Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It gives me great pleasure to greet all of you in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, especially in this special Jubilee Year of Mercy which invites ail of us to be merciful as the Father is.
For the very first time in the history of the Catholic Church in Southern Africa we are celebrating the living memory of Blessed Benedict Daswa who witnessed to his faith by his prayer, what he said and did as a family man and teacher - even to the extent of laying down his life rather than compromise his faith.
It is hard to believe that in June of this year I will be celebrating my second anniversary as a Bishop. I am blessed to have been able to visit most of the Parishes in our Diocese as well as visiting various Communities. It has also been a great pleasure for me to spend time in all of our Deaneries.
I took over a very well-organised Diocese, the legacy of the late Bishop Michael Coleman. During his tenure as Bishop he built, renovated and restored many Churches to provide a dignified worshipping place for our communities. His dream was that every Parish becomes an oasis of God's love, inner healing and reconciliation
As I am sure you are aware, any growth in Dioceses, not only of a financial nature, always depends on the commitment and generosity of its people. You have all been part of the many improvements made and Churches built, of new ministries established, Small Christian Communities formed etc...
On Stewardship Sunday we account to our communities on how we have managed God's gifts of time, treasure and talent during the past year.
We have experienced an 8.5% increase in your contributions when compared to last year, 2014. We value this commitment from you as we are very aware of the tough economic climate we are currently experiencing. Through your efforts and in keeping with the thoughts of the Holy Father, "Rise, get up, take your mat, let's put an end to this and walk", we will continue to strive towards becoming a self-sustaining Diocese in terms of resources and personnel.
Without your generous contributions it would become almost impossible for the Diocese to meet its responsibilities. There has also been an increase in the Special Collections for the needy, both inside the Diocese and elsewhere, I, therefore take this opportunity to relay my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your great generosity and spirit of communion in which you share your material resources, in kind, money and solidarity,
This Stewardship Sunday 2016, let us focus on making stewardship a way of life. Let us prayerfully reflect on the gifts each of us has been given, may we all be united as a Diocese, go forward in great strength to continue proclaiming the Kingdom of God and building upon the solid foundations that our fore fathers in the faith have laid in in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth.
"Everything has been entrusted to our protection, and ail of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God's gifts!" -Pope Francis
With sincere good wishes and God's blessings on your communities.
Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM