness that we received the news that the retired deacon,Philemon Manabela,passed away after being ill for some time.
He had served in the Diocese of Tzaneen for many years first as a catechist and then as a deacon after his ordination in 1979. He will be dearly missed by his family and the people he served faithfully and patiently for so many years.May God grant him eternal peace and joy in the Heavenly Jerusalem.

"Happy are those who die in the Lord!Happy indeed,the Spirit says;now they can rest for ever after their work,since their good deeds go with them."
(Revelation 14,13)

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Bishop of Kokstad Diocese - Fr Zolile Mpambani

Congratulations and well-wishes to Father Zolile Mpambani SCJ,who has been appointed as the new Bishop of Kokstad Diocese.The bishop-elect was born in Umlamli, Eastern Cape, South Africa in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1987. Since ordination the bishop-elect has served in several pastoral and institutional roles, most recently as provincial superior of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in South Africa and, alongside the vicar general, as pastor of Sterkspruit parish in the Diocese of Aliwal.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tzaneen Diocese:Easter 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ


The tomb of the Lord Jesus is empty:His love is unconquerable

The 50 days of Easter is a season in which the Catholic Church proclaims that the love of God revealed in the life and death of the Lord Jesus is unconquerable and lives on forever. The news that the Lord Jesus is risen from the dead is the most powerful challenge for every generation concerning what we value and what we hope for while we are living in this world. It points to the ultimate destiny which God had planned for all of us from the very beginning of creation. The Holy Scriptures emphasize that the Lord Jesus is really risen from the dead with a glorious body. The risen life of the Lord Jesus is not merely a spirit– life separated from his dead body but a complete and fully alive human in whom death has been transformed into eternal life by his divine love. The tomb is empty and creation has attained its eternal purpose at last in the glorious and loving humanity of the Lord Jesus!


Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

The Lord Jesus fulfils in himself the beatitude which says: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5, 5).The air Jesus breathed, the ground on which he walked, the water which he drank, the food which he ate, the sunshine he enjoyed in the day and the stars at night, the rain and the wind which worshiped his sacred face and body, the birds which sang and the fish which swam in the lake and everything that made up the creation of God attained at last their real purpose and hope in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. In his resurrection the Lord Jesus has inherited the earth. Easter makes everything sacred and holy. Everything in God’s creation can become like a sacramental, a means of communicating God’s grace, for the disciples of the risen Lord Jesus. It is the season of the Sacraments of Initiation when people are born again of water and the Holy Spirit and nourished in the Body and Blood of Christ and look forward in hope at being counted amongst those who are destined to inherit the earth.


Easter and the new life of the disciples in the joy of the Holy Spirit

Jesus - our Lord and our God - is risen from the dead. Easter is a period when we remember the appearances of the Risen Lord Jesus and the encounters with his disciples. It includes the Ascension of Jesus and the new experience of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. In fact the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles of the Liturgy of the Word during the Easter Season relates the stories of the disciples already filled with the Spirit of God. So in this way the Easter season keeps in mind the new life of the disciples in the Holy Spirit as well as the new risen life of the Lord Jesus after his martyrdom. The Easter Season is a joyous season for all who continually put their trust in the Lord Jesus because it affirms us in so many ways and reminds us that we are the most blessed of all people. Yes, the love of Jesus is unconquerable and lives on forever and only in complete union with Jesus can our joy become complete and everlasting. Thank God for the Easter Season, Alleluia!

God bless you all in this Year of Faith.

Bishop Joao Rodrigues



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pray for Zimbabwe - Referendum

On 16 March the people of Zimbabwe will be voting - a referendum vote - concerning the the newly revised constitution of the nation. Let us pray for a successful referendum.May the Lord be with the people and may there be an environment of peace throughout the land of Zimbabwe for this to take place fairly. Pray for all who will be monitoring as well as the bishops and other people who will be observing this important event.In this picture we see the IMBISA bishops and personnel with the president.

2013 – Lent – Second Sunday of Lent :Year C

This is my Son,my Chosen,listen to him.


1. The Transfiguration of Jesus (which the Church celebrates also on 6 August every year) is a unique event which the three disciples experienced while at prayer with Jesus. It was clearly a Divine affirmation concerning the mission of Jesus who came to this world to fulfil the Law given through Moses and the prophecies given through the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures represented by the prophet Elijah.


2. The Transfiguration is also an anticipation of the brilliant light of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It points to the final Victory of God in the life and death of Jesus, of his Personal fulfilment of the Law and Prophets. In this sense it became a consolation, a reminder that the suffering and death of Jesus is not the end of the mission of Jesus. Jesus will rise from death and His humanity will be glorified and become brilliant like an eternal sun. And through Him,we who believe in Him,will

be able to receive the saving grace we need for our own lives and destiny in God. The suffering and death of Jesus cannot overshadow and extinguish His light and life. During Lent, while we reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus, we are at the same time always aware of His ultimate Victory.


3. We gather together in worship because we need the teaching, the saving words, of our Lord Jesus. During the proclamation of the Word from the Sacred Scriptures, in faith, we listen to words coming from Jesus Himself directly to each one of us. During the Eucharist and holy communion,in faith,we receive the actual Body and Blood from Jesus Himself in the form of bread and wine through the action of the priest. Each one of us is nourished directly by Jesus Himself. Each one of us is like a branch grafted in the Vine who is Christ because the Lord Jesus is not dead but risen and alive and active in our lives through the powerful love of the Holy Spirit. This is the only reason for being here today!


4. It is so important to evaluate our motives for worship – why we bother to worship together on a Sunday. Is it because of a genuine hunger for the Truth and for the Life of Jesus? Is it because we know that we need to help and encourage one another on this journey of faith and be instrumental in allowing the Lord Jesus to speak to us and to feed us? Many walk as the enemies of the cross of Christ says St Paul in today’s second reading. Join in imitating me says St Paul who witnessed to the cross of Christ in his life. This is a real challenge for us – to be a model of a genuine Christian who is not afraid of the cross, not afraid of making sacrifices for the sake of the Reign of God, not afraid of putting into practice in one’s own life what Jesus is teaching us directly  to do and not waiting for others to do this first. This faith is affirmed today in the Gospel when God says: This is my Son,the Chosen.This practice is put before us today when God says: Listen to Him. It is this faith and practice which makes us become transfigured spiritually in this life and ultimately enjoy eternal life beyond this present life to be face to face with the Lord Jesus and all the saints.


Bishop Joao Rodrigues

Tzaneen Diocese

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

We begin this season of Lent with the surprise announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s imminent resignation from office. Suddenly the world’s media has turned its attention to the question of who will the cardinals elect as the new pope next month. For us  Catholics this is not a mere curiosity but a critical period of transition in the Church’s leadership for which we need to pray in sincerity of heart. I appeal for you to keep this intention continually in your prayers until the Lord blesses us with the new pope.

Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come let us adore him. This verse is recited throughout the season of Lent. It invites us to be constantly aware that the Lord Jesus Christ offered up his suffering and death on the cross out of love for us, for our salvation, for all humanity, so that we can convert from our sins, receive forgiveness and live in God’s grace and love. It is only in this saving grace of the Lord that we are able to be reconciled and be at peace with one another as well.

The season of Lent is therefore not a time for pointing fingers at the sins of others nor for condemning others because of their guilt. On the contrary, we as followers of Christ,are called to remain in communion with the Lord who was tempted and suffered for us. In other words, grateful for God’s mercy in our own lives, we likewise pray for the conversion of sinners and offer up our difficulties in communion with the suffering of Christ in the firm hope that those who are in most need of God’s mercy may indeed experience the joy of conversion and reconciliation with Christ and his Church.

This spiritual warfare is not so easy for us to do. We are all naturally inclined towards praying for good people only and doing good only for people who deserve it. But the Spirit of the Lord Jesus in our hearts urges us to pray for the wicked man to turn from his evil and live (Ezek 18,32). Yes, we are called to pray for the conversion of those people who naturally repel us – people we would rather avoid and forget about like murderers, rapists, thieves, adulterers, drug pushers and addicts and all kinds of wicked people.

But it is only by remaining in communion with the Spirit of Christ who was tempted and suffered for us that we become people of real hope in a world that is so easily overwhelmed by wickeness and evil. It is so easy for us to internalise the violence in our society and world and to wish as much evil on others as we see being perpetrated in our midst. Let us unite in faith and fight our spiritual battle together with all the saints and martyrs in heaven and with our Blessed Mother Mary. Let us walk her path of faith to the foot of the Cross of Jesus and say: “Holy Mary, pray for us, and especially those sinners in the world who are lost in the darkness of their wickedness; pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”

God bless you all

Bishop Joao Rodrigues





Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation

Archbishop Stephen Brislin’s statement on His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation


The resignation of the Holy Father was unexpected and has taken us by surprise. It is true that in recent months it has become evident that Pope Benedict was becoming more physically frail and in more need of assistance while walking. Nonetheless, his intellectual capacity has not been impaired at all.


It takes a great deal of wisdom and courage to make such a momentous decision as to resign from the Papacy. It is not the first time in history that a Pope has resigned and Canon Law makes provision for this. Pope Benedict himself has, in the past, alluded to the possibility of a Pope resigning.


I am sure that this has been a most difficult and agonizing decision for His Holiness. In his statement he refers to frequently examining his conscience on the matter, but feels that both strength of mind and body are necessary for the adequate exercise of the papacy and that his health has deteriorated over recent months.


We are grateful for the Pontificate of Benedict XVI. Since his inauguration on 24th April 2005, he has given firm and decisive leadership to the Church. He has reached out to leaders of other Christian Churches and to leaders of other Faiths. He has sought the forgiveness of victims of clerical abuse and has on a number of occasions met with victims. He has enriched the Church with his theology and incisive mind. He has spoken on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.


In making this announcement now the Holy Father is ensuring a smooth transition for his successor. We acknowledge his courage and wish him well that his retirement will bring him peace and rest.


Archbishop Stephen Brislin


Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference




Issued on the 11th day of February 2013, at Cape Town

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI announces resignation

Pope Benedict XVI gave his surprising announcement on Monday 11 February 2011 saying that on 28 February he will be standing down from the Petrine Office and retire from public office because of his age and general weakening condition of health.

The conclave that will elect Benedict XVI's successor will have 117 members on the day his resignation becomes official, at the end of this month.There are 61 Europeans, 19 Latin Americans, 14 North Americans, 11 Africans, 11 Asians and one from Oceania among the voters. Benedict XVI will not participate in the conclave.
The country with the greatest number of cardinal-electors is Italy, with 21. Sixty-seven of the electors were created by Benedict XVI and the remaining 50 by John Paul II.
The conclave will proceed according to the rules of "Ordo Rituum Conclavis," established by Pope John Paul II's apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis."
During the time between the Holy Father's resignation and the election of the next pontiff, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, as the cardinal camerlengo, will have the fundamental role in governing the Church.
While the conclave is ongoing, the cardinals reside within the Vatican. They are not permitted any contact with the outside world.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, reported that Benedict XVI will go to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo when he leaves office on Feb. 28. After that he will reside in a cloistered monastery within the Vatican walls.

We are now called to pray to the Lord so that this transitional period may take place peacefully and fruitfully especially during the time of the conclave in March. "Lord,you can read everyone's heart;show us therefore which of these you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate." Acts 1,24-25.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bishop's 2013 Programme

Year: 2013
First Week
Second Week
Third Week
Fourth Week
On leave:1- 12
Cape Town

In Office:13 - 19
Tzaneen Office:
20 - 22
SACBC meet:23 -26  Pretoria
 SACBC meet: 27 – 30.Malamulele Holy Rosary school -31
Tzaneen:1-2 Feb.
Sibasa: Daswa commemoration:3
Retreat at AMPC:4-8
DPC exec:9 at AMPC
Tzaneen:10 -15
Diocesan Priests:11
Finance Meet:12
AMPC: 17 -Education for Life celebrations.
Priests meet:19-20 at AMPC
Office: 24 -
Pastoral Workers meet at AMPC:27
Cat workshop at AMPC: 1-3 March
Cat workshop at AMPC : 3
CaSPA at Polokwane: 5
Dioc.Cat meet:6
Sibasa: 10
Joint Witness:11-13
 at Benoni
Zimbabwe:14-17 referendum
St Patrick’s at AMPC :19
Holy Week
Mass of Oils:26
Holy Thurs:28
Good Friday:29
Easter:30 -31
Province Meet at Gabarone:8-9
Consultors 25
Diocesan priests recollection at AMPC:29
Priests Meet:7-8
Daswa meet
Finance meet 9
Exorcism workshop at Bethlehem:13 -17
Finance Council:25 at AMPC
Johannesburg:27-29 on land reform
30-31 Office
St Brendan's:2
Office:4 -8 
Dwars River:9

St Schol:16
25-29 Office
Olifants River:30

On leave:1 - 16
Cape Town

In office:18-20
Office:23 -26
Mariannhill: 31
SACBC plenary :31 Jul – 7 Aug at Mariannhill
Tzaneen: 11
Office: 13 - 16
Pilgrimage at AMPC: 17-18
Office: 20 - 23

Cat wkp:30-1
DPC at AMPC:14
Dioc cat:25
Office:26 – 27
Province meet in Pretoria:2-3
Cat workshop at AMPC:4-6
Priests meet:8-9
Diocesan priests recollection:28
Pastoral workers:30
AGM at
St Brendan’s:3
IMBISA meeting in Botswana: 11 -15
Diocesan Finance Council:16 AMPC
Office:19 - 22
St Scholastica:24
Thanksgiving Mass for end of year: 5 at AMPC

In office:10-13
Office closes:13

Tzaneen:17 - 20
Christmas: 24 -25
End of year break.