The "tradition" started in 2009. Though we all meet every two months for half a day, the priests of the Vicariate of Ingwavuma gather for two and a half days in the month of November. It is a time to be together without any hurry, to pray together and to reflect together.
Three themes had been identified for this year:
- Spirituality of the ministerial priesthood
- Working relations between diocesan and religious priests in the Vicariate
- Relationship bishop - priests in the Vicariate
We wanted someone with "experience" in these matters so we decided not to go for a young or newly ordained bishop. We chose instead an emeritus one: Bp Fritz Lobinger (Aliwal North Diocese) who at 84 remains at the service of all who call him.
We dedicated half a day to each them and Bp Fritz introduced them with a short reflection giving plenty of space first to clarifications and then to reflecting together in small groups and sharing together.
The spirit was excellent, the sharing was very open and very much down to earth. We were all very practical both in reading our situation and in the practical elements regarding the way forward.
I'd say it was particularly so in the last theme which became a good opportunity for me to have a feedback from them of these (nearly) five years as a bishop. A number of the things they suggested to be implemented in the future were already in my mind but time and multiple responsibilities had not allowed me to do it. Hopefully next year!
The last two hours of the meeting were dedicated to different matters of the life of the Vicariate:
- Fr Vusi Mthembu will be leaving for Kenya to do the Masters in Social Ministry in Mission at Tangaza College
- Fr Dominic Mhlongo will then became responsible for the preparation of the annual pilgrimage to Ingwavuma and
- Fr Thulani Ntsele OSM will represent the priests at the Vicariate Finance Committee (both services being done before by Fr Mthembu)
- We decided on our annual retreat to be done together next March, continuing with some of the points we reflected these days