Vol. 2 Issue 2         April/May 2005

Sections in this issue of the OMI Update;

Top news

1. Habemus Papam

The Zim Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate greets with joy the election and inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI.

2. Three new Oblate Priests.

Merlin INCE, Siyabonga DUBE and Muzi MADLALA were ordained Priests by Bishop Jabulani NXUMALO, auxiliary Bishop of Durban in a moving ceremony at the Emmanuel Cathedral in Durban on April 27, South Africa's Freedom day holiday. The ceremony was filled with powerful symbols of Inculturation from Zulu, Indian and contemporary South African urban cultures. Only once before have three Oblates been ordained Priests together at the Emmanuel Cathedral. That was exactly fifty years ago, in 1955, when Albert DANKER together with the late Cyril CAREY and Charles LANGLOIS were ordained by Archbishop HURLEY. May the dedication and perseverance of those three be an inspiration for these new Priests. Two more Oblates will receive Priesthood this year Donovan WHEATLEY in July and Mxolisi NGCOBO in August, meaning that 2005 will break a record. For as far as I know, never in the history of the Province have five Priests been ordained in one year. (For pictures go to the KwaZulu Natal section of the website).

3. New Oblate Website for Southern Africa - www.omi.org.za

Through the initiative of the Natal Oblate Provincial, the IPC has decided to set up a website for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Southern Africa. The website came on line in mid April. Each Province will have its own web page and will be responsible for the content of that page. The Natal province will have the newsletter on the website and from now on email versions of the newsletter will merely contain a link to the Web page. We hope our new website will slowly become a resource for people wanting to know about Oblates in our region and what we do. Anyone who is interested to participate in the development of the website is asked to email scbate@futurenet.co.za. Thanks to Brendan Proctor, a former Oblate, who has agreed to act as webmaster for the site.

4. Provincial Restructuring

As you know the three South African OMI Provinces are examining the issue of restructuring. At a recent meeting of the TRIPAC committee responsible for this process, it was felt that the grass roots views of Oblates about restructuring had not been sufficiently tested. It was decided to appoint a committee of three Oblates, one from each province, to investigate these views. Father Nhlanhla NKOSI has been appointed National animator for the study and will chair the committee as well as being the Natal representative. His role will be to coordinate a team of three Oblates with a view to determining informed views of all Oblates in South Africa and Zimbabwe, about the proposed restructuring the three South African Oblate Provinces into one. Each member of the committee will carry out the data collection within his own province and then meet together to prepare a report. This report will be available in August 2005.

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Provincial's Notes

1. New Appointments

A number of appointments have been made. The most important from the Province perspective is that of Father Thomas ZONDI who is re-appointed as Vicar Provincial. This means that he is the responsible person to contact should the provincial be absent. Note also that Father Peter FOLEY has been re-appointed as Provincial Treasurer and this position has been made a full-time one as from April 11 2005. This move is eventuated by the tremendous financial difficulty faced by the Province at this time. A full list of appointments appears on page 7.

Note that, as far as I can see, with these appointments, the number of Oblates living alone in our province has been reduced to six out of a total of 73. This is a magnificent achievement and a tribute to the animation given by my predecessors over the last ten years.

2. Nurturing metaphors in a time of complex transition. A personal experience

Many of you will remember the retreat of Father Ron ROLHEISER in which we were encouraged to seek out nurturing metaphors in our own lives. Let me take this opportunity to share with you how I have been living out my own spiritual journey since that time. Since December last year I have discovered much to nurture my own spiritual journey in the life of the Prophet Jonah. I stumbled upon this metaphor for my spiritual life during one of my early morning meditation/prayer sessions. Like Jonah my first reaction was to run away when Father MUSUMBI mentioned that my name had come up quite a lot in the consultation for provincial and what did I think about it. The same wish to flee came when some members of the Province were asking me to accept this ministry and when I shared with a few confidants who were, to my surprise, supportive of me in this role. For myself, however, I was happy to run away. The time of the appointment and my five days discernment before accepting were like being in the belly of the big fish. The decision to accept the appointment was like being spat out onto dry land. Now I find myself at the gates of Nineveh seeing that "Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it". That is how I feel when I look at this province. On Easter Sunday I was particularly taken with this phrase and I decided to metaphorically cross it by contacting those in the furthest outpost at St Luke's in Zimbabwe to greet them, ask how they were and wish them happy Easter. Fortunately the phones and services are all working well in Zimbabwe at present as Mugabe puts on a good show for the world before winning his crooked election once more. Father Zweli MLOTSHWA answered the phone and was happy to connect with the Provincial on that Holy day and share some experiences. I was inspired to hear that though it was late Sunday afternoon, Father Sipho KUNENE was not yet back from the outstation. Our Oblates inspire us by their dedication to serve God's people in that rural outpost of our Province in a troubled land.

I like the openness and honesty of Jonah. I like his indignation with God. I certainly experienced that in these days. But most of all, I like the power of God to change us and teach us and alter the circumstances of our human existence for the better, when we think we know what is best ourselves and indignantly proclaim our own way rather than his.

That’s where I am right now. But….I am dreading the Castor-oil plant!

3. A first view of our Province

When I look at our province the first thing that strikes me is the tremendous gifts that the Holy Spirit is giving to us in the wide variety of ministries we are involved in. I have been inspired by the examples of Oblates involved in a variety of ministries with great dedication in our Province. I have been able to discern a number of particular clusters of Oblate missionary activity, which I think provide some signs of what the Holy Spirit is inspiring us to be involved in these days. Five of these are particularly clear.

The first is Ministry within the local churches. Many Oblates are involved in parish pastoral work in the Archdioceses of Bulawayo, Cape Town (until recently) and Durban and in the diocese of Umzimkulu. The work we do is of great worth and many people are evangelised, catechised and receive God's grace through the sacraments as a result of our efforts.

The second cluster of activities can be described in terms of the mission to heal the sick, a mission given by Jesus to the Church (See Matthew 10). Some of us articulate this mission as hospital chaplains and a couple of us have made this ministry a lifetime commitment. Others do hospital work as a part of their ordinary parish ministry. Others are involved in healing through counselling, spiritual direction and the retreat work they do. Some are also very highly qualified in these areas.

A third cluster of missionary activity is in the area of formation and training of those considering a vocation to the Oblate way of life. Our province has a proud tradition of placing significant numbers of men in this ministry whether in our two Prenovitiates, in the Scholasticate in Cedara or in our Theological Institute. The massive use of our resources for this mission sets us apart from many other Institutes and in no small measure explains the great fruits we are reaping as our recent ordination of three OMI priests on one day testifies.

A fourth area of ministry is linked to the above and concerns the mission to youth. Now those of you who have heard me speak know how important I consider this work to be. But I want to affirm that much is already being done. Many members of our Province are doing great work with young people in the parishes where they serve. Oblates have always been involved in ministry to University students and a couple of us continue to do this work. Our formation programmes also contain an element of youth work since most in first formation are young people. Indeed, I would consider the Prenovitiate in particular as a privileged site of youth ministry. There we accept young men who have shown interest and enthusiasm for the Christian life and in a two-year period we socialise them into our Oblate value system, we teach them the essentials of the Christian faith and we help them to grow into mature Christian young men. Clearly this is Christian youth leadership training, as well as postulancy for vocation in our congregation. Perhaps we need to explore this dynamic more fully and look for ways for those who do not go onto the novitiate to be associated with us in youth ministry programmes.

Another emerging area of ministry where we are involved is in the media. A number of our men are involved in Radio work. Others are becoming proficient in web page design. Some have an interest in music and drama as a form of evangelisation. A few are involved in publishing. This work needs to be coordinated as the media is an important area for evangelisation in the future.

In order to develop our common understanding about these ministry clusters it is my hope to have three separate reflection days: one on youth ministry, one on the healing ministry and one on the media where those involved will meet to discuss what is happening and what is the way forward. The dates will be announced soon - probably at our De Mazenod day celebration on May 23 at St Theresa's Mayville. But I am thinking of Wednesday July 13 for the gathering on Youth Ministry so if you are involved in youth work please mark that day in your diary.

Finally, as a sixth and usually forgotten area, I want to mention the important ministry of administration. You will note that administration is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which St Paul speaks about in Romans 12. Those of us who serve in this capacity - the Provincial Treasurer, and myself in a full time capacity and others such as local superiors - should see ourselves involved in ministry to all Oblates of the Province. This is the ministry to which God has called us and which we have accepted as his will for us. We are here to serve you. This is God's work of service and a ministry as valued as that of doing parish work and formation. God calls us all to different services and gives us different gifts. All the gifts are given for the building up of the one body of Christ for the edification of the Church. In seeing ourselves as ministers involved in different tasks serving one Lord, one faith and one church, let us support one another in our frailties and rejoice with one another when God's glory is manifest in our successes.

4. De Mazenod-Joseph Gerard Day

As you know we celebrate this Oblate Day in May each year when we remember our Jubilarians and other feasts. Our celebration this year will be at St Theresa's, Mayville on Monday May 23, beginning with Tea at 10.00 am and Mass at 11.00. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

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News From Abroad

1. Neil FRANK writes from INDIA

Greetings from a very hot India. We are rapidly moving through springtime - which probably lasts two weeks or so. The first academic year has come to an end. It went fairly well. But the MPh programme wasn't so well organised. We are only six students but we had some good courses with some good lecturers. And I learnt some philosophy - while taking in and enjoying this frustrating and fascinating land of my ancestors. I've particularly enjoyed my introduction to Indian Philosophy - there is so much depth there, but it requires a good few years to get into it and learn Sanskrit. (I did an Introduction to Sanskrit as an extra and, believe it or not, had an edge on my Indian classmates.) There are three more basic courses in the new academic year and then time to write the dissertation. I still haven’t decided on a topic. I was thinking about something in Philosophy of Science, but am not finding that so appealing any longer. I was impressed with the course on Philosophy of Experience - and I am looking towards the philosophy of John Dewey and his rather original thoughts on experience and nature.

The long summer vacation has almost begun. Here are some programme highlights: During March I will be in Gujarat with Jesuit scholastics for Easter. In April I will be back in Pune and then go to Vipassana near Pune for a retreat with the Buddhists. Then I will move to the south, mainly with the Oblates. I will stay at the delegation house in Chennai. I'll visit Oblate interests from there, with a little excursion to Madurai with the Jesuits again, ending the summer in Kerala hopefully with a companion from the institute here in Pune.

The Oblate delegation superior, Fr PATHINATHAN, was here in Pune for two days. (He goes back to Chennai this evening.) The Oblates are looking to buying a plot of land close to the institute to build a study house here. They will probably send some students here next year.

2. Andrew KNOTT reports from ROME

John Paul II, Servant of the servants of God


Of the titles given to the Pope: Successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness, Bishop of Rome, Primate of the West. The one I appreciate most is: Servant of the Servants of God. Maybe it is because this title expresses in essence not only the ministry of the office of the Pope, but also should characterize the life of all the people of God, a life of service. This is the title I recalled on the day of his funeral.


What was it that brought this to mind? Was it all the events leading up to the funeral that gave one the impression that a very important man had died. Was it the traffic diversion and delays which may have made me late for many meetings and caused the frustration of many motorists? What about the influx of pilgrims, tourists with all the police, military, security and health personnel on the streets and the change in bus routes which worsened the already present traffic problem? What was a 15 minute ride to university on the bus became 45 minutes and even an hour. There was also the tension of watching out for pickpockets. Was it the emotional people packed in the square praying and crying looking toward the window or the annoying helicopter that disturbed my precious siesta with its routine surveillance every 10 minutes? What about all the press conferences, the television shows, the speculation, the tributes, documentaries? No it was none these. Then what was it?


What is most characteristic of the Papal liturgies I have witnessed at St Peters are all the pomp and splendour, all the gold vessels, shining vestments and beautiful flowers and all the attention and care given to these cuttings which have their place in the celebration. Today it was different. The image that recalls this title is the very moment the pallbearers brought in that simple wooden coffin and on it placed, the open book of Gospels. This is what resonated the image of the Pope as Servant of the servants of God.


It does not end here. Throughout the celebration we recalled his life and how he touched the continents of all those present because of his commitment to the gospel. In the midst of kings, queens, princes, princesses, government officials, rich and poor alike, the moving applause of the crowd, the last respects of his brother Bishops (including the local Church of Durban), we listened to the moving homily and watched the serene and reverent gestures of Cardinal Ratzinger. We paged through his life of service, as the wind blew those pages. He brought people together. Until finally, it closed. This is what summed up all the 27 years of his dynamic Pontificate.


A powerful image of the Pope, a man open to the work of the spirit right to the end. He lived the gospel of Jesus Christ and it took him right up to the moment of his silent and painful witness. He did it. John Paul, Servant of the servants of God because of the one he served. This is what made him great. To the end he remained faithful to the One who came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. I ask myself, ‘to which end?’ since there were several groups with banners which read, ‘Santo Subito.’ ‘Saint immediately’ This immediate call for his way to canonization is something his successor will want to start working on. But before that we wait to hear ‘Habemus Papam.’

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From the Provincial Treasurer


Before anyone new is employed at any of our Oblate institutions (SJS, SJTI, Cleland, Allard House, Gerard House, Redacres) please contact me to avoid any headaches for all concerned. This also applies when present employees are retired, retrenched, or relieved of employment.


Contact me in advance before any vehicle is purchased or sold. This is for insurance purposes.


Sincere apologies to Father Derrick BUTT for not reflecting his Pious List collection for 2003 of R3595-00. To him and all who faithfully submit returns and collections, I say a big THANK YOU!

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Academic Affairs



Congratulations to Father Mhlanganisi DLAMINI who graduated on 19 April 2005 with a B.Soc.Sci. degree with a major in Psychology. Mhlanganisi intends to pursue his studies in Psychology and commence studies for an honours degree soon. We pray for him that these studies will help him in the healing ministry of Counselling and Pastoral care.

Congratulations also to Father Emmanuel MOSOEU of the Central Province who graduated with a Doctorate in Theology from the University of the Free State on Wednesday 20 April. The title of the thesis is The Uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth and the Future of the Human Race. This thesis addresses the fundamental problem of whether Jesus Christ can still be thought to be that very decisive, absolute and unsurpassable revelation of God. And you may rightly ask: If this is the case, then what has gone so drastically wrong about that which was taken for granted for so long in the Christian world?

Congratulations also to Sr Aleta Dube who graduated with a Doctorate in Theology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal through St Josephs Theological Institute. Father Stuart BATE was the supervisor of her doctoral study. The title of her thesis is The Post Conciliar Contribution of Pastoral Training Centres to Evangelization in Zimbabwe. The purpose of her research is to examine the way in which the training of lay people has been carried out in Pastoral Training Centres in the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe in order to determine strengths and weaknesses for evangelisation and thus propose alternatives for the future.

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On 4 August 1996 the International Network of Societies of Catholic Theology (INSeCT) was founded. The Goal of the Network is to foster academic theology and theological research in various continents through communication among the member societies, particularly concerning information about projects and works in progress, the result of academic research, and theological congresses, conventions and meetings; encouragement of research within the theological disciplines and stimulation of interdisciplinary work in the interest of academic theology; an ecumenical orientation and dialogue with other religions and world views.

During the last twenty-five years the number of Catholic theologians in Africa has increased dramatically as the general population of Catholics has grown from approximately 39.7 million to 116.6 million (between 1970 and 1998). However, there are limited opportunities for African theologians to disseminate their work among themselves, which is necessary to foster the further development of their own theological voices and traditions. Although there is growing interest worldwide in the scholarly contributions of Catholic theologians from the various regions and academic settings in Africa, their work has not received the public attention it deserves. These problems must be addressed in order to foster communication and collaboration among theologians in Africa and to promote opportunities for theologians around the world, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, to learn from their colleagues in Africa, a world of many living cultures and faiths, as they wrestle with various theological, social, and pastoral challenges.

The International Network of Societies of Catholic Theology (INSeCT) is seeking to respond to this situation by establishing a site on its webpage for posting short essays by Catholic theologians from Africa on doctrinal, moral, and practical topics, as well as brief descriptions of approved dissertations by African theologians. Board Members include Elochukwu Uzukwu and Justin Ukpong from Nigeria, Teresia Hinga from Kenya, Stuart C. BATE from South Africa, Léonard Santedi Kinkupu from Kinshasa, Congo, and John Mary Waliggo from Uganda.

Father Stuart BATE was appointed a member of Africa Catholic Theology Project of INSeCT in 2002. Together with other board members, he will attend a colloquium of Presidents of Catholic Theological Societies affiliated to INSeCT. The meeting will be held in St Louis USA and is funded by the organization. A greeting from the President on the occasion of the Installation is appended to this newsletter.

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Provincial's Diary

5 Johannesburg: TRIPAC Meeting (Restructuring of Provinces)
6-8 St Augustine College: Masters Module, Liturgy Catechetics and Evangelisation
12 Preach retreat and consultations for new Superior Durban District
19 Bloemfontein: Doctoral Defence Fr Emmanuel MOSUEU Free State Univ.
20 Durban Exhibition Centre: Graduation Doctor Aleta Dube
21 Midlands District Study day (Estcourt, Mooi River, Bergville)
25-26 Bronkhorstspruit (Sizanani): Leadership Conference of Consecrated Life (SA)
26 LCCLSA Keynote Address (Missionary challenges in a Globalised Southern Africa)
27 Cathedral: Priestly Ordination of Oblate Brothers Merlin INCE, Siyabonga DUBE and Muzi MADLALA
8-10 Jacobs Well: Provincial Council meeting
23 Mayville (St Theresa's): De MAZENOD day
25 Annual leave
7-9 USA (St Louis): International Network of Societies of Catholic Theology
9-12 USA (St Louis): Catholic Theological Society of America
22 Provincial returns from Annual leave

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Dates to Remember - Apologies


06 Benedict GUMEDE Ordination
06 Nhlanhla NKOSI Ordination
10 Benedict GUMEDE Birthday

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Dates to Remember

04 Mhlanganisi DLAMINI Priesthood
06 Chris RICHMOND Priesthood
17 Vusi MAZIBUKO Birthday
23 Eric BOULLE Priesthood
25 Alan HENRIQUES Birthday
30 Callistus KHATHALI Birthday
01 Msizi MICHELSON Birthday
13 Mario CERUTI Ordination
13 Barry WOOD Birthday
16 Denardo GNANAPRAGAS Birthday (Scholastic)
20 Chris LOCKYER Birthday
20 Chris LOCKYER Ordination
20 Zaba MBANJWA Ordination
20 Noel PETERS Ordination
23 Noel COUGHLAN Ordination
28 Rodney BOYD Ordination
29 Stuart BATE Vows
29 Frank DUFFY Ordination
29 Peter FOLEY Ordination
29 Paddy MCMAHON Ordination
29 John PATTERSON Ordination
  Errors and omissions contact the Provincial

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15 February Father Peter FOLEY: Provincial Treasurer
15 February Father Vusumuzi PHENYANE: Secretary to the Provincial Council
10 March Father Thomas ZONDI: Vicar Provincial
28 March Father Allan HENRIQUES to the Sydenham Community.
1 April Father Anthony Mbheki NGCOBO: Formator at St Josephs Scholasticate and Priest in charge, Imbubu
11 April Father Peter FOLEY: Provincial Treasurer, full-time.
11 April Father Peter FOLEY: to Wentworth Oblate Community as Pro-director of the new Oblate community to be established there.
29 April Father Nhlanhla NKOSI: Animation: Provincial Restructuring Process
1 May Father Mduduzi MCHUNU: Locum tenens St Francis Xavier Parish Bluff
1 May Father Sylvester DAVID: Member of the Oblate Community, Cleland. He will continue his academic ministry at St Josephs Theological Institute
1 May Brother Kingsley COORAY: Member of the Oblate Community, Cleland.

Instant action: We hope that future appointments will be directly posted on our website: omi.org.za. A composite list will also appear in our Update.

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Annual Retreat

Book now by post, fax, SMS or email!!

The annual retreats are in October this year. Every Oblate in the Province owes it to himself, to the people he serves, and to the Oblate Community to make our Annual Oblate Retreat. This year we will have one preached retreat at Redacres. The preacher is Father Michael GUMEDE. The second retreat is a directed retreat which will be at the Bluff. The Retreats will start with supper on Sunday evening.

You may email your response to scbate@futurenet.co.za

Or you may SMS your response. Please SMS the word RETREAT followed by your NAME then either the word BLUFF or REDACRES to 0827121047


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Copyright © 2005 Oblate Province of Natal