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.