Tuesday, May 3, 2022
“Count your many blessings, see what God has done, name them one by one!”, so says a hymn by Edwin O. Excell. Our Comboni Province of South Africa has indeed been blessed in many ways during the month of April this year. [In the picture: Profession Day 2022 in Namugongo/Uganda]
Visit of the Superior General and the Vicar general
First among these blessings was the long-waited visit of the Super General Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Ghebresilasie and the Vicar General Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this canonical visit has had to be postponed for a later date. We are practically the last Circumscription to officially host the Superior General before the forthcoming General Chapter.
Fr. Tesfaye and Fr. Jeremias arrived in Johannesburg as programmed on April 3rd, 2022. This visit coincided with the hectic Lenten and Paschal schedules but all the confreres of the Province welcomed it as a moment of grace and communion with the whole Comboni Institute. The following day the marathon visit started in earnest with a courtesy call on the Right Reverend Xolelo Thadaeus Kumalo, Bishop of Witbank. April 5th – 6th was dedicated to meeting the Confreres of the three communities of the Lowveld (Waterval, Acornhoek and Maria Trost) at Maria Trost. Next came the moment of the Scholasticate Community at Pietermaritzburg where Fr. Tesfaye and Fr. Jeremias duly accompanied by Fr. Jude Eugene Burgers, Provincial Superior of South Africa stayed from April 7th to 10th. They had a lived-in experience with the community of the Scholasticate and as usual there were personal encounters as well as meetings with the whole community. On April 8th the visitors from Rome met with His Grace Sigfried Mandla Jwara, the Archbishop of Durban. The visit to Pietermaritzburg community concluded with the solemn celebration of Palm Sunday at the Parish Church of St. Joan of Arc in whose premises our Scholasticate is situated.
There followed the meeting with the Confreres of the communities of the Zone of Johannesburg/Pretoria, namely Provincial House, Orange Farm, Silverton and Mahube Valley. The Superior General and the Vicar General also had opportunity to meet the local Ordinaries in this area: Archbishop Dabula Anthony Mpako of Pretoria on April 12th and Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg on April 13th. Towards the end of the canonical visit, Fr. Tesfaye and Fr. Jeremias also paid a fraternal visit to the community of the Comboni Sisters at Mahube Valley to congratulate them on the 150th anniversary of the foundation of their Institute. On April 19th there was a meeting the Provincial Council in which the visitors from Rome participated sharing overview feedback of the visit and giving some recommendations for further growth of the Province. On April 20th, 2022, they left for Rome via Addis Ababa.
Workshop on Intercultural dynamics in our religious communities
This was yet another blessing for our Province as the multicultural community of the Scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg which boasts of 9 nationalities, to be exact, participated in this workshop organized by the St. Joseph Theological Institute, Cedara. This was indeed an eye-opener since the task of building a truly intercultural community is still a work in progress for all of us.
Religious Vows – Namugongo and Pietermaritzburg
There was also the “sandwiched” celebration of the 40th anniversary of the religious profession of Fr. Francis Thuli Manana and Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw on April 25th.
Then came April 30th with yet a double blessing: Firstly, April Karabo Ts’ooana a finalist novice from Lesotho took his first religious profession at Namugongo in Uganda. We warmly welcome this gift of a new confrere who has joined the Institute through our Province of South Africa. May the Comboni charism continue to attract more young people and bear abundant fruit also in this part of Africa. Then secondly, the community of Pietermaritzburg concluded the month of April with the ceremony of the renewal of the religious vows. May the injection of the youthful joy of the scholastics rejuvenate our Province as we strive to follow Christ through the Comboni charism.
Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw
Pietermaritzburg, May 2nd, 2022
In the photos below: Fr. Jude Burgers, provincial superior of the Comboni Province of South Africa, with the neo-professed April Karabo and the Deacon Edward Matovu in Namugongo/Uganda on April 30, 2022: