A new 'Vicar General' for Ingwavuma

We do it every year in November. The priests of the Vicariate Apostolic of Ingwavuma (South Africa) gather with the bishop for two - three days. It is a fraternal time which starts on a Monday evening... with a braai. We do it at our "Retreat and Training Centre" (St Lucia).

I believe no one ever missed it (...the meeting!) since we started this in 2009. We pray and reflect together. We normally choose a special theme to lead us for half a day and we work on other issues. 

Once we took time to reflect on "youth", another time on "family life". This year it was about "Integrity in Ministry" and the Protocols that lead us when there is an accusation against church personnel. It was suggested by the young priests of the Vicariate who attended a meeting on that topic a couple of months' ago. 

Two other main topics of this year's gathering were: the diocesan pilgrimage to Ingwavuma (we would like to be able to do it during the night next year) and the coming "Jubilee of Mercy".

Wednesday morning, at the end of the celebration of Mass I announced three new appointments:
  • Fr Vusi Mthembu, chaplain for "Justice and Peace"
  • Fr Sfiso Mchunu OSM, chaplain for "Youth"

The "main" one was the appointment of a new "Vicar General". Arriving in the Vicariate in 2009 I was welcomed by Fr Declan Doherty OSM who had accepted that service many years' before. At that time he was also the "apostolic administrator" of the Vicariate after the death of my predecessor Bishop O'Shea OSM.

Fr Declan has always been very close to me. Whenever he would not see me or hear me for a couple of days he would phone and ask two questions: "how are you?" and... "where are you?" (aware that I travel most of the time).

Having been in that service for such a long time he could have tried to "condition" the decisions of the new bishop who had no experience at all of the area. Instead he always listened, offered his point of view and supported whatever was decided.

Last August Fr Declan celebrated his 80th birthday and I felt it was time... to give him a break. He accepted it gladly. He has probably been VG for 25 years.

I then appointed Fr Wilbert Mkhwanazi as the new Vicar General. It is a very special event as for the very first time a diocesan priest will be serving as such. 

"Since the early '60s the Vicariate had only three Vicar Generals" Fr Declan told me. 

Fr Mkhwanazi's service will last until the appointment of a new bishop who will then decide on the different services in the Vicariate.


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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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