Oblates Of Mary Immaculate
Natal Province
The Mother Province of the Oblates in Africa

Vol. 3 Issue 1         January-February 2006

Sections in this issue of the OMI Update;

Top news

In our last issue we reported on the serious condition of Mr John Hughes who worked on our newsletter for the past few years. After being in intensive care for many weeks and in a coma for much of that time we are pleased to report that he has subsequently made an amazing recovery and will be back home by the time you receive this bulletin.

We are grateful for those who took the time to pray for him and it would be good to have information about specific prayers made through Blessed Joseph Gerard for John's intention. Perhaps this event is a sign for us to have more faith in the power of our Oblate saints to protect us and intercede for us.
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Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM, the Archbishop of Durban, was among the guests who joined Fr. Albert DANKER, OMI, at the celebration of his 50th jubilee of priesthood at St. Anne's Church in Sydenham on December 9.

In his sermon, Father Provincial described Father Danker as a passionate man, deeply in love with God, with his son Jesus Christ and with his blessed mother Mary Immaculate. He described how Father Albert's passion embraces the Church and especially the mission of the Church to bring good news to all people. And then he went on to illustrate his deep passion about his religious family, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate: a congregation founded by another man of passion for the things of God, St Eugene de Mazenod.

Shortly after his ordination, Father Danker was asked by his superiors, to attend a conference in Rome of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement. Following the meeting in Rome, he spent the next 18 months in Paris, Belgium and London, learning more about the movement for young workers. He carried that experience back to South Africa where he engaged in youth ministry in the 1950's and 60's.

On his return to Durban, he set up a YCW branch in Congella, where groups of young people would meet and "reflect on life in the light of the Gospel". His Sunday night "folk masses" were very popular with young and old alike.

He continued this work for 15 years, assuming national responsibility for the YCW movement. He also encouraged boys to enter religious life and over the years, 36 entered the priesthood, with four becoming bishops. A fair number of girls joined various communities of nuns too.

The apartheid years brought new problems for Fr. Danker's ministry. He was harassed for having young people of mixed races interacting socially. After taking part in anti-apartheid protests in Durban together with the late Archbishop Denis HURLEY, his passport was withdrawn and he was barred from leaving the country for six years.

In 1972, he was appointed parish priest at Assumption Parish in Umbilo. After four years at Assumption, he was appointed Provincial of the Natal Province.

Since 1983, he has been pastor at St. Anne's in Sydenham. In his 22 years there, he has experienced great changes in South African society. "When I came here, people of colour were still restricted in where they could live. Entertainment and recreation facilities were limited but a vibrant community spirit developed," he says. "Now, many have moved away to other areas, considerable numbers of especially young people have emigrated and mores have changed. Almost one in two babies I baptise is born out of wedlock."

Required to resign as pastor when he turned 75, Fr. Danker now awaits the appointment of his replacement. As for himself, he does not see himself wasting the time he has left. He states that he will enjoy gardening and caring for his pet dog. "The church may want to use me in some other way when I leave St Anne's." | Back to top |

We are delighted to announce that Andrew KNOTT made his perpetual vows as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate before Father General on 6 January 2006. The ceremony took place in the General House Chapel. Andrew made his final vows together with Edouard DAGAVOUNANSOU (Cameroon), Laudy MERILAN (Haiti), Jean Pierre FETSHI (Congo), and Pawel MAJDANSKI (Poland).

Andrew, we welcome you as a fully professed member of our congregation and we pray that the Lord will continue to bless you and strengthen you for service to the poor and abandoned wherever you may be sent. | Back to top |

The musical, Forever Home, had its premier performance in honour of Jubiliarian Albert DANKER. Father Merlin INCE, assistant Priest at St Anne's, wrote the original script and musical score. He writes:

Forever Home tells the story of a journey we have all travelled: of going away and finding what we've been looking for in the place we left behind: HOME. Here home is not so much a physical space but rather a place of power within each of us from where we find the strength to live out our God-given call. I believe this to be a hint of what our founder calls us to do in leading people to find their humanity first, before becoming saints. Set in the context of contemporary urban South Africa, the musical therefore aims to firstly evangelise people through its message of empowerment. Furthermore, we aim to provide opportunities for young people to develop and expose their talents, particularly those who grew up in previously disadvantaged communities.

Through the media of drama, dance and music we explore new ways of making the good news heard. Here too, we take up the founder's challenge to leave no stone unturned in our mission. The script and music are original works that have taken two years to compose and this is what makes Forever Home so special. It is OUR story. People come to the performance and see their own lives put out on stage, being sung and danced about, and so provokes conversion on the level of conscience. Music genres of hip-hop and rap also form part of the repertoire, translating the gospel into the language of our time.

The premiere on 10 December 2005 received an overwhelming standing ovation and was dedicated to the life and work of the legendary Fr. Albert Danker. Being part of the jubilee celebrations for Fr. Danker it commemorated the work he has done with youth throughout his ministry, many of whom were present that weekend. The idea of a localized version of the gospel parable of The Prodigal Son, on which the musical is based, was also inspired by Fr. Danker. We are now working on some new scenes and music as we prepare to stage the production for its first season, which will coincide with Lent. We are hopeful that Forever Home will continue to grow and become an instrument of new evangelisation in a new millennium. | Back to top |

The website of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate for Southern Africa appeared in May 2005 as a result of a decision by the Anglophone Africa Inter-Provincial Conference to establish a common website for all the units. This is seen as a first step to providing electronically accessible information about the Oblates in this part of the world. The Natal province was given the reponsibility to establish the website in conjunction with the websites already established at Cedara. The scholasticate website (www. http://sjtiza.org/omi/) and the website of St. Josephs Theological Institute (www.sjti.ac.za) are the two that concern our institutions.

After a domain was obtained (www.omi.org.za) the task of setting up individual sites for the different Oblate units was tasked to the scholastics of these units studying at St Josephs Scholastics. The scholastics have done a magnificent job and now all the units have a website within the domain.

The Natal and Zimbabwe scholastics have done a great job in keeping our two sites updated throughout the year and thanks to both Denardo GNANAPRAGAS (Natal) and Alvin TSHUMA for their work. Both will be on Regency during 2006. Shane LAYDEN will continue the good work for Natal and the Zimbabwe 'webmaster' still has to be identified.

It is great to see how our Oblate scholastics are recognising the importance of using these new means of the information age for evangelisation and mission. It is very clear that this will become an increasingly important way of bringing good news to the poor since once connected, costs are very low. We encourage all in formation to experiment with this new technology to develop effective means of evangelisation and mission. | Back to top |

One of our Oblate ministries is care for elderly sick and unwell Oblates. All of us will experience one or more of these stages of life one day and it is important that we recognise this care as an Oblate ministry.

We have recently increased our capacity within this particular ministry. One of the rooms of Sabon House, our community for elderly and sick Oblates, which also has a special ministry of hospitality, was recently converted to function as a frail care facility. This step was taken as a pilot project for the proposed frail care centre to be built at Sabon House. It was felt that it would be better to convert one room and see how it worked before embarking on an expensive project. The room can also be used as an ordinary residents room should Sabon House become full. But this is unlikely to happen in the near future.

The next phase in the project will be the upgrading and refurbishing of the old Congella hall. Initially it will be developed as a multifunctional space with some rooms and a large common space. This should happen during 2006.

Particular thanks to the MAMI who have been raising funds for this project and to Mrs Bernadette Applegreen who paid for the furnishings in the new frail care room and has agreed to make a special contribution for our Oblate Ministry to elderly, sick and unwell Oblates.

Thanks also the Oblate sharing fund in the USA who have made a donation of $3000 (R19000) to this project. | Back to top |

The Zimbabwe mission has been struggling with only one small car available for the three Oblates and twelve prenovices at Mazenod House. In December we were able to purchase a Toyota Condor Vehicle thanks to the Generosity of MIVA Austria and Marianisches Missionswerk (MAMI Austria) under the tireless efforts of Fr.Josef MATHUNI OMI, Vienna, Austria. Thanks very much to all concerned. | Back to top |

The first project of the fundraising committee got underway in December with a special focus on fundraising for formation. Special brochures in both English and Zulu were printed and distributed to all parishes served by Oblates in the Durban Archdiocese. These were handed out at the Christmas masses to hopefully improve the Christmas collection contribution to the Oblates. The campaign hopes to raise R700000 for first formation in 2006 (See 9 below). | Back to top |

This year Natal and Zimbabwe will have 57 people in first formation and postulancy. This includes 30 scholastics, 5 novices and 22 pre-novices. This is the largest number ever and marks an amazing success in recruitment and formation for the province and its mission. The change is startling in Zimbabwe. When we took over the mission in 2000 there were five priests and four scholastics making a total of just nine. By February 2006 Zimbabwe will have eight Priests and 14 scholastics making a total of 22 Oblates. God has blessed the work of our missionaries there and we give thanks for their gifts and strength in doing mission under very difficult conditions.

Of course this success in recruitment and formation carries with it many big challenges and the most urgent one at present is to fund all of this growth.

The budget of Natal and Zimbabwe for our scholastics, novices and our two pre-novitiates in 2006 is R1.8 million for these 57 people. Of this we have managed to secure R1.1 million from donations and grants from Oblates elsewhere in the world. We are deeply grateful for this help in solidarity.

This means that the province has to immediately find Seven Hundred Thousand Rand.

Where will we find this? Last year we dipped into our reserves to finance the shortfall but if we do that for the next three years there will be nothing left.

Consequently we are trying to raise this money through fund raising in the province. Our hope is that the Christmas and Easter collections we are allowed to take in those parishes served by Oblates will help to defray a large part of this expense. We encourage all Oblates to work for the success of this worthy cause. | Back to top |

On 29 July 2005 we received notification from the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights that a claim for the restitution of land rights has been lodged by the Mambuzane tribe, regarding our property at CEDARA. This claim was published in the Government Gazette on 8 July 2005.

Our property of 187 hectares is one of five involved in this claim and a total amount of about 1700 hectares is being claimed.

This claim has been verified by the land claims commission as a VALID CLAIM.

At the last Provincial Council meeting it was decided to contest the validity of the claim. This is because we feel that there are some aspects of it, which do not accord with our policies regarding land claims, a summary of which was published in the last newsletter.

What is very important is to assure the future well-being of our Institutions at Cedara. This includes both the land on which they stand as well as the immediate environment.

This is a very complex and difficult situation for us. Please pray for all who are working to resolve this matter. This might be another matter to lay at the feet of Blessed Joseph Gerard. | Back to top |

Provincial's Notes

1. Provincial Congress in July

Could everyone please diarise the dates of our Provincial Congress in 2006. It will be held at Glenmore Pastoral Centre, Durban, from Monday 24 July beginning with supper at 6.30 pm until Thursday 27th July at around 4,30pm.

The theme of the conference will be "The World and the Way". These words are taken from a very provocative sentence emerging from the last paragraph of the "Letter from the 34th General Chapter". That sentence reads: "The world no longer works in the same way." The paragraph goes on to proclaim the task for the Oblates today in these words: "Our task is to be missionaries in this new pluralistic, sensitive and complex reality where like Jesus we are invited to 'cross over' and imitate his self emptying so as to enter more fully into the life of the other, particularly the lives of the poor."

Some among you will recognise the scriptural significance of the term 'the way' and yet others will recognise the Augustinian (our great African Theologian) overtones in the two nouns of our congress theme.

Our congress will reflect on three matters. The first is the five priorities identified by the Provincial Council at the beginning of this administration as a response to the Immense Hope project.

The second is the examination of emerging clusters of ministries within the mission of the Natal Province.

The third will be a consideration of the stewardship of our gifts and resources: human, spiritual and material, to enable us to develop the capacity to respond to the challenges that face us.

In Redemptoris Missio (#86) Pope John Paul teaches that "God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity and we can already see its first signs." Perhaps we are one of these signs. Our great growth in these last years may be telling us that God wants to use us in a special way. We must discern his will. Our Congress is one more way to do that.

All members of the Province and its mission in Zimbabwe and all our scholastics are called to attend the congress. However it is not my intention to insist on your participation. For this meeting it will be better to have those who are passionate about examining what the Natal Province wants to be in the future and how the Spirit of God is leading us there.
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2. Oblate Dates 2006

Please diarise these other Oblate days

22 January

29 January 20 February 3-4 May 22 May 24-27th July 8-13 October 15-20 October 8 December
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3. Restructuring of South African Provinces

In November last year the report of the task team on Oblate Restructuring and unification in South Africa was sent to all Oblate communities. Superiors of communities and districts are reminded of their duty to submit a report indicating the views the Oblates in their community about the task team report. Community and district reports should be sent to the Provincial office by no later than the end of February so that we can prepare a Natal Provincial statement to the Restructuring committee meeting.

Communities that have not yet discussed the report are urgently requested to meet and do this as soon as possible so that all views about the task team report can be represented.
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4. Information on ID Required

During 2006 one of the tasks of the Provincial office was to update all the personnel records. This includes having a photocopy of the page of your ID book with all the details, barcode and your photo. A few are still missing. In that regard could the following Oblates please post, hand to Pat Maycock, my secretary, or fax (to 0312060270) the page requested.

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5. Committee on Sexual Abuse:
    Name Change

It seems that the name Sexual Abuse committee is a bit too limiting and perhaps somewhat inappropriate for the task it will eventually have. At the first meeting a number of suggestions were made and in the end the name Missionary Conduct and Support Group was decided upon. The committee will develop processes and protocols to help us deal correctly with complaints regarding inappropriate behaviour of Oblate missionaries.| Back to top |

Appointments and Obediences

Father Benedict GUMEDE will attend the De Mazenod Experience in Aix-en Province from January to Easter. Parishes are asked to attend to the needs of their own parishioners at King Edward Hospital during this -period.

Father Sipho KUNENE is appointed Acting Superior at Sabon House for 2006.

Father George PURVES has not recovered sufficiently from his operation and has asked to be relieved of the burden of Superior of Sabon House. It has been very difficult to find someone to replace him and I am most grateful to Father Sipho KUNENE who has accepted to stand in as acting superior for 2006 after which we will review the position.

Father Kunene is our longest serving missionary in Zimbabwe. He has completed six years of mission there since his ordination. It was decided during my visitation in August that during 2006 it would be helpful for him to take one year away from St Luke's to expand his missionary experience and to attend a pastoral renewal programme in Margate UK during July and August.

Whilst Sabon House may not have been his personal choice for a different missionary experience I am sure he will bring life and enthusiasm to this new task.

Father Christopher RICHMOND is assigned to Woodlands and recommended to the Archbishop as Parish Priest.

Fr Thomas ZONDI
Member of "Missionary Conduct and Support Group"

Father Muzi MADLALA: Part-time Assistant to Provincial Treasurer
Father Madlala will continue to serve as Assistant Priest at Woodlands but will work two mornings a week at the Provincial House to help relieve the burden on the Provincial Treasurer. This burden has grown considerably in 2005 as a result of legislation affecting churches and religious bodies. These matters include legal and administrative matters around our properties as well as ensuring compliance in all Oblate institutions with Financial and Labour legislation. Fund Raising and the growth of our resources is another urgent area for the attention of the Provincial Treasurer.
The appointment of Father Madlala to this task is also a way of building up the skills capacity of our younger Oblates to ensure the future well-being of our Province. Thanks Muzi for accepting this new missionary task.

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From the Provincial Treasurer

1. Fundraising Efforts

The Christmas Collection drive was the first project of the Fundraising Committee. They are to be congratulated for the creative design and work put into this. Apart from the delayed distribution due to a printing problem, the collection seems to be reaping some results. Please return the collections as soon as possible. Don't forget to also return the inserts in the Christmas collection envelopes, as they come in. This will enable us to personally thank individual donors.

The fundraising committee will have a two day meeting early in February to develop strategies. Please support the future plans. Any fundraising ideas you have will be welcome. Please do not hesitate to pass them on.

2. Stipends

From 2006 I will be reporting on a 3 monthly basis to each Oblate in regard to Stipend returns into my office.

3. Reminder Regarding Monday Mornings

Mondays 9.00am - 12.00pm are set aside to address Oblate requests (travel, holiday allowance etc). Please respect these times so that other days can be used for dealing with other matters.

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Provincial's Diary

3 OMI Natal Province Missionary Conduct Committee: Inaugural meeting, Provincial House, Durban.
3-4 Regency Orientation Seminar Provincial House.
9-13 Pastoral Theology Module, St Augustine College of South Africa, Johannesburg
17-18 Provincial Council Meeting, Provincial House.
26-30 Zimbabwe
29 Priestly Ordination, Charles Rensburg OMI Bulawayo.
31 Youth Ministry Committee, Mariannhill Retreat Centre
3 First Vows, Our Lady of Hope Novitiate, Johannesburg.
13 Young Oblates Meeting, St Anne's, Sydenham
20 180th anniversary of the approval of our Congregation and its Rule. Perpetual Vows of Nkululeko MEYIWA, OMI and Mthokozisi MNCWABE OMI. St Joseph's Cedara
26 Jubilee of Cardinal Napier and Episcopal Ordination of Father Barry WOOD OMI IEC Durban.

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Dates to Give Thanks

13 Charles RENSBURG Birthday
18 Wayne WELDSCHIDT Ordination
20 Zaba MBANJWA Birthday
27 Bishop J. NXUMALO Birthday
29 George PURVES Birthday
04 Joe MONEY Birthday
05 Bishop Dominic KHUMALO Birthday
08 Sylvester DAVID Ordination
08 Allan HENRIQUES Ordination
11 Paul SCHRODER Ordination
12 Paul SCHRODER Birthday
14 Siyabonga DUBE Birthday
17 Isidore FREOUX Ordination
19 Stuart BATE Ordination
19 Paul HORROCKS Ordination
19 Sipho KUNENE Ordination
19 Daniel CORYN Birthday
22 John PATTERSON Birthday
23 Parmudzai MUDUDZA Birthday
26 Lawrence NGUBANE Birthday
28 Muzi MADLALA Birthday
28 Jabulani MTOLO Birthday
28 Jabulani MTOLO Ordination
Errors and omissions contact the Administrative Secretary (admin@omi.org.za)

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Monthly newsletter of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate:
Box 17035, Congella, 4013
39 Pioneer Road, Congella, Durban, 4001.

Provincial:Fr Stuart BATE
E-mail address:scbate@omi.org.za

Editor:Fr Chris LOCKYER

Please send all submissions, enquiries and comments to the editor:
Tel:031 261 6406 or 031 205 9321
Fax:031 261 3928 or 031 206 0270

E-mail editor and computer: John Hughes
E-mail address: hughesjj@iafrica.com
Tel: 031 208 1323
Cell:083 626 3974
Fax: 083 640 0119 or 086 672 6688

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Copyright © 2006 OMI Natal Province