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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nov. 10, 2015  3:30pm

Visit to an orthopedic surgeon to check out my knee which has been bothering me.

     He seems to be a very nice guy and he treated my former parish council chairperson and his wife from way back in 69 to 71.
     He felt around the knee with his fingers and said that there is a bit of fluid there. Then he picked up my leg and twisted it one way and asked if I felt any pain. No. then the other way
and again, did I feel any pain. No. after some more moving things around and checking this and that he showed me a knee model and how the ligatures on the side kind of hold it together and there is the cartrilage inside the knee to be a kind of cushion between the two knee bones. He said that it looked like maybe these things were a bit bruised but if I didn't feel any pain when he tried twisting this way and that way, all that was needed was an anti-inflammatory. OK. Injection or pill? I said it is up to you, you are the doctor. So he injected an anti-inflammatory something straight into the knee to clear up the inflammation and to take away, pretty quickly, the pain that might still be left. He then gave me a prescription for some anti-inflammation pills to take for about 10 days. He also suggested that I get something (he showed me a pamphlet) to build up the cartilage that might have been slightly damaged. So I have become a pill taker. Yuk. But the knee does feel better now though it is still not the same as the other leg. He said to give him a call after about 3 weeks and then we will see where to go from there. If he or I aren't satisfied, he will stick a camera in there and take a look to see what the story is, but he said he hopes that that won't be necessary. I should continue to do my bending and unbending exercises as it will strengthen the knee. So that all took about 20 minutes and I am happy. So don't worry . Love and Peace, Cas.

Dec. 2, 2015
     Time seems to fly. Just a few odds and ends. I was delighted to have a grade 7 farewell Mass at Holy Family School. I love being with kids and try to simplify the Liturgy so that they don’t get lost. This school is nominally Catholic but probably 75% of the kids are from some other churches. I think the parents like the ethos and discipline of Catholic schools. )Nov. 13
     I also had a chance to talk to the Catholic Women’s league at their annual general meeting as St. Catherine parish. I tried to open up their minds to Pope Francis’ plea to be a church of the poor and to practice mercy and compassion and forgiveness. Are you prepared to accept gays and lesbians? How about people who have been traumatized by a divorce and have managed to pull their lives together with a new partner. Can you realistically expect them, especially if they are still young, to live as celibates? If they have begun new relationships that also involve children, must they now give up those new relationships, abandon that partner and those children to go back to what??? How can we help them to experience some hope and healing in their situation or do we tell them that there is, unfortunately, no hope for them? 
    I also attended a memorial celebration of an Indian Hindu lady where the grace was said in an Indian language. I was privileged to be invited to this special occasion for a woman who was multi-faithed, and a spark plug in her multi-faith community. She was a neighbor to a Catholic family and they too, have an open house and heart to all people of all faiths. It was uplifting.  Nov. 21
    I also went for my annual prostate checkup and came out with an all clear, as usual. I also popped in to see the orthopedic surgeon to tell him (he wasn’t there so I left a message with is secretary) that I have now reclaimed my bum leg and am 98% happy with it. It is like new, thanks to him. I still wear a knee support when I am working in the garden, which I was, quite heavily, after some nice rains.
     Sundays are almost always with the Zulu community at Savannah Park. They are like sheep without a shepherd if I can’t be there and they are soooo good. They are the church Francis is talking about, the church of the Poor. Nov. 22
                        
   Car blessing; visit to the Auxiliary bishop of Durban re: marriage requirements for my marriage on Jan. 2, 2016; yearly checkup with Dr. Grizic re: prostate—clean bill of health; Take Katrina to lunch on Thanksgiving day—she wanted a Greek restaurant and we found one that was perfect; then to Mala and Ernest for Thanksgiving dinner. Long back, I introduced Katrina to Mala and Ernest (she is a business woman and Ernest is a medical technician specializing in in vitro fertilization—helping women get pregnant when they can’t. (whose fault? Not so clear! Maybe not hers, but low sperm count…) Katrina promises to make the Thanksgiving Dinner. Later, having forgotten this promise, she  was asked by Mala what she would like for Thanksgiving, she said---get this---Macaroni and Cheese. Ha! A first, I believe. So we had what must be the first Thanksgiving Dinner of Macaroni and cheese. Delicious. Some other things too but that was the main meal. This is history. Nov. 26-thanksgising
     All day Friday a funeral of one of our young priests (39 yrs. old), said Mass last Sunday and then dropped dead of a heart attack. You never know. It was a 3 language celebration of his life. English, Zulu (most of the people in the church are Zulu speaking and the people he worked with were Zulu speaking, and Chichirwa, which is the language of Malawi. His mom and some of the family came from Malawi (maybe a 12 hr. drive) for the funeral, and the sermon and later some comforting words were said by priests who came from Malawi or were also working in South Africa. I am sure that it helped to take some of the pain away from such a sad event. Nov. 27
  
Then comes my birthday, Saturday the 28th of Nov. My friend Shirley (we have been friends since I met her in the hospital at St. Mary’s here at Mariannhill, back in 1967, when she gave birth to her last born son. She later, (after I gave her instructions) became a Catholic. She is now 81 yrs. and just had a hip replacement. It has been our custom, when I am around, that I take her for a meal when it is her birthday and she takes me for a meal when It is my birthday. So it was now her turn and she agreed to take me and Katrina to lunch. She says that she booked the restaurant for 12:30. So Katrina and I got there a bit early only to find that Shirley’s daughter needed some help to find a house in a neighboring suberb. She asked if I knew Westville. Well, that depends, I said, but show me the map (from google maps) where you want to go. When I saw the map, I also saw the street name “ High Wycombe”, a very unusual name. I know it because my friend, Rajes, my travel agent lives on that street and I have been there often and so has Katrina because Rajes was organizing her ticket back to the States. Well, Lynn, needed to get some papers from that place in Westville, so I said, follow me and I will take you there. In the meantime, they refined the lie saying that it was Rajes’ house that they were going to but she was having some sort of a gathering and Katrina also left something with her so Rajes said, never mind, just come and collect what you need and it won’t disturb her gathering.
So, we get there and I think that I might as well pop in to say hello while they are getting their things and then get out and go to our lunch. Ha! As I walk in the door, there are 50 or more people singing, “Happy Birthday to you”. Holy Moses. I have never been so caught off guard in all my 80yrs. here on this earth. What is even more amazing is that I see the two retired bishops that I live with. I had told them that I wouldn’t be home for lunch today and they just played the game and said nothing. The already knew this three weeks before but kept the secret. The same with Neil. He changed my oil filter that morning and I told him I had to get out of there as I was being taken out to lunch. He and his wife just kept straight faces. And now, there they were. Plus people from Johannesburg, and from Landsend, and from Klaarwater, and from Chatsworth, and from Westville, and all over. All I could think is “how did Katrina get all these names and address and emails, etc. She must work for the CIA.
Then she produces a video (on the wall) of clips sent if by people from Switzerland, Germany, London, All over the States, Cape Town, relatives and friends, etc. etc. etc. It blew my mind. She had been working of this for a couple of months and had conned others into joining in this conniving event. Lies, lies, lies. And it was awesome. I still haven’t seen the whole video and I am still trying to recuperate for what was the greatest shock in my life. They didn’t realize that, at my age, I might have even had a heart attack!!! From the shock. It was beautiful. They asked a blessing on my continued life here on earth, and I reminded them that they are my blessing, without them my life would be empty. They were  (you all are) a gift from God to me, and I am the one that must say, over and over and over, many thanks. Nov. 28

 Sunday, 29th, I took Katrina to a village near Mthatha to experience the real life of Africa in a village where, I said, she should learn how to carry things on her head, how to gather fire wood, cook African food, wash clothes in the river (if there is water) etc. etc. etc.
     In the meantime, I took Mona, who is one of Fr. Guy’s boys studying nursing, to his surrogate family at Sabelani home, and spent the evening with them where we had supper together and then paid our respects to the ancestors with a sip of Jack (as in Daniels). A fitting close to a lovely day.
     I have been busy visiting people, partly business (my provincial, insurance company, rent collectors for our project at Bedford) and partly keeping our friendships going. We will leave again on Friday to return to Mariannhill. I have pastoral work to do on Sat. and Sun. and Katrina is preparing an event for her kids at the orphanage and Mona has to get back to work at the hospital.

So that’s it for now.  Dec. 2

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nov. 10, 2015

The concert was awesomely beautiful and deeply meaningful. An hour and a half. The Durban Philharmonic orchestra with some compositions especially for the occasion, and there were also, aside from two beautiful choirs (almost all African), some African soloists--soprano woman and two male tenors, Bhuddist drummers (huge drums, 8 of them, and what a sound they made), Hindu dancers (very graceful), a Muslim mad singing an invitation to prayer (lovely voice), a Jewish celloist (they were remembering the horrible Krystalnacht, when, 77 yrs. ago, there was a pogrom against Jews in Germany and someone composed some very moving music that expressed the sadness of that terrible occasion). All religions was represented there and the plea was that they should be an example to the world that the world can be like the Hurley center, all religions working together to make a better world. I wept for most of the time because it was just so beautiful, and meaningful. I am sure that even the angels rejoiced together with Hurley up there.
(I am taking about a concert to celebrate the 100th birthday of Archbishop Denis Hurley at the newly blessed Denis Hurley Center which is a building next to the cathedral in Durban which caters to the poor and marginalized. They have a soup kitchen and feed hundreds of down and out people every day, there is a clinic staffed 24/7 by volunteer doctors and nurses for the homeless people, and there are several offices for migrants where they can get help of one kind or another. All is done on a volunteer basis. It is open to everyone regardless of race or religion. It is a part of the dream of Archbishop Hurley that has finally come true.)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nov. 9, 2015 ---the 100th anniversary of Archbishop Hurley's birth. Big celebrations here today and over the whole weekend.
    The main purpose of this blog today is to remind you all that I don't do "facebook" or "linkedin". I know that I am there on both of them but I just don't have the time to play for hours on those programs. They can be addictive so I just avoid them. If you want to contact me, use my email address which is: frcascmm50@gmail.com . Enjoy the day. Cas.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Nov. 7, 2015

I went, that week, with Katrina, to the opening of  a Health Center at one of the villages not too far from Mariannhill. The Aids Outreach program has not branched out into a more broad brush program so that they try to get a container and then equip it with some basic testing equipment, like eyes, blood pressure, general checkup, keeping records, so that people can have access to some sort of health facility, staffed by a nurse, where there are no facilities available otherwise. It is on the local school grounds, so that the kids have easy access to checkups when they feel that there is something wrong. I was asked to join the Methodist lady priest who gave the blessing. I was privileged. I held the book for her. She was a local minister and that was the way it should be.
    I went to get some spare keys and parked in a zone where you have to pay but it wasn’t visible . I got a ticket after pointing out to the cop that the sign was illegible. He wasn’t impressed. But I went to the municipality and showed him the picture that I took with my cell phone of the sign that was un-readable and got the R100 ticket canceled. Ha! Every  once in a while justice does prevail, but not often enough.
    From the 20th to the 27th,  of Sept. I was in Mthatha. The main thing was to attend a board meeting of the Sabelani Home, and give support to Fr. Guy’s boys (young men). But of course we killed many birds with one stone, checking out our projects here and there and visiting Landsend, or course, and one of the missions at Libode, where Fr. Winfried, who had just returned from his home leave, asked to be visited. Contacted lots of people and caught up on events in their lives as well as Mthatha in general.
     After Mass on the 27th, I caught a plane for Montreal to visit Guy. The report regarding his health was so bad (4th stage  cancer---months not years to live) that I really wanted to see him at least once before he left planet earth for a better place. A friend encouraged me to do it and solved the problem of paying for the air ticket. Otherwise it would not have been possible. So, I spent time with him (and with the rest of the community at our House in Sherbrooke, somewhere between Montreal and Quebec City) and even made a trip to Quebec City were two of our confreres are holding down the fort for what used to be a student house, but now no students. Hm! Guy seemed to be in good spirits and the effects of the cancer didn’t slow him down at all. He had no pains and no other effects that would indicate that he is on the way out. However, we got together every morning for a cup of coffee about 6:30am and when we were finished he went out on the veranda for a smoke. I chided him and told him that that was the same as saying, OK, I am going to die, so why not die happy. Then God would say, OK, if you don’t care, then I don’t care. Go ahead and die!!! I think that if we want God to intervene here then God has a right to expect some cooperation!!! Don’t be a quitter, I said.
    It was healing, I think, for him, just to be close to a good friend and confrere who knows his story and fought with him for recognition for all that he has done.
    I left to return to Mariannhill on the 9th of October. It was just nice and hopeful to be with Guy while praying all the while that God intervene and give him an extension on his ticket so that he can continue doing God’s work. We (all of us) are also praying to Fr. Engelmar (who gave his life to save another prisoner in Dachau) telling him that this is his chance to do a miracle so that he can get canonized. I hope that he is listening and is sympathetic. But then, there are so many other needs of people, like those hundreds of thousands of refugees, migrants, fleeing the war in Syria (and some other places too) only to have some doors slammed in their faces and get stuck in no-man’s land. How sad. Where is God, I think that  they must be thinking.
    While waiting for the plane  to take off  in Monreal, I found myself in a queue at an airport restaurant with a young lady in front of me and a party of 4 in front of her. When she and I were asked how many and said just one, there were no tables for just one, so the girl in front of me, Maki is her name, a Canadian girl of Japanese descent, turned to me and asked if I would agree to take the table that was offered for two. Clever girl. So, of course, we shared a table and had an enjoyable conversation as we devoured our meal. It was delightful.
    When I was leaving Munich (I was supposed to meet friends there but there was a mixup so I spent the whole bloody day in the airport, tired, and unhappy to have missed a chance to connect with good friends) I spotted a nun and just wandered over to ask which community she belongs to. Ha! She is a CPS sister (one of our Mariannhill sisters) from Mozambique. When I asked if she knew Sr. Edwarda, she even got Edwarda on the phone so I could talk to her. We worked together for refugees and exiles when I was in Zimbabwe. Small world and nuns who are familiar, more than me, with It stuff.
     Lots of time has been taken up with grass (weed) cutting and quite a few haircuts. I am getting pretty good at the haircuts now after being out of practice for some time.
   There was a woman who was refused to be buried at her church because she didn’t pay her dues. Yuk! So, we found a parish that let us use their church for the requiem mass and the church was full of her family and relatives and friends. Common sense is so uncommon.
    I had been having Masses at another parish where English is the language used. I like that because then I can tell a few jokes to drive my points home in a friendly and memorable way.
    I also went to fetch my new glasses ( a spare pair) and my eye doctor noticed that I was limping a bit and suggested that I see her friend who is a physiotherapist. I did for two sessions and it was very soothing and helpful. But when she suggested that I see an orthopedic SURGEON, that last word put me off and I went into denial. I don’t want or need a surgeon, was my first thought.  She, Denise, the physio-, invited me to her home for her daughter’s first communion. I  pitched up with Katrina, my niece, not knowing anyone there except the new physio, Denise, and when the people began to arrive after the Mass, I discovered that I knew at least a dozen of them with one connection or another. Ha! If you live long enough, you probably have bumped into most people and the world being round offers great opportunities for that.
    More grass cutting. And my long time friend, Shrirley, went to the hospital for a hip replacement. We have been friends since 1967 when she came to St. Mary’s hospital to give birth to her last born son, when I was chaplain there.
     My friend, Reinhard, who works for Pfizer, came to check on one of his projects in Namibia, and then passed through Durban to check on some other things and we got together with my niece Katrina for a meal. It was nice and made up  for having missed him (and his dad) when I passed through Munich on the way back here from Canada.
     On Saturday, the 24th, I started a retreat for men in St. Catherine’s parish , nearby, at 6:30 am with breakfast, ending at 10am. I loved it and I think that so did they. Part of it was their having to read two handouts I had given to three groups, one handout being what was going on in the synod, the tug of war between the so-called conservatives who said no to any changes, and the so-called liberals who were in favor of allowing communion to divorced and remarried, making space for gays and lesbians, and even, maybe, recognizing gar marriages. The other handout was entitled “ a second marriage can be a blessing”. After they had had time to digest and share with one another these two articles, it was clear that this was exactly  what was happening at the synod, some on this side and some on the other side, both sides convinced that their stand was for the good of the Church. Very interesting, and enjoyable, that we could be on different sides of a thorny issue and still be friends and respect and love one another. We need more of that.

October 30, 2015
Wow! Time flies. It is over a month since I "blogged". Partly running and partly just too lazy. I am also running now. I have a dentist appointment at 8am this morning (it is just 5:45am) and then I take my grand niece to a doctor in Pinetown as she has been having stomach pains. She is a gem. I am proud of her and will miss her a lot when her visa runs out at the end of December and she has to leave.
    However, please excuse me for now. I promise that I will catch you up when we have completed our visits to doctors. In the meantime, stay well and enjoy our lovely weather. Cas.


    Some more hospital visits, hair cuts, grass cutting etc. to fill in the rather hot days we were having.
    Then something very special. I made some Aunt Jemima’s pancakes for our guys who had no idea what delicious Aunt Jemima pancakes are all about. Plus,  I opened the other tin of genuine Canadian maple syrup. The recipe said this batch should make 10 to 12 pancakes. Ha! I was lucky to get 6 out of that batch and had to make another batch. This was for breakfast on Wednesday the 28th. Well, it was a sell-out. All gone.
     Katrina came to me on Thursday to say that she had had a tummy ache since Tuesday, not in one place and not all the time, but here and there. So I got her an appointment with doctor Sabbatini (his son Rory Sabbatini is a professional golfer, you may have heard of him) and after giving here a thorough going over came to the conclusion that it was worms. This is not unusual for us here. So he prescribed some medicine and she has been taking it since then. It is a longer process so she says that it is improving a bit, she thinks, but if it persists we have plan B, another doctor who will re-check her.
     I had bought some oil for the car and went for  a service to a friend and met many of the family that I hadn’t met before or hadn’t seen in a long time and I was forced (Ha) to join them for a curry dinner (as you know, I am addicted to curry. It is worse for me that Heroin).
    In the meantime, I think that I have decided to do away with my denial and will agree to let my friend organize for me an orthopedic surgeon to take a scan of this troublesome left knee and find out what is wrong with it, hoping that it doesn’t need any cutting and chopping.  

Nov. 7, 2015

Whew! That is the longest epistle I thin k I have ever put together. You should go and rest now and try  to recover.  I think that I must be more pro-active and not let things go so loooong. Lots of love. Cas
    


Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 30, 2015
Wow! Time flies. It is over a month since I "blogged". Partly running and partly just too lazy. I am also running now. I have a dentist appointment at 8am this morning (it is just 5:45am) and then I take my grand niece to a doctor in Pinetown as she has been having stomach pains. She is a gem. I am proud of her and will miss her a lot when her visa runs out at the end of December and she has to leave.
    However, please excuse me for now. I promise that I will catch you up when we have completed our visits to doctors. In the meantime, stay well and enjoy our lovely weather. Cas.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sept. 27, 2015
     I started this update on the 12th of August but somehow got sidetracked and ran out of time. I am heading for Canada this afternoon to visit my confrere and colleague Fr. Guy who has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I have an 8am Mass and will then come home, leave my church stuff here and will be taken to the airport by Bishop Lobinger. I will arrive in Montreal tomorrow and will be back in SA on the 9th of Oct. I will try to catch you up again then. In the meantime, love and Peace, Cas. (Here's what I put together till now--below)

Sept. 14th, 2015

Holy Moses, more than a month has gone by and I have been very slack about keeping up my blog. Lots has happened, for all of us, this past month.
    Well, let’s start with the memory stick that I spent so much on. The dirty rat didn’t tell me that it only transfers pictures, not text. Too late to take it back. I am counting on Katrina, my grand niece, to get me ready for next year. We both noticed that time is flying. She has been here already 8 months and there are still many things and people that she must experience and meet. One must is a week in a village to see the real Africa. I will organize that next week when I go to Mthatha for a BOM meeting with Guy’s boys at the new Sabelani Home.
    I invited my old friend, Shirley Howells, to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate her 81st birthday. She still teaches art to a few students to be able to cover expenses. Why is it that some people have to work till they drop. She knows that if push came to shove her sons would certainly take care of her but you know how we all are. We like to help but don’t like to be helped. We can do it ourselves. We like to be in control, don’t we!!!
That was on August 15th. It was also her 43rd anniversary of being received into the Catholic church  at an all African parish. Wow! With all the ups and downs of life, the faith has managed to stay stuck.
     Aside from all the ordinary stuff, like Sunday Masses at Savannah Park, with the sisters at the cottage at the hospital, taking an occasional class with the novices, having  a Mass for Matric (senior year) students from Holy Family School, etc, etc. etc. the main event of the week was the funeral of Fr. Cyril Malinga who was the Canon Lawyer who helped Fr. Guy in his case with the bishop of Mthatha, having received instructions from the CMM Generalate to get him to take up the case. He wasn’t 50 yet but was a hard worker and was known as one of the best Canon Lawyers in South Africa. I visited him several times in the hospital when he was in a coma (which he never came out of). I would pray in his ear as there was no response otherwise, hoping that he could hear and be comforted by my and the Lord’s presence. There were well over a hundred priests and several bishops at his funeral, not that that means anything special. I don’t think that there were any bishops at my mom’s funeral but I know that were she is she is looking down on Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and us priests and religious.
    On Saturday, the 21st of August, my niece, Ann, a medical doctor, arrived by plane here in Durban, to visit her daughter, Katrina, the one who is the volunteer at the orphanage  here at Mariannhill.  She had a few tons of stuff  that she brought for the kids, and we had to stuff two cars with these things, my little Hyundai, and her rented car. Katrina was delighted because she has felt deprived as she had no vehicle to drive and didn’t want to drive mine because it is a stick shift and we drive on the other side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side. At least with this rent a car it was an automatic. She confidently said I could go ahead and head for home and she knew the way. Clever girl. So she was in her glory as she chauffeured he mom and her aunt (who came two days later) around this area of South Africs. They spent  a couple of nights in a game park, and another couple of nights at St. Lucia, which is a World Heritage Site, among other things, a fresh water lagoon that lies next to the  Indian Ocean, and which is home to many Hippos. Then they spent a couple of nights and days at a place called Ballito where they had a flat overlooking the sea. Katrina and her aunt spent most of the time in the water while Ann chilled out reading. I was able to get free for one afternoon and an overnighter and came up to join them and have a meal together and some time to catch up on each other’s lives.
    I hadn’t been in the sea for a long time and Ann and I went down to take a dip. I love the sea and love to do body surfing. I forgot that I am almost 80yrs. old now and not as fit as I used to be when I was a very young 40 or so. Ha! I caught a wave, and it also caught me, and spun me around, and knocked me about, and deposited me on the beach with sand having gone into all human orifices ( I won’t go into detail). While I was contemplating this situation, on my hands and knees, trying to stand up, another wave came and sent me flying further up the beach. Once again, as I tried to get up, ha, another wave sent bashed me eve further up the beach, and I really struggled to get up but couldn’t. A young man next to me asked if I needed some help and I said yes, yes, yes. He held out his arm and I grabbed on and manage to get to me feet that way. I think that this episode would have made a great hit on “funny videos” or something like that.  I must have twisted my knee in my efforts to get myself right side up as I have been having trouble with my left knee the past few days. I get these jerky spasms , especially at night, and eventually got myself something like and Ace Bandage (stretch bandage) and some gel to put some heat on that knee and calm it down. I also discovered that one of the possible reasons for that is a lack of Magnesium . I looked it up on Google and found out that there are no special foods that you can eat to up your supply but you have to go to the  chemist shop (pharmacy) to get some  capsules that you take before meals. I think that they are helping and I take them especially when I am out cutting the grass or doing some other strenuous exercise where you use muscles (that you are not normally used to using, Ha again,).
After their stint at the sea, the three of them went up to the Drakensberg mountains and were enthralled by the beauty. There was no snow but the weather was pleasant except in the early morning where it was pretty cold.
They enjoyed the time here. The last few days I dragged them to friends so that they could see who my family is here on this side of the ocean. I have been blessed both ways---a fantastic family at home in the States, and solid friends who have become my surrogate family here in Africa (next year I will have been here for 50 yrs. ). So both families met each other and shared a few moments of each other’s lives, over some delicious meals.
    In the meantime, I was busy with lots of other things.
On August 22nd we buried Br. Eric. He had celebrated his 84th birthday not too long before. But he suffered from dementia and slowly but surely went downhill till he had to go to the hospital and it was there, after a bit less than two weeks that he passed away quietly. He had been the one in charge of our house here, called Mater Dolorosa (Mother of  Sorrows). Bad name for a house like ours, I think. He had to do the buying and maintaining, etc. but it was getting too much for him and, after answering his plea to get a replacement, Br. Lloyd, a Zimbabwean came and took over about a year ago.
     As you know, I am up early (usually between 4 and 4:30am) and I go down to the kitchen to have a bowl of Bran Flakes. You know what that is supposed to be for! Well, often, I would find Br. Eric going down the hall naked from the waist down and it was in winter and was cold. When I would ask where he was going, he would say, maybe, to his room, but he was going in the wrong direction.  He once said, when I found him in the hallway, going, again in the opposite direction to his room, I asked why he was out in the hall. He said that he had to pee. I said the hall isn’t the place to pee, let’s go to your room. Well, by the time I got his pants down and his underwear down and, lo and behold, a nappie with Velcro clasps, it he had to do that by himself, it would have been way too late. But the best was when I was showing a couple of nuns around the place, one an African and the other a so-called coloured, we met Br. Eric in the sitting room. Unfortunately, he had taken his pants and underwear off and was standing there, like that when we walked in. Before I could try to explain anything, the African sister went to the other end of the room where his pants were lying, where he had taken them off, brought I got most of it cut that week and just today I finished a part that was growing too fast.
    There have been reports of some kind of Satanism in the nurses quarters that was slipping into the hospital. The chaplain organized for several of us priests (and even a retired bishop) to join in a Mass for the patients, to protect them against and the possible harm and hurt of these evil spirits. I took the maternity ward, the children’s ward, and 4 other medical wards. I explain at each place that we are sent by the authorities to pray for them, the patients, that they not be bothered with bad spirits, but that they may find healing here and go back home to look after their families. After hearing the explanation, they are all happy to be prayed for, not just Catholics. No one objects to any priest or minister coming to pray for them . I also remind them that we pray for them every day in our chapel so that they can hurry up and get healed and get back to their families where they are being waited for as much as they are longing to be back home.
    Last Sunday I took a mass in German for the German community, including families with kids who go to German school and who are sent back to German speaking Europe to spend time with their grandparents or aunts and uncles and cousins. I surprised myself by getting through it without a hitch.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August 12, 2015
I thought I had better do this now than wait again for a whole month. I have been asked by several of our young guys to be their spiritual director. What that means is that, from time to time, they come to explain how they are getting on and some of the ups and downs in their lives and I should somehow accompany them and help them and encourage them and, if necessary, scold them and tell them to get back on track, but work along with them on their life journey. I am honored to be invited to do this accompaniment.
On The 27th of July we celebrated our feast day—St. Anne---Mari ANN hill. We get together and renew our vows again. I guess it is like a wedding anniversary when the couple renew their marriage vows. We have to remember that we came “to serve and not to be served”. Some get it the wrong way around.
    The young guy, Mona, one of Fr. Guy’s sons, who is doing nursing, had a 21st birthday. At Sabelani, Fr. Guy always made birthdays a Sabelani celebration. Many of them never experienced a birthday celebration, cake, soft drinks, gifts and all. Since Mona is here and has no one to help him to celebrate, and 21st birthday is a really big day here, I took him shopping for birthday gifts. Shoes, pants, socks, underwear, warm jacket, etc.  Around R2000. Hey, clothes are expensive, but if you compare to the State, that would be about$180 right now.    Not that bad. But he has no family. We are it. So he was happy. He gets R200 ($18) for food each week. Unfortunately, last week Friday, he was running late and it was dark before he left here for home. He was threatened with a knife (3 guys) who took his money and his cell phone. Damn! I feel like I want to be a vigilante. We really get fed up with these petty crooks, most of them on some kind of drugs, who terrorize ordinar y people every day.
     I had a home mass for a friend whose wife’s mother passed away and we wanted to remember her passing as well as another member of the family. We remembered all those who had touched our lives and have now gone home. Clive lost his foot to gangrene (caused by his diabetes) a few months ago and he used this mass as a chance to thank those many who came to celebrate with him. It was very touching. He had looked death in the eye several times during the time before and after the amputation and everyone came to visit, help the family, give support in many ways and he was thanking them.
    On the first of August, I had the privilege of giving a day’s recollection to a bunch of women, CWL, Catholic Womens’ League. We started at quarter to six in the morning with breakfast and then went on till 10 am. You know now busy housewives are (it was Saturday, shopping, house cleaning, etc.) The topic was relationships and how important they are in our lives—with God, with self, with family, with others, with mother earth. Lots to reflect on and be grateful for . You know what I mean. Several of those women who attended reminded me of how I had touched their lives way back when and they were grateful for how I helped them then. Sometimes I can’t even remember any more.
    On Sunday the 2nd, after the 9am Mass at the hospital, I had another mass with the senior students  (girls) at our St. Francis College ) all young African women. I always enjoy being with youth and I think we both enjoyed the celebration. One of them commented later to the Sister who brought them that my sharing with them about my life impressed her in that she said that my life was just like their lives, ordinary things. Ha! I take that as a compliment.
     I had promised one of the ladies who works here at Mater Dolorosa that I would help her with the tuition for her son at St. Francis College (a Catholic School whose fees are quite high. One has to compete with the government schools). Nothing seemed to be moving since we handed in our application long ago. So I went to shake the tree a bit and found out that what was needed was a R1000 deposit for registration; last June’s results, and a letter of recommendation from the school where he is attending now. Because she works and I loaf all day, I said that I would organize these things. I did. So we are now waiting for the call for the interview. Everything takes time.
    I ‘ve been taking the hospital chaplain’s place since the 3rd of August having Mass at the hospital at 5:45 am. No problem for me. I enjoy celebrating when there are people to celebrate with.
    I was invited, together with my grand niece, Katrina, to attend the 45th annual General Meeting of Lifeline. It started in 1961 when someone was desperate for help and made a phone call and the other person responded. This was in Australia. We now have here in SA a24/7 telephone service for anyone who needs help, like depression, or wanting to commit suicide, etc. The also do training for counseling and lots of other things. The had some fantastic speakers giving in put and I not only enjoyed it but learned a lot from it.
     I manage, finally , to get in touch with a dear friend from the struggle days, Protas Madlala, who is now the CEO of SEDA, an organization that tries to help people to develop them selves with various projects, etc.  I took the rough business plan of Sinovuyo to him and he passed it on and now Sinovuyo is invited to come for training for two days. I just found that out now. He will be overjoyed. I will ask for a place for him here at the Monastery for those days. There is hope for him because he is a very hard worker and strongly self motivated.
     I visited Fr. Cyril Malinga who is in  a coma in the hospital in Durban. He was our canon lawyer when Fr. Guy was going through his hard times in Mthatha. That was last Friday, the 7th of Aug. It is now the 12th (I have seen him 3 times now) and there is no change. It seems to be liver failure. Please pray for and with him.
     Over the last weekend I left early on Saturday to go down to Port Shepstone (my old parish from ’69 71.)
It was from there that I got kicked out. I met several friends who are suffering the joys of old age, hmmm, and one family reminded me that I hadn’t seen Vanessa and her husband  for a long time. When I went to the parish where I had booked a bed for the night, the parking was full with people who were there for a wedding. So I went next door to leave the car there and walk over to the parish. As I got out of the care, holy moses, there was Vanessa and he husband. Shouts of joy and hugs. I concelebrated their wedding 17 yrs. ago in this very church. Holy Moses again. So I was invited to come to their flat for supper after the 5:30 mass which I happily took to give the overworked parish priest a break. After Mass, a guy comes up to me and says that he has a bone to pick with me so I tell him to start picking. Ha. He says that I baptized him 47 yrs. ago on this very day here in this church. Holy Moses once more. Plus others coming up to greet whose lives had intertwined with mine somewhere along the way. Very touching.
    Then on Sunday, more friends after the 8am mass, and then off to the first mass of one of our newly ordained priests. There were maybe a dozen priests there and, of course, the church was full. When I looked at all these young priests, I realized that I was the only Neanderthal man there. I think I was about twice the age, of not more, than the rest of them . More power to them
     After the Mass during the meal a not so young woman came up to greet. Nomusa Nzimande. I was driving down the road between two towns when I saw here walking along the side of the road when she should have been in school (high school). It was about 1970. I stopped and after finding out that she was there because she had no money for school fees, I told her to get in and helped her (with your donations) to pay off her school fees, and then continued later on to fund her nurses training. She is now retired and has used her education to help the other kids in her family. Thanks to you all.
    In between, I also visited another young woman, Phumzile, who is the daughter of Beata Nzama (formerly Kheswa) who, again, with help from the funds that you provided, helped her to get trained as a physiotherapist. She became the head of physiotherapy at King George hospital in Durban and is now also retired. WoW! Investments that are bearing huge dividends now. Again, thanks to you all, even way back then. Her daughter now runs the best, poshest restaurant in Port Shepstone, right on the ocean.
     Yesterday I got my new glasses. My eyes changed a bit after the cataract op. I think that I have 20  /  20 vision now, or pretty close to it.
     Now today, I made a huge decision. I spent just over R2000 to buy anMS word program for my I-Pad (thanks to the gift that came from another friend) and a memory stick that works with both computer and I-Pad. I am worried that next year when I go on my home leave, I won’t be able to do the normal things that I do on a computer . I want to take the I-Pad because it is so small and so light but I have to learn how to use it and print from it and save things on it, etc. etc. Etc. I hope that this does the trick now. For me, communication, like this blog, are my contact with you which I treasure and would never want to lose.

    Well, I have run out of time and must move on so I leave you here with all good wishes and blessings. Love and Peace, Cas.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 23, 2015

Hey, it is almost a whole month since I sat down to update this blog. It’s about time.
Well, I was debating whether I should join the other priests for concelebrating because, if our Mthatha bishop was going to be the main celebrant, I wouldn’t be prepared to be close to him and shake his hand and wish him peace just now as I feel that he has been a really bad leader and has treated Fr. Guy, and others shamelessly. But then I heard that he wasn’t going to be there so I could join the others with the substitute bishop from another diocese, whom I knew as a rabble-rousing young African priest. So that was OK. Thinking of these now old ladies who committed, all together, over 250 yrs. of their lives to serving God’s people, giving up many things that they could have had otherwise, I thanked God for the gift of their lives and their parents who offered them to the Church for his special service, when they could have kept them at home to look after them. Lots of food for thought.
    I was staying at my old haunt, Abbot Francis Home, and it is orange season now so I collected tons of oranges and grape fruits (many of them just lying on the ground rotting, or never to be harvested, why, I don’t know….) and took them  back to MD and shared them with the staff, our guys here, and the church leader’s family.
    However, surprise, surprise. Just as we were in the car ready to head off at 8am on Friday morning, July 3rd, someone said, Hey, you left front tire is almost flat. Oh no! Well let’s put the spare on and go get it fixed. Ha! The spare was even more flat than the tire we wanted to replace. So we limped over to the tire place called HiQ, and asked them to fix the flat tires. Another surprise…both tires were leaking on the shoulder not in the middle so they can’t be repaired. Murphy, go away! So, two new tires. Ugh!
    We got home OK but then on Sunday before I went to my usual Savannah Park service, I noticed that the left rear tire was a bit flat. OK, so I pumped it up, and thought let me just put the spare on in case. Don’t laugh. The tire that had been saved from the first round and put as the spare was also as flat as a pancake. Damn! So, Monday, off again to HiQ to have both tires fixed. Lo and behold, same problem. We need two new tires again. This is getting ridiculous. But it was a fairly hefty outlay of cash, almost R2000 for 4 tires. Actually, that is about $50 per tire, which isn’t bad, I think. Maybe I am just trying to console myself.
    There were some unhappy misunderstandings between Katrina and Sr Gorrette but, thank goodness, they were sorted out and all are happy again.
    I visited the doctor for a normal checkup and he thought that my blood pressure was a bit high for his liking so he gave me a new prescription. We shall see. I also saw my optometrist, Casandra, and she sent a note to the Ophthalmologist to take note of this or that when he next did a post-op exam (after a month).
     I was also trying to use my charm and connections to get a young lady a job looking after a friend’s house. A live in arrangement, going home on weekends. The friend thought that maybe she was a bit too young (22yrs.) and might get the attention of a young male working on the grounds. But she already has a boyfriend so I hope that  she lands the job. She, like so many others, is desperate to find  job. Some can go for years after high school and still not find anything, even, for some, after a university degree. So sad.
   I had another first. I was asked to bless a warehouse, mostly to be used to store for delivery, medical things to be distributed to local hospitals or clinics. I didn’t know how big the warehouse was so I took a huge bottle of Holy Water. It wasn’t so big. The reflection was along the lines of Jesus the healer, and they were now part of his team. Without them delivering the goods, lots of healing would never take place. So they must recognize that they are really part of God’s healing team, like the guys, whose names we will never know, who lifted the paralytic up onto the roof and let the guy down so that Jesus could cure him. They aren’t even given slight mention but if it weren’t for them, the big names would never have had a chance to do their thing and get mentioned, like Jesus himself, or the paralyzed guy, or the Scribes and Pharisees who did their usual grumbling.  It was a new experience for me.And we had plenty of holy water left over  (for future use).
    I took Katrina to the pharmacy here and she says that she gets the same stuff that she got at home but at a 10th of the cost. Wow!
    We had some more Sisters’ Jubilees on Sat. the 11th of July. 1—65 yrs.   3—50 yrs.  and 2---25 yrs. That’s also a whole lot of years. One of the 50 yr. sisters is suffering from cancer. She is from Austria and left a few days after the celebration and will spend her home holiday going to hospitals and doctors. How nice.
    On Sunday the 12th, I had Mass for maybe the 2nd time in over a year and a half, here at MD. I thought that I would have the rest of the morning free but I received unexpected visitors from Johannesburg. Phola, whose wedding I had back in exile in Zimbabwe in 1990, left the marriage after a few months when she discovered that her husband’s wedding gift was an STD. I had her second wedding a few years ago in PE (Port Elizabeth). Her dad, who has passed away since, was the ANC chief Rep in Tanzania and Zimbabwe when I knew him. He was the first ambassador to Namibia, if I remember correctly. We celebrated his and his wife’s 25th anniversary in exile at our priests’ house in Harare. Tixie, Phola’s mom, was also there and it was a great if very short and sweet reunion. They had to leave almost immediately to catch a plane back to JoBurg.
     I sat with my grand niece Katrina one morning and let her teach me things about the I-Pad so that I can use it when I take my home leave next year. But I still need to find out how to print from it. (that among a thousand other things).
     There were ordinations on Saturday the 18th. 3 Mariannhill priests , 1 diocesan priest (for the Mariannhill diocese) and 2 deacons for the Mariannhill diocese. I was the eldest priest there (being just shy of 80 yrs.) and the other two white faces, one even with a head of white hair, were 1 and 2 yrs. younger than me. When I looked around, I realized that we were the only three white priests left (from the Neanderthal age). All the rest were African priests, about 90 in all. Hey, what does that tell you. We did our job. We are missionaries. We plant the seeds, someone comes along with a hoe and does the weeding, someone waters the seeds, and now they are harvesting. I hope that they don’t get caught in the crap that is going on with too many of our priests these days---sex and money. Sometimes I feel ashamed just to walk down the street with a collar on.
      I had Mass on Sunday the 26th at Savannah Park with the African community. We are still fighting to get established at our site, to get at least some temporary building up so that we can start building. But, I sometimes feel that it is a dream. We are a small and very poor community. The plan for the church, which is on a slope, is to build a hall at the bottom which will be used until we can get enough money together to continue to build the upper part which will be the church. The quotation that was given was just  bit short of  R2,000,000.   That’s about $200,000. Maybe Bill Cosby could….. No, forget that! How about Bill Gates. Anyone know his address or got an inside track. Any other suggestions would be welcome. I am thinking that I probably won’t be alive when that finally comes in. But we keep trying, bit by bit.
     I have been working on what I call  “The Guy / Sabelani Story”. Fr. Guy has been putting together his thoughts about the project with the boys that turned out to be hugely successful, but was not appreciated either by the local bishop or our own Mariannhill community, at least the headquarters. It comes to about 100 pages. I had to edit and edit and edit and edit until I think most of the bugs have been eliminated. It is a fascinating story. I took it to the Mariannhill Mission Press to have them make a kind of little booklet out of it. Our young guys can get an idea of what they could also do if they put their minds to it. Abbot Francis, our founder/leader, although he was a Trappist (contemplative), went out to bring good news to all around so that he was eventually called the Apostle to the Zulus. He emphasized going out to the poor and disadvantaged, teaching basic skills so that they could help themselves. It was in that same spirit that Guy looked around at what was happening in Mthatha and then did something about it. It is in the process of being organized. I hope that something will be ready by the end of the month.
     Our network here is on and off and it often happens that when one is half way through a message or email or something with the bank, all of a sudden, it just shuts off and you have to start from scratch again.  It is similar to the problem I have with my cell phone. MTN is the provider but the signal here in my office (room) is zilch. The phone rings and when I press “answer”, it cuts the person off and says “not allowed”. Thanks!!! I should hire a lawyer and sue MTN for millions in damages because I have lost so many friends because  of them. They think that I hate them and just cut their water off.
    Well I finally made the move and got Vodacom, the competitor, to give me a Vodacom sim card but still keeping the same phone number. I thought that all was now solved. I didn’t realize that Murphy was sitting in the wings laughing to himself. When I tried to put some air time in via the internet, the bank program asked me to put in the name of the provider, Vodacom, and the phone number, 083-635-0151. When I chose to put in R110 of air time, we got to the part where we were just ready to do the transfer when the message came that the number is invalid. Ha! Stupid computer program. Doesn’t realize that I did a “Port”< which means that I keep the MTN number but now use the Vodacom infrastructure. Vodacom numbers are 072, not 083. So it refused to allow it but at the same time it still took my money and put it somewhere, but not in my phone.
     I have been to Vodacom at least 5 times, to get things straightened out, each time thinking that we finally did it only to find out there was another hitch. Well, this time, I hope that it will work.
     I went shopping yesterday to buy a bush knife and a pruning saw as I am hard at work in the garden. I tried them both today with good results.

    I think that that is about enough for one day. I will try to get on the internet now to stick this on my blog hoping that it doesn’t decide to crash at the last minute. Take care. Cas.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 28, 2015
     Well the cataract op went well. It was a new experience, local anesthetic. I could feel something happening to my eye but no pain. It was like I was on  LSD. Lots of orange, and red and blue and green lights going around in that area. I was cold was afraid that my muscles would cramp up during the op, but it went well. I met with a Muslim lady who accompanied her relative for the op and we talked about ISIS and how they had nothing to do with Islam. She wound up inviting me and Katrina, my grand niece, to come sometime a and exchange thoughts. Nice. I arrived at the hospital at about 10:30 where we had to fill out a thousand papers and then was taken to the waiting room with the others for the op. That was 11:00 am. In the meantime, others came to put drops in the eyes, take blood pressure, put bracelets on your wrist, etc. to guarantee that they knew that it was OK, I agreed, and it was the left and not the right eye, etc. Ha! Just make sure that you get it right.
     In the preparation room, the nurse asked which eye. Testing to see if I was still compos mentis. The anesthetist came to do his thing and, as I said, all went well.
     I was finally taken there at 3pm and, after all the preparations, etc.  and the operation, was taken back to the waiting room with a patch on my eye.  I called it and Eye-pad. I was released at about 4pm and Lloyd, faithfully, came to fetch me and take me home. On Thursday I went back for the required checkup by the eye doctor who said it looked good and I must be sure to put the drops in the eye faithfully 4 times a day till the stuff is finished. I kept the patch on till Saturday when I took it off and since then haven’t been wearing it. No problem driving and even at night, (although I prefer to not drive at night) I am not blinded by the oncoming traffic. So on Sunday morning, after Mass in my room, I headed for Mthatha for the BOM meeting  and for the sisters jubilees. Amen for now.

June 29, Sts. Peter and Paul
     How silly of me. I packed everything so carefully and left so confidently for Mthatha yesterday, when we arrived, I realized that I had forgotten to put my mobile modem in so that I could get on the internet. Bad luck. So I just decided to keep a kind of journal for the time being. No one seems to have access to wi fi so I will just have to survive without it.So, on with the story. We traveled well (we—Lisa a volunteer who worked here for some time and will be returning to her home in Austria took advantage of a lift with me to say goodbye to Mthatha and her friends here), almost no traffic on Sunday morning. Got all the way here on one tank of petrol. I like this Hyundai!
     I dropped her off at her former place at Ikwezi Lokusa, and went to Abbot Francis home. I offloaded all my stuff,  took Sr. Steven’s prayer book to her, fetched Theresa Chisanga, and then went to Sabelani Home for the meeting of the BOM. We were early enough to see the new Sabelani Home. These guys have done very well. We waited for Jerome, the chairperson, to arrive but he never pitched up, so we started the meeting at 4pm on Sunday the 28th. Each of the boys who are part of the program, either still studying or now working, gave a report on how things were going for them. Good! Then we continued on, taking a look at possible new members of the BOM to replace those who had gone and then the finances, how they were going. A fuller report will be sent by email to the BOM members.
    The meeting ended about 6:15pm. Thembisile Kanise took Theresa home and I was asked by Sebata to hang around for a bit, I think they just wanted to socialize for a while, as we used to do. Of course, in the middle of our meeting, the lights went out---load shedding. Just as we were beginning to have a sit down chat, the electricity came back on so they said I must stay till the cooked something to eat. It was like old times.
     We chatted together after the meal and finally around 9:30pm I said it was now my bedtime and I would ask to be allowed to leave. They insisted on accompanying me back to AFH although it is only about 10 min. drive, one in front and one in back. Ha! They think that I am so old now that I will lose my way? It was very thoughtful of them.
      I have the keys so I managed to let myself in and, after putting the ever present ( 4 times a day) eye drops in, snuggled under the covers for a really good sleep. I took a nice hot shower, being careful not to let any water get near my new eye. Hey, but it is cold here. The last time I looked at the weather news it was 4C in the morning. But I came with my Alaskan jacket so I am prepared for it. Time for Mass and meditation now. Catch you tomorrow. I have got lots of visiting to do this morning.
June 30, 2015
     We had morning prayers and Mass together and the first item on my list was to see Jerome Heunis, our lawyer. 8am sharp. His family is living with him again but they are wanting to move back to East London so that the grandchildren who are with them can get a good education. Stressful. I gave him, via a memory stick, the Guy/Sabelani Story, as well as the minutes of the first BOM meeting at the new Sabelani House. Next meeting will be on Sept. 24th, Heritage Day. People will be free probably for the weekend so it should be a full meeting. We still need two more members to take the place of Fr. Guy and Mr. Allen who have moved away.
    On the way to Landsend, I popped in to see Phumeza and Sandra who are still in the employ of Mike McNamara. It was nice to see them hard at work as always. Sandra gave me some garlic cloves as I use garlic to ward off the cold and flu bad spirits.
     Then, off to Landsend where I saw Nothemba and passed on some of the old clothes that people had collected for the “poor”. She was happy. She also needs some help to complete the plastering of her house so we will look into that. Then I saw Sinovuyuo, my tailor, and took my shorts that he had make specially for me to have the waist increased a bit. Ha! Since I no longer am out cutting grass and keeping my weight even, but still eating the same, my girth is increasing. Don’t laugh. I will get back to normal when spring comes again or when I find some physical work to do. I also helped him to fill in a “business plan” so that he can get help for his project. He wants to get one or two more machines so that he can start teaching others in the village how to sew. He is the most organized guy I have ever seen. He records everything. The government should hire him to start being efficient. I was able to greet a couple of other old parishioners while I was there. Then back to Abbot
Francis for lunch.
     After lunch, I promised to hear a few confessions at the convent at 1pm and then go to see Nomonde at 2pm at Kwalindile, about a half hour’s drive from Mthatha. When I was almost there, she phoned to say she was stuck in town (you can’t believe the traffic problem in a little dorp like Mthatha) so I turned around and decided to visit the Indian sisters at Southridge Park (they are teaching at a Catholic School, Kanyisa, and are running an orphanage for little kids nearby). It was a nice visit with some Indian goodies as well. I also discovered that at Kanyisa when kids are caught with drugs, they are simply expelled. (you can’t do that in a government school. The process may drag on for a long time while the drug user continues to spread his/her poison) Because it is a private school, parents sign a document that allows them to do that. Sometimes they do have mercy but, if push comes to shove, they can, as a last resort, expel the child.
    Then I popped in to see Raj and Liz and moaned in front of them about the lack of action on the part of our bishop when it comes to the protocol dealing with misbehaving priests, one of them being their former priest. No action taken. Ufortunate. Liz’s mom was there, an old time Catholic, 89 yrs. old so us old timers had a little natter for a while. I was invited to come for supper at 6:30 so left and went back to Abbot Francis to do some typing and reading. I didn’t have time to check and see if my modem arrived, brought by the sisters from Mariannhill, who promised to do that after I had phoned Br. Lloyd to check on my desk and give it to them to bring to me. We shall see today.
     I heard quite a bit of noise outside my door and when I went to check, I found that Fr. Stephan Mandl had arrived from upcountry to be present at the sisters feast today. He is of a retirement age so I invited him to come and join us at Mater Dolorosa. But I don’t think he is ready yet.
     After evening prayers I went back to Raj and Liz and met the two daughters, Anush and Jaysheree who were home for the school break. Anush just got a post at the University of the Western Cape (she already has her PhD) and will be moving to Cape Town soon, and Jaysheree has been appointed vice principal at the school where she has been working and teaching for about 20 yrs. now, or so it seems. I congratulated both of them. Of course because of the cooooold weather, Raj and I had something to warm us up from the inside while the others, including 89yr. old mom, used the outer heaters for their feet especially. Lovely Indian curry. (I am an addict ). After giving mom a special blessing (her health is not so good and she has just spent some time in the hospital), I headed back to AFH, about 9pm. I did a bit of reading before climbing under the covers again. So tomorrow we start a new day with item number one being the celebration of the sisters who have their 25 yrs. and 50 yr. celebrations of their vows, all local women. Encouraging. See you tomorrow.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 21, 2015 (Fathers’ Day)
    Wow, a whole month has gone by and it is only now that I am back at the computer. I had promised that I would share with you the letter that Gerard’s wife drafted for the handout at the funeral. I must have run out of time but here it is now.

A message from Gail Gabriel.

My Dearest Gerard,

Your death came so suddenly and shockingly to all of us. It is something we cannot question because we understand that the circumstances surrounding your death were totally part of God’s plan for you. He spared you the pain of receiving any more dialysis and any more discomfort. You have reached your heavenly destiny well before all of us, rejoicing with the angels in heaven where you are in a total state of bliss and happiness, pain free. As I prayed over you I had a vision of white galloping horses with chariots, and now I can understand it was our God sending his angels to fetch you.

The days ahead are going to be long and very difficult, especially for me, the beautiful memories we have made over all these years will sustain me in the years ahead and I know you, together with the angels in heaven,  would be interceding to the Lord for His peace and protection upon us.

The legacy you leave behind is immeasurable and cannot be compared to any person on this earth that I know. The accumulation of material wealth was never a priority and value to us.  The things that we as parents valued more than silver and gold are love, humility, kindness, joyfulness, piety and humbleness. Values which  we have firmly entrenched into the lives of our children. Thus, as a result, you were able to see the fruits of your hard work in the success of our children

Can you see all the people that have come to pay their respects? They have come from far and wide, with wonderful stories of how you have touched their lives in such profound ways. It’s amazing listening to their stories. You loved people, that was your greatest strength and at this time they are returning all that love that you established back to your family. Gerard, it is amazing to see the wonderful support of everyone at this time, young and old. So every time I scolded you about spending all that money you had on airtime, you banked it in making relationships that are being returned to us today. We will get through this time without you, with the support of all the friends that you made.

I strongly believe that children are a direct reflection of their parents. You have done an excellent job in raising them in the ways of the Lord. I will miss you terribly but every time I look at them I see you and I will be strengthened in the knowledge that your spirit of love, humility, kindness, humbleness and happiness lives on in them and their families they are building.

In 2009 God gave you back to us and I promised him that I would take good care of you. I tried to fulfill this promise to the best of my abilities. During thee years, we lived life as if every day was our last day. We had made beautiful memories together as a family. Russell and Christopher got married. You were over the moon when Zoe was born and all you spoke about every day as about Zoe and Kenzi, even though you didn’t meet Kenzi yet. She would know you because you often spoke to her and read her a story. These were precious moments that you enjoyed.  (He would read to Kenzi while she was still in the womb of his daughter-in-law. She was not born yet before he passed away.---my note—Fr. Cas.)

Your skill at playing darts earned you a reputation in the darting world that speaks volumes about you.  You transferred your skills to Karl, whom you have trained and he has already earned a spot representing South Africa aat the world cup in 2008. The highest achievement every player dreams of. And now, as a young adult, he is number one in KZN and together this year, father and son are to have played for KZN in the national championships in July this year. Something you were happy about and therefore I am glad that even though your death shocked us you were happily planning till the day you died..

Thank you, my love for the best 37 yrs. of my life. We would have celebrated 34 yrs. of marriage in December. We had our challenges but we got through each one of them, and your loss is not going to be any easier, but I draw my strength from the legacy you leave behind, from the relationships you invested in and most of all from my gracious and Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You, go well, my love, until we meet some day on that heavenly shore.

                                          Your loving Wife,            Gail

In two days we will be celebrating the 40th day remembrance ( it is a bit early because I am going for an eye op to remove the other cataract on Wed. so we decided to do it on Tues. eve. While I can still see).
How time flies.
    Well, the next thing that I see is Pentecost.  This year the community wanted to have an “imvuselelo”, which is something like a “wake”. They sing and pray and preach the whole night long and then, early in the morning they welcome the Holy Spirit. (That is, if they are still awake. Ha!) So we improvised a a bit. We started with Mass on the eve of Pentecost, and ended with the exposition  of the Blessed Sacrament  so that they could, if they wanted, pray in the presence of the blessed sacrament. I didn’t give the blessing. Then I went home (it was about 10:30) and came back at about 4:30am when we had a brief benediction and a laying on of hands when I prayed that they receive an abundance of the Holy Spirit to meet all the challenges that life brings day by day, and then a final blessing and all went home to sleep (in peace with the Holy Spirit in their hearts). It was about 6am by the time we finished. Not the usual way to celebrate Pentecost but nice.
     I took Katrina along on that Sunday and we had lunch in three places. She is getting to know a whole host of friends.
     I had agreed to fetch a wheel-chair-bound teacher who is teaching the novices English (they come from the Democratic Republic of Congo). We load him in the car, unload him at the Monastery, and then, after an hour, re-load him back into the car and unload him again at home. He was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed and his wife then left him and he was left to work things out on his own. Life can be hard at times.
     Then one of my many sons, Sinovuyo, came up on Wed. the 27th of May, and stayed till the 31st.  I went with him to a hospital to visit the daughter of the fashion designer I wanted him to meet (the daughter had to be taken to the hospital quickly—diabetes—she is 13yrs. ) When the mother came, Silungile,  after finishing visiting with the daughter, who was much better, we went to her place of work where I left Sinovuyo so that he could learn some things from her (Sinovuyo is a very good tailor and is trying his best to make a living in Kwa Dlomo village, e.g. at my old Mission, Landsend. He deserves whatever support and help I can give him). I took him to a drop off spot on Sunday the 31st to go off to a course to build on what he has already done. He is a hard worker and is doing very well.
     I knew that I would be giving a retreat soon so I tried hard, and succeeded, to get my financial report for May out of the way. I always feel as though there is a heavy burden lifted off my shoulders when I get that income and expenditure report for the month out of the way.
    The retreat is the big news for this time. The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood asked if I would give a retreat to their tertiate (these are women who have been in religious vows for from 5 to 20 yrs., so they have been around the block a few times by now and need a bit of a renewal). They had three weeks of input on various topics before we started the retreat so their heads were like full sponges by the time they came to be put in my hands.(care!)
     It started on the 4th of June and went until the 11th. The median age was about 45 (one 39 and one 53). The facilitators of the tertiate program asked me to give only one input a day instead of the usual two and it worked out well. They had plenty of time to digest not just what was being presented at the retreat but everything that had been packed into their program for the previous 3 weeks. They had time to absorb, pray, sleep, and just chill out. I started out with a presentation on the Spirituality of Justice and Peace, since that is my bread and butter and I want to share it with everyong. The second day was the Universe as Prime Revelation. The awesomeness of this universe (not just the planet earth which is awesome in its own right) that we take so for granted. Just imagine.  The closest star to earth that we can see in our Milky Way galaxy is 4 light years away. Now light travels at 300,000 kms. A second. If you multiply that by minutes and hours and days and months and the up to a year, it means that, in one year (one light year) that light has traveled, 9 trillion Kms. Holy Moses. And the closest star, Alpha Centauri, is 4 light yrs. away. It blows your mind. When you dare to look beyond that star not just to the sun  and then look outside of the Milky Way galaxy to the trillions of other galaxies that are out there and some still forming, it is ungraspable.
     Well, what is more graspable, was the third day when, by their choice, we took a look at sexuality. As we are all celibates, how do we show and live love without becoming frustrated or closed in or whatever people think happens to those who choose to live a celibate life. It is and can be a very positive choice, to broaden out the focus of our love to many rather than focusing on that one special person, all, of course, within the context of faith, where the ultimate focus is on our Creator who loved us into being in the first place. One thing is clear to me, that the Catholic Church, on a scale of 1 to 100 as regards sex and sexuality, is at about 2, e.g. we are still trying to discover the other 98 percent. Margaret Farley’s “Just Love” helped me a lot to understand, a bit better, some of the dynamics and realities of positive sexuality. But we will leave that for another time.
     The rest of the days were given over to my experience of life, before and during my religious commitment, to help them to see, through my up and down experiences, that they are normal when they have their ups and downs as well.
     All in all, it was, for me, a great experience and I felt a sense of deep joy and satisfaction at the end of the retreat. We had optional sharing each evening as to how the Spirit moved one or the other during that day and that was also a rich experience. About one third chose to take advantage of that sharing and they said that it was an enrichment for them too.
     Coolock House, the venue run by the Irish Mercy Sisters, is just up the hill from the Indian Ocean. It was rather cold in the mornings but nice and warm in the afternoon. One day I went down for a dip. There is a tidal pool that is kept filled by the incoming tide. After a dip there, I went to the beach next to the pool. The waves were coming in nicely. Ha! One of them, a bigger than usual one, caught me off guard, lifted me up and threw me back onto the beach at least 10 metres up onto the beach. Hey, my swimming suit was full of sand as was my mouth and hair. I laughed with great joy. Refreshing.
    The sisters came from Korea, Toronto, Germany, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. There were translators for the Koreans and Mozambicans. The did a marvelous job.
     When I came back, the first Sunday I had mass at a mostly Indian parish, St .  Paul’s, and I was able to use some of my jokes because it was in English and I could get away with it. I enjoyed that too.
      I went for breakfast after that to my optometrist friend and from there for lunch to another family. At the lunch I had a scotch for a warmer upper, followed by a glass of red wine with the meal, and then  3 glasses of Margarita. Ha! I was glad to be in the car because if I had had to walk home, that could have been very interesting!
     I had a Mass last Friday, the 19th, at a school where the fathers were invited to celebrate with their children, Fathers’ Day. It was a beautiful thought and I enjoyed the celebration and was happy to make the Eucharistic celebration a meaningful event for them
     Today I was back at Savannah Park, my mostly Zulu community, and, because of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, I had to use mostly English to try to explain about environment and all the ways we humans are spoiling it with the result that we now have super climate change that is affecting all of our lives negatively. I made some drawings to try to make our concerns visible. Not exactly the Sorbonne, but good for the purpose.
       We celebrated Bishop Bucher’s 84th birthday today. He is one of the members of the old folks community.  We are like a family. We now have two brothers who are in wheel chairs. One of them has more or less given up on walking again and is content to sit in his wheel chair. He is 72 yrs. old. The other is 84 and is suffering from Dementia (e.g. he is sometimes there and sometimes not there) but he is up and walking to the point where you have to keep an eye on him because you never know where he is going to go.
     Hey, it is now20 to 10 and I am getting ready for bed. I feel caught up now. There are lots of other things, more break ins, more deaths, etc. all needing to be dealt with .

     I forgot, I am going for my second cataract operation on my left eye in three days, e.g. on Wed. the 24th. I pray that all will go well. You all, stay well.  See you next time. Cas.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 28th,
     I ran out of steam last night and this morning was running as usual but manage to transcribe the letter that my friend Gail wrote to her recently deceased husband whom we buried (cremated) yesterday. This woman, (she humbly won't admit it) was the backup for all the things we praised about the life of Gerard, who was everything they said about him. Between the two of them they raised three great young men who have been shaped and formed in the image of their father and who are positively imitating him in their own lives and families. Here is her letter:

A message from Gail Gabriel.

My Dearest Gerard,

Your death came so suddenly and shockingly to all of us. It is something we cannot question because we understand that the circumstances surrounding your death were totally part of God’s plan for you. He spared you the pain of receiving any more dialysis and any more discomfort. You have reached your heavenly destiny well before all of us, rejoicing with the angels in heaven where you are in a total state of bliss and happiness, pain free. As I prayed over you I had a vision of white galloping horses with chariots, and now I can understand it was our God sending his angels to fetch you.

The days ahead are going to be long and very difficult, especially for me, the beautiful memories we have made over all these years will sustain me in the years ahead and I know you, together with the angels in heaven,  would be interceding to the Lord for His peace and protection upon us.

The legacy you leave behind is immeasurable and cannot be compared to any person on this earth that I know. The accumulation of material wealth was never a priority and value to us.  The things that we as parents valued more than silver and gold are love, humility, kindness, joyfulness, piety and humbleness. Values which  we have firmly entrenched into the lives of our children. Thus, as a result, you were able to see the fruits of your hard work in the success of our children

Can you see all the people that have come to pay their respects? They have come from far and wide, with wonderful stories of how you have touched their lives in such profound ways. It’s amazing listening to their stories. You loved people, that was your greatest strength and at this time they are returning all that love that you established back to your family. Gerard, it is amazing to see the wonderful support of everyone at this time, young and old. So every time I scolded you about spending all that money you had on airtime, you banked it in making relationships that are being returned to us today. We will get through this time without you, with the support of all the friends that you made.

I strongly believe that children are a direct reflection of their parents. You have done an excellent job in raising them in the ways of the Lord. I will miss you terribly but every time I look at them I see you and I will be strengthened in the knowledge that your spirit of love, humility, kindness, humbleness and happiness lives on in them and their families they are building.

In 2009 God gave you back to us and I promised him that I would take good care of you. I tried to fulfill this promise to the best of my abilities. During thee years, we lived life as if every day was our last day. We had made beautiful memories together as a family. Russell and Christopher got married. You were over the moon when Zoe was born and all you spoke about every day as about Zoe and Kenzi, even though you didn’t meet Kenzi yet. She would know you because you often spoke to her and read her a story. These were precious moments that you enjoyed.  (He would read to Kenzi while she was still in the womb of his daughter-in-law. She was not born yet before he passed away.---my note—Fr. Cas.)

Your skill at playing darts earned you a reputation in the darting world that speaks volumes about you.  You transferred your skills to Karl, whom you have trained and he has already earned a spot representing South Africa at the world cup in 2008. The highest achievement every player dreams of. And now, as a young adult, he is number one in KZN and together this year, father and son are to have played for KZN in the national championships in July this year. Something you were happy about and therefore I am glad that even though your death shocked us you were happily planning till the day you died..

Thank you, my love for the best 37 yrs. of my life. We would have celebrated 34 yrs. of marriage in December. We had our challenges but we got through each one of them, and your loss is not going to be any easier, but I draw my strength from the legacy you leave behind, from the relationships you invested in and most of all from my gracious and Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You, go well, my love, until we meet some day on that heavenly shore.

                                          Your loving Wife,            Gail


I will leave this blog here for now. Cas