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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jan. 10, 2018

     Not much but some very important things happened since the last blog.

Dec.28-29th, still holiday time, so lunch at two families. Nice to see the kids and parents together. Lunch because a late supper often bring acid-reflux

Sat. Dec. 30, lots of grass cutting and bush chopping. There has been a good bit of rain, and the grass is delighted, of


Sun. Dec. 31, Holy Family Sunday – what is family today. It used to be father, mother, children, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, mostly. But today, it has taken on a different meaning, as far as I can see. Family is where you feel at home, where you are loved and accepted and given some kind of basic respect. There are so many dysfunctional homes where there is no love so, for many street kids, family is the kids who sleep together under the bridge. They are accepted and loved as they haven’t been at “home”. Or, drug addicts, who just can’t shake the habit, hang out with others who are in the same boat, where no questions are asked, you are not judged, just accepted for who you are, a wounded human being, like all the rest. Or it is the gang where you are somebody, where you feel attached and at home. So, I think that for many, family is where you feel at home, and accepted, not always scolded, loved in a certain kind of way, etc.

    It was also New Year’s Eve and there were invitations to join a party here or there to welcome in the new year. I did some praying and was in bed by 10pm. I guess that at my stage in life, starting the new year right is getting a good sleep. Ha. Would you believe. What is happening to me in my old age???

     Mon. Jan. 1…Mary Mother of God feast, as usual, at the hospital at 6 am. Not many customers, as you might imagine (the morning after the night before). Grass cutting and removing logs and branches that had been left bedhind by those who were cutting our Christmas trees.

   Tues. Jan. 2…A 2018 calendar for the hospital from the repository which opened after the new year. I had supper with a family who wanted to have a proper, party but also prayerful send off for a son who had gotten a job in Joburg and we were celebrating his farewell. It was amusing because his parents were invited, earlier, to his school where he teaches the young kids, and who heard what a great son they had raised who was loved by kids and staff who were really sorry to see him go. The parents said they wondered if the school was talking about the same guy whom they called their son. Ha. After the home mass (probably about 50 people) was the party. I had to get up for the 6am mass at the hospital the next morning so I tried to get someone to take me home. I was home sometime after 10pm. Not too bad.

    Wed. Jan. 3…After Mass I went looking for a pair of shoes for my trip to Chicago in Feb. for my Aunt Rose’s 100th birthday. I have no shoes, only sandals, and I heard on the news that the temp. in Chicago, with that cold wave, was like -20C. I was cajoled by a super salesman trying to get me to buy a pair of boots for R1000. Ha. I said I would have a look around. I eventually picked up a pair of light shoes for R300, just enough to get me through the trip for a few days and then back to the sandals.

     Thurs. Jan. 4, A surprise visit by a former student nurse who knew me when I was chaplain at St. Mary’s hospital for ’67 to ’69 . She, like me, is now retired. She was visiting from Joburg and popped in with her daughter and her husband and grandkids. Nice. The last time I saw her was in 1969 when I left St. Mary’s hospital. Wow. That’s 45 years ago. She got my cell phone number from someone and followed up on it.

     Fri. Jan. 5…More grass cutting and visiting the hospital at a reasonable time (not at 6am) to wish members of the staff a happy new year. Hugs of course. And it was Mpume’s birthday (she didn’t say how old she was but I am sure it is more than 16).

    Sat. Jan. 6…. A fateful day. I went to the pharmacy to pick up some Movicol, which helps people who, like me, have chronic constipation---I hear that it goes with the old age territory. I filled up with petrol and on the way back from town (about 7 km.  about 4 ½ miles) I had an accident (again, but not my fault). As you know, we drive on the opposite side of the road to what people drive on in the States. So, as I was approaching a junction where people get on the expressway, I had a green light so I cruised on as usual, maybe 30Mph, or so, and, without any warning, a guy coming from the opposite direction, made a right turn, right in front of me, trying to get onto the expressway, and, I couldn’t stop in time and banged into him, and demolished my front end. But he never stopped, He just kept going and disappeared onto the expressway. Judging from the damage to my car, he must have some serious damage to his car too. WE suspect that he was either drinking or on drugs or didn’t have a driver’s licence or was driving a stolen car…some reason why he didn’t want to be seen by the traffic police.

    Of course, the vultures were there to hurry and tow me away and I had to fight them off telling them that I had phoned a friend who was coming to my aid, which was true.  IN the meantime the traffic police came and had a look, but didn’t do anything, and an emergency vehicle came to check me out to see if I was OK, which I was, but they insisted that I get into their vehicle to have my blood pressure taken. He said it was a bit high. I laughed and said I’m not surprised, under the circumstances, and I am very angry at this idiot who spoiled my entrance into the new year. Damn! Sorry about that.

   My friends came and found that they were able to drive the car to the same friend who fixed it las time. But then they took me home, without a car now.

    Sun. Jan. 7… 8am mass at Savannah Park, but with a twist. A couple from Joburg, who were spending a few days down here by the sea, asked if they could come for Mass with me to S.P. I was delilghted. So I waited for them and they followed me in the vehicle that Bishop Lobinger loaned to me for the day to the place where we celebrate. They had had no breakfast and I wanted to go, immediately after Mass, to make an accident report at the police station, which was on the way back to our house. They followed me and we went to the police but I told them to go back to Mater Dolorosa ( the old folks home) and have a cup of tea and a snack and as soon as I was finished with the police, I would come and we would go out and have a bit to eat (sort of brunch).

    However, the police room was full, full, full and, after 5 minutes (this was about 10:15 in the morning) I could see that, if I was lucky, I just might get out of there shortly before sundown, so I came back to MD. Then we went out for a bite to eat at a Wimpy’s (they have a son Lihle who likes Wimpy…he is going into the 1st grade this year.

     When we were finished (catching up on lots of things) they went back to the place they were staying at by the sea, and I went back to the police station near Mariannhill. It was about 1:30pm by this time. There, I was told that I had to make the report at the Pinetown station as the accident happened in Pinetown territory, and because the other guy escaped, they would send their detectives to see if they could track him/them down. There are usually CCTV cameras at places like that junction, so they hoped they might get his licence number. So, back I went to Pinetown to make the report there. Thank goodness, it only took about 45 minutes.

    Then, on the way back home, I stopped at the home of the guy who fixes cars to get my stuff out of the car, but he wasn’t answering his phone, so I had to call it a day. The whole evening I spent filling in the accident form for the Insurance with the police accident report number and sent all this stuff off to our insurance broker in Mthatha.  

Mon. Jan. 8…Besides Mass at the hospital, and the insurance stuff, emails and WhatsApps going back and forth, another problem cropped up. I was told that if I want to celebrate Mass for my Aunt Rose’s 100th birthday, I have to get a letter from my provincial saying that I am in good standing and am not a criminal or child abuser, etc. So we started that process and my cousin Jeannie and also my cousin Rick tried to get information as to where and to whom to send the document. Again, there were emails going back and forth and it was a hectic day at the office between the things needed for the insurance and the things needed from the provincial, who, incidentally, happened to be on vacation but was kind enough, understanding the urgency, to take time to draft a letter and send it to me to be sent to Chicago, to someone, but who?

     I also used Bishop Lobinger’s vehicle to go to the travel agent to finalize the ticket for the trip to Chicago for the     birthday celebration on Feb. 4th. Rajes also was kind enough to book an overnight stay in a hotel in Dubai so that I wouldn’t have to stay in the airport overnight. She is very kind and thoughtful.

Tues. Jan. 9… Yesterday, I still had Bishop Lobinger’s car so I could drive to the hospital. Today it was a nice healthy walk. The whole day was spent between re-sending insurance stuff and stuff for the archdiocese of Chicago. I don’t think I have ever spent so much time in an office all in one day. We had intermittent trouble with the internet and the electricity was playing tricks on us most of the evening and night, so it made things more exciting.

Wed. Jan 10… (that’s today). I wanted to cut some more grass after doing some reconnoitering  but felt that I really didn’t have time for the luxury of working outside for a while. I was right. Some of the material didn’t go through and some of it had to be resent because it wasn’t readable, and just tonight, my cousin Jeannie managed to get the name of the person to whom to send the document with the email address. Hooray. However, it must come directly from the Provincial’s office (of course, he is presently out of town) and I am leaving for the airport for a trip to Cape Town tomorrow at 6:45 in the morning, so I can’t go to an office physically to see if I can find someone who can do the job. Interesting. Life is never dull around here. So I did the best I could, under the circumstances, and sent an email to him (provincial) and a couple of other people who may be authorized to operate on his behalf when he isn’t here.

I just keep my fingers crossed now.

     I finally got around to packing today and hope that I am prepared for the trip tomorrow. It is almost my bedtime and I am glad to have finished all this stuff, including my monthly financial report which I did this morning after the internet returned and I could get my bank statement.

    The requests for school fees, school uniforms, etc. has started. Thanks to some friends who have contributed to the socio-pastoral fund, we are able to give a hand to some who otherwise would not be able to get on with their education. I have to stop here now and recheck the suitcase to see if I have everything that I need. It is sweltering hot in Cape Town so it will be “shorts” attire. Ha. I will be back next week and will share with you what has been happening in CT, where there is a severe water shortage. We who lived in the bush know how to survive, even if the odour is not always so beautiful. Ha. God bless you all. Cas.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dec. 26th, 2017

   Holy Moses, another month has almost gone by. I am just off now to do some weed Whacking but when I come back, I will try to pick up where I left off. Boxing day, as they call the day after Christmas here, is a national holiday so things are slow today and it is a good day / time, for using the weed eater. See you a bit later.

     It is now Dec. 27th, I spend almost the whole of yesterday cutting grass (weeds) with the weed eater, morning and afternoon. I was tired and after our Braai Vleis (cookout) at the monastery where I got stuck into a nice hunk of beef and a fat sausage, I came back, watched the news for a while and then hit the sack about an hour earlier than I usually do since I was tired. I am just back from the hospital for the 6am Mass and am heading down for breakfast with the others. After breakfast, I will come back and pick up where I left off.

   Lots of interesting and good things happened in December. I thought that I was putting them down as they happened but…. So here goes.

Dec. 2nd, 2017  Book Launch.  During the liberation war in Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe, some of our Mariannhillers were murdered as well as some of our Precious Blood Sisters. Fr. Ted Rogers, a friend and colleague during my Zimbabwe days working for IMBISA ( Interregional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa), the refugees (exiles) from various countries under siege (Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia) ( I was looking after the South African Exiles who had to flee from South Africa to Zimbabwe or Zambia)…is now retired (he is 93 yrs. Old, a Jesuit) and has serious health problems…he decided to write a book documenting and telling the stories of the religious who were murdered at that time by either the guerrillas (Zanu..supported by the Chinese…or Zapu, supported by the Russions,) or the Rhodesian Army, or the Selous Scouts ( an ugly bunch), for various reasons. There were others besides the Mariannhillers and Precious Blood Sisters, but because it concerned our community, the book launch was here at the monastery with some fan fare and some speeches and entertainment and refreshments. About 70 people came, mostly from our communities, but also a choir from Zimbabwe. It was interesting too that  ZAPU is mainly Shona, and quite a few, and ZAPU is mainly Ndebele, and not so many, the armed wings being Zanla and Zipra, respectively. Since a lot of the fighting took place in Matabeleland, The Zipra guys were often known by the missionaries, where some of them went to school, or worshiped, and who were often helped by the missionaries, and were less inclined to kill the missionaries (unless there was a reason like one of the people being a spy and reporting their whereabouts to the Government authorities). But the Zanla guys were mostly from the Shona part of what is now Zimbabwe and there was less sympathy, and because there was a kind of rivalry between the two guerrilla groups, were more likely to find a reason to murder the missionaries, priests, brothers, sisters, that the Zipra guys. The point is that of the 31 missionaries that were murdered, 29 were expatriates. The bishop had told them that it was dangerous to continue to live in the missions and that they were free to leave without being accused of being cowards. The all chose to stay with their communities and paid the ultimate price for it. They are considered to be martyrs for choosing to remain with their people even though they knew there was a good chance that they would die because of that choise. It was inspiring and encouraging at the same time. The books sells for R150 here but was selling for R120 at the launch. There was also a launch in Johannesburg and may also be one in London, because there were a good number of Jesuits who also experienced the same fate. Fr. Rogers, SJ, wanted to finish the book before the Lord took him home but he is still with us in a retirement home in the UK and was very happy about the launches.

Dec. 3, 2017—Dinner Dance to raise funds for the ultimate building of St. Therese of Lisieux parish ( my outstation at Savannah Park). Tickets were being sold for donations, R150, for a dinner dance that included a meal, doing a good deed, a health component, and some good music, all for only R150, or more if you choose. I sole 41 tickets out of the 250 tickets that were printed. The venue was El-Arish, a very nice restaurant, cum conference center, cum B&B, on the Bluff here in Durban (you can see the sea—Indian Ocean—from the windows). All tickets were sold out and the place was full. Even the whole African community that had attended our morning Mass at Savannah Park were there (to my surprise because I think it was beyond their means but they really tried hard to show their support). Of course the meal was excellent and I moved around greeting all those people to whom I sold tickets as well as others. There was a good spirit as people got to know on another.  Of course the hightlight, to me, was that I exhausted myself on the dance floor. Ha. I think some people got a look at a side of Fr. Cas. They didn’t know existed. I only sat down to catch my breath when they stopped playing the slow ones and started on the hippity hop ones. Ha again.  The final tally for the evening was that we managed to raise R57,000.  00. Wow, that is a lot for us. I guess you could say that a good time was had by all, especially by our parishioners who had never, I believe, seen anything like this before. Very fancy. Thanks to the owner of the venue who put everything in the kitty and didn’t keep anything for himself. That gave us a good start.

In between there were classes with the novices again, and some hospital visits, and on the 8th of December, joining the CPS sisters, one of whom, Sr. Florence, after waiting a looong time, finally was given the OK to make her final vows. She is studying nurseing and that is how I got to know her.

I also got a message from the Bank that they were deducting some R2000 from my account having to do with Vodacom. Holy Moses. I went to the bank (this is always an adventure for an old guy. I stood in the queue for over half and hour and when I finally got to the teller to explain, she told me that I had to go to Vodacom first to find out what it was all about.) Thank goodness, Vodacom is just upstairs so I went up and managed to get someone to explain what this deduction was all about. He said that it was because I used up a lot of data that came to that amount. I explained that for several years now I have been paying R75 a month for a mobile router which I uses on occasion when I have to be away from my home wifi, but in all this time I never went over the amount (1GB). Suddenly, to jump from R75 to over R2000. Didn’t make sense to me as I hadn’t done anything different from what I usually do. But when I asked him to check on his computer, he said that the line was down and that I could wait. Ha. Wait? What a joke. I told him that I was going back to the bank to have them reverse the charge, which I would query, and Vodacom could inform me later what they decided and I would then make my decision.

A few days later, after my Internet access to my bank account is blocked because I can’t remember my password (This really irritates me because I think I have a whole Yellow Pages of passwords that I can hardly remember, and which, for one reason or another, I have to change, so that I wind up confused. Of course, if  you try too many times with the wrong password, it gets blocked …I won’t say what I thought, but I had to go to the bank twice to get it unblocked, and each time if took over an hour. ) I eventually went to the bank manager who turned out to be a very nice lady, and I suggested that she go out to observe what is going on in her bank, that they really need more tellers, since having to wait for over an hour is not acceptable and the bank will get a bad reputation. She said that she already did that but she had 6 people who were off sick and when she asked headquarters for more staff, they said they didn’t have any to send to her so she was stuck. At least it was good that I now have a good contact in the bank if more problems arise in the future.

Dec, 10, 2017---I joined the community at St. Paul’s Church since it was family day in the parish and the parish priest is recovering from an operation to his leg (some strange doctors said he might have to have his right foot amputated, and this was in a very expensive private hospital).  A haematologist was called in and said that all that was needed was to borrow a vein from somewhere else and get a blood supply to that foot and all would be well, which is what they did, and it is working fine but is still a bit painful. In any case I took the Mass and he sat with me up at the altar and I asked all the kids to come up and get a blessing from their father, which they did and that made him and the kids happy.  I joined a family  at home after Mass and then came back to meet the rest of the parishioners who were each coming bringing their own goodies. It was a nice time and a good spirit, a real family spirit.

Dec. 16, 2017…I was invited to a birthday party of a friend who celebrated his 70th. It gave me another opportunity to cash in on the health component with a bit of dancing. I mean, after all, one has to look after his health.

Somewhere in here I did a dumb thing. I was parked (parallel parking) next to the front door of the hospital and when I came out of Mass and climbed into the car, there was no one next to me on the driver’s side, But as I started to pull away to my right, bank, I bumped into a car that had pulled along side of me to drop off his wife in front of the main door of the hospital. Although I was probably only going about 5 Mph, it gave a nice dent to the side of hid bakkie (pickup). He wasn’t impressed and I think that if I hadn’t been a priest, he might have said and acted differently. It was just before Christmas and I really felt stupid. I didn’t want to admit that since I have glaucoma, my peripheral vision on my right side is very limited, and that, I believe, is the reason that I had no clue that he had pulled up along side of me. I think that if I had nomal vision, I would have noticed, out of the corner of my eye, as it were, that he had come along side of me. I still felt dumb.

But that meant informing the insurance company and getting a police report (the system with the police is about the same as the bank. It was over an hour waiting, Ha. There is no escape). However, in the end, I was advised not to report to the insurance company because the deductible amount would be more than if I got someone to repair it whom I know, and that is how it worked out. My friend Anthony told me to bring him the car when I go to Cape Town in January, and he can fix it up for probably a quarter of what the other panel beaters would charge. I am super abundantly blessed.

17th Dec. 2017… A group of ACTS ( a spin off from the Cursillo) came to us old timers and prepared a special lunch for us. We ate like pigs. It was very thoughtful of them. They do it once in a while especially for those who rarely if at all have a chance to get out of the house. We are spoiled.

Dec. 21, 2017---I went for my annual prostate checkup. I had already gotten my PSA done at the lab. They take  a blood sample and can tell if you have cancer in your prostate. Mine was 1.3 ( the doctor said that two years ago it was 1.1, last year 1.2, this year 1.3. He said it gradually goes up as one gets older. The cut off, he said, is 6. Well, by the time I get to six (1.3, 1.4, 1.4, 1.6, etc. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. I will be long gone).

Dec. 22nd, 2017… We had a home mass for some ladies ( the daughter who is about 55 yrs. Looking after her mom, about 90 yrs. And totally blind…haven’t had a chance to get to Mass for years and years. So it was special for them. Some members of the community came and joined up and provided some music which was very nice. There is a good spirit in our community and when someone is sick or there is a death in one of the families, the rest are there to offer support. I also picked up some candles and incense for our Christmas celebrations that morning.

The rest of the time building up to Christmas was preparing for Christmas itself, doing a lot of grass cutting in between, helping out with confessions at the neighboring parishes, and having a special penitential service for our parish on the Third Sunday of advent, when Fr. Macarius came along and helped to hear confessions to let everyone get in shape, spiritually, to celebrate Christmas.

Dec. 23, 2017…After picking up a 5 litre box of red wine for whoever graces my doorstep, I spent the morning and afternoon cutting grass and felt happy that it is mostly under control now.

Dec/ 24th, 2017…4th Sunday of Advent and also Christmas Eve day / night. I knew that no one was going to come to Mass twice, once in the morning and once in the evening for the midnight mass, which, by the was was at 6pm. Since there was no Mass that morning, Mike Pillay organized for us to bring communion to the sick, who would not be able to get to church on Christmas day. Then, in the evenng we just combined everything. Mr. Pillay, the community organizer and catechist, umshumayeli, had managed to find someone to bring his keyboard along. That is all you need for an African community who love to sing, to turn them on. It was like magic. The music was great, and as you know, it is clear that an African can’t sing and stand still at the same time. S/he must move, so everyone was moving to the music and the Holy Spirit took over. A real family spirit. We finished about 8:30 and then I went up to Net and Mike Pillays for bite to eat and to wish each other a blessed Christmas. I got home about 10:45 and to bed by 11:30pm. Not bad.

Dec. 25th, 2017. Since there was no Mass at Savannah Park ( I think that most of them would go to the Mass at the mother parish, St. Charles Luanga at 8am), I had Mass at the Hospital where we prayed for all the patients to get healed and home in time to taste a bit of the Christmas seasonal spirit.  I had intended to move around the hospital from ward to ward to just pray and bless everyone, but at the last minute, I received a message that an old friend was coming to bring her mother from America and wanted me to meet her. We met but then I had to change my schedule. I wanted to visit 4 families so now I had to be satisfied to visit only three. My spirits pick up when I see families together, enjoying each other’s company, and the kids getting good example from the elders, usually at least three generations or four coming together. I came home about 7:30 and was pooped, so by 8:30 I was under the sheet for a nice quiet and peaceful Christmas.

Dec. 26th, 2017…I cut grass the whole morning and afternoon. The weather was warm and a bit overcast which was just right for that. It is called Boxing Day here but I don’t know why. I seem to remember something called the Boxer Rebellion in China but I don’t think it has anything to do with this Boxing Day.

At the end of the day there was vespers in the church where the novices led the singing (5 of them) and I was surprised at how well they sang and harmonized. I taught them in class so I didn’t know they had this hidden talent. Some of the youngsters were cooking the meat and lots and lots of other goodies were on the table. Besides our Mariannhill community and the sisters, there were also some visitors who joined in the celebration. I saw a young lady I didn’t know so I sat next to her to find out who she was. She is the real live sister of the new Bishop of Port Elizabethe, A Zungu. Interesting. We started with vespers at 5:30 and the braai was ready right after that, so by 7:30, I felt tired after spending most of the morning and afternoon cutting grass (mostly on the side of a hill) so I headed for home, watched to news for a while and then hit the sack again by 9pm. I think that I am slowly but surely adding on my sleep hours. I used to turn in by 10 and get up at 4, now I turn in a bit earlier, and get up at 4:30. Does that say something to me. I am still trying to decipher.

Right now, I am waiting to be picked up for a lunch with another family. I will tell you about it when I next add on to my blog. I think I am finished for the time being. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, fruitful new year, and when it is not so happy or healthy or fruitful, but sad or disappointing, and health challenging, or frustrating, that you are given, from above, the courage, strength, determination, patience, and, most of all , Love, to deal with all of that, and keep on moving till next Christmas. Love and Peace, as always, Cas.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec. 1, 2017

Hey, but life has been busy the last few days. Always busy on weekends with one or two masses, most often in Zulu.

On the 27th, we had a meeting of those involved in planning the dinner dance to raise money for a church at Savannah Park. I managed to sell 41 tickets. The plans were more or less put in order, e.g. who is going to welcome, who explain what and where is the Savannah Park church project (me), who is going to bless the gathering, who is going to bless the food (the bishop---he usually takes a long time for his sermons so it was thought better to make it something short like grace before meals), how many are coming (more than 200), how many tables, how about the DJ, there is a picture to be reaffled off (R10,000), who will be the MC, etc. etc. etc. Got home very late, almost 10pm and had to turn the alarm off before I could let myself into the house without waking up the neighbourhood.

28th, of course, my birthday. Too many people have gotten wind of this day and I have been deluged with birthday wishes and blessings, many of them via Facebook and something called Messenger. Hey, I avoid these things and tried to answer, tapping “comment”, and then looking where to send and there is now where to send. So I just gave up. A few days later, I went to our travel agent whose son I depend on the explain what I don’t know. He explained. But, I advise all of you who read this blog to avoid Facebook, please. Just send me an email  ( and I will answer. The trouble is that once you get onto Facebook and all those other things, it hijacks you for hours and eats up your data. So please.

30th, St. Mary’s Nursing College graduation. I was invited because I used some of the money you guys sent to help some of the poor ones with their school fees. It was nice to see these youngsters and their rejoicing parents with an education that hopefully will help them to earn enough to raise a family. However, I keep reminding them that there is not just a “Profession” but is a “vocation, a calling” which goes well beyond just doing a professional job, although that is also important.

I had to leave early because when I tried to buy some air time, after trying several times on the internet banking page of Standard Bank, they blocked it. Darn passwords. I need a Yellow Pages of passwords. In any case, I went straight from the celebration to the bank and it took over an hour to get things right again. I blame the bank for having a confusing web page. In any case, it is done now and this morning I got myself some more air time.

Now I have to start working on answering all those hundreds of Facebook messages. I think they will have to be short and sweet.

Today, I was supposed to have been at the hospital for World Aids Day, I typed out  a kind of service with readings, responses, alleluias, etc. in Zulu for the sister that I work with at the hospital. I will be taken out by a friend for lunch as a birthday treat. That was nailed down some weeks ago after going through several changes and cancelations, so there was no way I could cancel it again.

I forgot that my second cousin (Jerry and Barb’s daughter) Leah, invited me to the birthday party of Aunt Rose on Feb. 4th, 2018. She will be 100 and the family are organizing something.  I told her that I would love to be there and would be able to come only if the family were able to pitch in to pay for the air fare, which would be around $1100 to $1200, at the present exchange rate. However, I know that everyone is up tight with stretched budgets so I am quite prepared to stay home and join with them in spirit and in prayer.

That’s enough for now. I am off to the pharmacy to pick up some medicines and then off to , I hope, a lovely lunch. It will be a Greek restaurant, and I am looking forward to it, especially the Baklova (Maybe some Ouzo too!)  LOL . Cas

Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 23, 2017 (Thanksgiving Day)

I started updating my blog on the 21st and got almost finished a day later when, by some freakish thing, I deleted the whoooole thing. Ugh! So I am starting all over again. Can you imagine starting thanksgiving day by updating my blog.

Oct. 24---I started my trip to Mthatha with several tasks in mind. Fr. Macarius backed out at the last minute because he feels more and more unsure of himself as his eyesight fades. On the 25th I saw Nomaza, NOmonde’s daughter, who has started a school for the autistic. She had a sheaf of papers to fill in applying for help from the government and asked for help. Holy Moses. You would almost need a lawyer to go through all that stuff. Then it was off to Landsend to bring a lot of (a whole trunk full of) used clothes, some still brand new. She was happy. Also saw Sinovuyo, the tailor, who is happy as his business in doing well, he feels. Next, friends Sandra and Phemeza, working for Mike McNamara, who helped Guy a lot. Sandra even bought a ticket for the dinner dance to raise funds for a new church at Savannah Park. Visited Graeme who collects the rents for our project at Bedford who explained some of the ups and downs of that job but now most of the flats are occupied. Hooray. He also gave me a give of some wild game meat (which is being prepared as I type, for a Thanksgiving surprise at our table. It will be a mince curry for lunch and some sausages for breakfast. We are spoiled).

We had a home blessing for one of our friends who had been our insurance broker for many years. Nice family.

26th, Visit to the sisters CPS and a trip to Sabelani Home to tell Mona that because of his continued drinking the bursary will be canceled. He has been given a new start so often and lots of money has been wasted on him when he continues to go back to his drinking again. Also visited Nomanyano, an activist in the local parish and saw the parish priest for about 10 seconds as he was just off to say mass for the sisters. Then had supper with Liz and Raj, old friends from way back. Raj now has his PhD and has been promoted at the university.

27th. Saw Sr. Nokwanda, teaching nursing at the school where Mona was to go. She pleaded for him and said that all had already been paid for for the whole year by Fr. Winfried, so I had to relent. I will have to tell Mona that he has been given yet another reprieve, but Fr.Winfriend will cut off his bursary and supplies if there is the least reason to do so.

28th. The BOM meeting (board of management) at Sabelani Home. Big discussion about what to do about the money from a grant that Fr. Guy had organized before he died. How it is to be used, and that it must be faithfully reported on, openly and transparently, every penny. It was decided to take on 5 new boys to live in the house and be mentored by those who are still there and to find five young women and see how they can be helped, but without living at the house which is only for males. We will see, after Christmas, how that is going. I joined them for supper after the meeting and we had a toast to the ancestors to close the day (Uncle Jack Daniels). We also had some ordinations of new deacons that day but because of the importance of the BOM meeting I was unable to attend.

29th. I left Mthata at 4 :30am to get back to Mariannhill in time to do a lot of things. I stopped to see Fr. Kim at Coolock house, our retreat house near the sea, and had breakfast with him and discussed our formation program for our young members in training. I spent the afternoon and evening pushing tickets for our dinner dance and wound up having supper with friends Ernest and Mala, who also bought two tickets.

30th. I had decided to have a wheel alignment for the car since it hadn’t been attended to since after the accident and repairs. Ha. When I checked to see if I had used any oil for the long trip to Mthatha (it is only a 1.1 litre engine, and I don’t slouch) I discovered that the oil cap was missing. So that gave me another important thing to do for the day. The same day, Rose Mene, the wife of Wally Mene, an environmental activist who passed away suddenly, came to ask if I would take a service for him at their home with mainly members of the family and some close friends. She had been told to ask me by a friend from the Grail, a group that tries to uplift women wherever they are. I surely agreed. It was Monday and it was to be on Wednesday.

Nov. 1—Most of the day was taken up for the memorial service for Wally. He was well known as a passionate defender of mother earth and was an intrepid foe of all who would dare to desecrate or abuse our beautiful mother earth. It was a pleasure to be able to lead such a meaningful service. He didn’t belong to any church but was a deeply religious person, as is his wife Rose, who is the CEO of Biowatch here in South Africa.

Nov. 2nd, of course, all Souls day, so we remembered all of our deceased relatives and friends. ( I still have Mass every morning at St. Mary’s hospital, even though it is now a government hospital. A few nurses come in the morning at 6am. Sometimes they are quite late but I still give them communion because it is not their fault. They have to depend on public transport and that means you just have to wait. It is no like just jumping into your car when you feel like it. Again, we are spoiled.

Nov. 3   We held a bigger service for Wally at the Botanical Gardens in Durban where members of many organizations were present that had worked with or benefited from the wisdom and support of Wally. Several organizations were given the opportunity to pay a tribute to him and I was asked to say a prayer (many people are not church goers but are deeply religious) and the service was closed by Toko Makhanyo, a now retired member of the Grail, who also knew and benefited from Wally who gave a final blessing.

Nov. 6--- a visit to Dr. Khewa to get help with a very itchy rash on my left upper arm. He decided that it is an allergy of some sort. Gave me stuff (ointment and lots of pills). It is gone now. Thank the Lord.

Nov. 7---Class with the novices. The Spirituality of Justice and Peace.  A power point program. One of them fell asleep. What does that tell me? I have the novices for all of November on Tuesdays. This was the first class this month. Hmmm..

Nov. 9—visited a friend at Parklands Hospital. She had just had a hysterectomy and the removal of a cyst that had caused here to fill up with liquid, 8 litres. Wow, that’s a lot. She was still in ICU. I noticed an African lady in a bed across the aisle who looked in not too good shape so I went over and prayed for her in Zulu and she responded, expressing thanks for the prayers. I mean, what else was I supposed to do.

Nov. 10---After breakfast I took one of our house keepers to a school for kids with special needs. She wants to see about getting her child in. It is quite far and out of the way. I don’t know how, if the child is accepted, the child will find transport to get there.     After that I visited an elderly lady (Indian—95 yrs. old) the granny of my eye doctor, who thought that it was time to anoint her as it looked as though she was not going to make it. However, we found her bright and chipper. The only problem was that her hearing is about 1%, so you have to shout into her good ear. Not too good for conversation. Lots of hand signals. We prayed but no anointing.

On the way back I stopped at the Catholic schools office to greet people. Lourdes, the secretary, has had both breasts removed because of cancer and is really down. Hard to think positively. Lionel, the director, reminded me that I was on the roster for next year to give a workshop on Laudato Si again. I can pick the date that suits me. I am sure that there are other workshops waiting in the wings.

11th—I finally got around to making my financial report. Each month I make a copy of my income and expenditure and give it to Br. Tendayi, our bursar, along with the bank statement. He handles my  pension money. If he thinks I am squandering money or misusing it, he can let me know and make me pull up my socks. It is usually between $200 and $400 a month, most of it being for petrol as I move around a lot.

I also made photocopies of my The Joy of the Gospel presentation to be given to the Novices for reviewing later and also gave them a few other handouts regarding J& P.

Nov. 16---This was the day when the fund-raising team got together to see how far we had gotten with the tickets and what had to be organized for the night of the dinner dance. Mark, the owner of the venue, and the one who is sponsoring the whole thing, said that there would be a full complement of 250 people. At R150 a person, That’s R35,700. He is putting it all in the kitty for the future church. He is very generous, as are all those who are offering their time and their skills, as well as some financial help.

I spent a good part of the week, from the 12th to the 17th going around and collecting for the tickets that were still outstanding. I got them all before the meeting. I had sold 41 tickets. One of my doctor friends also kicked in R500 as a donation towards our new church ( We need about R900,000.00 at present rates, which comes to about $65,000---can you build a house, much less a church, for $65,000 these days. But, I am sure that by the time we have enough money to begin the project, it will have gone up to over a Million Rand. Will I ever see the day when the church will be completed…. Only God willing.

It was also a good week in that I was able to track down people in the States, in Germany, in Switzerland, in Zambia and Zimbabwe, since I had lost information when everything was stolen. Hooray for making fresh contact.

Nov. 21---I had to get Br. Tendai to help me to get the DVD, An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore regarding climate change, able to see and hear it. I was able to get the picture going but couldn’t get sound. He solved the problem by organizing the TV room in the monastery that has a machine that takes DVD’s. I still want to know how to get sound out of the projector I was using.

Nov. 22… This day was the funeral of Sr. Kathleen, a wild Irish Cabra Domincan with whom I lived and worked together with her colleague St. Carmel, in Tsolo for several years. It was a great experience and adventure. Among other things, they wanted to be independent so they were teaching the taxi drivers who wanted to finish grade 8 at night, and I was the one, when they were teaching (from 8 to 10 pm on certain nights), to cook the supper. It was total teamwork. One day someone came and wanted to talk to the “superior”. We looked at each other and asked “are you the superior”. Ha. No superiors or inferiors in our house. May the Lord give her a warm welcome and a place of peace.

Nov. 23---today is Thanksgiving Day in the States. I announced that at Mass this morning at the hospital, and invited them to give thanks for whatever they felt they needed to thank the Lord for. After Mass, I visited a sick man, Mr. Malinga, and anointed him with the sacrament of the sick. He has 4th degree cancer and needs a bit of help and encouragement to get out of his negativity. I had, earlier, gone to the store to get a cake and some ice cream, for our Thanksgiving lunch. Then I went to the home of Mala Gabriel, to whom I had brought what I thought was a roast of some wild beast that had been given to me by a friend when I was in Mthatha. It turns out that it was mince (hamburger) so she made a mince curry. Delicious.  I picked it up and brought it back home in time for lunch. It was a hit. Between the Mince Curry, the wine, the cake and the good company, I can say that “ a good time was had by all.”.

I just finished printing out the handouts for next week of Laudato Si and have now almost finished the entry into the Blog. I always wait too long.

In between, I have Mass every morning, except Saturday, at the hospital, and bring communion to the sick there in the hospital as well as, on certain days, to sick people in their homes, who can’t make it to church. I do a good bit of visiting in between time and am busy every Sunday with one or two Masses, usually in Zulu. I also help out at different parishes sometimes during the week and on Saturday nights or later on Sunday. I also had a service on the 20th of November at Diakonia, an ecumenical group trying to respond to needs in a Christian way, as, for example, when people were experiencing Xenophobia and being attacked by stupid South Africans (I say stupid because it is the people in the countries who are now exiles in South Africa, who helped us and gave us a place to stay and helped in many other ways and this is the gratitude we give to them). I keep in touch with Diakonia, because I want them to know that the Catholic Church gives them full support. I first met them in 1967 in Durban.

But that is more than enough for now. I am getting ready to hit the sack. I have a Mass a the hospital at 6 and another at 9 in the Pinetown Parish, so I want to have a look at the Scriptures to see what they are telling me for tomorrow.

I hope that you all also had a good thanks giving if you follow the American custom. Love and peace, And good night. Cas.

Monday, October 23, 2017

October 23, 2017

Hey, it is more than a month that has gone by already and lots of things to share. Well, let’s get started. On the 18th of Sept. I collected my new passport. Hooray. Next is to get to Home Affairs to have my permanent residence stamped in my new passport. I dread it. It probably means the whole blessed day. But….. I also went to the Catholic Bookshop and picked up 5 copies is The Joy of the Gospel, and Laudato Si, the two latest encyclicals of Pope Francis for the novices because I will be giving them classes on those two in November.

I did some home and hospital visiting that week and wound up with two masses on the 23rd, one for the postulants (the like to sing and me too) 6am, and an evening mass at 5:30pm at a mostly Indian parish. They are nice because the appreciate my jokes.

I wanted to take Shirley to lunch for her birthday (long past, Aug. 17) on the 28th, but she got terribly sick and fell down (She was 83 then) and was taken to the hospital by her son. She was bleeding internally and they couldn’t find it. But, after some time, a few days, the bleeding stopped by itself. The scan showed no sign of anything ever being wrong. We had been putting off her birthday lunch for at least three of four times so I told her that next week Friday, in October now, either she is well enough to let me take her for a birthday lunch or we just forget the birthday this year and catch it next year. She agreed to come for the lunch. We both love curry and it was so delicious that she ordered a sea food curry to take home with her as well.

The day before, on the 5th of Oct. a friend had organized to take me to one of his friends at a further away Home affairs office. Ha. We left at about 10am, got there at about 11:10, and by 11:50 we were finished, including an application for a new South African ID (mine is shredding). Holy Moses. A miracle. Others could hardly believe my luck. Thanks to those who organized it. I felt a bit ashamed when I saw all the others there, some mothers nursing babies, waiting and waiting, but my shame wasn’t powerful enough to stop me from being the favoured one that day.

Earlier in the week, on the 2nd, I took the car to Urban Radio, because they had installed the alarm system, and the automatic locking mechanism, after the car had been broken into twice. The automatic locking mechanism stopped working so one had to lock by hand. They discovered that the small motor that operated the locks was dead so they replaced it without and argument since I had the original receipt with me. It was only a few months old.

On Sunday, the 8th of Oct. I took the place of one of the neighboring priests who was in the hospital. At Mass, we celebrated a 25th anniversary of Marriage of a couple, a 13th birthday of a young lady, and then, after the Mass and Brunch at the 25th anniversary couple’s, I went back to Savannah Park to join in the celebration of the marriage of Mark and Dolly, parishioners of Savannah Park. The marriage was performed by the real parish priest (not by me, the mercenary).

I helped out with confessions at St. John’s parish (the Indian parish) as people were getting ready to be confirmed and wanted to be in good spiritual shape.

On Saturday I had the closing Mass of the Catholic Schools Office at 10am. The run courses (some of which I give) during the year, to increase and deepen their knowledge of the faith.  I also had another evening Mass at St. John’s parish, and got invited by my friends Estie and Rami to come and have supper with them. MMMM delicious. Curry.

Somewhere in there, one Sunday, there was a terrible storm in Durban, like a mini-Irma. On the main highway going down the coast, cars were underwater up to their roofs. In the low lying areas of town, it was the same. Cars washed away, people drowning in the rushing water, rushing down the street and at the bottom, no place to go but to get caught in the water running from the side and swept away. Holy Moses. There was also a terrible wind that destroyed buildings and tore off roofs, and damaged many homes. Sink holes that swallowed up cars. A nightmare. And then it was over. We here at our place felt the wind but no damage. However in the township next to us, there was plenty of wind and water damage.

On the 15th of October, the team that is going to help us get the church built (project manager, fund-raising committee, The guys who do the measuring, the architect, and the priest who is helping us by contacting all his friends, were there to meet the community and explain that they were willing to help but that the community had to help in its way too. Tickets had been printed for a dinner dance to start the ball rolling, R150  covering a meal, music, healthy exercise (dancing), and for a good cause. A normal restaurant will charge more than that just for the meal so it is a good deal, but out of the generosity of one of the team who owns the restaurant which will be the venue. I took ten tickets.

Tuesday, 17th, we had 7 bishops and a host of volunteers to pack food parcels for starving children here in KZN. They discovered that there are close to half a million kids who go to bed every night hungry. I stayed for a while, helping with the packing, but then left to attend a lecture in town, I was told that they packed 10,000 food parcels that day.

I had lunch with a friend from Germany at a beautiful restaurant which overlooks  trees, streams, flowers, etc. Helps the digestion. He works for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical firm, and because of the extreme pressure of work, when he gets a chance, he comes down here for a break and for some nicer weather and the sea. That was on Thursday the 19th.

 On the 20th, my friend and mechanic, Musa, checked my car to see if all was well (it hasn’t been checked since the accident back in June) and, after tightening up a few loose things, he gave it a thumbs up.

Saturday, the 21st. was a very interesting day. I was to take a funeral at 11am at the mother church from our branch at Savannah Park. I like to be a bit early just to make sure. I was there by 10:20. I found ladies cleaning the church who knew nothing about a funeral. Hmmmm. The sacristy was open but I couldn’t find any books or hosts or wine or whatever. Eventually I found a chalice and one big host  but there was not water or wine or small host. By this time it was almost 10:45. So I told them I was going back to the Monastery to fetch my things (always have some water and wine and hosts and chalice, etc.) realizing that I should have done that in the first place. By the time I got back it was 5 past eleven and the casket had already been taken into the church. But then, lo and behold, another hearse pitches up and disgorges another casket. Now what. Two funerals. I use my wine and water and holy water because there isn’t any at the parish but, thank God, the catechist is there. So we go to plan B. He know who is in the one casket and I know who is in the other so we just forge ahead. I was proud of our small but powerful choir from Savannah Park. There can never be a service without singing.

After the Mass, we go to the cemetery. There is no road near the graveside, so the old men have to carry the coffin on a very rough hilly and pot-holey ground for about a football field away.  Some day I will describe how an African is buried, but I will jump over that for now.

After the filling in of the grave we all go to the house for a meal and to meet some of the family of the deceased. I finally came home late in the afternoon and I am beat.

But, all this time, I say Mass every morning at the hospital and do lots of things like cutting the grass with the weed eater so the time is filled in completely. Since I had 10 tickets, I started to email, what’s app, and sms people and managed to sell all ten.

Now it is Sunday, yesterday, the 22nd of October. I had two masses in Zulu, one at 8am at Savannah Park, and another at 11:30 at the Pinetown parish, not far away.

After mass at S. P. I debate whether I should go home for a bit or go straight to the other church. I decide to go to the church. I look at my watch and I think it says 10:45. There are still lots of cars from the previous mass filling the parking lot and I park mine in one of the few empty places.  I head for the sacristy and start looking for the mass books in Zulu and can’t find them. Also I am worried again about the sacred vessels, water and wine and tabernacle key, etc. Not it is 10 past 11 (or so I think). At 25 past 11 (or so I think) I am panicing, and am asking were are things and were are the people who are supposed to be running the show. Ha. They say, Father, it is only 25 past 10. You are more than an hour early. Ha. Old bloody age.

Although the sacristan for the English Mass told me that there were not so many Zulus at the Zulu mass, I found the church to be pretty full, and, of course, the music was, as always, outstanding.

After Mass, it was about 1pm (I missed lunch at our house which is at 12 noon on Sunday), so I gave in to temptation and drove by the McDonald’s on the way home and took with me a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Ha. Decadence.

I was tired and sat in my recliner chair for a while trying to decide what to do next. I wanted to visit a sister I know who had a stroke and was learning how to walk again. I had seen her twice in the hospital and heard that she had been discharged. When I phone her convent, I was told that she was taken to their home quite far away for recuperation. In the neighbourhood, was a friend who had said that she would take a ticket for the dinner dance so I phoned and told her I would bring the ticket. As it turned out, her daughter and son-in-law also took two tickets. Since I was on the way to that part of town, I contacted another friend and went over to his house. After catching up on each other’s lives, he said that he would take 4 tickets. Hey, great! His sister, who live clear the other side of town also had said that she wanted some tickets so we phone her and told her I would be coming. I had left home at about 2:30pm and got to her house at 7pm (on the road the whole time.). She, praise the Lord, took 6 tickets. By this time I was poohed out and headed for home and was in bed by 9:30 to be up at 4am.

Today, after Mass at the hospital, I contacted some more people and wound up selling another 7 tickets. Good day.

I filled the back of the car (seats down) with the old clothes that we will take with us to the village near Mthatha and filled the tank with petrol and we are ready to head for Mthatha (a six hour drive with my little thing) first thing in the morning,after Mass at the hospital and breakfast.

Whew, why do I wait so long to keep the blog updated. Now I have to do some packing. Good night. Cas

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sept. 30. 2017

On Monday, Sept. 18th, I went to the US Consulate and picked up my new US passport. Holy Moses, the security to get into the place is intimidating. It kind of puts me off. I am a US citizen and it is difficult for me to get in. I wonder how it is for non-US citizens. I sometimes get the impression that the standard mindset of the US staff at consulates around the world is that everyone who applies for a visa is a potential thief, terrorist, scam artist, of something else bad, and they are sometimes treated as though it is true. I get angry.

I first went to the Paulines (Catholic Bookshop) and picked up 5 copies each of the two encyclicals by Pope Francis, “the Joy of the Gospel” and “ Laudato si (about our common home, mother earth)”. I will be having classes with the novices in November and I want them to read and study these documents (as far as I am concerned, they would be required reading in my course on what it means to be a Christian, 101) so that when we have a closer look at them ( I get once class of one hour to introduce them to them), I don’t want to have to waste time starting from scratch.  I came back and did some work in the garden to get out of the house. The weather has been really funny, cold, hot, cold, hot. Now rainy.

Tuesday I went to Rajes, our Travel Agent to check on whether she could have her friend in Home Affairs give some advice as to how and where to go to  to get my Permanent Residence transferred from my old passport to my new one. She promised to contact him.

Wednesday I attended a function at the Denis Hurley Center which was a tribute to Msgr. Paul Nadal, blessing a garden inside the center in his name as he is a lover of gardens and the great outdoors.

Mpume’s son, Scott (Mpume is one of our house mothers) was told to leave school because of some alleged misbehaviour. No warning, no written letter to his mother (unless he hid it). Well it is some weeks now that he hasn’t been to school and exams are coming up and I felt that it is very unjust, the whole procedure and lack of proper protocol. He will definitely flunk as he is a kind of borderline student, but a hard worker. And that means he will probably want to drop out of school. Even if he is guilty of something, it is not the proper procedure and is not fair. I asked Mpume to bring whatever papers she had in this regard and all she had was the usual handout to parents explaining the rules and regulations of the school. No warning, No letter to her. Hmmm. So I promised to talk to the person who heads the Catholic schools office on her behalf. That was Thursday.

On Friday, I helped a lady to pay her rent and water bill before she got thrown out of her room. I used the money that you guys send to help people who are struggling. I also went to visit a Sr. Michael Mdluli who fell and hit her head and then had a stroke and wasn’t talking or able to use her one side. So they said. Clairwood Hospital. I usually wear my collar when I go to a hospital just to remind the administration who my boss is and don’t give me a hard time. I can’t always go during visiting hours, and I don’t want to go at that time since we may have some confidential stuff to deal with (Confession or communion or just praying).

Saturday, 23rd, I had Mass with 2 CPS postulants. It is always a picker upper because they prepare well and sing a lot and I can join in. Then I went for a lunch at a family gathering at Mike Pillay’s house. Met lots of people, many of whom have long ago given up on Church for one reason or another. So we talk about this and that often some kind of churchy question pops up and the ice has been broken so that can feel free to ask knowing that they won’t be blown out of the water for asking a dumb question or revealing that it has been 200 yrs. Since they last went to church. Ha. I call it “ Informal Evangelization”. Then I had a 5:30 evening Mass at an Indian parish (it gives me a chance, since it is in English, to tell a couple of jokes) and, after Mass, visited a friend who, being a dibetic, had his right foot amputated, and now has to go for dialysis. Not good. His wife prepared some nice Briyani. Always a plus.

Sunday, was the usual 8am Zulu Mass at Savannah Park followed by a lot of studying to prepare for my November classes. It’s coming.

Monday was a national holiday, Heritage Day (Afrikaans, English, Portugese, German, Swiss, French, Greek, Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, Sotho, American ?, ) when everyone remembers his or her heritage. I thought that my heritage was my faith. Because I really believe in the Trinity, Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection, and all the values that he stood up for, I thanked God for this gift which I didn’t deserve and didn’t work for. It was just dropped in my lap and has certainly shaped and formed my life. I don’t know where I would be without it.

Tuesday, 26th, I tried three places to get a cover for my cell phone so I don’t scratch it or mess it up some other way but no luck. So I had to be satisfied to just pick up some copy paper.

Wednesday, I was reminded by a message on the cell phone that I had run out of data. So I used the computer and the internet to get some more data and top up my air time as well.

Thursday, 28th, I was supposed to take my friend Shirley for lunch. She is 83 and has been a friend for 50 yrs. When it is my birthday, she takes me for a meal, and when it is her birthday, I take her for a meal. However, her son Peter phoned me on Wed. that she had fallen and was not well and he had to take her to the hospital. It turns out, as I found out later, that she had been bleeding internally, and when there wasn’t much blood left circulating any more, and the blood pressure was down, down, down, she just collapsed. She went for lots of scans and colonoscopy etc. to find out where the bleeding was and it turns out, it seems, that it healed itself as there was no sign indicating that there had been a bleed, so she is on the mend again, but is taking medicine to build up her blood. She looks a bit pale but she is much better.

In the meantime, since I was to take her for lunch that day, and it was to a place I really wanted to see, I got Mike Pillay to come with me and we had a fantastic curry meal. I usually take a doggie bag, but this time, I really garbaged up. Ha. Then I had been invited for supper by another family (the wife/mother left the ANC in disgust. She was the director of Pinetown Child Welfare Society, a social worker, and ANC activist, but now retired. I also baptized their 49 yrs. Old son, Matthew, who was letting everyone in the restaurant that it was his birthday. It was humorous. But I didn’t have room for another huge meal so I just had two starters and a glass of wine. I got home a bit later than I intended and, as I expected, had acid reflux, and had to keep twisting and turning. I don’t like to eat too late for that reason. I guess it is just old age stuff.

Friday, 29th, I popped in for a long visit with Shirley and she is better by a long shot. So we made a plan to catch up on that meal next Friday.  In the meantime, I went back to Rajes to find out if she had made contact with her friend at Home Affairs. She had. He says to come to him and he will fix it. Hooray. Home Affairs in like lining up to go to the Bermuda Triangle. You may never be seen again. Ha. Rajes’ husband will take me to him next week sometime, I hope.

Saturday, today, I printed a bunch of copies of a little brochure on St. Therese of Lisieux for tomorrow, as it is our church’s feast. It took most of the morning.  In the afternoon, I visited a priest friend who was taken to the hospital by another friend with a very painful foot and swollen leg. He is scared because he says that he has poor circulation in his extremities and they told him that they may have to amputate his left foot. Holy Moses. I would also be scared. So we prayed together for a bit asking God to be merciful and, if need be, to give him the courage to bite the bullet, have it done, and get on with life.

There is no time to be bored around here. Always something. I am grateful that I still have the health to move around and not be forced, like Macarius, who has macular degeneration and can barely see, to sit at home being bored stiff. So, tomorrow, we will celebrate our parish feast day. I am waiting to see what the people will have prepared. Tonight I will sleep like a stone since the weather is rainy and cold and I really appreciate my two blankets.  I also managed to warm up the weed eater which had been sitting idle for a couple of months now. She was excited to be brought back to life so we went out and did a bit of grass cutting just to make her feel good.

Hey, it is getting close to my bed time so I will say, good night, and God bless you abundantly in this coming week. Love and peace, Cas.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sept. 16, 2017
    I just wrote this note to those whom I met in Johannesburg these last two weeks. There were a few days of retreat stuck in between.

My time in Joburg and environs ended when I was taken to the plane by a longtime friend, Kendal. That was on Tuesday, Sept. 12. ( I had arrived on Wednesday, Sept. 6th and was picked up by my friend Phola at the Joburg airport and whisked off to her place in Centurion.). The plane returning to Durban arrived on time at 2pm and I was met by another old friend and confrere, Bishop Paul Khumalo. He took me back to Mariannhill where I grabbed my swimming suit and put all my stuff into my little Hyundai and drove down the South Coast to Coolock House, about 10 or so km. before Port Shepstone. I jumped into a retreat that had started on Sunday and joined them for the rest of the week and only came back today, Saturday. Because I was busy having a look at my spiritual and other life, I put off writing this till I finished the retreat. So here it is.
     The trip was made possible by Nhlanhla and Phola Mabaso. We were in exile together and later, I was invited to bind them in marriage. This we did about 7 yrs. ago, half in Port Elizabeth at the home of Tixie Mabizela, Phola's mom, and later, the second instalment, in Pretoria at the home of Zoda Mabaso, Hhanhla's mom whom I knew from the Grail. They offered to pay for my airfare and didn't put any strings on my time in Joburg. I can't thank them enough as they made possible an incredible week. 
     I hung around their place on Thursday morning but Phola had left her car to be available for me. It took me till noon to muster up the courage to get into her car and drive my way out of their complex and head for Pretoria, to visit an old friend, Paul Knox (we first met in 1966 in Waterkloof Ridge where Mariannhill had a study house. He was 14yrs. old at the time. Now he is an old man, but not as old as me). His son, Benoit, also came over to his office for a bite to eat for lunch. I think I had last say him as a high schooler or even before that. He now is in the publishing business and the proud grandfather showed me the picture of his newborn baby. I managed to find my way back to the complex. There was a problem with the security and when the guard asked me for my ID, I told him, 35 11 28  5193 18 4. Ha. He recognized the 35 (1935) and gave me a back handed compliment. He said, Hey, Mkhulu, are you still driving. How!, you are strong. Ha. He doesn't know that for me driving is like breathing.
     Phola, Nhlanhla, Lihle and Ma batho (?) had supper together and by 8:30 all were heading for bed. 
     Friday, Nhlanhla had organized a meeting with an old comrade, Refiloe Mudimu, who wanted to meet me after not seeing each other for years and years. We had lunch together in Pretoria, and he praised and thanked me for the help he received from me when we were together in exile in Zimbabwe and Zabmia. He told me of things that I did that were a big help to him but that I had totally forgotten. We reminisced about those days and he explained that, on his return, among other things, he had been transferred from the SANDF to the navy as an admiral. But it was an office job, not at sea, and he was able to help and shape many young sailors, especially for disadvantaged backgrounds, fitting them to be the leaders of the next generation. I was touched. He is now retired and living at home.
    Then, Kanyo Gqulu came with Edwin's wife, Desiree, to take me off to Kanyo's place for an party later that night, supported by a nice braai vleis. Kanyo and his friend (they might as well be joined at the hip) Edwim Smith (As Xhosa as they come) wanted me to spend some time with them. We were involved in the struggle before being forced, one way or the other, into exile. Again, they  told tales of my helping them that had gone out of my head. I was getting embarrassed. They had other friends who had also come to meet this guy, Hlathi, priest, comrade, friend, etc. Both Kanyo and Edwin managed to get bursaries to universities (they are called colleges in the States) that helped them to get where they are today. I told them that I was reminded of the story from the gospel where the sower went out to sow his seed. The seed fell all over the place, and some of it also fell on good soil, them, and bore rich fruit. Among the people there at that gathering/party/braai vleis was a Mr. Gugi who now teaches at a university in New York. I know his father who was a playright and who used his skill in producing plays, that he was able, through their acting out, to give therapy to some of the kids who had been traumatized by the atrocities of the war that they had seen. They had become almost autistic. But, with Gugi's help, they began to talk and interact with others again.
    The party went on till quite late (afte 1pm. My usual bedtime, at the latest, is 10pm). Ha. Then Edwin and his wife took me off to their place in Hatfield Pretoria where they both live and work. It was 1:30 pm before we got to bed so I slept my usual 6 hrs. and got up at 7am. Desiree, his wife, got up shortly after and we had time to get to know each other before Edwin started stirring, quite a bit later. Edwin had just recently found his seriously diabetic son dead in his room and has still not been able to be totally recovered, if he ever will. The bond between him and his son was strong, and the paid was terrible at the loss. We also reminisced about our time together before exile, during exile, and post exile. Again, I was praised for things I had forgotten or never thought to remember. 
     On Saturday, after re-connecting with each other, Edwin took me to see another friend, Mandy Gilder. I had met Mandy in exile in Bulawayo, and was the one who performed the wedding ceremony for her and her husband Barry. Mandy was nominally a Presbetyrian from Botswana, Barry was Jewish from Joburg, and the marriage was performed by an American CAtholic priest, chaplain to the ANC. How's that for something exciting. 
    Unfortunately, a few years ago, Barry decided to leave the marriage and has had several partners since then and Mandy is still hurting from this but has been baptized and has put everything in God's hands. We met one of Mandy's daughters and her husband and also looked back at where life had taken us. Edwin had to head back home and shortly after, Mandy took me back to PHola and Nhlanhla for the rest of Saturday night.
    Sunday, Nhlanhla went out for his therapeutic golf and Phola and I went to the hospital to visit a dear friend, Ellie, who had had Meningitis and had recovered from it but was now suffering from other things that put her in an almost comatose state. Ellie's parents came from Moshe in Tanzania to be with her and we all prayed hard and stormed heaven on her behalf reminding God that his son Jesus had promised that anything you ask in my name I will will give you. Not like asking to win the jackpot or a new Mercedes. NOthing frivolous. So we hope that it is in Gods' good graces to help Ellie out of this situation and allow her to get back to her family and her two sons and husband. 
    Then we went back to the house and had a home mass with the family and friends. Wow. I was surprised. There were between 40 and 50 people there. We also celebrated the 10th birthday of one of Ellie and Dumisani's sons. We shared our reflections on the readings for the day which gave us a direction that God would like us to go in for the coming week.
    The mass was quite late and by the time everyone had been fed and had visited everyone else, it was dark and people began to  head for home. Phola, NHlanhla and I started the clean up and did the dishes and general cleaning up and it was almost 10pm when we finished. Poor Phola had to catch an early flight to Mthatha for a meeting on Monday so she didn't get much sleep. We said goodbye to each other before she left at 4:30 Monday morning to catch a 6am flight to Mthatha. 
     Nhanhla had a busy day so I chilled out till he picked me up at about 4:30 and took me to the Bismarck's in Joburg. I have known Basil and Margaret for years now. Margaret is from Zambia and most of her brothers and sisters were in our youth group when I was in Zambia in Kabwe from '72 to '77. Margaret lost her kidneys way back then and has had several transplants. All had been going well but then after several falls, there were setbacks and the recovery is very slow.
We spent the evening together and then, in the morning, Kendal, the son-in-law of Basil and Margaret, took me to the airport to catch the flight back to Durban.
    Now, the point of the story is to thank all of you for your input into my life as a priest and as a friend. I don't think that you would really be able to understand how much faith and inspiration I get from you when I see all the ups and down and challenges and hurts that you have to deal with. I am inspired and say thank you for the friendship that has meant so much to me.
     I know that for some of you, God is a bit remote, or so it seems, but I smilingly see myself as a kind of suggogate God connection. Ha. Some think that I have a direct line to the Boss up there. Don't I wish.
    I love you all and again say thanks to you all for a very rich and satisfying week, especially to Phola and Nhlanhla for making it possible.
Love and Peace, Cas.