“My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!” (Lk 2: 46 - 47)
Very Reverend Fr. Gregory Mitchel C.O. (Provost of the Oratorians of St Philip Neri), Fr. Jonathan Vermaak (Parish Priest of the Parish Community), Members of the Oratory Community, Beloved Parishioners of St Bernadette’s Parish Community, friends, benefactors, regular visitors and all people of Goodwill!
This beautiful prayer and hymn of Our Lady that’s recorded by St Luke expresses in a most profound way my personal and deepest sentiments of great joy in God who is the Divine Family of Three: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - who through his Son Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd cares, watches over and accompanies the Church in the journey of life to its eternal destiny. I hope that my message will find all of you in a good state of health.
On the 25th of June, I concelebrated at the Inaugural Mass of the bicentenary celebrations of the official existence of the Roman Catholic Church here in South Africa. This took place at the Cathedral Church of Our Lady Flight into Egypt in Cape Town. Your own inauguration of the 70th anniversary of St Bernadette’s Parish fits magnificently into that mosaic of the whole Church which is called to become increasingly the Sacrament of Unity for which Christ, our High Priest, continues to pray for before God our Heavenly Father, that “they may all be one, so that the world may believe” (Jn 17: 21). This is a moment of grace which occurs in God’s perfect timing. It is God’s year of favour that challenges all of us to rekindle the wonderful gift of faith that we have received in baptism and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The 70th Anniversary reminds us that God is the Lord of history. He directs all the events of our life – the Church herself is not just a static or fixed institution; it is rather a dynamic, life-giving community of believers where God’s abiding presence, love, mercy, forgiveness, justice, peace and joy are experienced and celebrated through full, active and conscious participation in the Eucharist, which is the ‘source and summit’ of all our Christian life.
God is calling you individually and as a community of believers with all the structures of the parish of St Bernadette to remember your past with gratitude, to celebrate and live the grace of the present moment with renewed commitment to God and to journey to the future with hope. It is worthwhile for all of you to reflect and answer these questions:
In terms of faith, what legacy do you want to leave behind or pass on to the future generations?
What resources and energy are you prepared to invest in it?
How do you want to be remembered by your grandchildren?
What vision do you have for St Bernadette’s parish in the next 5, 10, 15, and 20 years from now?
What are you prepared to do in order to achieve that vision?
Let us all strive together to become the dream Church of Pope Francis: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” (EG, 49).
In my personal capacity and on behalf of the whole Diocese I congratulate all the Faithful of St Bernadette’s Parish Community on this 70th anniversary celebration as I look forward to your centenary. May God who began this wonderful work in all of you many years ago bring it to fruition today and for all eternity!
Your Shepherd in Christ
Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
At the beginning of Holy Week, Monday the 10th April we awoke to hear the sad news of the death of Anneliese Beckers, our retired Diocesan Secretary of 28 years. The staff at the Chancery Offices particularly feel her absence as she lived on the property and continued to offer support where needed.
Her passing was followed on 13th July by that of her mother Hilly
Our sincere condolences to their immediate family, the Clergy, the Religious and to all those who knew and loved them, especially Anneliese.
On the 10th of May Bishop Vincent and Fr Peter Whitehead left with a group of Pilgrims to be a part of the 100th Anniversary Celebrations of the Apparitions at Fatima. On Saturday the 13th May the Pilgrims attended the Pope’s Mass at the site of the apparitions. The Bishop reported that over a million people were present that day with many of them arriving the day before and camping overnight to await the Pope’s arrival. What struck the Bishop most was the fact that three poor, illiterate children were able to convey the powerful messages of Fatima, particularly the fact that it occurred during a time of great unrest.
The Redemptorist Priests, Fr’s. Padua, Nwokoro and Zungu have moved to Uitenhage to look after the communities there. The two Vocationists, Fr. Emmanuel and Fr. Coleman, who were assisting Fr. Max in Uitenhage are now at St. James Parish.
Bishop Vincent has recently returned from a much-deserved home leave, his first in two years! Welcome back, Bishop and we hope you are now well rested and ready for anything!
Please feel free to pop into The Catholic Resource Centre (CRC) which houses our repository, library and archives.
The Centre is open Mon to Fri 9am – 3pm.
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.