Ascension day is a public holiday in Swaziland. Archbishop Peter Wells (Apostolic Nuncio) presided Mass at the Cathedral. Being also "Africa day" everyone had been invited to come dressed according to his or her own culture. Our community at the Cathedral gathers people from many countries coming from different continents.

Before Mass, though, he met Mr Msibi who wanted to show once again how grateful he is to the Church for being allowed to work in the garden for the last 33 years. He had prepared some plants to give to the Apostolic Nuncio for him to take to the different parishes he would be visiting during his stay in the Kingdom of Swaziland.


Mr Msibi spoke about the different plants found in the country and how each one of them benefits our health. Together with that he also showed him different things he had been able to make with his own hands: from toothpicks to teaspoons in wood.

The archbishop encouraged him to continue reminding him of Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Sii" on the care of creation.


After Mass the archbishop met part of the group of pilgrims to Fatima (Portugal) and Rome (Italy). They were deeply grateful to him for helping them get the tickets for the audience with Pope Francis in Rome and for their name ("Pilgrims from Swaziland") being mentioned at the beginning of the gathering at St Peter's square.

They also shared with him about the deep spiritual experience they had in Fatima and how happy they were to have been able to witness the canonization of the little shepherds on May 13. 

Archbishop Wells reminded them that everything in Mary always points to Jesus, from the Magnificat where she praises the Lord to Cana where she tells the servants: do whatever He tells you...

In the afternoon he visited the parishes of Regina Mundi (Piggs Peak) and St Peregrine's (Bulandzeni).


On Wednesday 24, Archbishop Peter Wells arrived in Swaziland. He is the Apostolic Nuncio to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. 

Though not unusual to have the visit of a Nuncio, it is probably the first time that such a visit lasts for about a week. He has a very demanding program of visits to parishes and projects in different parts of our diocese and country.

Archbishop Peter Wells
Photo: The Southern Cross
The first one, just after arriving, was to St Joseph's Social Projects (Mzimpofu). He was first given a tour of the different projects: sewing, carpentry, building, optical, resource centre for the blind... and was then welcomed by the children who had prepared some songs and dances.


In his address to the Apostolic Nuncio, Fr Wandile Dlamini OSM said:
Fr Wandile Dlamini OSM

"On behalf of the Servite community here at St Joseph's and on behalf of our parishioners and all the young and elderly disabled and able-bodied teachers, care-givers, support staff and other residents of St Joseph's, including school children / teachers who join us during the day... we welcome you with a smiling and open heart.

St Joseph's is an extension of social commitment of the Diocese of Manzini (...). The Church in Swaziland prides herself of these social projects here which are unique in the entire Kingdom of Swaziland. Through them we attempt to manifest the social teaching of the Church in a very concrete way.

Thank you for taking time to come here. We are indeed honored and blessed"


The Apostolic Nuncio shared his joy at what he had seen and encouraged them to continue serving those who need it most. He underlined how Providential it was to have the place under the protection of St Joseph who was called to care for Mary and Jesus. He asked the children to care for each other following his example.

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Photo: Fr Anataloni IMC
 Card Luis Tagle addressed the Consolata Missionaries gathered in Rome for the Chapter

A Theological and Missionary Reflection 
on Paul and Barnabas Istituto Missioni Consolata 
23 May 2017

+ Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle

At the outset, I would like to thank all of you, especially Fr. Stefano Camerlengo for inviting me to give a reflection as you prepare for your generai chapter. A word of thanks also to Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon for facilitating my communication with Fr. Stefano.

It is obvious that a continuing study (with research and theological reflection) on the evangelizing mission of the Church is much needed today, given the changing global landscape that cannot, does not and will not leave the Church and its mission unaffected. When we hear of the 65 million refugees scattered all over the world, the 20 million people going hungry because of drought in some parts of Africa, the ongoing wars, the spread of hatred towards strangers and the misuse of religion, just to name a few, we cannot pretend that the Church and mission could remain "business as usual.” The call of the "new evangelization" for new fervor, new methods and new expressions becomes urgent but leaves us with complex and confusing realities to face.

We also have received and continue to receive a missionary impulse from Pope Francis in his now famous dictum, "una Chiesa in uscita verso le periferie esistenziali." He provides his unique personal mark to the missionary calling of the Church for our times with powerful gestures and surprising decisions. But it is important not to leave his expressions or terminologies as slogans or formulae constantly repeated but not reflected upon theologically and within the concrete and varied experiences of mission.

Taking all of this into consideration, let us reflect on Paul and Barnabas and their missionary wisdom. I will not attempt to give a full meditation on their rich missionary enterprise as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles and in Paul's letters. 1 can only choose a few items to serve as points or invitation for prayer and meditation. But to start with a more comprehensive view, let me share briefly what Fr. James Kroeger, MM (Paul's Mission Principles, Bible Today 2009) calls Paul's 10 Mission Principles: 1) a deep awareness of vocation: mission originates in the call of God; 2) radical commitment to Christ: mission envisions a totally Christ-centered life; 3) voluntary acceptance of suffering: vulnerability and acceptance of the cross authenticate mission; 4) insightful mission methods: mission demands creative, inculturated, ever-renewed approaches to evangelization; 5) urgent Gospel proclamation: mission has lost none of its urgency in the contemporary world; 6) deep love of the Church: mission and love of the people who constitute the Church go hand in hand; 7) dose collaboration with coworkers: all apostolic ministry is enhanced through collaborative efforts; 8) commitment to social transformation: the gospel message of human dignity and equality, if embraced, leads to social transformation; 9) effective, exemplary lifestyle: the witness of a Christian life is the first and often most effective proclamation of the Gospel; 10) total reliance on God's providence: mission always remains "God's project” and evangelizers seek to be God's faith-filled, humble instruments. With Fr. Kroeger's summary as an overview, let me now focus on some specific aspects of the missionary wisdom of Paul and Barnabas that could help become una Chiesa in uscita for our times.

Click HERE to download the full address


Sunday 21st May was the day chosen for the consecration of the new church at Gebeni (an outstation of St John Bosco Parish, Malkerns). Being called: "Mary Help of Christians" we wanted it to be celebrated close to its feast (May 24).

I had been there last year for the blessing of the plot where it would be built. I had not been able to visit them again during the building and going back today was a great surprise. Not only it is a beautiful church but I also discovered the artistic gifts of Fr Joseph Nguyen SDB.


He had taken care of every detail and done the paintings inside and outside the Church. He explained the main one at the back of the booklet given to all the people:
All our life speaks to us of God because Christ has taken our human joys and sorrows unto himself: “the world, or life, or death, or the present, or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s"  (1 Corinthians 3:23).
That is why the Christ at the centre is surrounded by the "ordinary activities" of our daily lives. 

The celebration was well attended both by Catholics from the community and from the rest of the outstations of the parish. People from the area also joined us too. It must have been very impressive to have witness the presence of the "Salesian Brass Band" leading our procession from the the classrooms where they used to have Mass to the new building. 


This church is a gift from Catholics in Vietnam where Fr Joseph Nguyen SDB comes from. Whenever he goes on holidays he shares with his community about possible projects in our diocese. One cannot but be touched by the generosity of the Church in Vietnam which challenges us to open our eyes to the needs of others beyond the borders of our country.

After Mass, there was some entertainment by the youth of the area and some gifts for the bishop! 

Click below for photos of the celebration

2017SZ_Mary Help of Christians


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Statement by SACBC president, Archbishop Stephen Brislin

"The recent unfolding agony of violence against women and children has resulted in a nation numbed with shock. The brutality of this and the knowledge that so many of these crimes have been perpetrated by individuals known to the victims raise questions that demand answers. Our society has been shaped by enduring which has compromised healthy family life, as well as the very fabric of our society.

A recent study indicated that 1 in 5 children have been sexually abused. Furthermore, 75% of boys experienced bullying at school. While corporal punishment has been banned at school the practice remain prevalent. Domestic violence is common. The physical integrity of women and children is not respected. There is a pervasive culture of alcohol and drug abuse which exacerbates the violence. Binge drinking among the young is common which undermines good judgement and social morals and can result in irresponsible and violent behaviour. Participation in gangs is commonplace and may result in collective violence and gang rape.

Each crime against a woman and child causes the delicate fabric of our society to unravel that much more. While some perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted through the criminal justice system, survivors face secondary victimization as the matter progresses through the courts. The social and human cost is immense.

Relying on successful criminal prosecution and subsequent incarceration as a solution is not going to result in the change we need. We have to go back to the beginning and look at the way we socialize our children if we wish to curb this violence in the future. Instead of only investing huge sums of money in the criminal justice system and correctional facilities more allowance should be made for parenting programmes and support. This would do much to address the intergenerational spiral of violence and disregard for the corporal integrity of others. We need interventions to combat the normalization of violence at home, at school, at church and in our communities.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all victims of such violence. Victims sometimes blame themselves for what has happened to them but there is nothing that can justify such blatant cruelty.


+Stephen Brislin

Archbishop of Cape Town
President of the SACBC
(Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference)

The "Mass of the Resurrection" of Bishop Barry Wood OMI was celebrated yesterday (13 May 2017) at the Royal Showground (Pietermaritzburg) and presided by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM. 

Card. Napier welcomed all to the celebration of the "life and ministry" of Bp. Barry on behalf of a "shocked and truly bereaved Archdiocese of Durban, the metropolitan province of Durban and indeed the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC). To say we have suffered a grievous blow, is an understatement. Those who worked closely with Bp Barry feel as if we have lost not only our right hand or even our right arm... we lost a heart that was full of passion for Jesus and his church, a heart that was full of compassion for the poor and the needy especially the little ones". 



Special announcement during Mass

"Many parishes have already indicated that they were preparing farewell gifts for Bishop Barry as he headed for retirement. A special collection will therefore be taken on a Sunday in May and at the Requiem Mass. The proceeds will be lodged with the funds which he had dedicated for use for the poor and needy"


Homily
 by Archbishop Buti Thlagale OMI (archdiocese of Durban)

"In the Gospel of John, we read that Phillip found Nathanael and said to him, "come and see". When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him: "There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit" (Jn 1:47). For me, this image summarizes the personality of Bishop Barry. He was a towering giant, soft spoken for a man of his size. I have often heard the word 'gravitas' tossed about. Now here was a man, a priest with a spiritual gravitas, always self-effacing and treating others with warmth that spontaneously came from his heart."

Click HERE to download Archbishop Thlagale's homily


Africa is a continent full of life, with a great cultural and religious patrimony. We cannot abandon it. Let us join our voices to the voice of the African peoples.

“When we look at Africa, we see much more than its great natural richness.

We see its joie de vivre, and above all, we see grounds for hope in Africa’s rich intellectual, cultural and religious heritage.

But we cannot fail to see the fratricidal wars decimating peoples and destroying these natural and cultural resources.

Let us join with our brothers and sisters of this great continent, and pray together that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.”

From the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer): www.popesprayer.net

If you would like to see other videos on the pope’s prayer intentions, you will find them at: www.thepopevideo.org

With the collaboration of the Vatican Television Center: (http://www.ctv.va)

Produced by La Machi Communication: http://www.lamachi.com

(From a CAFOD post on Twitter)
Saturday we had the first annual lecture in memory of one of my predecessors in the diocese of Manzini: Bishop Mandlenkosi Zwane. I was asked to offer a prayer and reflection at the beginning of our gathering. The text below followed the reading of Matthew 25: 31 - 40

* * * * *

A very familiar text. A very challenging one too as Jesus identifies himself with those who are hungry, thirsty, the strangers, naked, sick and in prison.

In the Catholic Church we see priests as “alter Christus” (another Christ). The phrase alter Christus is most specifically applied to the priest when he celebrates the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist, so that when a priest celebrates the Eucharist it is Christ who transforms the bread and wine through the priest.

The passage from Matthew, which we have read, moves our eyes to other Christs. It is very powerful because this image of Christ does not come from the tradition or reflection of the Church like the previous one but from Jesus himself.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta always told the members of her Religious community to remember the “Gospel on Five Fingers.” She would say the words, “You did it to Me,” as she held up each finger of her hand. 

Seeing Christ in each person, particularly in those who suffer, continues to trigger the sharing of our material and spiritual gifts... 

* * *

At the same time, we start wondering... “why is this happening?”. Why is this person hungry? Why is it that this person has not enough to live? Why is Christ suffering in the hungry, the thristy, the stranger, the sick...? Why is Christ still suffering today?

If you are following the daily arrival of people to the coasts of Italy, risking their lives in the process... you cannot but ask “why are they doing that? Why do they risk so much?”

When appointed Bishop, you are asked (you do not have to) to draw a coat-of-arms and choose a motto. Mine is “Livi laba yinyama”, “The Word became flesh” taken from John 1:14. 

Bishop Zwane's motto was taken from John 10:10 and it is written outside the Catholic Centre: “that they might have life”. The full sentence says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” 

His coat-of-arms had a Bible, a sign that it is from the Word that life to the full comes.

Our asking “why” comes from our believe in these words from the Lord and therefore we ask ourselves: “what is preventing our brothers and sisters from having life and life to the full?; what is preventing them from living with the dignity of a child of God”. 

We ask all this because each person has been created in God's image and that image is being affected, is being hurt, is being deformed or not fully manifested.

* * *

I would say this is what we would normally identify as the service of Justice and Peace in our Church. Caritas and Justice and Peace work together because while Caritas in our diocese tries to respond to the immediate needs of our brothers and sisters (and you can clearly see that in our country) Justice and Peace helps us make sure that we address the reasons of their suffering. 

As the gospel opens our eyes and hearts to the suffering of Christ in the lives of so many, we want not only to reduce the amount of suffering but to put an end to it completely. 

We want not only to “wipe the face of Jesus” like we say at the sixth station of the way of the cross (by the way, it is from the tradition of the church and not from the gospels) but to stop Him from carrying the cross altogether. 

One could even say that the work of Justice and Peace is “common sense”. If you have a headache every day, after taking an aspirin for a few days... you ask yourself why you have a headache!

* * *

Two things I believe we need to keep in mind:

The first is that, unfortunately, we sometimes prefer not to ask too many questions to avoid getting into trouble. Children, as they grow up, start asking: why? And we finish by saying: “because I say so”, “wait until you grow up”, “go and watch TV”

The same with us adults. Asking “why” might make us uncomfortable. It is attributed to Helder Camara the famous statement: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." He was the Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife (Brazil) serving from 1964 to 1985.

We need to ask “why” all the time or we will keep on perpetuating the same sufferings in the life of our brothers and sisters.

The second is that, we need to remember that first of all we need to look at our own life, we need to look at the life of our Church or churches and ask ourselves: are we any different from the society we live in? 

In the Catholic Church, on the very first day of the Lenten Season (those forty days that prepare us for our Easter feast) we gather for the celebration of the ashes. We then come to the priest to be marked with the ashes. We hear the priest telling us: “repent!”. No one goes out with the ashes on the forehead and points a finger to someone else saying: “did you hear what the priest just told you?”

While Mother Theresa talks of the gospel of five fingers, I would like you to go with another image: the gospel of four fingers. It also comes from the Gospel of Matthew (20: 24 – 25). Jesus says: ‘You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt. Among you this is not to happen.'
“Not so among you”
Please do remember this

In other words: 
  • Are our initiatives and structures lifting up the poor or generating new ones? Are we, as a Church or churches, adding more suffering to the lives of the poor? 
  • Each year in December we take time to reflect on the reality of abuse in our country and the world. We should therefore not only “look outside” to society but to us in the church and ask “are we protecting enough our children, our youth, our women from abuse or are we generating new victims?”. The Catholic Church learnt the hard way the consequences of not doing so.
  • Particularly this year, I regularly go back to the image of living in fear. Every now and again a mother or a grandmother comes to me and says: “Bishop, I just cannot open my mouth at home. My son / daughter has such a bad temper...” but it could also be the other way round, the badtemper of parents or grandparents make children afraid.
    Then I have to ask myself... what about me? Are priests free to talk or the bishop does not allow them to? Are our lay people free to talk in our parishes or father does not allow them to? Are our parishes different from our society or just repeat the same pattern of power?

This for me is becoming more and more important because if we do not examine our own life, the life of our parishes, Christian communities, churches, we might be told Jesus' words about the Pharisees: “You must therefore do and observe what they tell you; but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they!” (Mt 23: 3 – 4)

Each one of us is part of this society so... if it generates poor, if it generates victims of abuse, if it is sick with corruption... we need to ask ourselves how responsible we are for this.

In the early 2000 (don't remember if it was 2001 or 2002), the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) worked in this line asking each Catholic to commit himself / herself against any form of corruption. 

A commitment form was issued. It said something like: in the name of my faith in Jesus Christ I commit myself... not to give or receive a bribe... not to steal, buy or sell stolen goods... if I borrow money to give it back... 

It was to be read at Mass and people would be invited to stand up and sign it. 

First challenge: who should lead in signing? The priests, of course but were we ready to commit ourselves? 

Then, at a Mass of five or six hundred people less than ten stood up to sign after the priest.

The good news was that people were honest enough not to sign and do the opposite. The bad news was that we realized how responsible we were for the sickness of our society.

* * *

I am grateful to JPIC for the initiative to honour one of my predecessors with an annual lecture to be held in his name. I would suggest we keep his motto as the annual theme: “that they may have life”.

As we start this year an annual lecture in memory of Bishop Mandlenkosi Zwane, I cannot but invite you (my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church particularly) to reflect on the blessings this diocese has received. For 35 years (4 led by Bishop Zwane and 31 by Bishop Ndlovu) this diocese was led by shepherds committed to JPIC deeply inspired by the Gospel.

Have these 35 years opened our eyes and hearts to who we are as a Church? Are our sodalities, parishes, catechism classes, liturgies, priests... actively involved in JPIC or is it something we like to hear from the bishop but not make it part of our faith? 

Hope and pray these annual lectures help us deepen in us the way we are called to live the Gospel, so that more and more, we become a blessing to this beautiful country and work together to touch the lives of all with the Good News of Jesus Christ who came so that we may have life and life to the full.