Newsletter South Africa No 55 – 26th September, 2015

Newsletter South Africa no 55 titleMy dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are well.

The great event immediately after the last Newsletter was surely the Lay Leaders Conference of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. On Saturday 29th, with Bishop Jan DeGroef, M.Afr. (Bishop of Bethlehem in the Free State), we met more than 300 lay people from all the parishes of the Archdiocese. We had one hour and a half to explain the missionary activity of the Church. “The Church, by her very nature, is missionary” (Vatican 2, On the Missionary Activity of the Church, 2). With a PowerPoint Presentation and a talk and a song, we try to show that it is not the Church who has a Mission, but it is the Mission of Christ which has a Church! Dillon Naicker, a young member of our Missionary Group gave a very powerful testimony of his conversion and how he became a missionary in working full time in Youth Ministry. He wanted to become a famous actor – he did it for a short while, appearing in the weekly soap Isidingo – then as he said, “the Lord came to pick me up from my miserable life… One day, when I saw the word MISSIONARY on the calendar of the Missionaries of Africa, I knew I had to become a missionary.” He is now a real missionary working full time at the Youth Office of Johannesburg Archdiocese. Our two Congolese candidates have arrived via Durban on Sunday 30th! Finally, they got their students’ visa! At the moment, they are 31 theology students. They are the most numerous of all the congregations studying at St. Joseph Theological Institute in Cedara. They are from seventeen countries, but so far none from South Africa! We still pray and hope that some generous young men will soon join us! On the same day, Sunday 30th, a group of almost twenty youths took part in the Vocation Discernment Day at the Cathedral. It was a lively group really eager to discover their vocation according to God’s will.

The greatest event in South Africa this month was surely the beatification of Benedict Daswa. I am sure you all know about his life, how he was a strong Catholic Christian, always helping the poor and the children of his school – he was the headmaster – and how he was killed by a mob because he had refused to pay R5 to help hire a sangoma in order to find the culprit who, the people said, had sent lightnings to burn some houses in the village. From Sunday 13th September 2015, we can pray Blessed Daswa to intercede for us to God. He can surely help us to follow his great example by giving our lives totally to God. Many newspapers, radio and television stations covered the event. Benedict was a young man of our time (43 years old): he died 25 years ago, not 200 or 300 years ago! And he is one of us, a real South African! Let us be proud of being Catholic and South African! is MISSION MONTH. We all are called to be Missionaries. The theme chosen by Pope Francis is “A PASSION FOR JESUS AND HIS PEOLPE”. As you know, our Pope often challenges us to go out to the peripheries and proclaim the Good News of Jesus to those who are far. Let us pray and reach out to others this coming month in order to live better our missionary vocation. Let us also pray for Pope Francis who is on a very important missionary journey in the USA, so that his message of peace and joy may be well received by the American people and by all the people of good will.

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

SOUTH AFRICA – The beatification ceremony of Benedict Daswa will be held on September 13, the first martyr of South Africa recognized by the Church

Benedict-Daswa-Sept-2015Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) – On 13 September the Church in South Africa is preparing to celebrate the beatification of Benedict Samuel Tshimangadzo Daswa, martyred on 2 February 1990 (see Fides 30/09/2014), the first martyr of South Africa recognized by the Church.

For the occasion, a special website ( has been created that presents the life of this devout Catholic. In February 1990, following a series of strong storms that raged in the area of his native village, the local people thought that these phenomena were due to acts of witchcraft. The council of elders therefore decided to consult a “healer” and the villagers were asked an individual contribution of 5 Rand to pay for his advice. Benedict said that thunderstorms are natural phenomena and refused to give his contribution to pay a sorcerer, thus arousing the anger of many residents.

On 2 February 1990, the car Benedict was traveling in was blocked with a road ambush by some individuals. He managed to escape on foot, and hid in a house. But faced with the threat to kill the woman who hid him, Benedict gave himself to his captors, entrusting his soul to the Lord. He was stabbed to death and his body covered with boiling water.

On January 22, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree which recognizes the “martyrdom of Tshimangadzo Samuele Benedetto Daswa (Bakali), lay, killed in hatred of the Faith, on February 2, 1990, in Mbahe (South Africa)”.

The beatification ceremony in the presence of the representative of Pope Francis, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will be held on September 13 at the Benedict Daswa Shrine, in Tshitanini in Limpopo Province. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 07/08/2015)


Pope gives go-ahead for SA’s first saint

The Star LogoPontiff invited for a visit to coincide with beatification

By Anna Cox from The STAR – Thursday January 29, 2015

SOUTH Africa is set to have its first saint and martyr Benedict Daswa. Last week Pope Francis authorised the signing of the proclamation for the beatification of Daswa, a lay person from Limpopo who opposed witchcraft. The ceremony could take place as early as October.

In honour of the occasion, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has invited Pope Francis to come out for a pastoral visit to coincide with the celebration.

Usually the pope conducts only canonisation ceremonies, but it was felt that because it was such a special occasion for South Africa and because the country had never had a formal papal visit before, it would be the ideal time.

Archbishop of Joburg Buti Tlhagale said it was a momentous occasion for all South Africans, and especially for the country’s 4 million Catholics. “This is the first South African saint. We have been waiting to have our own saint for years. Having our own saint means having our own spokesman in heaven – a model of someone who believes and dies for his faith.

“Most of the time we hear about this – but it happens in other places and other times. This time, we have our own martyr who lived in the same time and country as ourselves. It is most striking and inspiring. “Once the country wakes up to this, they will realise what an achievement it is to have had someone among us who stood up for his faith amid great opposition, against the cultural convictions of certain people, and openly opposed witchcraft in a bid to stand for his faith”, said Tlhagale.

Preparations have started for the ceremony, which is expected to take place at the Thohoyandou Stadium in Limpopo. “We will be encouraging Catholics from all over the country to be there”, Tlhagale said.

If Pope Francis accepts the invitation, the government would have to be consulted as the visit would involve a head of state, and proper security would have to be provided. “However, if the pope cannot make the beatification ceremony, we hope he will come next year for the canonisation – the invitation is an open one”, said Tlhagale.

Daswa, 44, was born in Mbahe village in Limpopo. He became a Catholic while training to become an elementary school teacher. Daswa eventually built a church and a school there, becoming its principal.

He was opposed to witch-hunts and took a stand against them because they were leading to the killing of innocent people accused of witchcraft. Daswa rejected the use of muti or traditional medicines for protection against evil or for success in business, marriage and other areas of life.

Benedick Daswa
Benedict Daswa, who died for his faith, is likely to be beatified in October.

In 1990, Daswa refused to give money towards the hunt for a witch. A few days later, on February 2, he was stoned and bludgeoned to death. The diocese of Tzaneen opened an inquiry into Daswa’s death that ended in July 2009.

It resulted in 850 pages of testimonies from people who witnessed the life and death of Daswa. This was forwarded to Archbishop Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, after they were signed by the then-bishop of Tzaneen, Hugh Slattery. Chancellor Father Andre Bohas MSC was the postulator in Daswa’s beatification and canonisation cause.

The Catholic Church has purchased land at Mbahe and is hoping to develop a R25 million pilgrimage and shrine site in his honour. The process has taken 15 years.