Lenten Appeal raises R10 664 544, 26

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On behalf of the Bishops of Southern Africa, I would like to thank you once again, for your wonderful response to the annual Lenten Appeal collections in your different parishes. That is despite these challenging financial times, which is a true witness to your compassion, love and concern for the plight of the poor and needy that is served through the many projects, served through the mission of the Church. At the time of writing this letter, we have raised a total amount of R10 664 544, 26

This is an increase of 2% compared to what we raised last year which was R 10 409 643, 03. On behalf of the Bishops Conference, I ensure you our continued prayers and ongoing thanks for your generous giving, fully aware that the cost of living is a daily challenge for most of us.

The Bishops Lenten Appeal is the primary source of financial support for our local church’s activities. The Bishops, in addition to being tasked with the responsibility of nurturing the spiritual well-being of our people, are also concerned with the holistic development of the people of God. Your generous contributions to the Bishops Lenten Appeal continue to make this possible. We are extremely grateful to you for helping us fulfil our mission and this you have done faithfully over such a long period of time.
Because of the changing times, we have to support many more poor and needy people, so we thank the generous benefactors that assist the Bishops conference through the special grants that they have made possible for us to support the needy and poor especially our children. This year as I reported to the Bishops I confirmed that they have contributed close to R 300 000, 00. We continue to thanks them for their kind generosity.

This is how we will be using the money you so generously gave to the Bishops Lenten Appeal in 2018:


National Grants: R 1 405 000, 00 will be distributed between 12 applicants
Diocesan Grants: R 1483 059, 11 will be distributed between 40 applicants
Our Seminaries: R1 900 000
SACBC General Secretariat: R 4 285 000, 00
Lenten Appeal Office: R 1 417 836, 80

This leaves us with a balance of R 173 678, 46 from the money that has been collected in Bishops Lenten Appeal in 2018. This we will put to good use.

May the good Lord continue to bless you all in the generosity of the work that you are doing. It is only through giving that we shall receive. May God bless your kindness through the love that reflects in your heart?
In Christ


Bro. Ashley Tillek, OFM

BLA National Director

cropped Cathca webheader 01 1 1CATHCA (Catholic Healthcare Association) will be holding a workshop with healthcare workers on Saturday the 29th of September at St. James Parish in Port Alfred from 9am – 2pm.  All Medical professionals - doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, home-based carers, OVCs and any others involved in health and welfare are invited to attend.  Lunch will be served, please RSVP to Melese: pastoral@cathca.co.za

harringtonstBicentenary of Catholic Church in South Africa

This week, at the request of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, parishes across South Africa will be celebrating a special Mass on February 4th for the Bi-Centenary of the Catholic Church in South Africa. Here in our Diocese, this is being combined with Our Patronal Feast - Our Lady - Flight into Egypt. This is extremely apt, as it is alos the Patronal Feasat of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, where the Catholic Church first became established in the early 1800s.
On 7 June 1818, Pope Pius Vll erected the Vicariate Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope and adjacent territories. However, the fi rst Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Bede Slater OSB, lived in Mauritius. The first permanent Catholic priest, Fr Patrick Scully, arrived in 1820, and the first Bishop based in the Cape, Bishop Patrick Griffith OP, arrived in 1838.
The first Catholic Church in South Africa was built in Harrington Street in Cape Town in about 1830.


O God, sanctify us, your Church in Southern Africa and pour out the gifts of your Spirit upon us, who have been consecrated to you in baptism.
Increase our faith that we may never cease to give thanks for your infinite treasures of mercy and goodness.
Root us in your Son Jesus Christ, that with hearts burning with desire to fulfil your will, we may share the joy, peace and abundance of life he gives us.
Open our hearts to each other and remove our prejudices that the walls of injustice and division which your Son has destroyed may give way to the healing of the ethnic, racial and unjust divisions of our painful past.
Let the bright sun of hope never set on our communities of faith, as we endeavour to follow always the example of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, by consecrating our lives to the service of our brothers and sisters.
St Mary’s Cathedral in Cape Town in the late 19th century.

popemessage2018 Lenten Message of His Holiness Pope Francis

“Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12) 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near! In our preparation for Easter, God in his providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”.1 Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.

With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth. I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).

These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time. They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

False prophets

Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.

They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go. How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness! How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests! How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!

False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless. How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless! These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love. They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us. Nor should we be surprised. In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth. That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets. We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognize what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.

A cold heart

In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice,2 in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?

More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments.3 All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.

Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.

Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love:
selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.4

What are we to do?

Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception,5 and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.
Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church! For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10). This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need. Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself. When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children. If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God.6

Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.
I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice. Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyzes hearts and actions, and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family. Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting, and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!

The fire of Easter

Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer. If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.

One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March. In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.
During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle. Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly. “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds”,7 and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.

With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me.


1 Roman Missal, Collect for the First Sunday of Lent (Italian).
2 Inferno XXXIV, 28-29.
3 “It is curious, but many times we are afraid of consolation, of being comforted. Or rather, we feel more secure in sorrow and desolation. Do you know why? Because in sorrow we feel almost as protagonists. However, in consolation, the Holy Spirit is the protagonist!” (Angelus, 7 December 2014).
4 Evangelii Gaudium, 76-109.
5 Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 33.
6 Cf. PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum, III.
7 Roman Missal (Third Edition), Easter Vigil, Lucernarium.

benevolentAdvent Appeal to go to Clergy Benevolent Fund

Next weekend, the 2nd and 3rd of December, we will celebrate the First Sunday of Advent.
This year the Bishop has chosen the Clergy Benevolent Fund as the beneficiary.
“The Clergy Benevolent Fund takes care of the various needs of the Clergy, especially those who are retired over a long period. It is compassionate and humanitarian in nature. This year, (2017) five of our priests retired gracefully, bringing the total number of retired Clergy in our Diocese to thirteen. Three of those are in Ireland.
“Due to the critical shortage of vocations to the priesthood, many of our retired priests continue to minister full time to the best of their ability and as far as their health permits.
“Some make themselves available for part-time supplies, they offer mentoring and share their valuable wealth of knowledge and experience with our recently ordained priests. Some also make themselves available for spiritual direction and assistance to individuals and different lay movements and sodalities, others offer special courses and retreats- the list is just endless.
“In fact the Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth would be greatly disadvantaged and impoverished without them. The Clergy Benevolent Fund also helps mitigate the expenses of poorer parish communities.
“The Directory for the Pastoral Care of Bishops says: ‘Assisted by his regional Vicars, the Bishop should seek to anticipate and to resolve any human or spiritual difficulties that priests might experience. He should come lovingly to the help of any priest who finds himself in a difficult situation, especially the sick, the elderly, and the poor, so that they all sense the joy of their vocation, with gratitude towards their Shepherd. When they are sick, the Bishop should comfort them with a visit or at least with a letter or a telephone call, and should ensure that they receive proper material and spiritual assistance. When they die, their funerals should be celebrated by the Bishop himself, if at all possible, or else by his representative.’
“Your valuable contribution to the Clergy Benevolent Fund will certainly go a long way towards empowering and assisting me to fulfil my daunting but joyful responsibility of looking after our Beloved priests who have distinguished themselves for many years at your service.
“May the Lord Jesus Christ, who came so that we may all have life to the full bless you abundantly and reward you a hundred fold for your generosity!”
+ Vincent Zungu OFM

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