Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In August this year our country shall hold local government elections. Elections are a time to think about the kind of society we would like to live in and the kind of leaders we need.
We pray that these elections may be a step in bringing about the kind of society God desires for us and in giving us the leaders who will contribute to building that society, “remembering the mercies of God ... let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature.” (Romans 12:1-2)
These elections come at a time when many are struggling with unemployment, the rising cost of living, household debt, lack of basic resources, the slow pace of service delivery, and high levels of crime. We need mayors and councillors who have genuine concern for the economic and other hardships that our citizens are enduring. No one wants leaders who are intent on making money and are only interested in party politics. Being a politician can be a noble Christian vocation.
Pope Francis stresses that countries need, “more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 205)
People ought to seek public office in order to serve people and promote the common good. Temptations to forsake these ideals and seek personal power, wealth and status will always be there. Yielding to such temptation results in corruption, misuse of tax payers’ money, little or no service delivery, and serious neglect of the good of our communities.
We call on those who aspire to leadership to ensure that our municipal districts are governed by principles of ethical leadership. We urge them to exercise power with honesty and accountability to the poor and the most vulnerable.
We urge everyone to use their vote. Let us not give way to apathy.
Here are some questions related to the common good which could help in the critical examination of candidates:
To what extent are you satisfied with service delivery in your area?
To what extent were previous promises met?
To what extent are you satisfied with the way the current leaders are tackling corruption and misuse of tax money in your area?
Look around in your area. Is what you observe what you want for yourself and your children?
We each have a grave responsibility to create the environment of tolerance and acceptance which enables every South African to support and vote for the party that they choose, without fear of violence and intimidation. While this responsibility falls heavily on the political parties and the media, it is also the responsibility of each one of us.
Let us pray for peaceful elections that produce leaders who act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God (Micah 6:8)
We invite you to recite this prayer in your families and parishes as we prepare for the elections and also during the elections.
Lord we pray that the Holy Spirit enables us to choose upright leaders committed to the common good. Give us the courage to work for your Kingdom through promoting justice and peace in our society. May your Holy Spirit continually transform us so that become examples of your mercy and peace in our families and to others. We pray for peaceful elections. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
We ask for God’s blessing upon all of you, again using the words of Scripture. “... let therenewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Your Bishops +
Bishop Vincent Zungu OFM has advised us of his great joy in welcoming to the Diocese four priests from the Society of Divine Vocations (SDV or “Vocationists) in Nigeria. The SDV is a Missionary Congregation operating in that country, and the Bishop was approached late last year by the Society with a request to establish the Congregation in our Diocese.
“I accepted their request to come and work in the ‘vineyard of the Lord’ for as we all know ‘the labourers are few’.”
Fr. Valentine Azubuike, SDV, Fr Callistus Mwosu, SDV, Fr. Coleman Mwokorie, SDV and Fr. John Gala Afuevu, SDV, will arrive in Port Elizabeth on May 31st, and will initially spend some time in Port Elizabeth undergoing orientation and initiation into the Diocese’s Vision, Policies and Pastoral Progamme.
In addition to these African Missionaries, two Diocesan Priests are on their way to work in the Diocese as “Fidei Donum” priests (literally “Gift of Faith” - priests very generously sent to work in another diocese by their Bishops - Fr Paul is a Fidei Donum priest from Ireland). These two priests are:
Fr. Benoit (‘Benedict’) Djese Mwilambwe from the Diocese of Kalemie-Kirungu in the DRC. For the past 3 years he has been working in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, and Fr. Vincent Vusi Tyiso from the Diocese of Marriannhill. We thank Bishop Pius Mlungisi Dlungwane for listening and taking to heart our request for priests.
A number of priests from the Congregation of Marianhill Missionaries (CMM) as also to be sent to the Diocese of Port Elizabeth in the near future.
“I count on all of us in the Diocese: the Clergy, the Religious and the laity, to welcome these priests and missionaries with the great hospitality which is in keeping with our Christian values and African spirit of ‘ubuntu’.
“They are a result of our constant prayers for vocations as requested by our Lord Jesus Christ and the fulﬁllment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart” (Jer 3:15).
The vision and dream of Pope Paul VI that Africa “you have received a lot of missionaries, now you must become missionaries yourselves”, is becoming a reality. (Uganda 1976).
“I already thank all of you in advance for your warm welcome, hospitality, love, generosity and solidarity that await all our Diocesan and Religious priests from different parts of the African continent. Actually it’s a nice way of concluding Africa Month. Our Lady Queen of Africa! Pray for us! Amen!” — Bishop Vincent Zungu OFM
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.