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
“Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).
I am filled with tremendous joy as I write this letter to you. I hope and pray that this message finds all of you in good state of health. There are three reasons for my letter - to thank God and all of you for the past Liturgical Year; to invite you to the celebration of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy and to indicate the manner in which it will be celebrated in our Diocese, always in one heart and mind with our Holy Father.
I am extremely grateful to God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for accompanying our Diocese throughout the Liturgical Year 2015 dedicated to both Marriage and Family as well as Consecrated Life. We are all looking forward to the official communication of the outcomes and fruits of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family and its pastoral implications that will hopefully enrich our pastoral programmes.
In August I sent the booklet on the “Vision and Priorities of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth” through the Pastoral Development Office to all Parishes throughout the Diocese. You took your precious time to pray, reflect, discuss and fill in the questionnaire that accompanied it. I am grateful to all individuals, parish councils and other lay movements that returned their responses. Your wonderful insights, suggestions and input are valuable as we continue to collate and elaborate our Diocesan Pastoral Plan informed by that Vision: “May They Be One in Us – A call to communion with God leading to holistic Evangelization”.
As I write this letter on the 1st Sunday of Advent we are beginning a New Liturgical Year, which already orientates us to 2016. We are all invited to cultivate in our life of faith the Gospel values of prayer, vigilance, patience, hope and joyful expectation of the Festive Season when “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).
I hereby announce to all of you the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which was solemnly proclaimed by our Holy Father Pope Francis on the Second Sunday of Easter, 11th of April 2015. The Holy Year will be inaugurated on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th of December 2015. Moved by his extravagant love and mercy, God took initiative regarding the salvation of the human race by turning his merciful face “to Mary, holy and immaculate choosing her to be the Mother of his only begotten Son” and our Holy Redeemer. This Solemnity also marks the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council which through the power of the Holy Spirt changed the face of the Church and ushered an era of new impetus of Evangelisation.
Mary is honoured as the Chief Patron of our Diocese of Port Elizabeth. In accordance with the official liturgical Pastoral Guide it is therefore elevated to a solemnity (big feast) for the local church and celebrated on the Sunday that occurs on 4th February or between the 4th and 10th February each year.