Newsletter South Africa No 54 – 26th August, 2015


Newsletter South Africa no 54 titleMy dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are well.

This month has been quite busy, as usual! I guess it has been the same for you too. But let us always take some time to stop and relax and pray. This is important if we want to listen to God who whispers to us mostly in stillness.

In the last two months we were very fortunate in the Southern Africa Province to have two ordinations to the priesthood: one in Malawi and one in Zambia. If you like to see beautiful pictures and read about those events, you can go to our blog at mafrsaprovince.com. I am sure you will find plenty of other interesting news as well.

On Monday 10th, Fr. Seán O’Leary, M.Afr, left us. Fr. Seán has been in South Africa for over 30 years! During the apartheid era, he was even jailed because of his opposition to the oppressive regime. After many years of work in different parishes and then at the Bishops’ Conference – where he was in charge of the Bishop Hurley Institute –, he is now appointed to Ireland, his native country. He will be the Sector Bursar as well as coordinator for all matters of Justice and Peace for the M.Afr throughout our European province. We wish him all the very best and accompany him with our prayers. Thank you, Seán! You will surely be missed and you will miss South Africa, we are sure! This is the lot of missionaries: we come and go!

Now that Fr. Seán is gone, Fr. Christophe Boyer, the South Africa Sector Bursar, and I are alone here in Edenglen. Without counting all the pastoral commitments (helping around in parishes and schools, giving retreats and sessions to various Movements like Cursillos, CWL, St. Vincent de Paul, etc.), we are often running to the airport and bus stations to receive and send off visitors, and preparing evening meals for them. 

As mentioned last month, most of our new candidates arrived to start their theology studies in Cedara, near our Formation House of Merrivale in KZN. Finally, on 12th August, Hallen and Shiby arrived from India; they were happy to stay with us overnight and board the bus for Pietermaritzburg the following day. The next Sunday, Francis from Nigeria arrived also at OR Tambo airport and took the bus on Monday morning. We are still expecting the two from D.R. Congo; they are still waiting for their visa! We hope they’ll be here soon because their school year has already started three weeks ago! At the moment, in Merrivale, we have thirty one theology students.

There, our students are very busy; first of all, with their studies, of course; this takes a great part of their time. Then their life of prayer takes surely a good chunk of their day. And especially on weekends, they are occupied with all kinds of pastoral work in the nearby parishes. Some of them are particularly involved in our own parish of Henley (more on this, next month). We have also some who are members of the KZN Pastoral Care of Vocations: with seminarians of other congregations as well as Sisters, they regularly visit parishes for their Sunday Masses and meet with the youths afterward. We hope and pray that they may in this way plant the seed for some vocations to flourish from those parishes.

Our only candidate from this Sector, as you know, is Patrick Kadima. He is still on holiday with his family, but preparing to go for his noviciate early next month in Zambia.

Let us continue strong in our faith and confident that the Good Lord is still calling many of us to be his true missionaries. God bless you all!

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No 53 – 27th July, 2015


Newsletter South Africa no 53 titleMy dear Friends, You know, the last Sunday of each month from February to September, there is a Vocation Discernment Day at the Johannesburg Cathedral for all the youths eager to discover the path God wants them to follow in their life. On 28th June, about 25 boys and girls of grade 10 and over met there from 10 am to 3 pm. As I was busy with another Mass in the morning, I could make it only at 2 pm to celebrate Mass with them. During the homily, I asked them if they were “attractive”! Pope Francis always comes back on this fact: we do not convert people to come to Jesus by force or intimidation, but we draw them like a magnet by being “attractive” Christians! Attractive, not by dressing smartly or charming them by our “cool” behaviour, but by witnessing to them in being Christ-like. “Always preach, and sometimes use words”, said saint Francis of Assisi.

Between the 7th and 10th of July, six new students arrive to start their theology in Cedara and take residence in our nearby Formation House of Merrivale; they are from Zambia, Burkina Faso, Burundi and Mali. (2 Congolese, 2 Indians and one Nigerian are still waiting for their visas) On Saturday, they leave with our deacon Serge (DRC) and soon-to-be-deacon Douglas (Kenya), who came to fetch them with the mini-bus of Merrivale. Patrick Kadima joins them to spend a few days with our 25 students in Merrivale. He just came back from Malawi on 30th June after his graduation following his three years of Philosophy. He had the great joy of having his father, 2 of his sisters, his brother and his brother-in-law present at the graduation! He is now on holidays with his family, waiting to start his noviciate in Zambia in September.

On Sunday 12th July, as I am preparing to go celebrate Mass in Vlakfontein Township, I hear on the 6am radio news that motorists have to avoid travelling on the Golden Highway because of violent unrest in Vlakfontein to protest against bad service delivery. Fortunately, when I arrive there, everything is over and the Police has dispersed the protesters. So, the community of over 100 faithful celebrate the Holy Mass in peace and joy, yet praying devoutly for more calm and justice in the country. Afterward, I rush to Pretoria to celebrate a 50th Jubilee of a Portuguese couple whom I know from Charismatic Renewal weekends. There are more than one hundred family and friends! Thank the Lord for this beautiful example of matrimonial love and fidelity!

On 18th, Mandela Day, I spend about four hours painting in a Home for abused, abandoned and orphaned children. With some youths, we refresh the neglected house that the Home has just pursued for the older teenage boys. I hope and pray that you all did something positive to celebrate Mandela Day, and that you will do it regularly throughout the year.

Finally, on Sunday 26th we have again a beautiful discernment day at the Cathedral. In the morning, the Good Shepherd Sisters present their vocation, working among women and girls all over the world. After lunch, Patrick and I present our vocation of Missionaries of Africa. The participants are very interested and keen to learn more about our specific vocation among African people everywhere in Africa and the rest of the world.

Keep well! Be missionaries everywhere and at all times!

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr