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Saturday, May 13, 2017

May 13, 2017
    It wasn’t my intention to put something in my blog today but if I don’t I may not be able to tomorrow.
There were two major deaths in our lives here in South Africa. One was Fr. Guy who finally passed away on Monday May 1st. St. Joseph the Worker. A fitting day to say goodbye as he was a very hard worker in the vineyard of the Lord.
     There was a memorial Mass held for him in Mthatha last Thursday, May 11th.  Here is what one of those present had to say:
   
James Weyi
10:49 AM (8 hours ago)
to FrBruder, me, Odwa, Thembekile
A very good day to you Fr hoping that you are well. Fr Chikadi did send messages to friends who knew Fr Guy and those whom he touched their hearts through his kind works.The initial date send 12/May/2017 at Glen Avent Convent and later another date was forwarded to us with a changed venue being the Cathedral on 11/05/2017. The Memorial Holy Mass was well attended by friends from all the places which Fr Guy was of help, namely Sabelani, Maiden Farm, Phola Park, Hill Crest and locally in town. Bishop Siphuka officiated the Holy Mass Service but he was very quiet. Fr John Chickadi is the one who spoke about Fr Guy as he officiated the sermon and he clearly drew a picture of who Fr Guy really was since his arrival and the experiences that they had with him as Priests. He also did not mince his words when stating that they as Priests had their weaknesses, failing the Community in various ways. Electricity went off just a few minutes as the service had begun followed by thunder and lihtning.  Fr Stephan spoke on behalf of the CMM Priests also expanding on Fr Chikadi's sermon painting a broader picture of who Fr Guy was and how they as Priests did let him down when challanges caught up with him purely seeing that the church was now being divided. Jerome send a written letter on behalf of friends as he could not attend. The letter was a farewell note to Fr Guy also thanking him for being a pillar of strength to him and others and also having learnt so many things from him. Sr Mary Corda also spoke on behalf of the  80 CPS Srs and Thembelihle Home where the also thanked Fr Guy for his services and guidance. She also reassured the community that they will continue where he had left as that was his most humble request in helping the poor. Sabelani Guys were present but no one went to speak and we are not sure what prevented them from doing so. I personally presume that it could be grief or the mere presence of Bishop Siphuka, but they were there to witness the service. Yes indeed a huge rock has fallen and we are very grateful and we will mis him. May his great soul rest in peace.

I won’t comment now but will do so later, regarding to the life and times and death of Fr. Guy.

The other death was that of Bishop Barry Wood, the vicar general of the Durban Archdiocese, right hand man of Cardinal Napier. He, like Guy, was passionate about trying to lift the poor out of their poverty and was a hands on person when it came to listening and responding to the voices that are traditionally tuned out of the hearts and consciences of many Church leaders and their followers.

On Thursday, also May 11th, there was an ecumenical service at the Diakonia Center in the heart of Durban, an ecumenical social service organization, which was headed by Bishop Barry Wood for two terms, from 2005 to 2011. Today, was the funeral Mass for him, led by Cardinal Napier, assisted by the Apostolic Nuncio, a fellow student from St. Meinrad, though much later than me, as well as more priests concelebrating than I could count, surely over 100 and a whole bevy of his brother bishops. It was a very inclement day, bloody cold, as one here would say, and threatening rain at any moment, but holding back till just after the service had been concluded. He was lauded and praised by all, priests and laity alike. He was, like Guy and Francis, special in his obvious love and concern for the poor, a model for us all.

However, I almost didn’t make it. The Mass was held in the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzbug, about 80 km. from Durban (50 miles). As I was entering the city, forging ahead with a welcoming green light, from the left side (passenger side here) a car ran the red light and slammed into me between the front wheel and the door. I spun me around several times before winding up on the island in the middle of the road, up against a pole that stopped me from going further. The car that hit me also spun around and floated backwards and almost rammed into my door, but stopped just about 2 feet from my door. I was stunned and didn’t want to move. I just sat there thinking, you know what (sh…). Now what.
   Someone who had seen the accident came to the door and told me to sit tight until he came back which I was doing anyway. When he came, he helped me out of the car and felt my neck  and some other places asking if it hurt. It didn’t. There was no whiplash because she hit me from the side, not the back. I was OK. But now (this happened about 9:15 in the morning and it is after 8pm in the evening) I am beginning to feel the pains of the muscles that were stretched and around the ribs, especially on the left side where the seat belt must have tightened up because of the crash.
     While we were standing there waiting for the police to come and maybe even an ambulance (thank God the two young children who were in the back seat of the car the lady was driving were unhurt. I am sure that the lady driver of the car that went through the red light must have been hurt somehow because the whole front end of her car was bashed and she too must have experienced the seat belts tightening up to keep her from going out the window.
    Of course, there was a tow truck right there and within two minutes he was trying to sign me up but I told him to wait till I contacted the Insurance Company to get instructions from them. In the meantime, lots of sisters were also on their way to the funeral and they saw my wrecked car and then me on the side of the road so a bunch of them, in different cars stopped to ask if I was OK. The tow truck driver was impressed by my harem.
I told them that once we got things sorted out with the towing company and the police, I would ask them for a lift back to Mariannhill, since a whole car load of them are my neighbors and the hospital and convent here.
     I managed to sneak in sideways among the clergy after getting properly dressed for the occasion (alb and stole). No one knew why I was late. I am skipping some things here but will catch you up on them another time.
     After the service, about 3 ½ hrs, as we were leaving I managed to greet a few of the bishops whom I have known since my Justice and Peace days, and even manage to hand a note to the Cardinal from our Provincial, Fr. Chikadi, assuring the Archidioce of the condolences of us brothers of Mariannhill in the Mthatha Province. I also weeneed my way next to the Apostolic Nuncio (The Pope’s representative to South Africa) and tell him that I was proud to see a fellow son of St. Meinrad here in South Africa. We both went to the same seminary, St. Meinrad in Southern  Indiana, but I was a few hundred years ahead of him. I saw his picture on the wall at St. Meinrad last year when I passed by on my home leave. The walls are full of the class pictures.  I even took a picture of the picture and sent it to him when I got back to South Africa. He never responded. I guess he has other more important things to do.
    Well, after a few short meetings, I skipped the meal as I didn’t want to lose the nun who was showing me the way to the car. Now I am guessing that there were between 3000 and 4000 people at the service, and you can imagine the fun and games trying to get out. That is, if you can remember where you parked the car. Ha. We wandered around, up and down for about 20 minutes, but eventually we were spotted by one of the sisters who came from the car to look for us, and guided us back to the car.
Well, that is almost the end of the story. While was watching the 7pm news, Br. Tendai came to see if I was still alive, and when he saw that I was, he told me that we have guests in the house tonight and asked when I turn on the alarm. I really wanted to hit the sack like NOW, but now there is a new twit to the story. I will wait till 9:30 and then, as I told Tendai, I will turn on the alarm. If they are not here and try to get in later, I will definitely hear the alarm go off and then, hang around till the security company comes to see what’s up, and I will tell them  all is well and go back to sleep.
    I am up at 4am so it is no problem in the morning as I turn off the alarm before most people have started to think of getting up.
    Well, that’s it for tonight. I hope that I don’t turn the wrong way in bed and irritate that bottom rib and give a yelp.
    I will go over my Zulu readings for tomorrow and my homily while I am waiting, but will happily climb beneath the blanket just after 9:30

   Y’all stay well. Love and Peace, Cas.

Monday, April 24, 2017

March 19, 2017…Back from Lourdes.
Ha, now it is March 24th. Time flies (usually away, Ha.)
    Well, here goes. Before we left, someone phoned to ask if I was sick. I was surprised. No, I don’t think so, why. Well, she heard that I was going to have an operation. Oh, yes, not an operation but a “procedure”, on my left knee. The Doctor, as you know, had taken an X-ray which showed that the cartilage in my left knee was pretty much gone. (too much praying, you know!) Well, as I mentioned in the last Blog, the group ordered a wheel chair for me at all the airports. They meet you as you arrive and whisk you through customs and immigration and right up to the door of the next plane. Wow. Nice, but very embarrassing as you fly by the rest of your gang who are trudging a few miles to the customs queue and then to the immigration queue, etc. However, I asked God to forgive me for my laziness. You know, at these new airports, the distances from one gate to the other can be a real challenge for us seniors, or those who have arthritis or whatever. Anyway, It was appreciated but I am not sure if I will do that again next time. We shall see. (Maybe it hurts my pride too much, Ha)
     Well, we expected to go directly from Durban to Doha in Qatar, but we flew to Joburg first. Some of our gang had come from Mpulalanga and it would have been much easier for them to climb aboard at Joburg but they didn’t know. Next time.
     So we got to Doha (very fancy, lots of money here) and got on the plane from Doha to Paris. About 8 hrs. I long ago lost my enthusiasm for airplanes that keep you cooped up for more than two or three hours, but….
We arrived (having had little sleep from our overnight flight from Durban to Joburg to Doha, in the early afternoon. We arrived  at DeGaulle airport (also very fancy). There was a bus waiting for us (good organization) that took us to a pilgrimage place where St. Catherine Laboure had a vision of the Blessed Mother who told her to have a medal cast with the words “Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The so-called Miraculous Medal. It seems that many “miraculous” cures took place for those who prayed to Mary as she had asked. The body of St. Catherine was found to be preserved, uncorrupted after many years in the grave. This all took place starting around 1814 or so. We took time to pray there and had Mass for our group (we had to book a time in their chapel) and then caught a bus to the hotel where we stayed overnight. This was Palm Sunday night.
     Monday after Palm Sunday, another bus was waiting for us to take us to a place called Nevers (about a 3 and ½ hr. drive more or less North of Parish ---I think) where St. Bernadette, the one who saw visions of the Blessed Mother at Lourdes, came to join the convent when she had grown a bit. She lived and died here without ever going back to Lourdes, as I understand it. Hers is the second body that I saw that is still uncoruppted after all these years. Again, we said Mass for our pilgrims and spent the time having a look around and taking time to pray again.
     Tuesday morning of Holy Week, caught a bus back to Parish (another 3 and ½ hr. drive but this time to Orly Airport (mostly local flights within France, whereas De Gaulle is for International Flights) where we caught a plane to a place called Pau, not far from Lourdes, where we met another bus that had been waiting for us to take us to the Hotel in Lourdes. It was about an hour’s ride. At the Hotel, our leader explained what we were going to do so we had supper and a good sleep.
      Wednesday, of Holy Week, we were given a kind of tour, a look around, at the grounds (pretty big grounds) at Lourdes. Then, those who felt up to it were invited to make the Way of the Cross which goes up the mountain behind and above the grotto. In spite of my trick knee, I was able to hold my own and even to outpace some of the others who are not used to walking a lot or climbing hills. The stations are statues that are more than life sized and really catch your attention. Someone read off a meditation while we reflected on each station. I thought that I would have updated the more pious one that we used by reflecting on the Way of the Cross that Jesus carries today in Iraq and Iran and Syria and Pakistan and Egypt and Palestine, and even in the USA under Trump. The Jesus that suffers and falls and gets crucified today in His people. Maybe next time, if there will be a next time.
      The rest of the day was free for us to do whatever we wanted. There are at least three basilicas and many chapels that attract people, but I was drawn, like a magnet to the Grotto, where the whole story began. I had promised to bring my whole gang from Savannah Park, as well as all my relatives and friends and all who needed healing either in body or in spirit before Mother Mary to place them before her and ask her to pay attention to them and their needs and to ask her Son to bless them and make them strong in their faith.
     I did that every day for several hours, just sitting there in front of the grotto where the spring sprang up and where there is now a statue approximately where Mary showed herself to this young, simple, uneducated peasant girl, eventually revealing herself, when the girl, Bernadette (now St . Bernadette) asked what he name was, by saying that she is the Immaculate Conception. When the girl told her parish priest that she had seen this lady in several visions, he had doubts about whether she was dreaming or hallucinating, but when he asked who the lady said she was, and when she said “The Immaculate Conception”, he knew that this really happened because she, Bernadette, wouldn’t have a clue what “Immaculate Conception” was. So that was the beginning of the story about Lourdes. The Mother Mary asked Bernadette to dig in the cave (where pigs used to shelter) through the mud and pig dung and there a spring sprang up. It is still there today and that is about 180 yrs. ago. The water has been piped to various places so that people can drink or take some water home or eve have a bath (it is ice cold…I was chicken so I just washed my face and neck). Most people also brush their hands along the damp wall  of solid rock asking to help their faith to be as strong as the rock.
    There are benches to sit and kneel in front of the grotto, and there is a huge candle stand where candles are burning night and day as a symbol or the burning faith of Bernadette and those who come here in faith to pray.
It is said that there have been 69 cures that have been recorded, miraculous, since Bernadette’s time. That is, Doctors, many of whom are skeptical about cures like this, investigate what happened and eventually came to the conclusion that there is no earthly explanation as to how these people could have been cured, like a cancerous tumor that is there when the person comes and, in an instant, after praying to Mary or bathing in the water, the tumor just disappears, finished. No explanation. Something like that.
     Well, as I said, I used to come in the morning and in the afternoon to pray and meditate in front of the statue of Mary, at the spot where she showed herself to little Bernadette. There were lots of people around, all day long going through the queue to the grotto and sitting or kneeling at the benches in front of the grotto. I just  tuned them all out and didn’t see or hear a thing while I was doing my thing there. The conversation was probably one-sided as I did most of the talking to Mary, but I think that she heard me and I felt a kind of closeness to her through that.
      We were supposed to have said Mass together that Wednesday, but booking difficulties got in the way so we just had to let it go.
      Thursday, Holy Thursday, there is only one Mass, an International Mass, where all the pilgrims from all over the world (every Continent I am sure from the looks of things) came together in the underground basilica of St. Pius X. We were reminded by the readings of 1) the Institution of the Eucharist, which has been passed down to us to this day… do this in memory of me   2) the Institution of the Priesthood, so that the message cold continue to be told after Jesus returned home…it is the day when priests renew their vows, promises, to be good servants and shepherds of God’s people   3) The great commandment, via the foot washing, love one another as I have loved you.  WE ( some of my fellow pilgrims who had been there before, grabbed me and told me to go with them now to be able to get a seat up close. I think we were in the 4th pew behind some others and a whole row of wheelchairs who sat right up in front, where they should be. However, there were screens where the service was televised, so that no matter where you were sitting (the church holds 30,000 people sitting) you were in touch with what was going on. The main service was in French but the reading and some explanations were in various languages. Some of the readings were also shown on the screen, in German, or Dutch, or English or Spanish or whatever. It was really well done, under the circumstances, to try to keep everyone in touch with the heart of the service. At communion, I am sure that there were probably at least 50 priests who mingled with the crowds to bring communion to everyone.  The service started at 8:30 and ended just before 11pm. Off to bed with sweet dreams.
     Friday, Good Friday, The leader of our group caught me in the morning after breakfast and said he would take me to visit an Oblate priest (OMI), Fr. Paul Horlocks, whom I knew years ago as a seminarian and who has been a part of the chaplaincy there in Lourdes for some years now. He took me to a building where many priests are busy hearing confessions most of the day, and one of them was to be Fr. Paul. It was a great reunion, and we had time to catch each other up on our lives and then I took the opportunity to make my confession to him to get myself cleaned up for Easter. It was a good morning.
     I then spent some time, again, at the grotto, and after lunch, joined a few other of our pilgrims to get a good place up front for the Good Friday liturgy which was to start at 3pm. Again, the church was full, and we were able to follow the Passion, which was acted out, in front of us and when, on the other side, visible on the screens overhead. Once again, there were many priests on had to hold a cross for all  30,000 of us to venerate and, after that, to distribute communion, making us one with the suffering Christ on that sad, sad day.
The rest of the day I spent trying to imagine how Mary felt and how the Apostles felt now that their leader whom they loved, respected and looked to for guidance was now gone. Now what? Is what I thought they thought. We thought that he was the one who was going to save Israel, but look….. what a disaster.
(I forgot to mention that we usually had a European breakfast, e.g. maybe some cereal, some yogurt, plenty of French bread with some cheese and maybe a slice or two of lunch meat. Well, we got into the habit of grabbing a few slices of break, some cheese and a slice or two of the lunch meat and a cup of coffee and sat down with some others for a breakfast together. As I was happily munching on my cheese and ham sandwich, I suddenly became aware that this was Good Friday…..one of the two days –the other being Ash Wednesday—when the Church asks us to refrain from eating meat. Ha. I guess that there are quite a few of us who will be going to hell, and imagine this, that we were on pilgrimage. Ha. I hope that the Lord forgave us.)
      Holy Saturday, I did my usual visit to Mary at the grotto and also decided to buy a few items ( remembrances) for the people back home, including a small statue of Mary for our humble parish at Savannah Park. I had exchanged a few dollars I had for some Euros and was also helped by some of the pilgrims in our group.
    Twice, I was invited out of lunch (we were served breakfast and supper at the hotel, but had to fend for ourselves for lunch. Usually I just skipped it because I have a good constitution and also because, for most of the time it was still Lent, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of penance. One of the meals was at an Indian Restaurant where we had a delicious Curry meal. I am addicted to Indian curry and was very happy with this gift.
       That night, the Easter Vigil Service stated at 8pm and I sat in the front pew with one of the pilgrims who saved a place for me. The weather had been beautiful all along except for today, overcast and kind of drizzly. Being at the foot of the Pyrenees, it was cold in the mornings (6C, with snow on the mountains) but nice during the day.
      Again, the service was mainly in French but with readings in different languages, catering to all who were there. Well done. It was said that there were 35,000 attending the service that evening as the benches were full but thousands of people were also standing. Christ the light. We all lit our candles at the right time. The song praising the Easter Candle is done much better here with us in Africa where there is a tradition of Praise singers who do just that, making up their own words in praise of someone…the king, the chief, a newly ordained, one who has just taken his or her vows, a birthday person, etc….He or she is called and Umbongi, and we could show them how it was done, I thought.  But we were happy to know that the crucifixion was not the end of the story, but that His love conquered sin and death and brought Him new life, which He shares with all of us. The impossible happened. It sets a standard for us Christians. There is nothing that is impossible when we stick with God, nothing!!!
   We got to bed very late, about 1am, and we had to be up at 6 am to get organized for our return journey home.
Easter Sunday…I was up at 4am, my usual time, packed and ready to go and preparing a short service for our group in the sitting room of the hotel at 6am. Then we had breakfast and climbed on the bus at 8am to be whisked off to the airport at Pau, about an hour’s drive away, reluctantly saying goodbye to Lourdes. From that airport we flew back to Orly and were met by the last bus we were to use that took us for a short tour of Paris. Unfortunately, since it was Easter Sunday, it was a holiday, and many things were closed so we only saw the outside of the Louvres, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and other places that our guide pointed out to us. I managed to get a good picture of the Eiffel Tower but we had no time to climb up there.
     Our guide has booked us a trip on the Seine river for about an hour where we were able to see and hear an explanation of what we were seeing as we went along.
    Then we climbed back on the bus and headed for De Gaulle airport to begin the long flight home. The flight only left at about 10:45 at night so we tried to get some sleep (not too well) and when we arrived in Doha, we only had a short time to catch our flight to Durban. After a short stop in Joburg to let those passengers off, we finally arrived in Durban on Easter Monday evening about 5pm. Thank goodness, Bishop Khumalo, faithful friend and brother, was there to fetch me and take me home. I didn’t bother with eating anything but just unpacked my things, got myself organized for the next day and hit the sack.
So that is the story of the Lourdes trip. A bit long but you can skip it if you like.

The next day, Tuesday, I was up at the usual 4am to get ready for the 6 am Mass at St. Mary’s hospital. I had promised that I would be there and I kept my promise.
But the next few days I was a lazy guy. Lots of lying down time and sleeping, probably more that 10 or 11 hours a day. Now work until Thursday and Friday and Saturday when I got myself back into working in the garden, not overdoing it, but maybe an hour and a half to two hours. Again, a lazy guy.
    Since then, since my gang at Savannah Park, an outstation, was going to be up at the mother church on April 30th, I contacted my neighboring priest and offered to help him that Sunday. Well he not only grabbed at the chance ( he actually has three parishes that he has to look after every weekend. It is too much and a no win situation since each of them has many families. Priest shortage. I feel sorry for these young guys who are put into such a no win situation, and who try to do their best)
    Well, since he was able to hook me for that Sunday at one of his parishes, he also asked if I could take the evening Masses at another of his parishes, last Saturday and next Saturday. OK. So I don’t have too much time for mischief again.
     I said the Sunday Mass at Savannah Park yesterday and was helped by  a young deacon from the Sacred Heart religious community. He wanted to try to preach in Zulu and he did well. He is from Madagascar. We then had lunch at Mike and Net Pillay’s, as usual, with their children and called it a day after that.
      Today I got a document from my optometrist to say the I can see ok to drive. But, I realize that I don’t need it because tomorrow I am going to get in the queue to get my car registration done. It expires at the end of the month. I want to get in the queue early, maybe 7am, so that I don’t have to wait all day.

    Well, that is a lot. I think that you had better go to bed now, like I am going to do. It is 9:45 pm and I will be up at 4 am again so it is time to say good night. Cas. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

April 8, 2017

In 2 and ½ hrs. I leave for Lourdes. I took my shower and put my elastic stockings on and determined to finish my Blog before I leave.  On getting back from Mthatha, I was asked to visit the husband of friend who was sick in a hospital in Pietermaritzburg, about 80km. from Durban (50 miles), so on Tuesday the 21st I went up to the hospital and, after a few miscalls, (not the right name---thanks for cell phones I was able, on the spot, to get the right name) I managed to find him in the ICU.(intensive care unit). He was not in good shape and had all kinds of pipes and drips and what not all, including down his throat and an oxygen mask, but was not conscious. I asked the nurse what the problem was and she said his lungs were hemmoraging. Not good. I prayed for him out loud, hoping that he could hear, and blessed him putting him in the hands of his creator and left. I phone his wife and told her that if they still want to see him alive, they should hurry, like NOW. I don’t know if they ever got to see him because it is far from Mthatha (Maybe 5 hours by car and more by bus), but he has since passed away. I am happy that I hurried to see him before he was called from this earth.
     I did some home visiting in the meantime and, with your contributions, helped several students with their student debts. They thanked me and I told them that I would thank you since it comes from y’all.
    I also saw the eye doctor, Casandra, who checked the pressure in my eyes, which was good, but the right eye has lost a bit of its power and I will probably have to get some new glasses soon.
    One of our retired bishops moved off to Germany to live with his widowed sister. She lives in a big empty house and asked him to do her that favorw. He did. And I had the privilege to give him his final haircut before he left. I am sure that no one in Germany can match that!!!
     This (27th to 30th) was the last week to do my grass cutting and bush chopping so I was at it morning and afternoon to finish what I wanted before the orthroscopy which took place on Friday, the 31st.
    I had gone to the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Naidoo, to ask why my left knee always seemed to be sore when the right knee was OK. He sent me for an x-ray (you know how it is in a hospital, being sent from Peter to Paul and back for this, that and the other.) Anyway, I managed to get the x-ray (he already had it on his screen in his office) and he showed me where the cartilage was gone so the bones were rubbing and knocking on each other and making some bony sawdust. I had asked for Friday the 31st (he operates on Fridays) for the procedure since I would be leaving a week later for Lourdes and foresaw lots of walking and processions etc. and wanted to have a refurbished knee to deal with that.
     It was an in and out deal. I got there by 10:30 and went through the paper work (that took over an hour and many, many questions). Then, changing into the hospital  supplied drawers and the diorre gown, and the wait. The op was supposed to be at 1:30 and at 10 past 1, I still hadn’t heard anything. (I finished reading half of Maya Angelou’s book “ I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. I was glad I brought it along. But it was cold and I was sitting on a bed (not wanting to give any indication that I was determined to go home the same day so not wanting to get into that bloody bed) but eventually because I was freezing ( I had my usual shorts on ) I gave in and got under to covers.
    About 20 past 1, some nurses came with a trolley bed and got me to get up there and wheeled me off into the unknown. We got stuck in the traffic at the elevator (lift) and finally managed to work our way down to the parking lot next to the operating theatre. There, some kind nurse covered me with a beautifully warm blanket and a thick duvet on top of that. It was heavenly.
    Then the anesthetist came ( I had a glance at the doctor on our way to his premises) to tell me about the anesthetic, and stuck it in my are so expertly that I didn’t even feel the needle going in. Of course, I cooperated fully by supplying him with an array of beautiful veins to pick from. We were instantly friends.
     After he did that, I waited and waited and waited, wondering when are we going to the theatre. Ha. When I asked one of the nurses, she said I was already back. Ha. That was neat.
     After some time in the outgoing parking lot, I Was taken back to my bed where I then got dressed with my own clothes, and there was this huge bandage on my left knee. The doctor said that I would be able to walk out just like I walked in, and he was right, but not quite. There was a special hobble that I learned.
    While I was waiting, again sitting on the bed, not wanting to get under the covers although I was cold again, people were asking what I wanted for breakfast. Ha, I am going home. What would you like for supper. Ha. I am going home. But as time ticked on , I was getting nervous. I thought that the whole thing would be over and I could be picked up by my life (Bishop Khumalo) by 4pm. It was now past 6:30 and no one seemed to be aware that I am going home now.
    I finally went up to the nurses station and mentioned that I was going home and what did I have to do to get discharged. They gave me a chair to sit next to them (I didn’t want to remain near that bed) and then they gave the go ahead to be released but only when my lift picked me up and came to them first. I phoned Bishop Khumalo and he was on his way. When he came, after signing some more papers ( I had already furnished a proof of payment because I knew that they won’t let anyone go unless you have paid every last penny owed to the hospital. No lay away plan).
     I hobbled out with the bishop and  tried to have a bit to eat when I got home but my throat was really sore and after trying to push something down my gullet, I finally gave up because my throat was refusing, (and I was coughing up a lot of phlegm) I just had a drink of milk and went to bed.
    Amazingly, I slept well , and discovered that turning from side to side didn’t seem to bother that knee. However, because I had already cut whatever grass needed cutting, I was really lazy for most of the week, with long stints on top of the bed just resting, afraid to do something to damage the knee. However, I drove to the hospital every morning for Mass and seemed to survive OK. I also drove a bit, but not much, to do a bit of shopping and didn’t walk much. The doctor didn’t give me a list of do’s and don’t so I was afraid to blow it.
    In the meantime, the leader of the pilgrimage to Lourdes phoned, worried because he had been told that I am “sick”. His wife also phoned with the same news (I remember Mark Twain’s comment when he saw his obituary in the newspaper---something like the account of my death is greatly exaggerated) and when I explained that it was just my knee that I was nursing a bit, she suggested that I get a wheelchair at the airport. Bu  I told her that I doubted that I would need a wheelchair. However, it put a bug in my ear and now I was nervous, so I drove to the doctor to ask for a letter from the doctor for the wheelchair. That sounded strange to me because I thought that I really don’t need a letter from my doctor to tell someone that I am an old man now and just get tired and would love to have a wheelchar., But when a friend heard about this, she   accused me of being a proud, macho thinking priest and I should be ashamed of myself, too proud to be seen in a wheelchair. Well, when someone hits the nail on the head like that what can one do. So, the wheelchair is ordered as well as an aisle seat near the toilet. How’s that for cooperation.
     I helped with confessions at a few parishes, driving on my own, as people prepare for Easter.


So that’s the story. In a half hour I am off to the airport and I will you all a deeply spiritual experience during Holy Week and a lovely, hope and joy filled Easter. I will catch you when I get back, which is the day after Easter.   Cas.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8, 2017
Really not much has been happening to tell about. Pretty normal.
I have been back and forth to St. Francis College to try to get a child that has serious Diabetes, but , because of her condition (Grade 8), most hostels are reluctant to take her. She can have and episode at any time. Thank goodness, her mom found a place not far from where she lives and works in Durban.
    There are several students who have approached me for help to pay off their student loans. They can’t move forward or are not given their results unless they pay up. You guys have helped a lot with your donations. Without an education, there is just no hope. Even with an education it is not easy.
     I spent a lot of time getting quotations for the jumper cables and electric tire pump, but don’t think that the insurance is interested. We shall see.
    Do you remember when we were kids how the sisters would make us protect our books with wrapping paper. Well, I did one of those on my SA  ID. It was in tatters and I just recalled my old skills and used an old paper bag to do the trick. Like new. Except for the picture. I am afraid to show it. It looks as though I just walked out of an Al Kaida training camp. Angry, and a kind of get-out-of –my-way look, or I’ll make you history. Ha. Must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that day.
     I had Mass on Sun. the 26th at an Indian Parish called Our Lady of Vailankanni. It was the 40th day remembrance of the death of Neil Gabriel, the one who passed away a few hours after fixing my brake light. It was the ordinary parish mass with a special remembrance of him. A lunch was served by the family afterwards. I met his wife and daughters who are still trying to absorb his passing. He was never sick a day in his life, never been in the hospital, never saw a doctor. I guess it emphasizes the need to remember the old Boy / Girls Scouts’ motto…always be prepared.
    Because I feel so vulnerable now, the car standing outside in front of our house, I had an alarm put in and an immobilizer. I used some of the money that you had given for the needs of the poor. I hope that that is OK with you all.
    Once the Insurance company approved of it, I had another radio fitted in that has a built in hands free. Wow. Not only that but I can now pretend to be a taxi, pull up along side some innocent driver, and, with my window open, turn up the volume and blast him sideways against the curb. Ha. It is toooo powerful.
     I had two masses on Ash Wednesday, one at the hospital (full crowd but not that many Catholics, but they all came up to receive the ashes) and the other at Savannah park around 6:30 when people get off of work. That was also crowded. Even a good number of men. Holy Moses.
     On Feb. 2nd, day after Ash Wednesday, we had a special Mass at the hospital in remembrance of one of our priests, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig, who died of typhus in Dachau. He is considered a martyr because he volunteered to look after the inmates who had typhus, caught it himself, and died, shortly before they were liberated. He was made a blessed a few months ago, the last step before being canonized. We are asking him to look after Fr. Guy and use his influence on the Lord to restore his health and get rid of his cancer. I hope he is listening.
     I also, finally, picked up some jumper cables  and then later an electric pump (this one you connect to the battery). Both necessary if you are traveling in the bush.
     Sat, March 4th, was the feast of St. Casimir, we say, my feast day. No big fuss because it is in lent. My bad luck. However, I gave myself an exemption and had a glass of Scotch that evening to celebrate. I don’t’ think the Lord minded.
     Also, on that day, Bishop Lobinger , a fellow 89yr. old inhabitant of our old folk’s home took me to a place called Giba Gorge, about 20 minutes from here on a part of what used to be the original Mariannhill Farm. Amazing. This is where they have the bicycle jumps and there are also a few firms operating there. I have been around here for 50 yrs. and had no clue that it was there. Google it, GIBA GORGE, South Africa, and see what you get. If you come this way, I will take you there and we can have a glass of wine and some delicious home made pizza.
     I have been doing a lot of work in our garden (If I can find a way to attach a picture of two I will do it). It is more a wilderness than a garden. I gave up cutting the grass for the time being till I can get things more under control there. Lots of work with a bush knife and huge clippers, and, occasionally the axe and pick, to dig out the left over small stumps that kill the weed eater ‘cause you can’t see them in the thick grass. But it has been really hot, late 89’s and 90’s even up to 99F. Plus the humidity. I hang the shirt on the back porch to dry out in the sun and wind.
     I have been bothered with my left knee which complains if you don’t treat it right. It is willing to work but lets you know that it is tired. The right knee seems to be as good as new. So today  I went to see the Orthopedic surgeon to ask him what’s happening. He had me get an x-ray, and then discovered that the cartilage between the two big bones is completely gone. ( I guess that I am starting to fall apart) so the bone is grinding on the other bone. I said I don’t really feel unbearable pain but I just know that something isn’t right. He said that he can go up with a scope and some other instrument to clean out the debris ( like sawdust, or detritus from the grinding) and make it nice again for a while. Maybe it will last a couple of years. Then he showed me the artificial knee that they put in for those whose knee is totally finished. Holy Moses. It is all ready to go. All you have to do it to connect the top part to the upper bone and the bottom part to the bottom bone and bob’s your uncle. All the rest is pre-made. But lot’s of work and bloody expensive.
     Because of the longevity of my family  (grandpa died at 97 and my aunt Rose in Chicago celebrated her 90th birthday last month. She’s the one who Skypes me and also send an email, sent, as she says, from my I-Pad.) At least  I know now what is happening with the knee. We shall see as time goes on. I still have lots of work to do and the doctors say to go for it, but to let him know when the pain (there is no real pain now, just a kind of discomfort) gets too much and then he will do his thing, but not the replacement, YET.
      One of these days I will get around to letting you know who you all helped and how much we spent helping people in different ways as the economy is really killing. Among other things, we were able to help a family get off the hook with a huge water bill. I am sure that the meter was never read but the bill was just a thumb suck.
     So , that is life. I will try to be a bit more faithful with this blog in the future, but I am sure that my way to hell is paved over with years and years of good intentions.
     We are slowly but surely heading for winter. It is dark now when I go for Mass to the hospital, but still very hot.
     Oh, I have been reading a few books. “Man’s search for  Meaning” by Victor Frankl, a Psychiatrist who managed to survive a concentration camp, and  a book by Kuebler Ross, of Death and Dying fame. I am using some of her things in my sermons. She was a fantastic woman. I have two other books that I am going through at the moment, when I get time.
     Oh, one last thing, very unusual. It was very very hot last Sunday, so after I came back from my Mass at Savannah Park, I rested for while (it was after lunch) and I had no energy at all. I t was just sucked out of me by the heat. So I went down to the TV room and watched two Rugby games then got into some movies and was touched by a movie named War Room. Kind of religiousy but not overdone I thought, and I was surprised that our secular society would even allow such a film to be shown. You just never know.
    Stay well till next time. Cas.



  

Monday, February 20, 2017


Feb. 20, 2017
Wow! Again. Where does the time go!!! Almost two months. Holy Moses. Well, lets’ try to summarize.
   Aside from the grass cutting, lots of requests for help have come in…repairing or building a house, school fees, other needs for school, emergencies for people, school debts that have to be cleared up before their test results will be released, grannies trying to support the grandchildren that have been left to their care (many are the children of parents both of whom have died), etc. etc. etc. I am keeping track of what went where and to whom and, if I get around to it, a kind of profile of people we have been able to help because of the contributions you made for just that.
     I was really caught off guard when a friend whom I have known as a teen ager and who has been looking after my vehicle needs passed away suddenly. I was with him and his wife one Wed. evening, discussing family things when I remembered that someone had pointed out that one of my brake lights wasn’t working. When I mentioned that to him, he immediately jumped up out of his chair, took a look at the lights and replace a burnt out bulb with a spare that he had at home. When he finished that we went back into the house and continued our conversation. I left there about 9:15 at night. The next morning, after cutting the grass for most of the morning when my phone was on my desk, I checked a message and was told that he, Neil, had passed away at 6am the next morning, about 8 ½  hours since he put in the new globe. Never been to a doctor or hospital. Never sick. Wow, what a shock. Now next Sunday I will celebrate a memorial Mass for him and the family on the 40th day since we took him to the crematorium.
    I have been saying Mass every day, Mon. to Fri. at the hospital to claim our space there. Sometimes there is no one there but mostly a few of the staff come to get nourished for the day’s work in the hospital.
     Fr. Macarius, who is now almost completely blind has been suffering terrible itching so I took him to a dermatologist, Dr. Reddy. She was very kind and prescribed for him all kinds of creams, especially for his back. He seems to have gotten a lot of relief from that, but he still, from time to time has problems and he thinks that it has something to do with what he eats that he may be allergic to.
     From the 18th to the 25th, I was in Cape Town. Our travel agent was so kind as to offer to pay for the flight as a kind of gift. It was a beautiful gift and I was able to connect with many old friends that I hadn’t been able to see for years now. Being near the Atlantic, I ate a lot of fishy stuff. Ha. I am a carnivore, but I want to support local industry. I  put up at a friend’s place, a fellow retiree, and he was so kind as to cook for me regularly when we didn’t go out for a bite. He spoiled me, but I am not complaining. It was great to be with him. We concelebrated almost every day at a convent where he helps out regularly during his retirement. How does a priest retire???
     A few days after I returned from C.T. I headed off to Mthatha for our Provincial Chapter ( a meeting of all the Mariannhill guys who belong to the Mthatha province, like me, to get reports on who is doing what and to tackle problems and make plans for the coming year…things that have to be done, etc. ) It was hectic and the days were full as the meetings lasted for the whole day for two days. The last day, Feb. 2nd, is our Feast day, the Presentation of the Lord. It is the day when we re-present ourselves to the Lord by renewing our vows. It was also the 50th anniversary of priesthood for one of our confreres, Fr. Winfried, and I was given the honor of presenting the homily for him . He had asked me not to canonize him that day so I told him we would put that off till the next day. Ha. I had also been asked by the Provincial to get him the gift of a book. I phoned him to ask what kind of book he would like. He said, “history”. I pushed him further and then he said something about Trump. So I got him something about Trump that is very recent, 2016. I hope it helps him to understand what kind of person the world is having to deal with…some call him a serial liar… others say he is a psychopath…other have other ways of describing him, so, maybe the book helps him to understand who he really is and where he is coming from and where to he is taking.  Us and the world to.
     The next happening is that I was invited, some time back, to give the homily (sermon) at the memorial of Archbishop Denis Hiurley’s 12th anniversary of his passing. Many people say that he is the best Cardinal that Africa never had. He was an icon and the foremost fighter against apartheid (among us Catholics) here in South Africa. A truly great man, head and shoulders above any one else in our Catholic clan. I was scared thinking that for a man of such stature, they should have a Cardinal or at least an Archbishop to do that job, but the ones responsible for organizing insisted that my name was top of the list so I reluctantly, and hesitatingly, and scarily, agreed. I preached at all 4 masses, 3 in English and one in Zulu. Ha. My Zulu. I even go to tell a joke that he told long ago to emphasize that he had, among other things, a great sense of humor. The first mass was on Saturday at 5:45 after the opening or the Denis Hurley Museum, and the Cardinal was there as well as the main celebrant. I had to laugh because it is the first time that he had to listen to me preaching. Usually it is the other way around. The Sunday Masses, 7:45 (English), 10:00 (English and Zulu) and 12:00 (Zulu) were packed. I didn’t sit down from about 7:20 as I got dressed for the first Mass till 2pm when finally all was over. I was exhausted, but very happy to have this honor, privilege, event behind me. I thought that now I could relax but that very Sunday night, or early Mon. morning my car and three others , was broken into (again) and the radio and hands free were stolen as well as the spare tire (which we later found abandoned in the bush). They got into the car by smashing a small window in the back and using that way to pull up the locks and get into the car and open the boot (trunk) to remove the spare wheel. Of course that meant police report, insurance report, replace the broken window, run around getting quotes, all of which took most of the week, with the normal stuff squeezed in between. I have to go now as we are being called to lunch. See you  a bit later
    I am back and it is about3 hrs. later…8:30pm.
I continue to get up at 4am every morning and go to the hospital for a  6am Mass. We just want to claim our space. I usually visit the patients to whom I bring communion and have some interaction with some of the other patients as well.
    I get back to MD (Mater Dolorosa… the name of our Old Folks home…for breakfast and, if it isn’t raining, I work outside in the garden for a bit. In the morning, watch the news at 10am (What nonsense did Trump get up to since yesterday, always entertaining) and have lunch and a nap (usually a half hour to an hour) and then tackle things here at the computer.
     I seem to have the housewife’s syndrome, e.g. I am always tired. Ha. It has been really hot (in the 90’s) for most of last week, and it drains the energy out of one. I have visited a few homes, and kept myself busy on the whole but in the evening, I had even given In to the urge to jump into the fart sack early, even as early as 8:30 sometimes. What is happening to me!!!
    Hey, I just got a notice from the insurance company that they will pay to replace the car radio that was stolen so I went and picked it up. Now it has to be installed and I don’t have a clue.
    I also have to renew my passport which will expire in October this year after 10 yrs. That also means that I will have to go to Home Affairs to have my permanent residence permit transferred over to my new passport, when ever I will get it.
    Tomorrow I will be trying to help a lady get her child into St. Francis College. The child has severe diabetes and the least change in her diet brings on almost coma-like collapses. She would like for her to study here but the hostel is full. The secretary said it might be better to try to get her in as a day student. There are quite a few who come from the middle of Durban Central, where she comes from, so it is possible and maybe even a good thing is they travel together just in case she needs some help. And mom and watch the diet better than a boarding school can.

So, I say, good night and I would like to promise that I won’t delay so long next time but I have tried that before, promising myself and now it is almost 2 months. Sorry about that. Pray for us old buggers. Love and Peace, Fr. Cas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nov. 15, 2016. 

 Globalization will not go away. Nor will climate change and global warming. The present uncontrollable weather, I believe, is because of all the poison that we have been putting in the atmosphere by way of Carbon Dioxide (oil and coal) and Methane (mining gold and other things) not to mention the cattle industry, but the Methane, although more poisonous to the atmosphere than CO2, is much less than the CO2. 
     If Trump really does decide to pull out of the Paris agreement, since we are such a big polluter, it will have a huge negative impact on the whole rest of the world as well as the States. If he gives in to the Oil conglomerates, and if the coal mines reopen, it will create jobs for a short time, and probablyl lost of money for the owners, but it will just doing two things: It will be hurrying up the global warming and we will come to the 2% or 3% threshold from wihich there is no return. It will also be delaying what is necessary, e.g. retraining for other jobs to take the place of those which are now already obsolete, The world has moved on. Most of the jobs lost will never come back and we have to start stragegizing now what and how to replace them with work that will be relevant.   
    A third thing also, is that the government has to come up with a plan to look after those who lost everything and are really too old or too uneducated to try something new in their lives.
     What do you think about that. I don't think the the Republicans are up to the task with their present mindset.
Give me some feedback. I worked on the assembly line at the Wixom plant putting front ends on Lincoln Contiinentals. That job, I am sure, would now be done by a robot. There is just no avoiding that. You see what I mean. Even here in South AFrica, the gold and platinum mines have a definite life cycle and it is coming to an end. All they can do is to try to re-refine the tailings that have come up with new methods to do that. I don't see the companies doing any forward planning for when the gold and platinum run out or simply become too expensive to continue (10 miles underground). 
     The Arab countries are already implementing, already for a long time now, a plan for when their oil (in the desert) runs out. They have been buyiing real estate all over the world and getting ready to make their millions there.
      This is just now coming off the top of my head now. But there must be an initiative to help those that have fallen through the cracks for no fault of their own. I really don't think that cutting the taxes of the the already rich is going to help solve the problem. The rich seem to be always getting richer and richer and richer.  Cas.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nov. 13, 2016

Just a quick update as to what has been happening since I got back from Mthatha and my retreat.
Oct. 29..I had a chance to visit my latest girlfriend, Chisanga, the one whose picture I sent you some time back. She is in the middle of the terrible twos and it is very noticeable.
Oct. 30th.. Left a list of the things needed for the church we are trying to get money to build with a friend to do a kind of cost assessment per item, e.g. so many windows as what price, so many doors at what price, how many bricks of blocks we need, and how much each, etc. The we can ask people to buy a door, or a window or a couple of bricks. I have my doubts that this will ever actually happen. The cost now has gone up to about R500,00. That is about $40,000. I don’t think in my life time. People are too poor and stressed out with ordinary financial demands on their meager salaries.
 Nov. 1… Rajes, our travel agent, gives me the schedule for my visit to the States next year to conduct a wedding of a friend in Chicago in August.
Nov. 2… A friend helps me to understand why my cell phone is eating us so much data and how to control it. Very necessary.
Nov. 3…A visit by Dr. Harry and wife Sue Jergeson, a retired orthopedic surgeon who , for 14 yrs., volunteered  his skills in the hospital at Bedford (in my parish) till the new administrator said he, and others, were not needed any more (stupid). I stayed overnight with them on my home leave in San Anselmo, CA, near the Golden Gate Bridge. We had lunch together and it was beautiful.
Nov, 4…visit Sr. Lucas Lenzen, one of our CPS sisters. She had breast cancer and it went into remission, but now has come back in her neck. Not good. I wore a collar because I came out of the usual visiting hours. I intended to intimidate anyone who might try to block me.
Nov. 5…Attended the wedding of Dr. Adam Carpenter. He was the only white kid who ever lived with Fr. Guy’s guys at Sabelani while he was studying medicine at the university medical school in Mthatha. His dad is also a doctor who donates his time 3 times a week at the clinic at the Denis Hurly Center in Durban, a free clinic for the street people. His mom is also an activist in her own right.
Nov. 7…it has been raining and raining and raining ( God answered out prayers for rain and is now laughing up his sleeve saying, you asked for it now you got it. Ha. Floods in Johannesburg) But today there was sunshine and I managed to get the stubborn weed eater running and did a lot of work out there, even though it was still pretty wet. But then, it was the last time because the rains started again.
Nov. 8… Attended a lecture at the Denis Hurley Center. Topic: Non Violence and Peace Making. Bishop Dowling has been everywhere where there is a need for peace (Sarajavo, South Sudan, DRC. You name it). Violence and more war is not the answer. Although I agreed, I asked who this mindset fit with ISIS.  He said to look for alternatives to the violence. Who is supplying the arms that makes the violence possible. He has a point there. I suggest that, in the long term we try to find who is supplying the arms and try to persuade them (lots of money in the arms trade) to stop. But, my humble opinion, in the short term, go after those ISIS people before they kill everyone in Mosul and Raqqa and elsewhere.
Nov. 9…I had the experience of a life time as a guest of the Consul here in Durban, Frances Chisholm, to watch, live, the results of the election coming in that resulted in Trump’s victory. For me, a sad day, but also a revealing day, in that it was clear that we really are a deeply racist and senophobic society. Shame, shame, shame. I will have more to say about this later on in this blog.
Nov. 11…Checked at the school of nursing about Monanyane, one of Guy’s sons, who flunked his second year of nursing and had to write a re-exam. Whether he will be allowed to get in to a so-called bridging course to be able to continue his studies for another 2 yrs. and come out the other end as a full fledged nurse able to support himself and his family. Thin hope. We may have to go to plan B and get him into the university program in Mthatha, if the will accept the two years that he did already. It takes them forever to correct the exam papers and by the time he gets his results, he should have enrolled for the next course, which will have already started. What a stupid system.
Nov. 12…Graduation Mass for those Catholic teachers and principals who have been updating their faith at a special course. Because I gave several of their inputs, I was also invited, along with the Cardinal (Ahem!) and two other fine priests who are involved in working in the schools. When I mentioned that one of the American Cardinals, Burke by name, praised Trump as one who promoted Catholic values because he promotes respect for life from conception to birth, and said that I thought that he was mad to come to the conclusion that Trump upholds Catholic values (let’s say, Christian values), because he is a blatant racist, a bigot, anti-black, anti-Muslim, calling Mexicans thieves and rapitsts, etc. etc. etc. not to mention his mindset regarding women. I was stunned when our Cardinal said that he felt that the press had unfairly demonized him and didn’t bring into the open his good points. I thought that this is the time to keep my mouth shut and make a strategic and silent retreat. Holy Moses.

Now, the best for the last. I want to take this opportunity to thank, from the bottom of my heart, my Republican friends and family members for giving all of us Americans the gift of this great man Trump, as I said, bigot, racist, anti-black, anti-hispanic, accusing Mexicans of being thieves and rapists, wanting to build a wall between us and Mexico, and wanting to punish China by putting tariffs on our imports from China, and do away with NATO, and repeal the Obamacare Act. This is not to mention at all, the mindset he has regarding women…and I won’t go into the details which you already know. How so many women could vote for such a misogynist who sees women ad objects,  don’t understand. But, to you all, my Republican friends and family, many many thanks for this great gift you just gave to the American people, and, for that matter, to the wider world.
    It was interesting to see the hypocrisy of Paul Ryan and Mitch Mconnell, smiling happily as they accompanied him away for the election place, the very same one who repudiated him  and rejected him some  days earlier, and promised not to fund any of his  events. Wow, what a turn around. It reminds me of a word we used to use when we were kids. Brown Noser. We shall see what happens now.
    I have to praise Obama for his humble and genteel meeting with Trump who had a campaign going to discredit Obama as an non-American running for president.  I could go on and on and on, but it is enough for you to realize how deeply grateful I am to you all for the tremendous gift you gave to all Americans and the rest of the world.  I will try to convince people here in South Africa to understand this because it seems that they think otherwise.

     I think that that is enough for now. Love to you all.  Cas.