From Raymond McQuarrie, M.Afr, Episcopal Vicar for Justice & Peace, Johannesburg, South Africa, 15th December 2014.
We have truly lost a real Justice and Peace activist, and, for myself personally, trying to run the Department of J&P in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, I am particularly sad and at a loss at Tony’s passing!! It is a real tragedy!
Our department is now down to only three staff – from five! And these simple few must see to the organising of the justice and peace ministries in the entire Archdiocese of Johannesburg! An immense and breathtaking task.
PREVIOUS LETTER OF RAYMOND SENT ON THE 9TH DECEMBER 2014
My Dear Friends in Justice Peace,
It is with the deepest sadness that we share the news of the passing of our brother Tony Cosmos Mokheseng this weekend past. We had thought, and we had prayed, that Tony would win this battle with cancer, but this was not to be! I know too that many of you will have heard this news by now.
Over the past three months, not one day passed when Tony wasn’t with family, friends and colleagues from within the Archdiocese. On one occasion when I visited with J&P members from the department in Johannesburg, we were over 20 people all waiting for our turn to sit with Tony and talk, pray, and give our love, support and encouragement in his painful struggle. Tony would try to explain the painful procedures he was undergoing and enduring in an effort to eradicate this terrible affliction in his body. He had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, and was now basically resident in Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.
Our days were filled with WhatsApp messages flying backwards and forwards between Tony and all of us in the department. Even though ill and in hospital, Tony was always a part our team, and with us daily as we did our business, held meetings, consultations, workshops and planned our justice and peace activities for the years ahead. As we opened a workshop, Tony would inevitably send his encouraging WhatsApp message wishing us all the best and for a good meeting. There were days too when we would call him for some advice or direction in one matter or another – despite his suffering and struggle, he seemed to enjoy this interruption, and to know that he was still a valuable part of our justice and peace team. When Charmaine lost her grandfather some days ago, Tony, in his usual charm, was offering his words of comfort and encouragement.
When we visited him in Baragwanath hosptial, and as we chatted by his hospital bed, Tony’s spirit would rise then fall – he would be the one consoling us in our sadness to see our brother so ill, joking with us to pull ourselves together and not to worry so much. Then we would try to console him as his emotions got the better of him and his tears slowly welled in his eyes and his strength of spirit now waned! We prayed together – we prayed that God would guide the doctors and nurses caring for our brother. We prayed that God would comfort and console Tony and be his constant companion in this struggle. We prayed for his family and friends, and we prayed for ourselves too, trying to imagine things without our brother – God forbid!
Two days ago, the battle was finally over, and our brother’s struggle finally ended! We are all filled with disbelief and a deep sadness.
Yesterday, some of us from the Department of Justice & Peace went to Tony’s home in Naledi, Soweto. We met with some family members and some neighbours and parishioners who had also come to pay their respects. We prayed there, and chatted about Tony and the funny and charming things about him. Despite the deep sadness, we were also able to smile as we recalled Tony’s charm, his calm assuring way with people, and his passion for justice and peace. Tony’s family told us that his mother will arrive today from the Free State – we pray God gives her all the comforts and consolations she needs at this time, as she prepares to bury her dear son.
As we prepared with Tony the IEC trainings for the elections, sat with him in the Koinonia Centre in Johannesburg at our Chaplains and Coordinators workshops, listened to his inspiring talks for the Training of Trainers for our activists, and worked with him in our offices in the Chancery, we never once imagined or considered for a single moment that by Christmas he would be gone.
We have truly lost a real and passionate justice and peace activist. Our department, our Archdiocese and justice and peace in South Africa is wounded by the passing of our brother, and we are at a loss.
When we chatted with Tony’s parish priest, Fr. Bernard Sompane, SCJ, he reminded us that even though we are deeply saddened by this loss, we ought too to celebrate Tony’s life – his invaluable contribution, through his passionate dedication to Justice and Peace, to South African society and our Church. This is the memory and spirit of Tony I believe we ought to contemplate and sustain as we prepare to say a final goodbye to our brother. This is the spirit and celebration of Tony’s life that we also carry through into 2015 in the J&P ministries of our Archdiocese – that ‘can do’ spirit, and charm and dedication to transform our world into a just and peaceful society that Tony was so passionately and unquestionably committed to.
Comrade Tony, rest in peace. Lala ngoxolo Comrade, lala ngoxolo. Till we meet again!
The funeral service took place on Saturday 13th December.