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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nov. 11, 2014
Well, it is now Tuesday the 11th of Nov. and here is what has been happening. Not much earth-shaking, just ordinary stuff.
     I made an appointment with my urologist for Nov. 27th, it is the once a year prostate checkup. That means I have to get a PSA, e.g. a blood test to see if there are any cancer cells in my blood (I think). That also means I have to go to a lab to have them poke my finger and suck out a vial of my precious blood (I don’t have that much to spare), which I did, at the insistence of Sr. Amanda, CPS, who ran the clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital for about 40 or more years before she retired. So she got a nurse to give me a poke, and then went to the lad downstairs to fill out the form that I got from the doctor (you have to be referred by a doctor). But it was the wrong form. My doctor uses a different lab for his stuff than the hospital here, so I had to go to Crompton hospital in Pinetown where his lab is and get them to send it to the lab, after which the results will be sent to him at his office. Complicated. I have to go to collect the bill now, and I am scared!
     I finally phoned the mechanic whom I asked to give a quote how much it would cost to redo Mike Pillay’s engine (he is our leader at Savannah Park for our Sunday services and he usually used his old beat up junk to ferry old people to the hospital or to bring them communion or whatever, until he blew a gasket and his junk just died.
     He got a back yard mechanic to help him and he only made things worse. (more smoke comes out of his tail pipe that incence at a benediction). We managed to get it to a mechanic whom I know and trust and I got the quote from him  R14,000.00 Ouch, but it will be worth it. So I used some of my scio-pastoral money (R10,000) to get things started and promised that I would find the other R4000 somewhere (maybe some Christmas gifts will come in.)
     I have been getting up early in the morning to cut the grass. I usually start by 5am and go till about 6:30 when I clean up a bit, say my morning prayers and have breakfast. If I am more or less free, I continue again after breakfast from abut 9 to 10:30 after which we usually have Mass (11:45) Then lunch, and, if it isn’t raining I go at it again from abut 2 to 3:30, after which I take a shower with my head covered in a genuined Pick N’Pay plastic shopping bag since I am not supposed to get water in my new eye.
     As I mentioned before, I have to keep remembering to put in 2 different drops in my right eye 4 times a day and that can get tricky since I can’t always keep the same time if I am out and about.
      On Thursday, the 6th, I wanted to get my driver’s licence renewed, and I wanted to do it early but I realized that I needed a few things first. 1) a photocopy of my ID—I went to the repository about 8am and they kept turning out dark black copies until they finally found out how to tone it down so that it was readable. 2) Then go the Fr. Henry who has the authority to stamp it and make it official 3) then to the provincial to take a letter for him which led to a long conversation  4) then finally to the traffic bureau (only 7 minutes away by car). But by this time it was already after 9am and by the time I got there there was a queue from Chicago to Denver. I grabbed a form and forgot , in my rush, to bring a pen, and someone was kind enough to loan me his pen. But, when I had almost finished (many people had in the meantime skipped in front of me) I realized that I would probably be there till about 5pm and just left to plan better another day.
    On Friday, after the morning grass cutting, I got Bishop Lobinger to make me a color copy of the material I was asked to get for the sisters in Mthatha.  They are running short of money to keep the convent going so they have the old timers making school uniforms to earn some money to keep the place going. There are two colors. One is navy blue—sister cut me off a sample, and the other, she had no sample, so , being a clever guy, I took  a photo with my cell phone. But then I needed a color printer which, happily,Bishop Lobinger supplied.
     I took this to my friend Estie (who makes delicious curry) who had already found a shop that would supply the navy blue, but only now could I bring the color copy of the other sample (kind of robin’s egg blue). Then, of course, I was forced to test some of her delicious curry. I happily survived. I let the sisters know that we would be going this week on Thursday to bring the other sample and to get a quote as to how much it would cost to have 400 meters of navy blue and 200 meters of robin’s egg blue. At R35 a meter it is going to be quite expensive and I doubt if the store owner will spend so much money ordering so much material unless it is sitting nicely in his bank account. So we will have to work on that next.
    I cut some more grass (weed eater) in the afternoon  and again most of Saturday morning, but this time with a mower. It is actually harder to push that mower around than to swing the weed eater.
    Saturday evening I was invited out for a supper by my friend from Germany (he works for Pfizer), Reinhard Maier, and another friend, Silungile Mokoena, who is a fashion designer. (her work room and office are about the size of a medium sized closet but she makes lovely things. I want her to help Sinovuyo from Landsend to learn more about sewing and we are working on that.
    Sunday, was busy at Savannah Park, my outstation. I took Fr. Macarius along, who is totally blind in his left eye and only 10% in his right eye. He was also just operated on to improve his vision a bit but it doesn’t seem to be working well. He will be returning to Zambia next week after his final checkup with the eye doctor.
     Then we had a nice curry lunch prepared by Mike Pillay’s wife, Net (Annette) and came home to rest a bit.

Monday I got up very early, had some breakfast and took my filled in form and went off to the traffic bureau where I arrived at 7:40. I got in the queue that was already there (about 20 people in front of me) and at 7:50 they allowed us to go up to the rooms where the people sit in rows and rows of chairs, moving up one by one as one is finished. Would you believe it, I had my fingerprints taken, my eyes were already checked and OK, my papers filled in, my picture taken by their machine, and the bill paid (R250) and was out by 8:15. Holy Moses.
   Today, Tuesday 11th, in spite of a very light drizzle, I managed between the morning and afternoon cuttings to get most of what I wanted cut cut. In between I was able to catch a few winks, take another shower to clean up, do some pretty deep reading, get some people on Skype, etc. So it was a good day.
    My cousin’s wife, I found out by a Skype from my 97yr. old aunt in Chicago, who just had a liver and kidney transplant, that she was having a bad day on Sunday and they had to drain a lot of liquid out of her body which had collected while her kidneys stopped working before the operation. We are praying for her to get over all these obstacles. The operation was a success but there are so many things that can still go wrong Keep her in your prayers.

    Hey, that is more than enough for one sitting. It is time for me to put my eye drops in, brush my teeth, and hit the sack for an early start tomorrow. I love you all.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nov. 1, 2014

I just got back from the eye doctor (ophthalmologist) yesterday. I went in at 11am in the morning and my turn only came at about 3pm in the afternoon. He finished the job of taking out the cataract and putting in a new lens by 4pm. I left the hospital at about 4:30 getting a lift back here to our place, Mater Dolorsa, ugh! Home.
     In the meantime, I have been going to the outstation, Savannah Park, each Sunday.
It has been raining a lot and the grass (weeds of all descriptions) has grown. Finally, last Wednesday, Br. Conrad brought me a new weed eater ( some call it a brush cutter). By the time I got it together properly and read the instruction booklet (it is a Stihl—a great machine, made in Austria), I had no time left except to try it out a bit that Wednesday. However, on Thursday, I really got stuck into it and whacked those weeds for and hour and a half before breakfast (5 to 6:30am) and then again, after bkfst another hour and a half (9 to 10:30) and once more, after lunch another half hour (2 to 3:30). I got most of what I wanted to do done. The grass was, in most places, about 18 inches high and it took a lot of effort to chop it down. There is a section near the septic tank that grows like crazy and that was the area I tried to concentrate on. The rest is more or less easy.
    I didn’t want to overdo it the first time so I took in in small chunks. I am grateful that I still have the stamina to do that kind of thing and some look in awe on my ability to do that at my age. Yes, I am grateful to the Lord for pretty reasonable health, in spite of the normal aches and pains that go with ageing.
    Friday was the op day so I didn’t try anything.
    Today I go for an examination by the doctor as to how satisfied he is with his job. I am wearing a patch over my right eye and I don’t know if I will have to do that or not for a while. I have Mass tomorrow at the hospital and they will be laughing if I come with this patch, but we will see.
     He said that there could be pain, and there was something that felt like razor blades moving around in the right eye but I wouldn’t call it pain, exactly, but more like sharp irritation. But I  managed to get a fairly good sleep in any case.
     I am hoping that when I finish this update, I will be able to test my right eye and see how it is going In the meantime, I received this lovely email from a friend who is an ophthalmologist and who worked for some years in Guatemala training young Guatemalans to be Opthalmologists, only to discover that many of them forgot to help the poor but went for the big money in the citieis there. Disappointing. She has given her life to helping the poor to get decent eye care. Here is the email she sent to me. We were both participants on the sabbatical at CTU in Chicago back in 2012. She decided to do more studies in Theology but still continue as an eye doctor. She has been chosen by the Lord for something special which is still to come, I am sure.

Linda Novak
9:03 PM (10 hours ago)
to me
Hi Fr. Cas,I have been trying to contact you - and I thought that you were trying to contact me via "Linked In" however I do not do linked in - I sort of started but really I have been to busy other than to respond to personal emails.

I am at CTU doing a MA in Theology - I started thinking that it would be Bible and Spirituality and now it may be either a MAPS or an Mdiv.  The hard part is fitting this all into a ministry and whether I will continue with the student part from Loyola.  Altho I do intend to keep going there myself and actually I want to just do Ophthalmology there now that the technology will allow health promoters to go out to the villages and get a prescription for glasses and even do a visual field - which is a FREE App that you can put on your iPad.  I will give you the name of the app once I get back to my room.  We are having internet problems at 5401 - and have been for the past month.

We had an all building Halloween part last night - it was a huge success - something about Halloween brings out the fun in folks - that is one reason why I enjoy it.  We played telephone, Biblical charades and we had a ballon contest where everyone stood in a circle with a paper plate and had to keep a series of about 20 balloons getting passed onto the next person - drop the balloon and you are out.

The hit costume - and there were many - however the real hit was a thin priest who came dressed as a nun - very funny!!

With respect to your eye - I will say a prayer for the surgery - most likely the pressure will drop just by removing the lens - I don't know if he is also planning on doing a filter or putting in a tube.  If you do need a tube or something.  We can try and arrange something - - I have a dear friend - who just spent a few days with me at CTU - last week - who is the top Glaucoma person in New Orleans.  and we can see what can be done there - or else I will look for someone in Chicago for you.  

As a rule , cataract surgery in the face of glaucoma - does well.  Most important for you is to not lift anything heavy and not to rub your eye especially with an unwashed hand or unclean tissue.  The most common cause of post op infection - which is rare - is from microorganisms on the skin of the face and lashes - so stay out of the dust and dirt.
Also a shield for bedtime and sunglasses or eye protection during the day.
I would expect a positive result - so much so that you may desire to have the other eye done for cataract surgery in the near future.

Anyway lots to say - really I should call or figure out how to Skype you.
I believe Fran is coming to Chicago Nov 5-8 or so - I am really looking forward to seeing her.

Much love, many blessings and prayers for you and your community,
Linda - your next door neighbor

I just came back from the doctor and pharmacy. Have to clean my eye once every day and put it 3 different drops, do of them 4 times a day and one once a day in the right eye. The left eye still gets the drop that stops the pressure from buikding up (what caused the glaucoma in the first place). Dr. says I can that the patch off tomorrow but should make sure that I clean my eye with the sterilized water and the cotton pads every morning. The pad is to make my eye comfortable. But don’t get gunk into that eye. Hmmm!
     He said that I can continue to use the weed eater but I don’t want to take a chance of getting dust in that eye. Also, the instructions say that I should not lift heavy things. The weed-eating machine is heavy but not so heavy. But if I don’t do something, the grass will get uncontrollable.. So, a dilemma. I will probably have to wait at least till Wednesday to start again.

    Le me call it quits for now. I just had some eye drops put in (I need three hands—one to hold up the eye patch, one to pull down the eye at the botton, and one to put in the drops. We haven’t yet learned how to grow and extra appendage as have some of Gods’ Creatuers. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sept. 27th, 2014

Well, here we go again. I went to the States on the 10th of Sept. a Wednesday, arrived on Thurs. after some very looooong flights (Durban, Joburg,Zurich, Chicago, Milwaukee), had the wedding practice on Friday, the beautiful wedding on Saturday where I had a chance to meet the groom's family and get to know better the people in the wedding party, along with, of course, all the other relatives and friends whom I already know. It was a great bonding of the two families as well as the bridal couple, Jo and Jeff. I was delighted and I think that everyone else was happy to rejoice with the newly weds.
     I was lucky to have a chance to celebrate a home mass with my Unlce Casey and his wife Rose. Casey is 9 yrs. older than I am and Rose a few years younger than Casey, but both have health problems related to simply getting older and more fragile. Both have trouble hearing now and usually watch the Mass for shut-ins on the TV, but can't receive communion. We were able to offer them that chance on the Sunday after the wedding before going to a gathering of those who were in the wedding party for a brunch at a local restaurant. It was just good to be with the family again, and to meet and get to know the other family members (Jeff Johnson's mom and dad and sister, among others)
    My cousin Sue rented a car for me on Monday to visit my Aunt Rose in Chicago. She is 97 now and delights me by sending an email with the signature---sent from my i-Pad. Ha! My cousin Jeannie thoughtfully invited Aunt Rose and the angel from the Phillippines, Lita, who looks after Rose, to her house to save her the commotion of preparing something to eat. There I had a chance to catch up with Tom, Jeannie's husband and Michael, the son. Of course, I soaked this all up and savored it.
     I also had a chance to talk with Sue and Dave, the parents of the bride. Usually it is hit and run, but this time we had a bit more time, in spite of the hectic preparations for the wedding and the collecting of the debris after the wedding.
     On Tues. morning, Sept. 16, Sue took me to the airport where I flew from Milwaukee to Chicago and on to Los Angeles to visit other friends and family there. I missed my niece Karla who lives and works in Santa Barbara, because she had a chance to go to Africa and enjoy some game viewing there, but I did meet my cousin's daughter (Jerry and Barb Pietrusiak) Leah, who is a journalist and is working on a project regarding the ecology of the crabs up in Alaska. We managed to meet twice and she took some photos and did an interview for the family archives several evenings after work.
    I stayed with a good friend, Judy child, and met her three sons and their wives and children and enjoyed seeing the kids who had grown since I last saw them.
    I also saw an old friend, Reggie Grzeskowiak and his wife Nancy. They have also been very supportive, over the years for whatever projects I had gotten involved in and have helped many people with funding for school fees, repairs to houses and many other ntreeeds that crop up. Reggie studied at our seminary way back in the 50's.
     Judy had booked us tickets for a concert by Yanni. I had heard the name but didn't really know about him. It was fantastic. There were 13 musicians, each of them skilled in the use of their instruments, (a harpist, two violas, three violins, a kind of trumpet, a trombone, a french horn, a percussionist on the bongo drums, a drummer from Chicago, and another guy, like Yanni, on the keyboards, and they made some really beautiful music. Both Yanni and his other keyboardist, had several instruments, each having three keyboards, and kept switching back and forth on the to create beautiful sounds. The impression was that the whole was much greater than the sum of its parts. I really enjoyed that concert.
    I was reminded of how civilization has improved our human living by experiencing, once again, the Los Angeles traffic on the six lane-each way, highways. Ha! No wonder there is so much domestic violence. To face that traffic every day??? Wow! Give me the bush.
     My friend Judy (we met when she was nursing at St. Joe's Hospital in Ann Arbor in 1964) hosted me, for which I am happily grateful, and then dropped me off at the airport for the return journey to SA on Tues. the 23rd of Sept. The return journey went from LA to Chicago (long layover--just missed the closing down by a few hours) to Munich (long layover where I was able to connect with Reinhard Maier, a friend from long back, for few hours, catching up on family and work things. Then back to the plane and on to Joburg and finally to Durban where I arrived on Thursday at 12 noon. In Munich, I had grabbed a sandwich and when I went to pay for it, I left my carry on next to the counter. When I went to the boarding gate, I wanted to put something in to the carry on and noticed that it was not mine. Wow. I hurried back to the small restaurant and the guy whose case I had was happy to make the exchange but was disappointed that I didn't have any Kruger Rands in my case.
     Bishop Lobinger was there at the airport to fetch me, and after grabbing a  quick lunch we arrive back at Mater Dolorosa at about 2pm.
     That evening when we were watching the news on TV, I drifted off and only woke up as the news was ending. Bishop Lobinger tried, unsuccessfully to wake me up before that. So I slept the sleep of the dead that night and am now ready for work again.
     I will have two masses on Sunday, one in Zulu and one in English with a visit to the hospital in between to see how the mother of the other yet unborn twin is doing and will meet her husband to plan the baptism.
     Fr. Macarius, from Zambia, is back, getting ready for an operation in October, that may help him to improve his sight. He is totally blind in one eye and 90% in the other. We are trying to organize things for him.
    By theway, I was given a gift of an i-Pad during my stay in the States and that will be one of my challenges---how to use it.
    I think that that is enough for now. A bit long winded. See you again after some time.
    By the way, people have been deluging me with request for Linkedin or Facebook. I made the mistake of peeking into both of them to see what they are like but I am not familiar with them and am lost and really don't have the time for them. It seems that they are using my name to send messages out to others, some of whom and not happy about it. Me either. Just ignore them.
    My email is: frcascmm50@gmail.com   Use that if you want to get in contact with me.
Amen!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sept. 8, 2014
Holy Moses, how time flies. It is a month since I put something in my blog. In the meantime, I gave a one day presentation on the Holy Spirit, especially now the Holy Spirit works today in lots of big and little ways, like Pope Francis and Mandela and lots of little ways at the super market, in the office, at school, in the hospital, and just about everywhere and all the time. Wake up and see for yourself.
     I have also been working in the garden (not a flower garden or a vegetable garden but a long stretch of grass with lots of trees. Raking leaves and making a compost pile, collecting fallen branches and pruning trees and dragging the big limbs to the dump, etc. etc. etc.
    Twice I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass with groups of youth. I always get turned on when I see young people and all the potential and energy waiting to get released on the world. Just guide it in the right direction and watch the fantastic results.
     I am organizing two baptisms. One for the doctor, Chiara Henry, who is still keeping quiet so as to deliver the second twin in a few weeks and the other for the daughter of a good friend, Theresa Chisanga, who lives and works in Durban while her mother, Theresa, who is chaplain to the students at the university in Mthatha, teaches as head of the English dept. there.Both baptisms, when the time comes, will be here at the monastery. How nice.
    I have been visiting, in the hospital, Clive, who managed to avoid having his right foot amputated 4 times, but finally, the doctor said it has to go. No circulation. I saw him at home yesterday and met the family and we prayed and said thanks for providing great medical care and now for healing so that he can eventually get a prosthesis for walking.
     I also was involved in a three evening presentation, last week, on FAMILY. After Mass, each evening (Mon. Tues. Wed.) there was a half hour presentation. I began with explaining that a priest doesn't just fall from the sky or pop out of an egg, but comes from a family like anyone else with all the ups and downs of any family, squabbles, divorces, medical problems, drugs and alcohol, etc. We survive by prayer and supporting one another. Then on Tues. an Indian couple explained their ups and downs in their families and marriage. And finallyt i

Friday, August 29, 2014

Aug. 9, 2014
A lot of water over the dam as usual. I am even too lazy to have a look at where I left off in my blog. I have been keeping busy visiting the sick in various hospitals , doing garden work, preparing homilies for Sundays and taking on morning masses with the sisters at Jacob’s Well, Augustinian Sisters, who celebrated their feast day last Thursday. I had a Mass with a group of 9th graders and was delighted to be with them. When I see these kids I think of the tremendous potential with all their talents and energies that could turn this world of ours into something much better than we have now. In many cases, God is gone, faith is gone, church is an anachronism, people don’t bother to pray any more, and you can see how much the world has improved. (That is sarcastic). But the faithless will also attack us, who are trying to practice our faith by saying, have a look at these bloody “faithful” people, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, whoever, see how they invoke God when they want to kill people and raise hell in general. Yes, we have our fanatics, but I hope that those few don’t represent the main body of faithful, or any faith, who, I think, I hope, abhor violence as a way of settling problems, or even, as the will of God somehow.

One of the patients I had been visiting, a good Presbyterian, had an operation to remove her Ovaries, because of ovarian cancer. They couldn’t get it all and it continued to grow. The doctor said that it would eventually kill her and warned her to get her affairs in order, in as gentle a way as he could tell her. I tried to follow his lead and suggested that she should just join her sufferings with those of the Jesus whom she loves, and who loves her, and be open to whatever his will is for her. It may be that it is time for her to come home to the Father, so just get things in order and don’t be afraid. As it turned out, Last Wednesday (Tuesdays with Morrie, Wednesdays with Parklands hospital) I visited her and prayed with her but because she was having difficutly breathing because of the accumulation of water in her chest, (she was on oxygen) I sang her a bunch of songs from the Xhosa hymnal, some of which she recognized and tried to join in with, with great difficulty. That was about 11:30 on Wed. morn. I got an SMS from the doctor that she passed away just before 5am on Thursday. Talk about timing. She was prepared to go home and I was happy that we had those few times together to help her to prepare for her final journey home. I don’t think that God will mind that a Catholic priest prepared the way home for one of his Presbyterian daughters, do you? It was my privilege and blessing (thanks to the doctor who invited me to visit his patient) that I was able to accompany her on the last days of her journey here on this earth. I am blessed.
    As for the situation in the whole world, IS (beheading has become the fashion again, after the French Revolution), mass killings, the intransigence of Hama and Netanyahu costing the lives of more than 2000 Palestinians, (and still going) and untold damage to the homes and schools and hospitals and even UN compounds, the onward movement of the IS in Iraq and in Syria, the racism that raises its ugly head, openly, in the States (it has always been there and I felt that the churches had their heads in the sand in that regard, doing little or nothing to counteract it), etc. etc. etc. (Afghanistan, Ukraine and Russia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, …..) One feels so helpless as it seems that the whole world is going down the tubes. What can one person or even a group of persons do to help. No answer. But I just receved this today, Friday, Aug. 29. Can you think of something better. Stay well, you all. Love and Peace, Cas.

Have you tried praying?
by Frances Correia
The last couple of months have been marked by more than ordinarily distressing news headlines. On the international front there is the slow creep of Ebola through western Africa. Further abroad there are the deteriorating situations in Gaza, Syria, Ukraine and the race riots in the United States. Here at home we have our familiar news stories of corruption, the ongoing strikes and service delivery protests in the public sphere and in the private sphere the stories of murder and rape continue unabated.
In the midst of all this darkness it is easy to understand how people may despair, and especially to find it hard to believe in a loving God. We see footage of children killed in missile strikes, or lying waiting to die in isolation from a terrifying disease and it offends our innate sense of what is right.
For myself, although I am not directly affected by these terrifying situations, still knowing of them and reading about them has a profound impact on my life of faith. I am easily cast into a desolate sense of there being no hope, when I look at the enormity of these problems.
This reminds me of when I was a student at the time of the Rwandan Genocide, and feeling then also a terrible sense of helplessness. I knew that in truth there was very little I could do, as I had no useful skills to offer, I did not speak any of the local languages and I was a student living many miles away.
Some years later, when I was slightly more skilled, I encountered in my ministry of spiritual direction some Rwandan refugees. At this time I noticed in myself a far greater sense of God’s loving presence. All those whom I encountered had suffered horrifically, yet they had been sustained by a sense of hope and now they were rebuilding their lives. Central to my conversations with them was the passion of Jesus. Although I was supposed to be the one listening, I remember this as a time of deep growth for me. I came to trust God’s love in a new way, by seeing how Jesus knows from his own experience the depths of our human ability to suffer. I came to more deeply believe in the redemption that Jesus offers us in his own suffering and death.

There is no easy answer for what we should do to aid our fellow brothers and sisters who are in need, but there is a biblical injunction that we should do something. At the very least we should be aware of the pain in the world. We should know what is happening. Finally I am reminded of a story told of Archbishop Tutu during one of his trips to the United States, he was asked what people there could do to help end Apartheid and his reply was to ask a question in return; ‘Have you tried praying?’

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


BLOG-AUG. 12, 2014

 Aug. 10, 2014
What a delightful day. I was asked, at the last minute, to take another Mass at 8:30am last Sunday. I already was going to Savannah Park at 10am but, knowing that African time is very flexible, I agreed. But I didn't know how to get to the place so I asked for someone to show me the way. I would follow
    so that I wouldn't get lost. Holy Moses. We went up hill and down dale and around curves and just meandered all over the place till I thought we might just be on the outskirts of Detroit. We finally got there about 8:15 (in Africa that is still more than reasonable). And it was a huge crowd, and very animated and joyful, especially the primary school children. They must have been primed. The singing was marvelous. However, I was a bit nervous because it is the custom to sing all 50 verses of every song, and there are many songs, but I just let loose the reins and let it happen. We enjoyed each other. I would estimate that there were maybe 400 or more people as the church was packed and even some outside, mostly men. The men don't want to risk catching some terrible disease by stepping inside a church you know.
     Then, I was shown the way to Mass number two at SP. Maybe 20 people. The choir tried, but there was only a handful of choir members. There was something going on at the mother church and many went up there for that special service. Instead of shaking hands with the little kids at the greeting of peace I just grab a bunch of them and we have a great group hug. I hope that they get the message that they are really and truly loved, not just by me but by the one whom we are celebrating each Sunday, their great friend Jesus.
     After that we took communion to two sick members, one a real old gogo (granny) and the other just too sick to go out of the house. They were so grateful to know that the community hasn't forgotten them or written them off. Then we went to Mike's home for bite to eat and a slowing down. Mike's wife is one of those women who have at least 5 over-active thyroids, and she just slipped and banged her right foot against a mean, dirty old steel leg of another machine. And it did some serious damage so she has to wear a boot in the hope that it can heal on it's own. If now, it means an operation. We will wait and see. Her name is Net (short for, I believe, Annette)
    Then Mike Pillay, (the same Mike) the leader of this community asked to be dropped off at the mother church to be with those who went for the special service. When we got there and went to the priest's house, I was greeted with shouts and hugs " Fr.Cas, are you still alive!!!" I used to help out there when I was at the retreat house at Mariannhill and got to know them well. We love each other. It was nice.
     Then, there is another old gogo whose husband passed away a few years ago and who lives nearby. So I figured that as long as I am so close I may as well drop in and say hi, which I did, and, of course, she was very happy. Any good Zulu Catholic woman won't let you out of the house without food and a blessing. Since I had just come from a full meal, I managed to beg my way out of the food part, and the blessing was fine for me.



Dikonia Council of Churches—1) Diakonia lecture award to Rochard Trevor Dobson, architect, working for the city of Durban. Aug. 11, 2014

2) Speaker for the evening—Jim Wallis president of Sojourners—HOPE TO A DIVIDED WORLD


Here are some notes that I took at that lecture which was excellent for being applicable to us here in South Africa which, I believe, was his focus.

*One of the main issues that must be on evryones’ agenda is definitely gender justice.

*We approach everything through our Christian Faith which means that we believe in the Incarnation, so that the incarnation becomes contextual—bringing God to the streets (not up in the sky somewhere)

*When he asked some 14 yr. olds in Soweto about the challenges of rape, abuse, corruption, etc., seemingly hopeless, their response was “ we will see to it!” (e.g. full of hope)

* He received a letter from a prisoner in Sing Sing prison asking him to come to talk to them about hope in a pretty hopeless situation. He came. They discovered that most of them came from the same 5 neighborhoods. It was as though they all got on that same train that led straight to Sing Sing. After their conversion, they were determined to “ stop that train.”

* Love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. He said that he only realized the specialness of love when his two sons were born. He would do anything for them. To love your neighbor, then, was to love other kids as much as you love your own kids.

*Youth are not so interested in church these days but they are attracted (Pope Francis is living proof) by Christians doing what the youth think Christrians should be doing.

* The turning point for many is that text from Mt. 25 “ whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me.” He said that the evangelicals are finally getting it together.

* Here in South Africa it is clear that after the elections in 1994, and Mandela as president, it is not “ mission accomplished”.

* The new generation asks lots of questions, and he says that is good, they should ask questions. Skepticism is not cynicism.

* Hope (hope for a divided world) in not a feeling, it is a decision that comes from our Faith. Believing in spite of the evidence to the contrary—and then watching the evidence slowly but surely change.
BLOG-AUG. 12, 2014

 I wrote more about last Sunday but, as often happens, it just disappeard into the ether never to be found again. I hope it is not the case for this one. 

Dikonia Council of Churches—1) Diakonia lecture award to Rochard Trevor Dobson, architect, working for the city of Durban.
2) Speaker for the evening—Jim Wallis president of Sojourners—HOPE TO A DIVIDED WORLD

Here are some notes that I took at that lecture which was excellent for being applicable to us here in South Africa which, I believe, was his focus.
*One of the main issues that must be on evryones’ agenda is definitely gender justice.
*We approach everything through our Christian Faith which means that we believe in the Incarnation, so that the incarnation becomes contextual—bringing God to the streets (not up in the sky somewhere)
*When he asked some 14 yr. olds in Soweto about the challenges of rape, abuse, corruption, etc., seemingly hopeless, their response was “ we will see to it!” (e.g. full of hope)
* He received a letter from a prisoner in Sing Sing prison asking him to come to talk to them about hope in a pretty hopeless situation. He came. They discovered that most of them came from the same 5 neighborhoods. It was as though they all got on that same train that led straight to Sing Sing. After their conversion, they were determined to “ stop that train.”
* Love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. He said that he only realized the specialness of love when his two sons were born. He would do anything for them. To love your neighbor, then, was to love other kids as much as you love your own kids.
*Youth are not so interested in church these days but they are attracted (Pope Francis is living proof) by Christians doing what the youth think Christrians should be doing.
* The turning point for many is that text from Mt. 25 “ whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me.” He said that the evangelicals are finally getting it together.
* Here in South Africa it is clear that after the elections in 1994, and Mandela as president, it is not “ mission accomplished”.
* The new generation asks lots of questions, and he says that is good, they should ask questions. Skepticism is not cynicism.

* Hope (hope for a divided world) in not a feeling, it is a decision that comes from our Faith. Believing in spite of the evidence to the contrary—and then watching the evidence slowly but surely change. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


August 7, 2014

I think that I had better put something in this blog before I procrastinate some more.

Our two retired bishops, Bucher and Lobinger, returned from their home leave in Germany on the 29th of July and brought new life to our house. Table talk has been scarce while they were away but has come back with them here now.

     I had another appointment with the dentist and the optometrist. I am sure that God could haeeve done a better job on our teeth.

     I got a bug in my system and worked like crazy on Saturday, Aug. 1, cutting branches from a huge tree that came down to the ground and raked up about two tons of leaves. Slept like a baby that night.

     I celebrated Mass at the hospital on the 3rd and gave our some handouts for their reflection. (It is only the sisters who are not on duty who can come, about 10 of them).

    Then I visited a lady friend who damaged her foot and has to have it in a big shoe to encourage her a bit. She hates having to just sit there. And another family after that so the day was pretty full.

    On Monday I saw the Ophthalmologist who examined my eyes and he said that the drops are working well as the pressure in bothes was in the normal range, but, because of a cataract forming in the right eye, I don’t drive at night because when the lights from the oncoming cars hit that fogged up lens, it just diffuses the light and I go temporarily blind. We agreed to get that cataract out once I get back from the wedding in Milwaukee in September.

     But, yesterday  was a full, full and happy day. I got my eye drops, bought some broccoli for my special salad, visited a fashion designer in downtown Durban , a friend, and  we  plan to help Sinovuyo, my kid from Landsend who is a self-taught tailor, by her giving him some  training, but that will be in October, I think. She will be off to a fashion show in London in early September.

    Then I went off to Parklands Hospital to visit a young doctor who lost one of her twins when he came out unexpectedly, but the other stayed inside with the placenta so there is hope that, if she can just stay cool and calm, the other can survive and bring her and her husband joy. Her doctor admits that he has never seen this before and she is like a guinea pig as he tries to figure out what to do day by day. It is a learning curve for both of  them.  Then off to another hospital, Shifa, where a friend was supposed to have am amputation of his left  foot. He stepped on a nail back in Mach and it eventually got septic and led to this. However, when I went into his room, he told me that when they wheeled him in for his prepping they found that his leg and foot and toes were all warm so there must be circulation going on. So the doctor said, no amputation. Let’s see how it goes. The removed a vein from one place and put it in his leg and it seems that it is getting a blood supply to the foot. Prayer. It was a happy day. The day before I went to another hospital (R.K.Knan) at the request of a friend. A lady had had a stroke and was partly comatose. I had just come back from the doctor who had put drops in my eyes to dilate the pupils and I just couldn’t read the Zulu words in the ritual I was using so I just put it away and prayed  my own prayers. I hope it was acceptable to the Lord.

     That is the 4th time now that I have been asked to visit patients in the hospital because most priests are just too busy to be able to take the time unless it is a real emergency. And it helps to keep me out of mischief.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24, 2014

Let me just add something quickly. I am sitting in the dark and trying to make sure that I hit the right keys. Last Saturday there was an ordination at the Cathedral here in Mariannhill. The sanctuary was filled with more than 80 priests. I was one of them. The choir, as was expected, was marvelous. The church was packed with standing room outside. But aside from the solemnity of the occasion, I was struck by the fact that of those more than 80 priests, there were only three white faces in that bunch, and, again, I was one of them. At 79 yrs. I am sure that I was the oldest there. However, when I arrived in SA back in 66, at a function like this, there would have been 80 or so priests and they would all have been white, except for one of two black faces. What does that mean? Well, it could mean that we did our job. We came to build the local church and there you have it. So now I don’t have to feel guilty about retyring. What do you think?

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Actually it is now July 17the but I can't remember when I last included all this in my blog. Hey, try not to get old. Ha.
 
It is now July 2nd. Time flies. I think I have to fast forward to June 26th.(Then, if I have a chance, I will fill in before that).

    A funeral. On June 15th. One of our elderly sisters, Sr. Mary Paule, originally from Idaho, who joined the CPS (Precious Blood Sistrers) way back in the late 40’s, came out to South Africa around “52 and taught at one of our Catholic Schools, Mariazell, from ’55 to ’74. She was a great teacher teaching English. Then she came to Mthatha and got involved in social work and eventually started something like 21 NGO’s mostly for children and battered women. 82 yrs. old this yr. She was busy delivering goodies to Thembalihle Home (for abused children) when she was spotted by a couple of young gangsters who grabbed the keys from her, shoved  her into the back seat and drove off with her and one of them in the back seat and the other speeding off. A gun was pointed at her and she was trying to tell the driver to slow down, frightened to death. As a matter of fact, she tried to get them to stop the car because she felt that she was having a heart attack. They kept going and, yes, she passed away, probably literally frightened to death. They must have damaged the care somehow as they were driving kind of wild and eventually dumped her now dead body, fully clothed as a nun with a white habit, into a ditch with water and went on their way. They had been driving in one direction with the intention to rob some stores but it was Sunday and all the stores were closed and locked tight so they went back to town and were driving around with this now damaged car and were spotted by friends who knew her car and who gave chase after informing the police. The two crashed the car and fled. The others waited for the police to come. When they went into the car, they guys were in such a hurry that they left a cell phone and a gun. The cell phone led the police to their home and eventually to them and their arrest. The will be up for bail on July 4th.

     I swear that there were about 2000 people at the funeral, representing many NGO’s most of which she had started and supported up till her death. She was…

 

July 16, 2014

     I am so far behind I will never catch up. So much has been happening that It is hard to keep up. I can’t remember the date now but about a month ago, even before the funeral of Sr. Mary Paule, someone rear-ended me and after the police report and the insurance and the panel beaters  the final decision was that the car was a write off. In the meantime, thank goodness, the insurance covered a rent-a-car from Avis so I had some wheels to continue what things I had to do. I was offered R35,000 for the car or I could talk to the panel beaters and ask them to buy the wreck and try to fix it. But then the panel beaters would only offer me R14,000 for the wreck but wanted R27,00 to fix it (however it would be fixed!!!) I took the R35,000 but discovered that there are not many vehicles on the market for that low a price (it would be the equivalent of $3500) So you can imagine. In the meantime I was able to continue my visits to the sick as well as the Sunday commitments. Then I took another trip to Mthatha for several important meetings, one of them being with Fr. Guy and the lawyer, Jerome, about the appeal to the commission in Rome that deals with religious against the unilateral decision, taken without discussion or consultation (as is supposed to be the case according to our constitutions), to down grade our province to a ‘region”, including the appointment of a “ new” provincial and some councilors. What a rotten trick to get rid of Fr.Guy in a back –handed way.  In any case we also had a nice meal with Mike McNamara and Malcolm Grant who have helped us immensely in our Bedford Project. They are now having a huge project in Nigeria and were only here for that week and would be going away again soon and this was their only chance to get Fr.Guy and myself together before Guy heads back to Canada at the beginning of August. It gave me a chance, too, to check into the insurance of Nomonde’s new car to get a better deal, and to bring Nothemba (from Landsend) to town to connect her with our new IT man, one of Guy’s boys, so that she could get her printer fixed and maybe find out how to get on the internet. I also managed to see Sinovuyo who had just come back from Germany and was very happy and could connect him with someone who would help to market his goods (he is a self-made tailor and does beautiful stuff.) On the way back I stopped at the dealer where we got Nomonde’s  car as he had promised a good  used car (now it is euphemistically called “pre-owned”)  but the deal fell through when the guy asked more that I was able to give. To cut a long story short, on the 11th of July I got a confirmation from a guy I had contacted on the internet to sell his vehicle to me for R35,000. He wanted R38,000 but I said I didn’t have it so he agreed to R35,000. On Sunday, the 13th,  We clinched the deal and he brought the car (which we had seen and test-driven on Saturday with a friend who knows cars and approved) and left it here. That afternoon I returned the rent-a-car to Avis as it was the last day to use the car—the 30 days were up.

     This week I have been going up the hill to the Augustinian Sisters at Jacob’s Well, a retreat center overlooking a breathtaking view of the valley of a thousand hills each morning for Mass and 9am (not my usual time as you know). On Monday I went to get the roadworthy clearance and they found a few things wrong that needed fixing before I could take it for registering. On Tuesday, I took it to get those things fixed and got the COR as they call it. On Wednesday, today, I go the thing registered—two hours in the queue. Holy Moses. By the time I finally got to the window, I was ready to burst my bladder. Luckily I could rush out with the precious papers and find a tree just in time. Ha. Don’t laugh. You will get your turn one day.

     Then I had to get the new license plates this afternoon and now I am finished. Hooray. Tomorrow another trip up to the sisters and Friday and then Saturday an ordination here at Mariannhill—two of our young men. We have been waiting for them. Sunday I will be at Savannah Park again with the fledgling community so we are back on track. I think that that is enough for now. We have had another wi-fi installed today and at first it was working fine but then it just fell apart and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Nothing works now. I am writing this offline and, maybe tomorrow, if we manage to get back on line, I will send it out. So, for now, have a great day. Never a dull moment. Love and Peace, Cas

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3rd (I don't know where I am at now_

Dear Everyone,                                                                                                                     June 14, 2014

Hey, lots of water over the dam since I last entered something in my blog, way back in May . Let me start with May 14th . I returned from a very relaxing and informative 12 days in Zibabwe. My car was delivered back to me that night with some improvements.  On the 15th I got my computer back from Shirley’s son, Peter, again, with some improvements. On the 16th I collected a bunch of old clothes and off cuts to be taken to Landsend for use by the poor there. I stopped to fill up with petrol in the afternoon (for the trip on the 17th to Mthatha—about 300 miles or 5 hours driving). When the tank was full and I wanted to pull off, it wouldn’t start. The guys at the petrol station said it was definitely the battery and phoned a battery place to order a battery for only R980 or so. But, unfortunately (for them) he had no transport to deliver. So they scouted around a bit more and tried using the jumper cables to get it started but that didn’t work either. So they said I needed a new starter (changing their tune from battery to starter motor). I asked them to just give me a push and let me get back to the monastery which they did. The car was full up with used clothing and off cuts and, since it wouldn’t start, I parked in on a slight incline because I was determined to head for Mthatha in the morning.

     I arrived in Mthatha , never turning off the engine till I got there and made arrangements with our mechanic to see him on Monday to see if he could fix it. I slept at Bedford that night and kept my fingers crossed that it would start in the morning, which it did. I had Mass with Fr. Guy at Sabelani Sun. morning and visited the sisters at the convent in Mthatha. Car wouldn’t start and I had to get the confreres from Abbot Francis to push it (backwards) and it started easily. I managed to get out to Landsend to leave the old clothes and off cuts there, seeing Nothemba and Sinovuyo. Parked on a hill and needed it to start. Frustrating. 

On Monday, the 19th May, we had our big CMM meeting with the superior general and his councilor where CMM things were discussed, especially the matter of Guy and the bishop. Too much talk and not much else. However, the Superior General had visited the bishop and the bishop sent a message to the SG that he would like to see Guy and his lawyer to meet with himself and his lawyer. This was progress. We had a braii (cook out) and just relaxed a bit and discussed, informally, what had been discussed formally in the meeting. (I had taken the car to the garage before the meeting and it was diagnosed as needing a small part but a part that would not be sold separately from the whole starter motor.There you are.  So he ordered a starter motor and by the time I was leaving on Wednesday, it still wasn’t there so I told him to cancel it and I would take it to a friend in Durban who would have a look at it)

That evening I spent with Guy and the boys at Sabelani (home for boys) and slept there and again on Tuesday night. ON Wed. morning we organized a 7am meeting with Mr. Sachin, the troubleshooter from Eskom (electricity supply) to solve some problems (we have been working on these problems for more than 2 yrs.( and then I headed back to Mariannhill. I stopped on the way to visit a friend whose  arches had collapses on both feet and he couldn’t walk.One had bee repaired earlier but this one needed special surgeryand he had a big boot on his right foot that he would have to wear fro a couple ofmonths.That was on the 21st. The car continued to start or not start, like Russian roulette. Mostly it started but you had to be wary and prepared.

I slid back into my usual routine for Friday and on Saturday I took Bishop (emeritus) Lobinger to the airport for his home leave trip to Germany. I spent the morning with the friend who specializes in helping Cas, and fixing Opel Astras. He fixed the problem with the starter and when I was ready to go home to fetch the bishop and take him to the airport, ha, it wouldn’t start again. So he had to crawl around under the car till he found what the problem was and  fixed it. I was sweating because we were cutting it rather fine for getting  the bishop to the airport.

On Sunday, the 25thMay, I took one of the sisters from the hospital to Savannah Park to get her involved with the community and to give them a chance to see a real live, active, young(er) nun. She was then invited to join their choir and since she is the head matron of the hospital, she has her own transport so she is free to drive herself if she wants. We then went to a home for a nice bryani lunch. And then home.

From Monday 26thMay to Wed. 28th May, I attended a workshop on Leadership and Ethics at Glenmore Center, a conference center in Durban. I won’t go into details but it was presented by a prof. from Chicago, an Italian American, and he could easily have been a stand up comedian, which made his lectures enjoyable and interesting but, too American. I felt that many of the references that he made (like Saturday Night Live) went over the heads of many of the African participants, and he talked way too fast especially with his American Chicago accent. Otherwise his presentation were lively and excellent. One of the things that came up was that one of the virtues that is often lacking in leaders is humility, being able to admit that they made a mistake.

On the 29th May, I picked up some copies of the wedding brochure which I had suggested to my cousin’s daughter for the wedding in September in Milwaukee. After that I took one of our students to the prison to visit his brother who is one of 4 or 5 accused of murdering one of our priests at his mission. That was 4 yrs. ago and the trial is still going on. They were supposed to hear their sentences the next week but it was postponed, again, till August. Holy Moses. They have been in jail all this time without being sentenced. What the heck is going on

It is now July 2nd. Time flies. I think I have to fast forward to June 26th.(Then, if I have a chance, I will fill in before that).
    A funeral. On June 15th. One of our elderly sisters, Sr. Mary Paule, originally from Idaho, who joined the CPS (Precious Blood Sistrers) way back in the late 40’s, came out to South Africa around “52 and taught at one of our Catholic Schools, Mariazell, from ’55 to ’74. She was a great teacher teaching English. Then she came to Mthatha and got involved in social work and eventually started something like 21 NGO’s mostly for children and battered women. 82 yrs. old this yr. She was busy delivering goodies to Thembalihle Home (for abused children) when she was spotted by a couple of young gangsters who grabbed the keys from her, shoved  her into the back seat and drove off with her and one of them in the back seat and the other speeding off. A gun was pointed at her and she was trying to tell the driver to slow down, frightened to death. As a matter of fact, she tried to get them to stop the car because she felt that she was having a heart attack. They kept going and, yes, she passed away, probably literally frightened to death. They must have damaged the care somehow as they were driving kind of wild and eventhally dumped her now dead body, fully clothed as a nun with a white habit, into a ditch with water and went on their way. They had been driving in one direction with the intention to rob some stores but it was Sunday and all the stores were closed and locked tight so they went back to town and were driving around with this now damaged car and were spotted by friends who knew her car and who gave chase after informing the police. The two crashed the car and fled. The others waited for the police to come. When they went into the car, they guys were in such a hurry that they left a cell phone and a gun. The cell phone led the police to their home and eventually to them and their arrest. The will be up for bail on July 4th.

     I swear that there were about 2000 people at the funeral, representing many NGO’s most of which she had started and supported up till her death. She was a fantastic woman. She didn't easily fit into the usual convent schedule but the convent discovered why when the throngs came to celebrate her life and accompany her on her final journey home. (More later or another time. I have to go and make some salad now.) Cas

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dear Everyone,                                                                                                                     June 14, 2014

Hey, lots of water over the dam since I last entered something in my blog, way back in May . Let me start with May 14th . I returned from a very relaxing and informative 12 days in Zibabwe. My car was delivered back to me that night with some improvements.  On the 15th I got my computer back from Shirley’s son, Peter, again, with some improvements. On the 16th I collected a bunch of old clothes and off cuts to be taken to Landsend for use by the poor there. I stopped to fill up with petrol in the afternoon (for the trip on the 17th to Mthatha—about 300 miles or 5 hours driving). When the tank was full and I wanted to pull off, it wouldn’t start. The guys at the petrol station said it was definitely the battery and phoned a battery place to order a battery for only R980 or so. But, unfortunately (for them) he had no transport to deliver. So they scouted around a bit more and tried using the jumper cables to get it started but that didn’t work either. So they said I needed a new starter (changing their tune from battery to starter motor). I asked them to just give me a push and let me get back to the monastery which they did. The car was full up with used clothing and off cuts and, since it wouldn’t start, I parked in on a slight incline because I was determined to head for Mthatha in the morning.

     I arrived in Mthatha , never turning off the engine till I got there and made arrangements with our mechanic to see him on Monday to see if he could fix it. I slept at Bedford that night and kept my fingers crossed that it would start in the morning, which it did. I had Mass with Fr. Guy at Sabelani Sun. morning and visited the sisters at the convent in Mthatha. Car wouldn’t start and I had to get the confreres from Abbot Francis to push it (backwards) and it started easily. I managed to get out to Landsend to leave the old clothes and off cuts there, seeing Nothemba and Sinovuyo. Parked on a hill and needed it to start. Frustrating. 

On Monday, the 19th, we had our big CMM meeting with the superior general and his councilor where CMM things were discussed, especially the matter of Guy and the bishop. Too much talk and not much else. However, the Superior General had visited the bishop and the bishop sent a message to the SG that he would like to see Guy and his lawyer to meet with himself and his lawyer. This was progress. We had a braii (cook out) and just relaxed a bit and discussed, informally, what had been discussed formally in the meeting. (I had taken the car to the garage before the meeting and it was diagnosed as needing a small part but a part that would not be sold separately from the whole starter motor.There you are.  So he ordered a starter motor and by the time I was leaving on Wednesday, it still wasn’t there so I told him to cancel it and I would take it to a friend in Durban who would have a look at it)

That evening I spent with Guy and the boys at Sabelani (home for boys) and slept there and again on Tuesday night. ON Wed. morning we organized a 7am meeting with Mr. Sachin, the troubleshooter from Eskom (electricity supply) to solve some problems (we have been working on these problems for more than 2 yrs.( and then I headed back to Mariannhill. I stopped on the way to visit a friend whose  arches had collapses on both feet and he couldn’t walk.One had bee repaired earlier but this one needed special surgeryand he had a big boot on his right foot that he would have to wear fro a couple ofmonths.That was on the 21st. The car continued to start or not start, like Russian roulette. Mostly it started but you had to be wary and prepared.

I slid back into my usual routine for Friday and on Saturday I took Bishop (emeritus) Lobinger to the airport for his home leave trip to Germany. I spent the morning with the friend who specializes in helping Cas, and fixing Opel Astras. He fixed the problem with the starter and when I was ready to go home to fetch the bishop and take him to the airport, ha, it wouldn’t start again. So he had to crawl around under the car till he found what the problem was and  fixed it. I was sweating because we were cutting it rather fine for getting  the bishop to the airport.

On Sunday, the 25th, I took one of the sisters from the hospital to Savannah Park to get her involved with the community and to give them a chance to see a real live, active, young(er) nun. She was then invited to join their choir and since she is the head matron of the hospital, she has her own transport so she is free to drive herself if she wants. We then went to a home for a nice bryani lunch. And then home.

    From Monday 26th to Wed. 28th , I attended a workshop on Leadership and Ethics at Glenmore Center, a conference center in Durban. I won’t go into details but it was presented by a prof. from Chicago, an Italian American, and he could easily have been a stand up comedian, which made his lectures enjoyable and interesting but, too American. I felt that many of the references that he made (like Saturday Night Live) went over the heads of many of the African participants, and he talked way too fast especially with his American Chicago accent. Otherwise his presentation were lively and excellent. One of the things that came up was that one of the virtues that is often lacking in leaders is humility, being able to admit that they made a mistake.

On the 29th I picked up some copies of the wedding brochure which I had suggested to my cousin’s daughter for the wedding in September in Milwaukee. After that I took one of our students to the prison to visit his brother who is one of 4 or 5 accused of murdering one of our priests at his mission. That was 4 yrs. ago and the trial is still going on. They were supposed to hear their sentences the next week but it was postponed, again, till August. Holy Moses. They have been in jail all this time without being sentenced. What the heck is going on.


Hey, it is now the 24th of June and it seems that the hurrier I go the behinder I get. I will put this looooong epistle out and try again next week. Enough is enough and maybe even too much. Cas.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17, 2014
   
This is just a kind of afterthought. I sent this message to a few people and then thought that I might as well share it with  you all. It is what happened since I returned from Zimbabwe on Wednesday the 14th of May.
     I flew up to Harare, Zim on the 2nd of May and stayed with some dear friends till the 7th when I flew down to Bulawayo to visit our Mariannhill confreres there and then back on the 9th to the 14th when I returned to SA.  While in Harare I managed to visit old friends at the Dominican Convent (we worked together in Zambia before we both moved down to Zimbabwe back in the 70's) and also my Jesuit friends at Aruppe college and at Silveira House where some are teaching Philosophy and others and running  courses for various skills and projects. Also met the head of Justice and Peace to understand a bit about what they are doing under the present circumstances, and a few others who have been working with NGO's who are in the picture. I also visited our new house in Harare near Aruppe College and Trinity college where our guys will study philosophy and theology because it is much cheaper than here in SA. I also had the pleasure of celebrating Mass at our CPS house in Harare twice. I paid a special visit to my old haunt, Imbisa (Inter-regional meeting of the bishops of southern africa) where I lived and worked with refugees (exiles) from 1988 to 1992. I met a friend and colleage, Fr. Richard Menatsi who has been the secretary for the past 5 1/2 yrs. and is ready to come back to SA.
     In Bulawayo I visited the CPS sisters and especially one of our sisters from Mthatha, Sr. Martina, who is working for a project called Mustardseed Project. Physically challenged children being taught to do handwork, sewing, candle making, etc. She is enjoying it and it is a great project. CMM also has a project in the offing for building a school for skills training that is greatly needed in their rural area. I also saw, among others, Fr. Andy Heier, the only other American who has been working in Zim for many years now and is finally retired like myself--re-tyred. We also visited our candidates and hope that one or the other will pick up the baton and carry on were we left off.
    But with the indiginization policy for businesses in Zim, many businesses have had to close down and the unofficial number of unemployed is 80%. That means now money is circulating. Only a comparative few have the US dollars to buy things. Everything is presently available but it may not last through next year when things will have come to a head. People survived the total collapse of the economy in 2008 so they feel that they will also be able to survive whatever happens next year.
so that is the Zim story. Now after the return..

  I had a wonderful time in Zim and settled back in at MD, catching up on things. My car wouldn't start yesterday after fetching a lot of used clothing etc. at Estie's. I was at the petrol station and it just wouldn't start after filling up with petrol. The guys in the petrol station said it was a cell in the battery that was dead and I would need a new battery and they phoned to get a price and to have it delivered now, now. Only R982 or something like that. Ha! But because the battery place had no transport just at that moment, they tried getting it started with jumper cables. That didn't help either. so they were sure that I needed a new starter motor. Ha again! But that they couldn't do there so I got a push to get it started and drove to the monastery. There I parked on a small hill so that, in the morning, come hell or high water, I would be able to go to Mthatha. (I left at 7:30am and arrived at 12:30 just after noon. That is averaging about 100km. and hour. Not bad. That vehicle moves nicely.) After breakfast I got a crew to help to push to get it started -- including two bishops, Ha again, but before they started pushing, I tried to start it again and it started nicely. I had phoned Neil who had done some fixing and repairing while I was gone (he washed and polished it and blacked the tires and polished the inside as well so that it looked better than a new car) and he said that they had put in some new brushed in the starter so it might be that one of them got stuck a bit when it was heated or maybe they might need to be sanded slightly so that they slide up and down easily. Well, I prayed and talked to the  Lord and asked him to cool down those brushes or whatever was needed and he did. So it started nicely and I never stopped till I got here (except once to empty my bursting bladder). 
     I grabbed a lunch with Guy and some of the boys and at 2pm we had a meeting till about 5pm about the future of Sabelani and the boys. We yakitty yaked and had supper together and at about 7:15 pm I left. I don't like driving at night but I took it easy and went out to Bedford to our office where I will get a good and long night's sleep. Everyone says how good I look. Yes, indeed, I had a marvelous holiday with fantastic  hosts and that explains it. I was treated like royalty and spoiled silly and I must say that I didn't mind. 

     So, tomorrow Guy and I will celebrate mass together at the kitchen table and I will take the clothes out to Nothemba at Landsend after lunch. On Monday we meet for the last time with Fr. Damian and Thulani from Rome on their official visitation, and then they will go home and I will head back to Mariannhhill on Wednesday.
    So that brings you all up to date on my horribly boring (???) life. Love and peace, Cas

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10, 2014
     I am kind of rushing this off because I am not in the mood to sit down and do something proper right now. When I get home, SA, I will try to update you on things here in Zim.

     Sorry. I forgot, perhaps, to let you know that I would be travelling to Zimbabwe from the 2nd  of May till the 14th. I have been in Harare from the 2nd to the 7th and then down to Byo from the 7th to the 9th (Mariannhill ran the diocese from the beginning and there is a new crop coming up---some good things and some not so good things) and am back in Harare again since yesterday. I am meeting people that I haven't seen for maybe 20 yrs. and am being spoiled rotten and enjoying it. I still want to visit the offices of Imbisa (Interregiional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa) where I worked from 88 to 92 and also the J&P office to  see how they are able to operate in the present circmstances. Also, I hope to visit the Jesuits, who have done great things here in Zim.
    As soon as I get back, 15th and 16th, May, I will be collecting old clothes for Landsend, as winter is coming, and on the 17th I will drive down to Mthatha where we will be having CMM meetings especially with our boss, Fr. Damina, who is here from Rome. On the 19th we have a gathering of all the guys from the Mthatha Province and, after that, I will be coming back on the 21st. There is a planned workshop at Glenmore Center on Ethical Leadership. I think it is from the 24th to the 26 th, 9am to 3:30 pm
    Love and Peace, Cas

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dear Everyone,                                                                                                                         April 24, 2014
Well, Easter is over, come and gone and it has been, for me, a busy time but also a time or deeper reflection especially watching the so-called “faithful” who were attending the services, knowing that each one had his or her own personal problems and challenges in his or her own life and were looking for strength and help in order to deal with them in a good way, as it were, in God’s eyes.
     On Holy Thursday I washed the feet of a Zulu man who was in a wheelchair and another Zulu patient who was mobile but hospitalized. I knew that they were thinking of their families and would have longed to be anywhere but here in the hospital, but…. I am sure that they never could have dreamt that they would see the priest up close and personal like this, an umlungu (white man) on top of it, washing their feet. Holy Moses, what is the world coming to. Then there was an off duty nurse (also Zulu) and two sisters, one Zulu and one German, both nurses at St. Mary’s hospital. It has been my custom for many years now to wash the feet of 3 men and 3 boys (males), and three women and three girls (females), so it was nice to know that the Pope and I are on the same page in that respect. I don’t know if the patients were catholic or not but I am sure that God was not in the mood for making fine distinctions that evening. It was a good reminder of what the world needs, more than the symbolic washing of each other’s feet, but really taking time to help one another in our various needs according to our abilities.
    Then, Good Friday, we made the stations of the Cross, e.g. the imaginary way that Christ walked on his way to his cricufixion at Calvary. There are 14 stations, the first one being that Jesus is condemned to death by pilate. Each station has a short reflection and a prayer. This particular way of the cross, as it is also called, was trying to look at this way of the cross through Mary’s eyes, Jesus mother. How would a mother feel if her son, whom she raised as a child, and who had always been a good kid and a good grown man as well, going out of his way to help and heal people. How could they do this to my son, you could imagine her saying. An how many mothers are doing exactly the same thing today in so many countries where there is so much violence and where the youngsters are caught up in it, often just because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I won’t go through all the other stations but they end with Jesus being taken down from the cross and being put in her arms. You can imagine her grief and sorrow. And, once again, how many mothers who have been given the bodies of their children who have been shot dead by the police or eliminated by some gang because he was out of his territory or whatever. Jesus suffers and weeps with those mothers because he surely loves those kids as much as or more than the mothers. Gives lots of things to think about how Jesus still suffers and is crucified in so many situations of violence and injustice in our own time.
     Then, as usual, we had the normal service for Good Friday, which mainly focuses on the passion, which is usually read by several people who are then given time to reflect on what this willingness to die on Jesus’ part meant for us. How can one miss the point that “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.”
There is more to it but that is the main part.
     Then comes Holy Saturday sliding into Easter Sunday (He is risen). I took the car to a friend who helped to clean up the headlights which were clouded over by some junk and then it was easier to see when the headlights had been cleaned up. I still don’t like driving at night because the lights from the oncoming cars really blind me, but if I don’t have to go too far and the street is more or less lighted up, I will chance it.
     In the evening I was told we would start at 9pm with Imvuselelo, (wake). I was there at 8:40 and looked around to see if the wood for the Easter fire was there and ready, but nothing. So I just waited till about 9:30 and then asked again and was told that, actually, the service would start at 12 midnight. OK. So I went back home for a bit and came back and then we had a lovelly, happy, joyful celebration of Easter. Hope. Joy. Everyone has his or her problem that s/he is battling with and it is just a reassurance that no matter how impossible the situation may seem, like after Jesus death on the cross, all hopes crushed, there is still and always will be hope. By the time we finished and I got home and into bed  it was 3:30am.
       Sunday was spent visiting friends and EATING all kinds of foods and goodies, and discussing life and the world situation, etc. etc. etc  Just nice socializing.
      On Tuesday I caught a bus and went to Mthatha. I rode with another friend, Theresa, Chisanga, the head of the English Dept. at the University in Mthatha. (WUS—Walter Sisulu University)/ She was up in Durban to assist her daughter wiho had just given birth to her first child. We chatted and dozed. (You see what a normal like I live!!!) I re-connected with my own community there and it was nice. Between the time I arrived on Tuesday afternoon and left on Friday morning, I had given two haircuts (not much hair for us old timers any more), I visited Bedford and checked out things. Made contact with several people to wish them happy Easter and to reassure them that they are not forgotten and abandoned. But the main thing was a meeting with the trouble shooter from Eskom (Electricity suppliers). We have been trying to solve our problem with them for at least three years now and always there it a hitch. Well, I think that we finally succeeded in moving in a forward direction. We also had a long and fruitful discussion about the situation of Fr. Guy and our unhappiness with the response or non-response of the church and the authorities of Mariannhill for resolving his problem. There will be forward movement there too but it will not be so nice.

    The ride home (back to Mariannhill from Mthatha—just over 300 miles) was uneventful. Fr. Malinga, a friend, came along and I dropped him off at his place, went to fill up the vehicle I brought back for the use of the Superior General when he comes, with petrol and got home just in time to try to get on the internet by 4pm only to find that I couldn’t get a signal no matter what I tried. Very Frustrating. I finally managed by changing to another sim card but it was also unsatisfactory. Here I am this morning and I have now given up getting a signal and am finishing this blog which I started yesterday, the 25th. I will try again later in the day when I go to town where I know that I can get a signal. I have a mass this afternoon for a young lady who is graduating. So that is about it for now. Never a dull moment. You can go back to sleep now after reading this long and boring epistle. Cas