Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - Natal Province


Natal Province

The Mother Province of the Oblates in Africa





VOL 4 No 2     March-May 2007


19 May   Priesthood Ordination, Inchanga

Nkululeko Meyiwa

Mass 10 am


21 May           Celebration of Oblate Week

 Feasts of St Eugene and Bd. Joseph Gerard.

Week of Prayer for Oblate Vocations

Blessing of the new Sabon House chapel dedicated to Blessed Joseph Gerard

Opening of Extensions to Sabon House and New Albini Hall

Celebration of Jubilarians 2007

Venue Sabon House

(New Jameson Road entrance)

Mass 11 am



150 Anniversary of St Michaels Mission

Venue Umzinto

Mass 10 a.m.








1. Good News about People

Our Jubilarians 2007


60 years

Fr  F  Duffy

50 years

Fr. G Purves

40 years

 Fr. D Coryn


25 years

Fr. P Horrocks

Fr. S Bate


Fr. M Gumede



50 years





Fr N Peters

25 years





Fr N Nkosi

We give grateful thanks to God for the presence amongst us of good and faithful servants of the Lord. We celebrate the years of dedicated service of these men. They have persevered in our life and celebrate Jubilee years this year. The formal Celebration will be on 21 May at the new Sabon House complex. Mass starts 11.00 a.m.


2. Good News about People 95 and still in Ministry


On 23 April, Father Patrick McMahon celebrates his 95th birthday. Despite his age he is still active and continues in ministry. He is founder and director of the Sukumawenze place of care for HIV/AIDS victims and lives at the hospice. He is also priest in charge of the Church at Inanda Newtown B.




3. Good News about Formation Eight Deacons Ordained At Cedara

In a colourful ceremony, eight deacons were ordained by Bishop Barry Wood on 19 February at Cedara. These included Nkululeko Meyiwa, Mthokozisi Mncwabe (Natal), Elphas Khoza, Charles Nabwenje, Jeffrey Madondo (Zimbabwe) and Nebby Mutale (Zambia). Two Redemptorists were also ordained in the ceremony.



4.Good News about Ministry Appointments March 2007

The following appointments have been made:


March 1

Father Mhlanganisi DLAMINI Director, Pre-novitiate Cleland

Father Michael GUMEDE Pre-novitiate Cleland

Father Thomas ZONDI Parish Priest, Inchanga

March 15

Father Charles STRUVE Sacred Heart Woodlands


5. Good News about Oblate Life New Facilities at Sabon House

The old Albini Hall at Pioneer Road, Congella, has been developed to provide new facilities for Sabon House and the Province. Since its opening in 1997, Sabon House has shared kitchen and dining facilities with the Provincial House. They have also used the Provincial House chapel for most of their liturgies.

The development of Albini Hall, which was deteriorating rapidly for lack of use, has allowed us to provide a new kitchen, dining room and lounge area for Sabon House. In addition it will have a new chapel dedicated to Blessed Joseph Gerard. As you know he was a member of our Province and was the first Oblate ordained in South Africa, in Pietermaritzburg in 1853.

In addition a section of the old hall has been completely refurbished to provide a large modern space for use in the Province and by Sabon House.

Our Oblate celebration on May 21st will take place at this new facility and the chapel will be blessed. Usually we celebrate the Mass of the founder but on that day we will we will celebrate the Feast of Blessed Joseph Gerard as this is the day of the blessing of the new chapel of which he will be the patron.  Tea will be served from 10 am and the Mass will begin at 11am. Parking will be in Jameson Crescent where the entrance to the chapel is located and security will be provided on the day.




6. Good News about Ministry

Province Participates in OMI Seminar on Inter-religious Dialogue 

Father Garth Michelson attended the recent Oblate Symposium on interreligious dialogue in Yogyakarta Indonesia from 3-6 March. He has more than 40 years experience in this area and is well known amongst the leaders of other religions in the Durban area. He has also been a member of the SACBC commission on Interreligious dialogue for many years.

The Symposium brought Oblates from 13 countries together. Most are working in Asia. Garth was the only African participant though there were two other Oblate missionaries working in Morocco and Senegal.

The first and major part of the Symposium was learning from four Muslim speakers and from two Catholic Priests on different aspects of Indonesian Muslin society. All were very informative as complementary parts of a complex jigsaw puzzle. “Most captivating for me”, notes Father Garth,  “was the input by Mrs Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin of the role and position of women in the Indonesian Muslim Society in which she promoted vigorously a Muslim form of contemporary gender equality in the family and wider society”.

Each contribution was followed by questions and discussion. Time was also allotted to some Oblates to share their varying experiences in Ministry among Muslims, some of which were hopeful, some extremely demanding and draining.

One day was devoted to a tour beginning with a visit to a Muslim primary and secondary boarding school. The visit to such a place was a first for all of us including some of the local Indonesian Oblates. The reception and atmosphere was polite and formal and included morning tea together, a guided visit to the teachers and learners in their classrooms, an encounter with the staff and their spouses in the form of reciprocal questions and answers and ending with Lunch together. The whole event was constructive with future encounters suggested. Then followed a visit to a Buddhist monastery hosted by a friendly, elderly, frank, and down to earth monk. He explained the smallness of their witness in the overwhelmingly Muslim society of some 86% of Indonesia’s population. From there the group proceeded to the famous Borobudur Buddhist temple, about some eight storeys high, built from lava rock of a 9th Century volcanic eruption and completed in its final form at the end of the last century. The climb to the top was breathtaking, literally, with some of the Fathers opting half way up to wait for the rest to return down.

The final morning of the Symposium was spent on assessing, evaluating, and planning – see, judge, act. Many thoughts and feelings were pooled out of which emerged the plan to try to form certain ‘pilot communities’ of Oblates in the Asia Oceania region of the Congregation. These communities would not necessarily live together but could explore, communicate, and plan together via the modern Media of communication. They could then meet together when necessary to further the Oblate Mission of interreligious dialogue and collaboration within the framework of present and future Oblate Ministry in the region.

Commenting on the experience he writes: My pilgrimage and mission to what was a new horizon, Indonesia, have been, for me, as Oblate and Priest, truly uplifting, broadening, and deepening. I am renewed to have been touched deeply by the sincerity, zeal, and vision of so many Oblate brothers and missionaries”



7. Good News about Ministry

Youth Ministry Update

The youth committee of the province is presently working on the composition of an original youth programme that will bring together the various efforts already initiated in this exciting ministry: UDUMO, Forever Home, Leadership in Ministry (Wentworth).  The programme is centred on the call of our founder to help people to be human first and then saints.  Hence our programme will be based on a three year cycle set in three phases:  Who am I?  Who is Christ?  What do I do now? 

The three-year cycle programme will also include mini-versions that will condense material into three-day or five-day experiences that could be offered to confirmation groups, post-confirmation groups, etc.  We hope to be ready to run with these programmes by September this year.  In the mean time, the already existing initiatives will continue to be the face of our youth ministry:  icons of our mission to youth.

The youth team of the province has also been invited to conduct a week-long youth mission at St. Benedict’s College:  an Oblate school near Johannesburg.  This will be held from 11 – 15 June.  It gives us an excellent opportunity to ‘test out’ the appeal of our programme which will be in its final stages by that time. 

The youth from parishes in the Durban region are invited to celebrate National Youth Day (16th June) at Tills Crescent Sports Ground in Sydenham.  This will be a rally beginning with Mass, followed by motivational speakers, stage performances and a family picnic. Youth from Oblate parishes should make a special effort to attend.

The youth team from the midlands region will host a Youth Leadership Workshop at Wagendrift Youth Center from 16th-18th June, in celebration of National Youth Day.


8. Challenges for Ministry

News from Our Mission in Zimbabwe

Father Mike Foley, the Mission Superior, writes the following in the latest mission newsletter. It shows God working in his people and provides us with stories of struggle, challenge and good news in another manifestation of one of our province symbols: “Failure and Vindication”:


We have just emerged from one of the most trying and stressful periods in our recent history.  Fr. Siyabonga [Dube} was informed by immigration officials, that he had seven days to be out of Zimbabwe. It came as a terrible shock and would have had serious consequences for our prenovitiate community and youth ministry. Bro. Chikomborero and I travelled with Siyabonga to Harare, to see what could be done. Fr. Siyabonga met with a number of people and had various interviews, some of which were quite difficult and traumatic. We returned without clarity and our hope was severely bruised if not extinguished. However, in answer to our prayers and those of the people of Woodville, at a meeting in Harare on Monday afternoon, it was decided to grant him a two year temporary employment permit. This news reached us at 16.45, just fifteen minutes before a Mass scheduled to be either a farewell or thanksgiving Mass.  The people’s joy was exuberant and their love for Fr. Siyabonga tangible.  It was a great celebration of thanksgiving to God and our brother Oblates from St. Luke’s and Our Lady of Lourdes communities were with us for the Mass and for a braai at Mazenod House afterwards.   Thanks to all who joined their prayers to ours and expressed solidarity and fraternal concern.


At a national level, the crisis is even greater and the need for divine intervention more urgent. This past week has seen scenes of savage brutality against political leaders and civilians by a regime that has lost all credibility and every semblance of decency. This is not normal Africa. This is Africa at its worst; a real embarrassment to all decent Africans. The economic meltdown, caused by the arrogance and foolishness of a selfish dictatorship, is destroying hope and pushing people into despair. As missionaries of hope we are challenged to the core. Please support the people of Zimbabwe at this painful time in their history.


Despite the struggles, exciting things are developing in our youth ministry. As you may know, we have chosen to make youth ministry a top priority in the Zimbabwe Mission. This is in keeping with the option made by the Natal Province in 2005. The youth committee, under the leadership of Fr. Siyabonga Dube and comprising also Frs. Donovan Wheatley and Charles Rensburg, together this year with regent Bro Isaac Zandonda, have put together a comprehensive plan for youth ministry in Zimbabwe. Aspects of this plan have already been in operation and the youth ministry committee has now expanded its vision and outreach and presented a project for which funding has been sought and committed. The mission council has accepted the plan and adopted it as the Mission’s outreach to the young people of Zimbabwe in the areas where we are working. It is a youth formation program entitled “Youth for Life” and based on a similar programme already initiated by Oblate scholastics and other students at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute, Cedara, in 2002. The specific context to which the programme responds is the factual crisis of the HIV/Aids pandemic and its effects on youth in Zimbabwe as well as the unemployment levels which exceed 70% of the working population in Zimbabwe at present. In the programme, the Oblates make a commitment to a specific group of youth and for a given period of time, usually one year. During this period the Oblates and associates journey with this group and take a keen interest in them - their school life, their family and social life, their spiritual needs and so on. The specific quality of this programme is that it is modelled somewhat on religious formation which promotes growth in people through a process of accompaniment and friendship. The accompaniment is intense, yet loving. It involves the facilitation of three workshops and a retreat as well as involvement in a programme of social support within the community. The workshops focus on life issues, establishing motivation for moral choices and on developing leadership skills and the formation of peer mentors. The retreats have a specific theme of healing.”

(Zimbabwe Mission News March 2007


9.Good News about Formation

Approval of Ordination to Priesthood  

The Provincial Council has approved Rev. Deacon Nkululeko Meyiwa, OMI for ordination to the priesthood on Saturday 19 May 2007. Bishop Barry Wood, OMI has agreed to confer the Sacrament at a Eucharist to be held at St Theresa’s Parish Inchanga beginning at 10 am. He will be the seventh priest from Inchanga parish, three of whom have been ordained in the last five years.


10 Challenges for Ministry

Bro. Kingsley Returns to Sri Lanka

Bro Kingsley Cooray returns to Sri Lanka after six years in the Province. During these years he was stationed mainly at Sabon House though he spent two years in the Prenovitiate community at Cleland. We would like to thank him for his gentle and quiet presence amongst us and wish him well as he returns to his home province in Colombo and new challenges for ministry.


11. Good News about Oblate History

Founding St Michael’s Mission

The 150th Anniversary of the third Oblate foundation in the Vicariate of Natal, St Michaels Mission will be celebrated on Saturday 2nd June at Umzinto. The mission was originally founded in 1855 by Blessed Joseph Gerard and Father Victor Bompart. A tribal dispute led to its closure in 1856 but it was reopened at a different site in 1858. Bishop Jolivet handed the mission to the Trappist monks in 1890 and they and their successors, the Congregation of Mariannhill Missionaries, have ministered there since then. The mission is now in the Diocese of Mariannhill and Bishop Dlungwane will be the principal celebrant at the Mass. The homilist is Archbishop Buti TLHAGALE, OMI and Cardinal Napier will also be present. Oblates are encouraged to make a special effort to attend. The scholastics will be asked to make a contribution to the Liturgy.


A more complete history of St Michaels’ mission is included with this Newsletter


12. Good News about Oblate History 2

First Catholic Newspaper in South Africa

The following article appeared in an edition of UMAFRIKA on April 19, 1952. It was part of the centenary celebrations of the arrival of the Oblates in Southern Africa

 “The first attempt to publish a Catholic weekly newspaper in South Africa was made by the Oblate Fathers of the Vicariate Apostolic of Natal in 1884.  It was called ‘The Natal Record’.  Its annual subscription was 5/- for Natal; but the foreign countries of Transvaal and O.F.S. had to pay 7/-.

This paper, consisting of eight pages, was printed by the Monastery of Mariannhill, where a number of copies are still preserved.  These old papers are quite interesting documents of contemporary thinking.  Most of the contents were of a religious nature, but also such problems as ‘Are Baloons useful in War?’ were extensively discussed.

The paper maintained its existence for some years and then ceased publication on account of lack of interest and support.  1889 seems to have been the last year that witnessed its existence.

After Natal had failed to support its own Catholic newspaper, the Cape Colony undertook to publish a Catholic magazine.  Under Father Kolbe’s able editorship the ‘Catholic Magazine for South Africa’ commenced publication in 1892 and bravely weathered all storms until the ‘Southern Cross’ continued its tradition in a new shape.”


Father Eric Boulle offers “some explanations for the benefit of our modern generation”

-   For those who don’t speak canonical language, Vicariate Apostolic of Natal was the forerunner of the Archdiocese of Natal.

-   5/- stands for five shillings, which, at the time of decimalisation in South Africa, was the equivalent of fifty cents.  That was the annual subscription, not a weekly one.  The publication had to cease because the Catholics of Natal showed no interest or support for it.  They could not afford fifty cents a year!

-   Note that the Transvaal and Orange Free State were foreign countries at the time.  I believe there has been a change since then!

-   Father Kolbe was the great Afrikaner convert to Catholicism who later became a Monsignor of national fame.

-   The sentence “Are Baloons (sic) useful in War?”  does not refer to the balloons which we give to children to inflate and play with, or which we use for decorations.  It can refer to four things: 1) A large inflatable sphere carrying a basket which floats in the air and carries a few people who can view the ground from above. The balloon is kept inflated by a burner just above the basket.  This balloon is still fairly extensively used for recreational and sportive purposes.  2) Or it can refer to an inflatable airship (e.g. the Zeppelin) filled with helium (or was it hydrogen? I don’t know) to keep it afloat, propelled by an engine underneath.  It carried a number of passengers. 3) Or it can refer to a similar balloon, which carried a bomb or bombs to be dropped on enemy cities. These were first used in the First World War.  4) Finally, the term could refer to a similar shaped but smaller balloon, send aloft and anchored to the ground by cable.  They were used to hinder enemy aircraft which came on bombing raids over the city.  They proved fairly successful in World War I, but not so successful in World War II, because then the bombers flew at a much greater height, way above the balloons, and released their bombs from up there.  They were unimpeded except by fighter planes.

Our thanks to UMAFRIKA and Mariannhill for that edition which was almost entirely dedicated to the Oblates.


13. Oblate Administration Matters

Fundraising Update

Since its inception, the fundraising committee has been experimenting with various approaches in making this an effective ministry.  The reflections of Henri Nouwen have been particularly motivating to the fundraising committee of the province:


“Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” (The Spirituality of Fundraising, 1985).


The three annual collections (Easter, Pious Lists, and Christmas) have invited people to participate in our formation of future Oblates.  The pamphlets, posters and envelopes have been aimed at celebrating our mission and inspiring people to join us.  We have now built up a data base of people who’ve responded to this invitation and we will continue nurturing them as donors through a new campaign centred on direct mailing. 


Now that we have reached this stage, our annual collections will take on a different approach. We will now standardize these collections along the lines of the Lenten appeal.  For example, every Easter will have the same envelope that people will get accustomed to and know what it is all about.  The same will apply to Pious List and Christmas collections.  So if a parish has excess envelopes from this year onwards, they would use them next year and receive a top-up if necessary.


The envelopes will also contain a thank-you prayer card which people are encouraged to keep and thereby remember to pray for our mission.  Our printers (Creative Print World) have generously offered to courier these boxes to all Oblate parishes/centres.  Each package will contain three sets of envelopes for each of the three collections.  In other words, parishes/centres will receive all their envelopes for the year in one delivery before Easter.



Provincial's Diary

Provincial's Diary


6          Good Friday

9          Easter

16-19    LCCLSA Meeting Bronkhorstspruit



2-8        Visitation Durban District

21         Feast of Founder: Blessing of New          Chapel Sabon House (Congella)




Date Name  Occasion
09 Michael GUMEDE Birthday
10 Alan HENRIQUES Birthday
16 Siphamandla MPULO (Schol) Birthday
20 Phillip NKUNA Birthday
22 Noel PETERS Birthday
30 Henry NIEMANN


31 Mxolisi NGCOBO Birthday



Name Occassion
01  Donovan WHEATLEY Birthday
04 Patrick MABHUNA (Schol) Birthday
05 Kalebwe MUTALE (Schol) Birthday
06 Benedict GUMEDE Ordination
06 Nhlanhla NKOSI Ordination
10 Benedict GUMEDE Birthday
23 Paddy MCMAHON Birthday
24 Mhlanganisi DLAMINI Birthday
27 Siyabonga DUBE Ordination
27 Merlin INCE Ordination
27 Muzi MADLALA Ordination
27 Vusi MAZIBUKO Ordination
27 Mbheki NGCOBO Ordination
28 Eric BOULLE Birthday
29 Mdududuzi MCHUNU Ordination
29 Sithabiso SITHOLE Birthday


Date Name Occasion
01 Thomas Zondi Ordination
04 Mhlanganisi DLAMINI Ordination
06 Chris RICHMOND Ordination
17 Vusi MAZIBUKO Birthday
23 Eric BOULLE Ordination
25 Alan HENRIQUES Birthday
30 Callistus KHATHALI Birthday


Errors and omissions contact the Administrative

Secretary (admin@omi.org.za)



Newsletter of the Natal Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Provincial: Fr Stuart C BATE, OMI; : Box 17035, Congella, 4013 South Africa

Street Address: 39 Pioneer Road, Congella, Durban, 4001; E-mail address: scbate@omi.org.za

: 031 205 9321 Fax: 031 206 0270 Cell 082 7121047

Please send all submissions enquiries and comments to the editor


Copyright © 2006 OMI Natal Province

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