News from the South African Province:
“The Future Setting Assembly” By: Br. Chaka Molapo scj
On the 13th and 14th of May 2021 the South African province held its 32nd provincial assembly in Aliwal North. The members arrived a day before and were accommodated in the Monastery house where all other community events such as prayers, meals, recreation etc took place while the assembly sessions took place in the Guesthouse. The reception was very good and from the arrival the ambience was very fraternal. All the priests presently in South Africa were present while the scholastics in temporary vows couldn’t all attend due to preparation for examination thus they sent only one representative.
The assembly began with a call from Rome from the Vicar General, Fr Stephen Huffstetter scj who encouraged and strengthened the members of the assembly to make fruitful deliberations for the life of the Province and the congregation. Fr Stephen emphasized that ‘it is good to look into the documents of the province but it is more important to live the values contained in those documents.’ After that the assembly members had some time for fraternal personal sharing about their welfare in their various places.
This was followed by reports from different communities and offices where it became evident that there is progress as offices are functional in the province. One inspiring moment was the announcement of 13 aspirants who are in touch with the Vocation’s director who will soon be called for a vocation’s workshop. Having such a number for the tiny province is something we receive with joy and thank God for.
Among many issues, the assembly had a task to set straight the formation program for the province. Due to lack of vocations the old program was dysfunctional and many alterations were made with current students. However, given the fact that vocations are gradually increasing as there are numerous aspirants knocking at our doors annually, it was worthwhile to normalized and define the steps of the formation program in the province. Setting of the program from pre-novitiate until priesthood ordination was crucial and this became one of the successes of the assembly.
Preparation for the 2023 centenary of the SCJ presence in South Africa was also an important task. One could simply say that this assembly was the future setting assembly. Future prospects of the province were the centre of discussions and we hope that the Holy Spirit shall guide us through as the future unfolds as we get near this milestone of 100 years.
Dehon’s Day 2022 in Pietermaritzburg
The birth of our Founder is always an opportunity for the SCJs to reflect on their identity and their raison etre. This year in the Dehon International Formation House in Pietermaritzburg the celebration took place earlier, on the 12th March. The event was graced by the presence of the South African Provincial Superior, Fr Chris and our SCJ Confrere Fr Charles Brown from the US Province.
As a custom of the house, the birth of Fr Dehon sees the ministerial birth to some of those preparing for Christ’s priesthood. Therefore six (6) Confreres were installed as Lectors so as to proclaim the Word of the Lord while eight (8) were installed as Acolytes to serve at the altar of the Lord. Among those installed, three (3) were from the South African Province. Br. Andreas Keta was installed as a Lector while Br. Chaka Molapo and Br. John Tembo were installed as Acolytes.
The festivity went on in a wonderful celebration with the South African customary braai with songs of joy and jubilation. It was a wonderful ceremony which is always the hope of the Congregation where young men give themselves to God through ministerial service to God’s People which prepares them for the sacramental priesthood.
We pray for these ‘pilgrims of hope’ to serve the Lord with all their hearts and with joy imbued by the love of He who has called them. May the spirit of our founder, Fr Leo Dehon guide and inspire them.
“ST. PAUL AND OUR DEHONIAN LIFE”
The South African Province’s annual retreat for the year 2022 took place from 14-18 March at Regina Pacis Retreat Centre, Lady Brand, Free State Province of South Africa.
The retreat was preached by Fr Charles Brown SCJ from the US Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who is currently in the country. The Lenten retreat was themed: "St. Paul and Our Dehonian Life", based on Philippians 2:6-11: Lyrics, Spirituality and Action. The retreat was attended by nine members of the province.
This year's retreat started on a very special day for us as Dehonians. The 14th of March is the birthday of our beloved Founder, Rev. Fr Leo John Dehon who was born in 1843 in La Capelle, France.
Some of the themes of the first day of the retreat were: Setting up the Conversation between St. Paul and Our Charism; Key to Understanding Pauline and Dehonian Spiritualities. On the second day, the preacher shade more light on Paul's world and Spirituality and the Gospel of Jesus Christ: 'This Day of God' for St. Paul and the Dehonians.
On the third day, more emphasis was put on Paul's view of the human person and the Dehonian sense of Human Dignity and the Pauline 'Church' and Dehonian 'Community'. The fourth day had St. Paul's model of Dehonian Ministry and the Difining Pauline/Dehonian Qualities.
On the last day, the retreat Master concluded with the text of St. Paul to the Philippians 2:6-11. What was unique about this retreat, as the theme suggests, was its Dehonian character in the sense that all two sessions of each day started and ended with Oblation and Reparation Prayers. The later and the former are unique and proper to the Dehonians. Also on a daily basis there was a reading from the writings of Fr Dehon and some passages from the Rule of Life (Constitutions).
All in all, the RSA Province is grateful to Fr Charles Brown SCJ for that wonderful nourishment and sharing of his precious time.
Below is a verbatim of a few questions that were asked to Fr Charles Brown SCJ at the end of the retreat who is not a stranger to Africa and South Africa in particular:
1. When did you work in South Africa and how was your experience?
Between 2000 and 2010, I was blessed and honoured to serve on the faculty of Sacred Scripture at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute at Cedara, KZN. I will always say that those years were some of the very best years of my priesthood so far! I was virtually always received here in South Africa with kindness and grace; the work at Cedara was full of nuance and challenge; my experience in RSA SCJ community was lovely, hospitable, and kind.
2. Do you have any special Lenten message to your RSA Confreres?
Continue to press forward into the future! Carry the message of Fr. Dehon into new times and places—to new people—here in Southern Africa.
3. What would St. Paul say to the Dehonians today?
St. Paul would say, “Dear brothers in Christ: as you are now doing, so keep even more offering your lives for the people of God! In the name of Christ Jesus, listen to their daily needs—spiritual and physical—and bring the love of Christ directly to their needs!”
4. How did you find the retreat?
Being among my dear Dehonian Confreres (some of whom I’ve known for years), and reflecting together on the Scriptures and our SCJ charism, has been for me a graced time: a time of dialogue, challenge, and fraternal care. I am so very grateful to have been asked to direct these sacred days of Lenten retreat. Thank you!
The 25th March 2022 is the remarkable day in the lives of our four brothers from the South African SCJ Province who were graduating in the different academic faculties namely Bachelor of Theology and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
Among the graduates are: Deacon Zachaeus Tembo, Sylvester Mutale, Shepherd Vuyani Nhlapo and Steven Rolisang Malibo. The graduation ceremony was hosted by St. Joseph’s Theological Institute which was preceded by the Holy Mass presided over by Bishop Neil Frank OMI of Marinhill Diocese. The ceremonial reception was at the Oasis Church Hall in Howick where our brothers were conferred with their degrees respectively.
It was the first time after two years to have a physical graduation since the Covid-19 pandemic began. The jubilations continued their celebration of the academic excellence in the Dehon International Formation House and the following day, on Saturday the 26thMarch, there was held a braii for all the brothers who graduated. Our brothers participated in this event together with their guests (relatives and friends) who graced the occasion. The entire community were privileged with the presence of the Archbishop Zolile Petros Mpambani SCJ of Bloemfontein Archdiocese who came to show solidarity with our brothers and his two seminarians who were graduating with the Bachelor of Arts in Theology.
Lastly, the braii was opened with the benediction by the Archbishop, followed by refreshments and food that served to everyone. We wish to congratulate our brothers for their resilient academic performance exhibited during their years of studies.