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 catholicculture.org 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.