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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.