Greetings in this season of Lent! By the way, do you know what the meaning of the word “Lent” is? Here is a definition from a Catholic website: “The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon lencten, meaning “Spring”, and lenctentid which literally means not only “Springtide”, but also was the word for “March”, the month in which the majority of Lent falls” (Catholic Education Resource Centre). Of course, here in the southern hemisphere, the time of Lent does not fall in spring, but at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. So, the meaning of new life brought in nature through the spring flowers, plants and leaves, is not so obvious. Therefore, let us ourselves be signs of this new life brought to us by Jesus through his passion, death and resurrection. May this Lenten season be an opportunity for each of us to give life through our prayer, acts of mercy and self-sacrifice.
I think the big news for this month is that our Superior General Fr, Richard Baawobr (Ghanaian) has been chosen by Pope Francis to become the Bishop of his home diocese of Wa in northern Ghana! This appointment comes just at the end of his term at the helm of our Society. Indeed, he will be ordained bishop on 7th May, and on 13th he will preside our 28th General Chapter (held every six years) when a new Superior General will be elected. Congratulations!
In the same line of thoughts, another good piece of good news: the appointment of Fr. Duncan Tsoke, Vicar General of Johannesburg Archdiocese, as Auxiliary Bishop. We are very pleased with the choice. Fr. Tsoke, as a young priest, spent more than one year with us, M.Afr, for his training in pastoral work. We are happy as well to consider Bishop Abel Gabuza (Kimberley Diocese) and Bishop Peter Holiday (Kroonstad Diocese) as our good friends because they too spent some time with us in their training as young priests. Fr. Duncan will be ordained Bishop on 30th April in Regina Mundi, Soweto. Congratulations!
Another important piece of news: a young M.Afr has just arrived in South Africa to be a staff member in our Formation House of Merrivale and to teach at Cedara. A few years ago, in our Provincial Blog, he introduced himself: “I am Jones Kawisha from Kabwe, Zambia. I was ordained priest in 2008 and appointed to the Maghreb province. I am in the community of Tizi Ouzou in Algeria since 2009. Encounter has been my priority and my main apostolate. My experience has been positive and rich. In September this year, I will be going to Paris to study Theology of Religions in order to have a broader understanding of different religions to enrich my encounter apostolate….” In 2011, on his way to Zambia, for a well-deserved holiday before going to Paris, Fr. Jones spent a few days with us in Edenglen community. On 9th July 2011, some of you aspirants had a chance to meet him during a Come & See in Koinonia. There, he gave us a very interesting talk on his vocation and his work as a missionary among Muslims in Algeria (See Newsletter No 6, 25th July 2011). Fr. Jones did his noviciate in Burkina Faso. Fr. Jan De Groef, M.Afr, was then one of his formators, and is now bishop of Bethlehem Diocese in the Free State.
This month, we engaged on an anti-racism campaign called “Only One Race, The Human Race”. We printed fifty thousand leaflets which we distribute in parishes, schools and any other public areas. The need for racial harmony has never been so urgent in South Africa since the end of apartheid. Let us pray for a better understanding and love among all people. Please, pray also for those who paid for the printing of these leaflets.
Wishing you all a good Lenten journey and a happy ascent to Easter!