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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nov. 15, 2016. 

 Globalization will not go away. Nor will climate change and global warming. The present uncontrollable weather, I believe, is because of all the poison that we have been putting in the atmosphere by way of Carbon Dioxide (oil and coal) and Methane (mining gold and other things) not to mention the cattle industry, but the Methane, although more poisonous to the atmosphere than CO2, is much less than the CO2. 
     If Trump really does decide to pull out of the Paris agreement, since we are such a big polluter, it will have a huge negative impact on the whole rest of the world as well as the States. If he gives in to the Oil conglomerates, and if the coal mines reopen, it will create jobs for a short time, and probablyl lost of money for the owners, but it will just doing two things: It will be hurrying up the global warming and we will come to the 2% or 3% threshold from wihich there is no return. It will also be delaying what is necessary, e.g. retraining for other jobs to take the place of those which are now already obsolete, The world has moved on. Most of the jobs lost will never come back and we have to start stragegizing now what and how to replace them with work that will be relevant.   
    A third thing also, is that the government has to come up with a plan to look after those who lost everything and are really too old or too uneducated to try something new in their lives.
     What do you think about that. I don't think the the Republicans are up to the task with their present mindset.
Give me some feedback. I worked on the assembly line at the Wixom plant putting front ends on Lincoln Contiinentals. That job, I am sure, would now be done by a robot. There is just no avoiding that. You see what I mean. Even here in South AFrica, the gold and platinum mines have a definite life cycle and it is coming to an end. All they can do is to try to re-refine the tailings that have come up with new methods to do that. I don't see the companies doing any forward planning for when the gold and platinum run out or simply become too expensive to continue (10 miles underground). 
     The Arab countries are already implementing, already for a long time now, a plan for when their oil (in the desert) runs out. They have been buyiing real estate all over the world and getting ready to make their millions there.
      This is just now coming off the top of my head now. But there must be an initiative to help those that have fallen through the cracks for no fault of their own. I really don't think that cutting the taxes of the the already rich is going to help solve the problem. The rich seem to be always getting richer and richer and richer.  Cas.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nov. 13, 2016

Just a quick update as to what has been happening since I got back from Mthatha and my retreat.
Oct. 29..I had a chance to visit my latest girlfriend, Chisanga, the one whose picture I sent you some time back. She is in the middle of the terrible twos and it is very noticeable.
Oct. 30th.. Left a list of the things needed for the church we are trying to get money to build with a friend to do a kind of cost assessment per item, e.g. so many windows as what price, so many doors at what price, how many bricks of blocks we need, and how much each, etc. The we can ask people to buy a door, or a window or a couple of bricks. I have my doubts that this will ever actually happen. The cost now has gone up to about R500,00. That is about $40,000. I don’t think in my life time. People are too poor and stressed out with ordinary financial demands on their meager salaries.
 Nov. 1… Rajes, our travel agent, gives me the schedule for my visit to the States next year to conduct a wedding of a friend in Chicago in August.
Nov. 2… A friend helps me to understand why my cell phone is eating us so much data and how to control it. Very necessary.
Nov. 3…A visit by Dr. Harry and wife Sue Jergeson, a retired orthopedic surgeon who , for 14 yrs., volunteered  his skills in the hospital at Bedford (in my parish) till the new administrator said he, and others, were not needed any more (stupid). I stayed overnight with them on my home leave in San Anselmo, CA, near the Golden Gate Bridge. We had lunch together and it was beautiful.
Nov, 4…visit Sr. Lucas Lenzen, one of our CPS sisters. She had breast cancer and it went into remission, but now has come back in her neck. Not good. I wore a collar because I came out of the usual visiting hours. I intended to intimidate anyone who might try to block me.
Nov. 5…Attended the wedding of Dr. Adam Carpenter. He was the only white kid who ever lived with Fr. Guy’s guys at Sabelani while he was studying medicine at the university medical school in Mthatha. His dad is also a doctor who donates his time 3 times a week at the clinic at the Denis Hurly Center in Durban, a free clinic for the street people. His mom is also an activist in her own right.
Nov. 7…it has been raining and raining and raining ( God answered out prayers for rain and is now laughing up his sleeve saying, you asked for it now you got it. Ha. Floods in Johannesburg) But today there was sunshine and I managed to get the stubborn weed eater running and did a lot of work out there, even though it was still pretty wet. But then, it was the last time because the rains started again.
Nov. 8… Attended a lecture at the Denis Hurley Center. Topic: Non Violence and Peace Making. Bishop Dowling has been everywhere where there is a need for peace (Sarajavo, South Sudan, DRC. You name it). Violence and more war is not the answer. Although I agreed, I asked who this mindset fit with ISIS.  He said to look for alternatives to the violence. Who is supplying the arms that makes the violence possible. He has a point there. I suggest that, in the long term we try to find who is supplying the arms and try to persuade them (lots of money in the arms trade) to stop. But, my humble opinion, in the short term, go after those ISIS people before they kill everyone in Mosul and Raqqa and elsewhere.
Nov. 9…I had the experience of a life time as a guest of the Consul here in Durban, Frances Chisholm, to watch, live, the results of the election coming in that resulted in Trump’s victory. For me, a sad day, but also a revealing day, in that it was clear that we really are a deeply racist and senophobic society. Shame, shame, shame. I will have more to say about this later on in this blog.
Nov. 11…Checked at the school of nursing about Monanyane, one of Guy’s sons, who flunked his second year of nursing and had to write a re-exam. Whether he will be allowed to get in to a so-called bridging course to be able to continue his studies for another 2 yrs. and come out the other end as a full fledged nurse able to support himself and his family. Thin hope. We may have to go to plan B and get him into the university program in Mthatha, if the will accept the two years that he did already. It takes them forever to correct the exam papers and by the time he gets his results, he should have enrolled for the next course, which will have already started. What a stupid system.
Nov. 12…Graduation Mass for those Catholic teachers and principals who have been updating their faith at a special course. Because I gave several of their inputs, I was also invited, along with the Cardinal (Ahem!) and two other fine priests who are involved in working in the schools. When I mentioned that one of the American Cardinals, Burke by name, praised Trump as one who promoted Catholic values because he promotes respect for life from conception to birth, and said that I thought that he was mad to come to the conclusion that Trump upholds Catholic values (let’s say, Christian values), because he is a blatant racist, a bigot, anti-black, anti-Muslim, calling Mexicans thieves and rapitsts, etc. etc. etc. not to mention his mindset regarding women. I was stunned when our Cardinal said that he felt that the press had unfairly demonized him and didn’t bring into the open his good points. I thought that this is the time to keep my mouth shut and make a strategic and silent retreat. Holy Moses.

Now, the best for the last. I want to take this opportunity to thank, from the bottom of my heart, my Republican friends and family members for giving all of us Americans the gift of this great man Trump, as I said, bigot, racist, anti-black, anti-hispanic, accusing Mexicans of being thieves and rapists, wanting to build a wall between us and Mexico, and wanting to punish China by putting tariffs on our imports from China, and do away with NATO, and repeal the Obamacare Act. This is not to mention at all, the mindset he has regarding women…and I won’t go into the details which you already know. How so many women could vote for such a misogynist who sees women ad objects,  don’t understand. But, to you all, my Republican friends and family, many many thanks for this great gift you just gave to the American people, and, for that matter, to the wider world.
    It was interesting to see the hypocrisy of Paul Ryan and Mitch Mconnell, smiling happily as they accompanied him away for the election place, the very same one who repudiated him  and rejected him some  days earlier, and promised not to fund any of his  events. Wow, what a turn around. It reminds me of a word we used to use when we were kids. Brown Noser. We shall see what happens now.
    I have to praise Obama for his humble and genteel meeting with Trump who had a campaign going to discredit Obama as an non-American running for president.  I could go on and on and on, but it is enough for you to realize how deeply grateful I am to you all for the tremendous gift you gave to all Americans and the rest of the world.  I will try to convince people here in South Africa to understand this because it seems that they think otherwise.

     I think that that is enough for now. Love to you all.  Cas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25, 2016

Would you believe a whole month has gone by since I last caught you up on what is happening on this side of the world. Wow! Time really does fly. Let me try to summarize what has been going on.
    As a matter of fact, I was advised to give it a try so I drove back to Mariannhill, keeping my fingers crossed. All went well. On Tuesday, when I went to the tire place where we usually go, the place that ripped me off last time, in an apologetic mood, he gave me a spare wheel with tire for my Hyundai. Someone had had mags put on his car and this wheel was left over. My good luck. Then I went and bought a jack and some oil and another container of power steering fluid. When I was astonished that it was only R39 and something I asked about it and realized that I had been taken for a ride in Mthatha where I paid R130 for the same thing. Is there an honest person on earth???
    Then, when I went to a friend who is an IT person and a cell phone fundi, to have him check out all the things that are on this phone and to transfer the old numbers to this phone, he did that but also noticed that the leak was not power steering fluid but motor oil. The filter had worked its way loose and was a few threads from coming off (that would have been a disaster). Where it is located, it can’t be seen at all. Well, he tightened it up and all was well again. Then I went to Pinetown Locksmith, and, after a few days thinking it over, when the locks didn’t work any more, I had him fix the door locks. It cost R600 (about $55) but it had to be done as the thieves had damaged the door locks. Now, all problems had been solved, nicely. A bit expensive, but the main thing, the spare wheel was in its proper place again.
    I had helped one of the ladies who works at the Retreat house with some money to by windows for the house she is trying to build bit by bit. I deposited in the account of the store where she bought it, Abdul is the proprietor. I had to go three times to our bank and twice to his bank because, after a month, it still didn’t show up in his account. The banks, of course, blamed each other. In the meantime, in order to get her windows out, I paid cash, and delivered them to her myself (a little car but amazing how much it can hold). Then, later, when the amount showed up in Abdul’s account ( a good and proper Muslim), he returned the cash. It was very frustrating, going back and forth to the banks, but it turned out OK in the end. It really tried my patience, and put a dent in my petrol budget.
    Of course we have been watching the ghastly, ugly, acrimonious presidential events in the States. It may be a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils, but the one evil is bad and the other is really, really bad, which helps one to make a decision. I am ashamed at some of our bishops who have a one issue mind and almost force Catholics, as they see it, to vote with regard to that one issue, and don’t consider the whole picture. Someone once said, probably in one of my classes, Politics is the art of the possible. You will never get a perfect system but you take what you can get and work on the rest. People here are depressingly amused by the circus that these events have turned out to be. Shameful. What has become of our country!!!
     The guy who was given permission to put up a tent in the spot where we had received permission to hold our Sunday services, (it is municipal property intended for building a municipal hall for general use for people of ward 17. We are using what is a club house for sports during the week.) But now he has built not only a permanent building but has installed steel girders to put up a second floor. He has long done away with his tent. It is totally illegal, but he must be paying off someone, who, after being given a handout, turns his eye the other way. Corruption is rife. I took Mr. Pillay with me to see someone whom we hope can put a wrench in their works. The community will suffer by his selfishness and the greed of those counselors who took his money.
But with things as they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost the case, because of some more greased palms.
     I had a mass for the Matrics (seniors—grade 12’s) at Holy Family School. I enjoy being with youngsters. However, one of the unsavory outcomes was that one of those seniors stole the cell phone of their class teacher. Happy  graduation. Bring your values into the next phase of your life. Maybe he will have a chance  to experience life behind bars one day.
     On the 22nd, I gave a workshop on Laudato Si, mi signore (Praise to you , my Lord), St. Francis’ words, who loved nature. I had to do lot and lots of preparation, as it is about Climate Change and Global warming and the bad effects in has on the poor of the world, who bear the brunt of the negative effects of these things, even though it is the developed nations who are the biggest culprits.  What are Green house Gases; what is Ecology; What is an ecosystem; what is the biosphere;  How is Methane gas produced; What are HFC’s and CFC’s and why are they bad for the environment; deforestation, water pollution, air pollution,  pesticides, herbicies, artificial fertilizers, GMO’s, acidification of the oceans, loss of biodiversity and why this is so important; throw away culture; The market forces will take care of everything; technology and its role in these things; etc. etc. etc.  Thank goodness for Google. It took most of 4 hours to make the presentation, including a Power Point program that I borrowed from a friend who made this presentation at St. Meinrad when I was on my home leave. (St. Meinrad is my alma mater in Southern Indiana). The aim was three fold: 1) help people to understand what these things are. 2) to motivate them to take this seriously. If, really, the temperature continues to rise and goes above the 2C threshold, and continues on to 3C or 4C, it will be irreversible, and it will be too late to prevent further damage to our ecosystem. 3) Action (education, re-connection with mother earth through gardening, or other ways, teaching the children to respect and work with, not against, mother nature, and getting involved in local, regional, national organizations that are trying to slow down the global warming in big and little ways.) I was exhausted. I doubt if people will still take this seriously. Here, water is at a premium in KZN, our province. Some small towns and villages have no water at all and it has to be trucked in. Where the water comes from, I haven’t a clue.
     On Saturday evening I had supper with a friend that I had known from her school days back in the late sixties. She has been working at the American Consulate for many years now. She is the one who organized an absentee ballot for me, which went off by diplomatic post the same day and was in the States the next day. She also invited me to a gathering of some of the Americans in the neighborhood as one of the hotels in town on the morning of the 9th  of Nov. here to watch the election results. It should be interesting.
    After Mass at Savannah Park on Sunday the 23rd, I drove to Mthatha (about 450 km.—285 miles) to make my annual retreat with the other members of the province.
     I had taken a new printer for Nothemba, who works at the parish house in Landsend, that has a photocopy function. It costs a villager R33 to get a photocopy of something, just a page. R16 taxi to town, R1 for photocopy, R16 taxi back to village. She can provide a service for the people and make a bit of a living for herself. I tried to help her set up he printing part, but failed. So I took it to one of Fr. Guys’s guys and they are working on it.

     I am now cheating on my retreat. I should be praying of meditating but… If  I let this go, I will go another month and I can’t do that. Pray for me. Cas.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sept.25, 2016

I am doing this with the hunt and peck method since one of my fingers on the left had had some kind of abcess and has  Bandage on it which makes it awkward to type.
     On Monday the 19th I went to the Consulate and received the absentee ballot I had requested and gave it back. It was my vote for Nov. 4th. You can guess who I voted for!! I was told that it went into the diplomatic pouch and would arrive the next day and would be posted in the States. Hooray. I was having visions of it arriving by our SA post in mid Decmber. 
    Then I went to Newberry  to get the material that Sinovuyo needed to sew the skirts for the girls at Mpheko High. He is a local guy from my old parish at Landsend (Kwa Dlomo Village) who taught himself tailoring and I want to support him. I also picked up some hosts to bring to Mthatha as I was told that they are running low on them. I had an evening Mass in Pinetown and that is always nice because it is in English and I can tell jokes that will be understood.
On Tues, 20th, I headed for Mthatha and stopped to visit a few places along the way.
On Wed. the 21st, I met Sinovuyo in town and took him with me to Landsend where I gave him his material and where I gave Nothemba (who looks after the priest’s house---there has been no priest for a long time now, only occasionally) some clothing to distribute to those who could use something.
More visits here and there and back home to AFH. S
On Thursday I concelebrated with the present chaplain to the sisters at the convent and met all the sisters at breakfast who are old friends from way back. I then drove out to see Sr. Nokwanda who teaches nursing in Libode, about 30km. from Mthatha. She is working on hers PhD, the topic having something to do with the discovery that some of the anti-retroviral drugs that are used for AIDS patients, are, it seems, causing Diabetes. A good thing with a  bad side effect. When I got back to AFH I felt weak and had a fevers and could feel that the flu was coming on, so I hopped in bed under the blankets and it was there that I had a long conversation with Fr. Winfried, a confrere who is getting to retirement age. I then went off to visit another family and enjoy a lovely curry meal. I think it helped to keep the flu at bay.
Friday was a lazy day. I went with  Frater  Faustin (who will be ordained a deacon in December to DSTV to have the contract removed from my name and to put it in the name of the house rather than an individual since we are continually changing and are given new assignments. I also noticed that my little vehicle is leaking power steering fluid so I bought some and topped up the fluid. I then put the remainder in the boot next to the spare tire. (There is as bit of room on the side of the tire.)
Saturday, Nov. 24th, I had Mass at AFH celebrating the beatification of one of our priests who died giving his life for another in Dachau. He is considered to be a martyr. I also washed the car after a visit from my friend Nomonde who is busy correcting papers. In the afternoon we had our Board of Management meeting at Sabelani Home, Fr. Guys guys. We share a meal after that and then I took Theresa Chisanga (HOD of English at WUSU) home. She is  a member of the Board.
I noticed when I came back to Abbot Francis Home (AFH) that I had trouble using the lock on the car door and had to use the other door to lock the car. I thought that maybe someone had been tampering with the lock. But, Off I went to bed.
Sunday, 25th (today) After mass, I visited an old friend, Tim O’Sullivan, who put in the electricity in Landsend in 1992, and who made the cabinets we have in our dining room. I had asked him if he had some thin oil to put in the key hole, thinking that maybe that was the problem why it was not able to lock or be unlocked.
Then I remembered that there was a small container that I use to top up the oil from time to time and I had just done that the day before but there was a little bit of oil left in the bottom of the bottle. When I went to the boot (trunk) to fetch the container, (I kept it next to the spare tire as there was just room for it there), I saw that the spare tire had been stolen along with the jack. I was discouraged, and still am. I guess that I will have to buy a new rim and tire tomorrow, first thing, as I don’t want to take a chance on the long drive to Durban without a spare. I am not happy. I wanted to leave early as I have lots of catching up to do, but….
Enough for now. Cas.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Sept. 18, 2016
Today, Sept. 18, I went to Durban soon after the Mass at the hospital, about 7:10am. Traffic not too bad. Got there quite early, shortly after 7:30 and parked at the Cathedral. I had an 8:30 appointment at the consulate and after that I wanted to pick up some material for Sinovuyo which was half way to the Consulate. I wanted to stop in to visit a friend at the Hurley center but I discovered that it wasn’t open yet. So, I continued on to the Consulate at got there just about 8am, when it is supposed to open. Lots of security, and even though I am an American citizen, and they have a special office for citizen concerns, I got in the queue with everyone else. We got to the office (31st floor) at about 8:20am so there was still time before my appointment.
I know several people who are working there and one of them came over to say hi and give and receive a hug, to the amusement of the others who came to get a visa and wondered who this guy was who was speaking Zulu and seemed to know people. Then, my friend, Charmaine Redman came over also to greet and give and receive a hug after a log absence.  I have known here since her high school days back in the 60’s. She had organized for me my absentee ballot, which I dutifully filled out, voting for Trump, of course (impossible!!!), put it in the proper envelope and gave it back to her to put in the diplomatic bag. It will be posted in the States tomorrow. How’s that for service. I was afraid to wait for the ballot coming from the US in the post as it just might arrive in the middle of December.  I , then, happily walked out and went back to the Cathedral to visit my friend at the Hurley Center (there were hundreds of people waiting to get in the free clinic, which operates all days and is staffed by volunteer nurses and doctors for the homeless people mainly. I think it is unique in the world because they also have a soup kitchen, refugee offices, a place where people who have to sleep rough and take a shower and get cleaned up, and other kinds of help, like social workers, etc.  It is a multi-religious project, Muslims, Bhuddists, Jews, all varieties of Christians, and other concerned people.
After that I got back into the car and drove to the parking garage which was near where I wanted to get the material ( I have gotten material there before, and it seems to be the only place where this particular material is available). I have to wait around for about 10 minutes till he opened, at 10:30am, but I managed to get what I wanted (at least very close to the piece of fabric that I used to get a match. This is for Sinovuyo, the young man who does tailoring in Landsend, and is now making uniform skirts for the local school girls. I try to support him as much as possible because he really is very good but suffers from not being near a decent market to sell his goods.
I then drove back to Mariannhill (about a 20 to 25 min. ride) and stopped at the religious goods store to fetch some large hosts that I was asked to bring to Mthatha with me.
So, it was mission accomplished.
This afternoon, I was told that they also want small hosts, so I got some of those as well and then delivered a candle to one of the German volunteer workers, Paul, as I was asked to do by Katrina. They did lots of things together and enjoyed each other’s company. That was at the Hospital, where there is an AIDS outreach program that also sponsors health check ups in some of the village schools nearby so that they can pick up problems early rather than have to treat things once they have gotten out of hand.
I then went to the Orphanage where I was greeted mightily with a huge hug in and questions as to where Sisi Katrina is now. They were delighted to know that I came to deliver photos that she had taken while she was here for the various dorms, and staff and people, etc. I looked over the shoulder of the social worker while she looked at the photos for the boys. Wow, Katrina had taken them on different trips, to the sea or to a movie, or whatever and you could see all the smiling, happy faces. They will be delighted.
Tomorrow I head for Mthatha so today I went through some of my abundance of clothing and slimmed down my pile (way too much) and will give some T shirts, polo shirts, shorts, underwear, handkerchiefs, a jersey that I never use any more, and a pair of Levi’s ( I already have three pairs). She will be happy and will make others happy, I am sure.
Tonight I have a 6pm Mass at a nearby parish at 6pm. Then I am finished for the day.

Fr. Macarius, who is mostly blind, just came in to ask if we can send an email to his sister. He can’t do it himself and I am glad to do that for him.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Aug. 25, 2016
      Katrina has more or less inherited the car I was using and is very happy to have some wheels again. I know the feeling very well. She drove me to Greensboro, NC. From Aiken, SC. And we stayed together at John and Donna’s house.
     I forgot to mention that my niece, Ann, the doctor, organized for me to have a massage. Ha. I had one back in Los Angeles. Almost killed me. I came out black and blue and bruised. Like after getting in the ring with Muhamed Ali.  But this time, there wasn’t that hammering and pounding and digging, but something to make the muscles relax. A good experience. The Masseuse was from the UK and suggested a place to grab a lunch when I got to London (I had a lay over from 10 in the morning till 7 at night). But back to John and Donna and Katrina. We did some stuff at the bank, transferring most of the money I received into John’s account which he then transferred into the Mariannhill Mission Institute a/c for Fr. Szura to put in the socio-pastoral a/c to be used when things crop up. We ate out a bit and went to church where I forgot to take my sweater (jersey) and froze, although the atmosphere was warm.It was the old folks’ mass so communion was brought to the back for those that had trouble moving with ease. Nicely thoughtful.
On Sunday, the 14th, I think, I left for London on a night flight. My friend Lou Smith Jr. came from his job as baggage handler there at Charlotte to have a chat and a goodbye hug. His schedule had changed and we couldn’t meet at his home as we had planned. Arrived in London Monday morning, the 15th and was met by my friends, Boykie and Pat. We took the advice of the masseuse, Louise, and found the place, Cote Brasserie in Windsor on the Thames river and had a marvelous lunch in the shadow, more or less, or Windsor Castle, and looking down at the swans and geese swimming in the Thames at our feet.  Very nice. Old London. They took me back to Heathrow and, after a long wait, I climbed on the plane for Joburg that night, a huge monster, A380-800. I was seated in seat 77e. Two floors. Lots of people. Not an aisle seat, but good company, sitting next to an obstetrician whose mother still stays in Durban, though he has lived in UK for many years now.
     Arrived in Joburg on Tuesday, Aug, 16th, met by a family I knew from both Zambia and Zimbabwe, spent the night with them, left my big suitcase with them, and caught the plane for Lusaka on Wed. Morning, Aug. 17th. The Kalidas clan is a very special clan and I always enjoy being with them, and each time I get there, usually after a long break, I meet members of the new generation, which delights me but I have trouble remembering all the names. Thursday we visited my young confreres at Engelmar House (now beatified. He gave his life to save others in Dachau ) in Makeni. We couldn’t find the CPS sisters. Lots of things have changed there, including tar roads in the townships. They say, partly election ploys. Had a talk with the young students and then had lunch with Fr. Gaspar, a French Canadian, who has been there long now and is feeling that it is time to go back home. Friday went to the big church, St. Ignatius, in Lusaka, to get vestments and hosts for the baptisms to be done on Saturday. Saturday, the big day. Two beautiful baptisms (Savella Antoinette and Amber Katherine), children of the children whom I had baptized years before. There were lots of preparations, as you can imagine, including a tent to hold about 80 people or so. After the Mass and baptism and blessing of crosses for the baptized and wedding rings for one of the couples, there was a celebration that went long into the night. A great time was had by all. That was Saturday. Sunday, a friend, Eddie, and I went to the 7:30 Mass at ST. Bonaventure, the seminary for the Franciscans, nearby. With probably close to 100 seminarians, the music was great, in many languages, and the spirit was uplifting. We spent the day together recuperating from the celebration the day before. Stuffed with toooo much food. In the afternoon, I got a lift from another of the Kalidas clan, James and his wife, and went with them to Kabwe, where I was parish priest form ’72 to ’77. Monday we had a look around Kabwe, did a bit of shopping and picked up some Kapenta (tiny dried fish, a staple for Zambians) to bring back for sentimental reasons to another Zambian friend in Mthatha. She will be delighted.  Tuesday I hitched a lift back to Lusaka and Wednesday, Aug. 24th, climbed on a plane for Joburg again. Staying, once more with the Bismarcks , old friends from Zimbabwe and Zambia---Margaret Bismarck is a Kalidas by birth and has been surviving on borrowed kidneys and dialysis since the late 70’s). Thursday I had a visit from Kabelo, my colleague at J&P the Bishops’ conference and Danisa, a former priest of Mariannhill who is heading for laicization and who is the very capable head of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute, a kind of spin off of the bishops’ conference. Today, Friday, is chill out day. That’s why I an writing this blog now. Tomorrow I will be fetched by a couple whom I married in Port Elizabeth some years back, but whom I knew in exile in Zambia and Zambia in the last century.

   Well, that updates you till now. Enough. Soon I will be on the final plane journey from Joburg to Durban to get back to some sort of normality in my rather abnormal life. I am sure that the grass is patiently waiting for my return .  Love and Peace, as always. Cas.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Aug. 1, 2016
     I’m going to bed now but will be back tomorrow to clue you in on what has been going on….

Aug. 11, 2016,
     Where did the time go. I am in the last week here in the States and only have two more stops to go. I have left the vehicle that my niece organized for me with her daughter, the famous Katrina of St. Vincent’s Children’s home fame---volunteer for the whole year of 2015. She will take me, tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 12, to my brother in Greensboro, NC. (I am now in Aiken SC) (You should check the maps to see where I have been, and now, and where I am going.)
     I checked the mileage that I covered and it is just about 6000miles of driving (about 9600 Km.). Not bad. The highlights, of course, were mostly people, family, friends whom I haven’t seen for four years or more, just soaking them up, having, sometimes, deep and serious conversations and also fun time, like my uncle Cas and his wife Rose and I laughing at ourselves, us old people. What do old people talk about when they get together, Ha, “ Yeah, I had my other knee done last week” or “ I’ve been having trouble with my bowels lately”, or “ Can you come over to my other side ‘cause I can’t hear in the ear on that side”, etc. etc. etc.
      Sometimes I avoided politics because we were on different pages (or even planets), but for the most part, people seemed to be worried that Trump would actually make it to be president, as he doesn’t seem to have the qualities needed for a president. But, at the same time, the mistrust of Hilary was strong, although she has many of the skills and lots of knowledge that would normally qualify her for the job.
     I  got onto Google and got her biography and also got the biography of Trump. To me it was clear who was the most qualified, but I leave it up to you to judge for yourself. It’s quite a bit of reading but, for Americans, the vote, this time, is so important, I think it is worth the time to read and then decide.
     Aside from my beloved family and friends (I can’t begin to start naming names because they are all too precious and I would bore you for the next 15 chapters) so let me say that some of the other things that got my attention were: 1) trees---Holy Moses, after living in Transkei for the last 35 yrs., where trees are as scarce as hen’s teeth, I was deluged with trees all along the way. Super beautiful. But, there was a blight on some Blue Ash trees as bugs seemed to have gotten inside and were killing them (In Michigan alone, 7 million trees, they say, died, because of this blight. Wow.)  The Appalachian Mountains and the Smoky Mountains and the mountains in Vermont were exceptional. 2) the maize. In July and August I was in Maize country and I was green with envy to see the beautiful dark green maize more than 2 metres high, getting ready for harvesting. I remember our drought year when, if there was any maize at all, it wasn’t more (in most parts) higher than a metre, if that much. Also fields and fields and fields of soya beans, I think enough to feed half the world. Wow. The Americans are really blessed with a fantastic country. 3) Drought…. Also here, especially in California, the many fires tell the story… the earth is so dry that it doesn’t take much to start a fire, which will grow and grow and grow because there is so much tinder. I took some pictures just outside of Los Angeles. It could have been Transkei. You would hardly know the difference---dry and brown, as in winter.  4) As I drove down Hwy US23 in Southern Ohio and Southeastern Kentucky and the Hwy 80 there I saw stunningly awesome mountains and cliffs and what all to knock your eyes out. I was driving and had a deadline so I wasn’t able to take pictures but I guess I will try to see if Google has something, pictures, and send them off. Wow. Bringing a connection with nature and the creator, super beautiful.  5) Just about everyone is involved in some way if trying to respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged in one way or another or trying to make a better, more aware and responsive society to the many needs that often go unrecognized or neglected. I am proud of them all. This is my family. These are my friends. I am also blessed to be connected with such beautiful people. 6) I have been touched by the deep love and concern for the ailing partners of my cousins and aunts and uncles. Lots of serious health problems that demand 24/7 tough and gently love and concern. I was deeply moved and impressed by their love and care for one another.
     What I say here about the States is also true of my friends  in the U.K. who were first on my list for visiting. Yes, I am richly blessed.
     And now, the last few days here, I am with my beloved Katrina again, and her mom and Dave and Ann, her parents. Soon I will be with my brother John, and his wife, Donna, who have been more than super supportive during this whole time.
      I think that this is enough for now. I will try once more before I leave next Sunday to collect a few more thoughts together. I was telling our people here that they have Trump and we have Zuma, so there are challenges all around.  Love and Peace, Cas.

PS. Fr. Guy’s checkup was delayed because the machine wasn’t working but we will hear from him next week. So far, he is holding his own. He should have been dead last May, 2015, but here he still is. Call it the power of prayer, as he explains to the doctors who are baffled by his condition. He should be dead, but….. Thanks to you all for you prayers for him.

Friday, July 22, 2016

July 23, 2016
     Well, so far things have gone like clockwork. A few minor adjustments. My overall experience was 1) being rejuvenate and energized by meeting with family and friends and catching up on our lives together. Some I haven’t seen for many years. 2) Everyone of them is somehow doing something to make our lives, planet, society better. (Soup kitchens, home gardens, helping autistic children, doing operations for free for crippled children, helping those who are down and out, unemployed, homeless, tutoring kids after school, designing programs for high school students that give them skills in manufacturing so that they can get jobs in those companies who have been helping with their tuition while they worked part time as apprentices, growing organic crops, taking youth to third world countries to give them an experience regarding the lives of the majority of people who are impoverished and struggling, teaching kids and others how to use computers and other modern things, running summer programs for youth, etc. etc. etc. Everyone is doing something to make a better society. I am impressed and encouraged to see this great spirit.
     I have been saddened by the tone of the Republican convention. It was, I felt, too negative, and personal in the sense of being sometimes vicious in remarks about some of the people involved in the political process. It could have been better to try to emphasize some positive things. Also, I really don’t think that Trump is presidential material, for many reasons. But, we have similar problems in South Africa. There is far too much corruption, lack of transparency, and willingness to be violent. (Again, much like the States)
     The local elections will be, I believe, at the end of August. That will tell the story of what really counts and what is peripheral. The results will help us to understand what the future will be like.

    Among many other things, I saw my niece, Jenna, today and was impressed with her maturity. She will be here with us on Sunday. I will see her again on Sunday when we have a family gathering at my cousin’s house (John and Ruth Severyn). Everyone has been super kind, generous, and hospitable, with an open house policy if I wanted to bring someone along. I had better stop now. I will get something out again after a few days. Love and peace, as usual. Cas.

Monday, June 27, 2016

   The last week, from May 16 to May 20, every evening was taken up with something, either visiting families or hearing confessions or attending meetings. Hey, no time for mischief.
    In between I managed to collect some letters from the kids at St. Vincent’s Home, for Katrina, where she spent a year as a volunteer. I think they will make her cry.
    On Sat. the 21st of May, I concelebrated at a memorial Mass for Gerard Gabriel, who passed away suddenly a year ago. The whole family was there, and I knew most of the people since I made contact with the Gabriel family way back in 1967, when those who were there were just kids. Now they are grown up and have their own children and even grandchildren. One of them, Neil Gabriel is a mechanic and he took me home and took the car back to his house (my beautiful little Hyundai Atos 2005) for a service and probably a bit of repainting. I hope that it will be ready when I get back.
    On Sunday morning, departure day, after Mass, Estie Gabriel’s husband, Rami, picked me up and we brought communion to her at St. Augustine’s hospital. I took communion to her at least three times and thought that she was out of the hospital but one things got fixed and then another pitched up, including shingles and then blood clots. So that she was in the hospital for almost three weeks. I pray that she has finally gotten all those things straightened out now.

May 24, 2016
I left Durban Sunday afternoon at about 4pm (taken to the airport by Bishop Khumalo) and got the Joburg just after 5pm.
    Then I caught an overnight flight to London that left about 9pm and got into London just after 7am. Boykie and Pat were there to fetch me after I had gone through border control. That took over an hour and it seemed as though there were about 2 million visitors to go through the border.
    We came to their home about an hour’s drive from Heathrow Airport and off loaded my luggage and then headed for Brighton to meet Pat’s sister, Norita. We sat near the beach (all stones, not like South Africa) and had fish and chips for lunch. Delicious. Then we took Norita home and went back to Boykie and Pat’s place.
     I had not slept well on the plane to London, 11 ½ hr. flight, so I was tired. I asked to hit the sack since my eyes were closing on their own, and went to bed at 4:30. I got up at 6:30 to empty my bladder and went back to bed and slept till 11:30pm when I had a wee again. Then back to bed till 5:30 this morning. 11 hrs. Holy Moses. When did that ever happen before. But now I am ready for action. I am in their hands for the next two days and will then visit another family and friends with whom I worked or had a parishioners in Africa many yrs. ago. So far so good.  Cas.

May 26th, 2016 (Thursday)
      I managed to visit several people whom I love and have connections with and today was brought to the last family I will be visiting before heading for the States on Saturday. Pat and Boykie have been lovely hosts and made me feel totally at home.  I miss them all, but I feel rejuvenated after seeing them and sharing life with them even for those few days. I will end here. We are having trouble with the internet getting the right WiFi. It may be out till I arrive in the States. We shall see. Keep well you all. I love you muchly. Cas.

June 21, 2016 (Tuesday)
    I have been on the road now for almost a month. I have connected with friends in the UK on the way to the States. I left  SA, on May 22th and arrived in London on the 27th, a Monday. I was hosted by friends from our Africa days till the 28th, a Saturday, when I left for the States ---London to Philadelphia to Charlotte, NC.
I was welcomed at the airport by my beloved Katrina and her mom, Ann.  Lots of hugs and kisses. They took my to my brother and sister in law’s in Greensboro. We had a family Mass that Sunday and spent the day together before some left to get back to work at Aiken, SC. Where Ann is a doctor. They left the car they had brought up for my use with my brother. I have a marvelous family and can’t thank God enough for them. I don’t think I can ever appreciate how much they go out of their way to do everything for me, making sacrifices I don’t even know of. They are great.
    We visited a few friends and then I set out on my great trek around the States and Canada. First stop, my cousin Ken and his wife Stacy in Ocean Pines, MD.

June 27, 2016.
     Hey, I think that you are just going to have to give me a break. I am enjoying this tooooo much. If you check the itinerary, you will see where I am day by day. I am up to 27t h June. I will be with my brother Bill and his wife Marci tonight. It has been pretty much like clockwork. I think that the highlight has been (there are many but this is the biggest one) my visit to my sister who is in a care home. She was caught off guard by surprise and we were able to spend most of the morning together. She has (it is a part of her sickness) a negative view of life and feels that she is in this place because her family doesn’t want her. I explained that this was the best place for her because she is looked after 24/7. Wherever she stayed, often there would be no one at home and the family, because they love her soooo much, was worried that something could happen while they are away (working) and she was alone and that is why they were willing to organize a beautiful place for her knowing that she was well looked after. She is in a wheel chair and can’t walk without help. But she looked much better than when I saw her last time (2012). That made me very happy and I could give her some really good hugs and even a kiss to let her know that I really do love her very very much.
    I will let you know how things are going from time to time but now I want to take a break and phone some people who may be expecting me this week just to let them know, that, yes, I will be there.

Love and Peace, Cas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26, 2016

Holy Moses, again, more than a month has gone by. Winter is now beginning to show its fangs. For you, not much, but once you get used to the semi-tropical climate of Durban, 50C is like freezing.
Let’s look back. Holy Week. Pope Francis took a page out of my book. I have been washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday as long as I can remember. But this year there was a slight twist. Because I have been babying my bad left knee, I asked the altar servers to put a chair in the middle and the basin, water and towel, also in the middle, so as one came in from the left and got his/her feet washed, the next would come from the right, and I would remain in the middle so I wouldn’t bugger up my knee. I didn’t move from one to one, they moved. Inovation. But we got the job done and it was my pleasure to be able to get down off my high horse and show a bit of humility.
One of our inhabitants of the old folk’s home, Fr. Simon, Dutch, 85 yrs. old died peacefully after a long illness (he was on oxygen 34/7 for many months). May he finally rest in peace.
     I contacted several builders and architects regarding what we can build if we have no money. They are very helpful, but, I don’t think they understand. Ha! We want to build a temporary church as strong and as cheap as possible, and we have very little to work with. We keep praying. We would probably need about US$20,000 and it is a joke to think that we are actually able to raise that with our poor poor people. The Bishop and the parish priest keep looking the other way. I think that most bishops are willing to give permission but say just don’t ask me for money as I have my own problems. That’s life.
     I continue to have Mass every morning at the hospital since the chaplain still hasn’t arrived. It’s about two months now. I am leaving for my home leave on the 22nd of May, and they will have to find someone else of go on a Communion diet, the sisters, that is and the few patients who receive communion.
     I did a lot of grass cutting and bush clearing (the bush is intruding on our property, not respecting the fact that it is climbing well over our fence. Lots of thorns so I have to wear gloves. Keeps me out of mischief.
      I have had several School children’s masses and I enjoy being with the youngsters. I hope to be talking to the seniors in a week or so , outside of Mass, and I want to challenge them to use their talents to build and not destroy. We have been having student demonstrations where violence breaks out and buildings get set on fire. They don’t want to pay for their university education. They think is should be free. It is true that many really are gifted but can’t come anywhere near affording to pay the fees. But burning buildings (even a library and a clinic) is not helping the cause. It is much like the Wild West syndrome in the States. Have gun and will travel. Shoot and ask questions later.
     Several people have been coming regularly for help. I was beginning to get the feeling that they thought I was a mobile ATM machine and eventually had to say, no, maybe next month. Hard to do but once the dependency germ has taken root, the next thing is a symbiotic relationship. Some of the needs are genuine and you have to kind of smell things out a bit. When they do get help (when I think it is genuine and have some help to  give ) the tell me thanks. I tell them that I will tell those who made the help available thanks in their name since I don’t have the money myself. “The poor you will always have with you.” Why?
    One of the priest that was in the hospital that I was bringing communion to passed away and I was at his funeral. But I had an appointment with my travel agent to pick up my tickets. I asked her to delay the pickup for at least an hour. I sat near the door. The funeral service was supposed to start at 9am. It was about 90F already. I had my shorts on under the alb and was still sweating. We finally started at about 20 past 9. At 10:15 the bishop started his homily (sermon…he usually talks for between 30 and 45 minutes) and I did some calculating and figured that this would go on till at least 12 noon. So at 10:30, I slipped out the side door and had to fight to get out of the parking but managed to keep my appointment at a bit past 11am. When I came back shortly after 12 noon, they were still in church, but were just beginning to come out. I can’t take these long services any more. I get locked into a sitting position and it takes a while to get unlocked.
     We then had another funeral the next week for Fr. Henry, 83 yrs. old. A good friend of the late Fr. Simon.  A huge funeral as he was a very beloved man and really was a brother to all people. He loved music, has a good sense of humor, was always ready to help anyone any time. We will miss him terribly.
     In between I managed to get my grand niece, Katrina, on the phone and that picked up my spirits again. She is battling to find work. She has a couple of vague offers and is waiting for the results of her interviews. I miss her. It was the first time that I had a member of the family with whom to share life with for a whole year. It was great while it lasted. The kids at the orphanage really loved her too.
     I have been trying to get permission from the Prison dept. to come to say Mass, hear confessions, and do some spiritual counseling for the Catholic inmates. I filled out sheaves of paper, got my fingerprints put in the system (I discovered that I really am not a criminal. The fingerprints are not connected to any of my escapades). But when all the papers were filled in and all the “I’s dotted and “t’s” crossed, the prison chaplain said the cut off point was 70yrs.  ha. Why didn’t he tell me that 4 months ago when, after a face to face, we started this process.  I will still cajole him till he gives in. I can still walk and talk and don’t need a wheel chair, although that shouldn’t be a problem in this day and age when considering the “ physically challenged.” We shall see.
     Lots of other things but let’s move on to now. I am back in Mthatha ( I brought Fr. Macarius along. He is about 97% blind and gets bored sitting the whole day in the old folk’s home. Some people can’t pronounce his name so that call him Fr. Macaroni. So? ) We left MD (Mater Dolorosa, the name of the old folk’s home…. Bad name) on Sunday the 24th after a Mass at my outstation Savannah Park. We got the news that another one of our brother there at MD who has been trying to die for months now (cancer, progressive, constant pain, reached the highest limits of pain killers and then nothing else could be done) and finally succeeded in persuading the lord to give him the final call.  We left the house that morning about 7:30 and he died about noon or so. God was merciful to him. Here we have been visiting our old mission at Landsend where Macarius built a school to get the kids off the street and is still loved and remember by the people there. We also visited Fr. Guy’s boys and had supper with them on Monday evening. They are very good cooks. After the meal, to pay or respects to the ancestors, we called on Jack (as in Daniels) for a bit of help. It was a nice evening and good to catch up on who was now doing what. We are going back tomorrow for a formal board meeting (BOM… board of management) to plan the way forward.  
     We intended to also attend a CMM meeting on Thursday and return home on Friday but because we got the news that Br. Adrian will be buried on Friday, we decided to leave on Thurs. to be at home when they bury our dear brother with whom we shared the last months of his painful life. We will accompany him on his final journey.
    As I said, there is lots more but let this suffice as a quick update.
I leave for my home leave on the 22nd of May, as I said, and I have already packed my suitcase and carry on so that in case there is any need, I can leave at the drop of a hat.
     I have tried to fine tune my leave so that all on what day and at what time we can meet and share life a bit.  I will include it here. Don’t laugh. If I don’t let people know a year ahead of time, when I get there I find that they are in Beijing or Rio or something and then I won’t see them for 8 yrs. Too much long for me. Love and Peace, Cas.  Here is the schedule, more or less .

November 14, 2015—Finalized itinerary for Home leave 2016

(As you can see from this itinerary, I am very relational. Relationships are precious to me. I am sorry if I have damaged or strained our relationship in anyway and ask your forgiveness and a chance to make up for whatever it was. You may think that I am mad to undertake such an itinerary, but the truth is that it is you and your love and support that have kept me and continue to keep me alive in my spirit and able to continue to be of service to God’s people. May God bless you for your enduring friendship over many, many years. )
(You are in here somewhere!)
*May 22—leave Durban for London
May 23—arrive London, stay till 28th  stay with Boykie and Pat and Family til
*May 28—Lv. London for Charlotte  via Chicago
May 28—Arrive Charlotte and Greensboro
June 1—lv. For Ocean City
June 3,4,5—D.C.
June 5-6—Warrenton
June 7 Vern & Mary Sue
June 8, Shepherdstown, W.Va  Larry Goodwin
June 9-10, Shillington PA CPS sisters
June 11,12,13—NYC Nino, Catrina
June 14, Pat & Jim Francek , Hungtinton, CT, on to  Sherbrooke, Que. (cmm)15,—Sherbrooke,
June 16-—Ottawa—Ken & Cheryl, OMI, Alec Campbell (overnight)
June 17---Whitby (Sylvia Skrepichuk)
June 18---Supper Nicholas’
June 19---evening at Terry McCann (back with him in the morning)
, 20, 21—, Toronto
June 22—Youngstown NY, (late afternoon) to Retreat Center—supper with them and Ivan and Nimo
June 23 Woodstock, Ont. On to Detroit till July 1
June 25—Bullock family reunion—Chris and Chuck
26 June—Thanksgiving Mass, St. Bernard Sem. Friends and family, coffee and donuts—9am
July 2—Hirmers—Lake Michigan  on to Milwaukee
July 2,3,4,5,—Milwaukee
July -6-12 —Chicago
July 12—fly Chicago (Midway) to Denver overnight (visit two families)
July 13—fly---Denver --- Burbank—(Los Angeles)
July 14-19— Los Angeles and Santa Barbara
July 20-. Fly---Burbank to Oakland--
July 20-25 San Francisco, Berkeley, Livermore
July 25—fly Oakland CA to Chicago (Midway)
July 26—Northern Indiana
July 27—Indpls.
July 28—North Vernon
July 30 Evansville (Bishop Gettelfinger—classmate retired)
July 31—St. Meinrad—class reunion
Aug. 4—New Albany (Gettelfinger family)
Aug. 5—Louisville—Lou Harpenau (classmate)
 Aug. 6—Sue and Scott
Aug.7—Luisa KY. (Sr. Pat Cataldi, CPS)
Aug. 8—Atlanta
Aug. 10—Aiken, SC
Aug 12—back to Greensboro
*Aug. 14—Charlotte to Joburg.
 Ar. Joburg-Aug. 16 (contact Basil to leave baggage with them for that week in Zambia)
(Dep. For Lusaka-Aug. 17 Lv. Lusaka-Aug. 24 to Joburg—stay in Joburg till the 31st of Aug. )

*Aug. 31-Joburg to Dbn

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22, 2016

Not much to report in the last few weeks. I have been trying for some time to get into the prison as a chaplain (not an inmate---been there, done that). Holy Moses, they want more information than the CIA. I should just refer them to the CIA and copy their files. But, the minister who is in charge of all the other ministers who minister at the prison is a very friendly guy but doesn’t easily brook foolishness. Ha! When I went to see him on business, I didn’t realize that I parked in a mud puddle, and when I walked into his office, he said “ look at your shoes”. Holy Moses, I dragged a bucket full of mud into his clean, clean office. Talk about being embarrassed. I offered to clean it up and promised that next time I would bring a broom but also would follow the Muslim tradition and leave my shoes outside the door. He wasn’t impressed. I finally filled in all the papers and still have to go to the bank to get a stamp from them and then, I think, I will be OK.
    We have had several home masses and gatherings which are always enriching. I have also been busy with haircuts before Easter. I will wait till after Easter for mine.
    Quite a few visits to hospitals, even one I never heard of before. It is more a psychiatric hospital where people who have had mental breakdowns can get some peace and quiet and get themselves back together again.
    Last Saturday, I was called away from the supper table by a young man who identified himself as a  colleague of Mona, one of Fr. Guy’s guys who is doing nursing here at St. Mary’s hospital. He had been attacked with a knife and had been sliced across the face from above the left eye down to the bottom of his nose. Thanks goodness, no damage to the eye. We went first to this guy’s house to get Mona’s key and then to Mona’s room to get some clothes (what he had been wearing was soaked with blood). Then off to the hospital (RKKhan, a regional hospital not too far away). His other friend had organized for an ambulance to take him there as it looked bad and bled like crazy. He stayed with him the whole day in the hospital (this happened at 9:30 in the morning and we arrived at 6:30pm). Great guys, really good friends. I waited in the parking lot while Skumbuzo took Mona’s clothes up to him. I was preparing for Palm Sunday and said that I would visit him the next day after the service. However, when Skumbuzo returned he said that Mona had been discharged and we cold pick him up. So we drove to the emergency entrance and loaded up Mona and his other friend. He had a huge bandage around his head also covering that eye. I took them to their homes and took Mona to his room. I left him there knowing that when the shock wore off he would feel a good bit of pain so I told him that I would visit him in the afternoon tomorrow (Palm Sunday). I managed to see him yesterday and took him to the hospital to make a report. It is important because he can’t afford to miss any time on duty now as it is part of the requirement for passing. He went today and will be reporting for night duty tomorrow. Wednesday. I keep my fingers crossed.
     I attended, some time back, a gathering of Americans invited by the consul here, Frances Chisholm, to her place for an informal lunch. I have been avoiding American gatherings for the last 50 yrs. telling everyone that I can go to America and see all the Americans I want. I didn’t come to Africa to see Americans. However, there is a program connected to the hospital indirectly, that started out as an HIV outreach program (St. Mary’s hospital was the first hospital in South Africa to introduce ARV’s). It developed well and morphed into a more wholistic program that has several branches. One is a mobile clinic that gets deposited at a school in a village where all the children are checked out be a qualified nurse for any beginning symptoms of illness (eyes, ears, teeth, etc.) to get early intervention before things develop more. They are helped by other organizations as well as the University dental program. Another is a program that concentrates on pre-school children who are the children of child headed households. The idea is that while someone is looking after these little kids during the day and feeding them with a decent meal, the older kid or kids can get to school. I told Frances about this so she came out and we took her on a tour of several of these places where she could see with her own eyes a genuine and great need that was being addressed by these programs. But there are only a few now and they need to expand as the need is great. Frances, with her accompanying guru was able to give suggestions as to how  and where to get funding from American programs that would most likely fit the bill. I think it was a good meeting, and hopeful.
    On Palm Sunday after the service, I visited a guy who has a construction firm to get some idea what we could get for the R80,000 that has been collected already to get some kind of temporary accommodation for our community that meets every Sunday at Savannah Park. It is a poor community and will take about 500 yrs. to get the R2,000,000 together to build a new and proper church. After doing kind of cost analysis, he came to the conclusion that if we used basic cement blocks, it would be better and about the same as if we used 2 X 4’s with what we call zinc sheets. He said the material alone would cost almost R97,000. If you add the labor it comes to about R150,000. At the present rate of exchange, the extra for labor would come to about $ 10,000. I think I am going to try to see if anyone wants to pitch in. If we get started, we can just add on and up as we get the funds. Never a dull moment.
     Now I am getting ready for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It will all be in Zulu so it is a challenge. But they are important days as they tell the story of what we are all about. I will clue you in after Easter. Let me wish you all a happy and holy Easter and don’t forget that Easter was a huge surprise. Totally unexpected and impossible happened—coming back from the dead. Wow! So if you seem to be in a situation where there is no hope, well, Easter is a reminder that no matter what, there is always hope. Just hang in. Love and Peace, Cas.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 5th, 2016
Hey, a whole month has gone by and I am behind as usual. Since most people had pushed off for home after our meetings, there were only a few of us left at Abbot Francis Home so I bought a couple of pizzas for the house. Wow, I didn’t realize that pizzas were so expensive, but as a once off it was more than worth it. That was on the 4th of Feb.
     I headed back for M’Hill on the 5th, early in the morning, stopping to visit Coolock House, which is a retreat house that was taken over by Mariannhill  right on the sea (Indian Ocean) and I am wondering how we are going to pay for it. We don’t rely enough on competent lay people to advise us when it comes to  “worldly” things like this and too often we get stung.
     When I got back to M’Hill, I found out that the priest who was supposed to take over as chaplain at the hospital won’t be available till some time in May, so I have been going to the hospital for Mass every morning at 5:45. After Mass and breakfast, I usually go up and visit the patients to whom I gave communion, to find out more about them and to encourage them and remind them that they are being supported in prayer every day. I also greet all those in the ward and offer a blessing on them, praying that they recover quickly and get home again, whole and healthy.
     I went to Dr. Moffat whom I haven’t seen for many months now, and he says that my blood pressure is good.
     I had forgotten about Ash Wednesday being on the 10th and had promised to pick up some friends from Italy at the airport that evening, so Savannah Park had to get someone else to give out the ashes.
     Manuela Carida and Pupa Brunori, friends from Rome, whom I met in Zimbabwe, sent by their group to get information  about the ugliness of apartheid. That must have been around 1989 or so. They belonged to a group called Colletivo edili de Monte Sacro. On Monte Sacro most people are in the building trade, brick layers , plsterers, carpenters, roofers, etc. and the living conditions were horrible. When it was discovered that the owners were the Catholic Church, they abandoned their allegiance to the church and worked , through this organization, for a better society. They are both retired now and just came for a visit for a few days. In that short time we managed to visit 1) the orphanage  2) the monastery  3) the Aids Outreach program and Wellness Program  4) SEDA, an organization that tries to give business skills to young people so that they can start their own businesses instead of depending on someone to hire them. 5) The Hurley Peace Center in the heart of Durban that offers food once a day to the street people, as well as a place to have a shower and clean up after roughing it again, several offices for refugees to make sure that they have the right papers and to help them find places to stay and improve their education (like basic computer courses, etc. ) and also the clinic that treats the street people who would never have a chance to be treated otherwise by nurses and doctors who volunteer their time and talents for this. It is probably the only center in the world where Christians of all faiths, as well as Muslims, Hindus and Bhuddists, all pitch in to help the down and out. They make sure that the food they dish out is Halal so that Muslims can eat in peace.  I discovered that Raymone Perrier, the director of the Hurley  Center  speaks Italian so my guests were delighted to converse in their home language. Raymond is from the UK but took Italian when he was in college. We were also given a tour by a young may from the Congo who arrived here some years back as a young man and was sponsored byArchbishop Hurly for his education. He now is on the staff and helps many others to find their feet in their new place of exile.
    Then we had lunch at a Greek restaurant and enjoyed a lovely Greek meal, including, for me my favorite Baclava.
    On Sunday the 14th Feb. I traveled to a parish at Verulam. Everyone knows that this is an Indian (from India) area. However to my happy surprise, there were about 500 people in the church , both black and Indian (maybe even a few whites). I was lucky to have brought along my “travelling kit” so that I could switch back and forth between Zuluhe and English and make everyone feel welcome and at home.
    During the announcements it was mentioned that there had been some misunderstandings between some members of a certain group, probably mostly because of language difficulties. That prompted me to give an impromptu homily on the necessity of  recognizing that when we are trying to pull together people of different language groups and different cultures, we are bound to find hitches and difficulties. However, if we, who are professed Christians, in a parish setting, where there is peace and a good atmosphere, cannot get our act together, what can we expect of Syria and Iran and Afghanistan, and Lebanon, and Egypt, and Palestine and Israel???? So don’t give up. Just do it, in the name of the Lord, please!!!
     On the 17th, using some of the money that you all have sent for this purpose, two of us pitched in to buy a used car for Mike Pillay, the leader of the community at Savvanah Park. He was driving a 1982 Honda, and it was really falling apart and was costing more to keep repaired than we were willing to put out. He uses it to transport old people to the hospital, to get their pensions, to bring them to church, to bring communion to them, as well as get his wife to work and back and take the children to catechism in English at a neighboring parish. He uses the car for other people so we decided to stop pouring money into the sink hole of trying to keep that jalopy ( scorocoro) going and get something reliable. We used your money since you said that we should use it for good causes. His wife and children were ecstatic. It is a 2005 model, just like my Huyndai Atos. It should last  a while.
    On the 18th of Feb. Sr. Consolata asked me to accompany  her to the hospital to visit a prisoner who had been sentenced to life. We had to just through many hoops to get permission to do that and to our disappointment, when we got there and got in to the various queues  to find out how to get to her, we discovered that she had been discharged the day before. Bad communication. However, when I asked Sister why she had gotten a life sentence, she said that she didn’t know and didn’t want to ask. I thought that that was not  a very good way to take he job, so I got on the internet and, through the public records, found out that she had done an insurance scam, faking dead people and getting their insurance and even arranging for some of them to have an early death. No wonder she got a life sentence. I told sister that you don’t find out the why by asking the convict because it could easily be that they would give you a story about how the whole thing was unfair, and how they didn’t deserve this sentence, etc. etc. etc. But if you really want to help someone, the public record of their judgment is there. Then you know what you have to talk about to help them.

     On Saturday the 20th I gave a presentation on Justice in the Gospel of Luke, and also a second presentation on The Spirituality of Justice and Peace. It took the whole morning and  I hope that it was OK. I didn’t have time for an evaluation and am still waiting for it.

    On the 26th, I was invited, as a resident American, to a party at the Consul’s home in Durban North, a nice part of town. Frances Chisholm. A nice woman. I managed to organize for her to visit St. Mary’s hospital and the Outreach Program and Wellness program  in earl y March. She may be impressed, I hope, and use some American money to support these programs that are meant to help and uplift the poorest of the poor.

     We had several home masses, partly to renew and revive old friendships, and partly to celebrate brirthdays and memorial days for those members of the family who have gone on before us. At one of those visits we were assaulted by a vivious thunderstorm. As we watched the rain come down in buckets and the wind  trying to tear the roof off, I remembered that I had left my car window open. Ha! Too late. As I dashed out to close the window (electric), in the first 2 seconds I was drenched, and got more drenched as I sat on the now-soaked seat of the car. Ha again. I took my shirt off which Gerry put in the dryer, but, modestly kept my short pants on. Hmmm.
     I was busy on March 4th, the feast of St. Casimir, my namesake, using the slasher , trying to cut down some of the tall, tall grass on the side of the hill beside our place where when, because it was wet underneath, I slipped and started sliding down the hill and managed to twist my ankle again, but not severely. So I am using the knee wrap to give it a bit of support.

     It is our custom, when someone has a feast day or birthday, to have a bit of a celebration at lunch time. Bishop Lobinger is “Friedrich” and although  his feast is today, we decided to combine. He said that he would get the wine for the meal and that I should pick up the liquer  that we usually have a sip of before lunch.  I got something called “Jugger naut”, claiming to be a local South African product from local herbs. Ha. It really has a punch. So by the time I had a few sips of this and some wine, I knew that my nap was going to last a bit longer that usual, and it did. Ha.
     Well, that’s it for now. This coming week it will be hospital visits to various hospitals, visits to the prison ( I am trying to get permission to be a part time prison chaplain),  Class with the novices, and a home Mass for a friend who had his right foot amputated because of diabetes. Never a dull moment.

I have already pre-packed my suitcase and weighed it to make sure that it isn’t overweight. I still have time to check and recheck to make sure I don’t take what I don’t need and to make sure I have what I will probably need. People think I am a nut case. (I guess I am). I wish you all a very happy and hopeful Easter. May we all share his conquering in one way or another. Love and Peace, Cas. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January 8th, 2016,
My boss at Kelsey Hayes, Bill Byers,  had a saying on his desk that, I think, applies to me here now. The hurrier I go the behinder I get. Ha! Life has been going too fast and I am already behind and the new year has already gone into first gear.
Let me summarize it this way. Katrina was on an emotional roller coaster as the school closed and she had to say goodbye to all the kids. Tough job. Also, we spent a good bit of time together going around from family to family saying goodbye—all people that had taken her into their homes and hearts. She had become part of mor families than she could count. And I became more and more proud of her.
For me, it was a Christmas rush, preparing Masses and liturgies for one feast after another, in both languages, English and Zulu. It takes time, you know, to think things through and then to give a decent sermon or homily on such special days.
Again, before and after Christmas, we visited sometimes 3 or 4 families in one day. Then came the departure day. One of the families that had taken her in as if she was their daughter, Logan and Rajes Govender (and their son) took us all to the airport in a bigger car than I have. We got there in plenty of time and had a cup of coffee and some time to chat.We waited, purposely, up till into boarding time so that we wouldn’t have to look each other in the eye and start you know what. We said our goodbyes quickly before tears could come and then she was off and out of sight. Then we were left to our own emptiness. That was the 29th of December.
She had tried to put in some sim cards that would work in the States and even here but there was no communication for a long time, except for one quick notice (I don’t know how she sent it, maybe borrowed someone’s phone) that she had been very rudely served a document that said that she was an “undesirable person” (persona non grata) and would not be allowed to return to south Africa for five years. They asked her to sign this document, which she didn’t understand, so she asked them what she was signing and that’s what they told her. They also said that she could appeal, period. Damn!!! But then , silence. Eventually we connected again and she had drafted a letter to somewhere appealing this decision. She sent it off by email to some address but never got an answer back as to whether it was received or not. So we are trying to follow up on that now.
In the meantime, I have been back where I started in 1967, at St. Mary’s hospital for Mass every morning and visiting the sick there. I was asked by the chaplain to take his place while he went on home leave and for a retreat till 27th January. Then I discovered that he won’t be back. He has been assigned to another parish far away from here. I suspect that they are thinking that I will just slide in and take over the responsibility of doing the job there but I won’t. I have too many other irons in the fire and don’t really want to be confined to just that job. Am I selfish? Perhaps, but I don’t want to have the responsibility of being the full time chaplain there, although I love the work. As I said, I have too many other irons in the fire.
It has been brutally hot here in the Durban area, 35C not uncommon, and up to 28C in the house the whole night. That is in the 90’s, at least, in Farenheit. Very uncomfortable. And we are also suffering a drought and there are some towns and villages that have to have water trucked in. I can’t imagine a city then size of Durban, with the townships and suburbs, running out of water. It would be an ubelieveable catastrophe.
Well, I am now concentrating on getting my home leave trip organized properly as I don’t want to miss anyone. I will be checking on addresses and phone numbers, hoping that most of them are the same as last time but having the new ones ready to go.
Love to you all. 2016 will be another year of great adventure. So many not problems but challenges---the middle  East,  Africa, gun control, climate change and the whole ecological earth system, etc. etc. etc. Wow!
We’d better not lose contact with the creator because we will need a lot of enlightenment to deal with all these challenges. But, as Obama’s slogan said,  Yes we can. We just have to make up our moral and political minds and put our noses to the grindstone and do it. Pope Francis has given us all a big push. Thank God for him.
 Hey, I am going to leave you now. Stay well. Grow in the Spirit. Love and Peace, Cas.   

January 28, 2016
I need more discipline to keep this blog updated.Well, here goes.
The chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital asked me if I could help out while he was on a retreat and on his home leave. This started back in December 22nd.  You heard some of it already. Well it somehow got into a morning routine. I get up at 4 or 4:30, take a shower, or, if I took a shower the afternoon before, have a kind of rub-down wash concentrating on my crooked back. Ha! Then, if the internet is working (on and off), I check the emails and see if there are any interesting articles that I can share with others as well. I have already read over the readings for the next day and am prepared to make a short 2 minute homily, usually reflections on some of the words of the readings. I have been going down to the kitchen to have a bowl of bran flakes with a small handful of Muesli (keeps the pipes cleaner, so they say, but not always so). I usually have about a half hour to do some meditating before heading for the hospital (via the nice little Hyundai) at 25 past 5. I get the altar organized, and then have a few minutes to get my thoughts together for the celebration of the Mass.
There are usually some communions, so, after Mass one of the sisters accompanies (and guides) me to those patients who would like to receive communion.  By the time we are finished the sisters have already gone to breakfast and I join them and we have a little natter. After breakfast (it has become routine now) I go back to visit the patients who  received communion, find out their names, pray with and for them, and greet everyone in the ward (usuall y there are 8 in a ward.) reminding them that whatever  church they may belong to , we pray for them each day at our morning service (Mass), hoping that God will listen to our prayers and help them to a speedy recovery so that they can get back home to their famiies. This is usually in Zulu, but sometimes there are patients who only know English, so we chat a bit with them as well. This got to be the routine I followed from Monday to Friday up till day before yesterday. The old chaplain has been re-assigned to a far away mission and someone has been asked to fill in for him till they find a permanent replacement. I think that it is crucial that anyone who is going to be a hospital chaplain must know that his job is to go from ward to ward, visiting, encouraging, praying with, bringing some of the good news of Jesus to whoever and letting them know that you are available to listen to , counsel, whatever to help them in their very vulnerable situation there in the hospital.
The other morning, one of the patients ( I know her name but don’t know if she wants me to use it) who looked very bad, and was on and off oxygen for a whole week and a bit more, wasn’t in bed when we came to bring her communion. I was disappointed as we moved off to the next patient, but, lo and behold, here she comes after having brushed her teeth, walking (unbelievable). So we turned back and joyfully gave her communion. I rejoiced with her after breakfast and told her how pleased I was to see her up and about, praise the Lord. I am going to take a break here…..
It is Sunday Jan. 31, and I left yesterday for Mthatha at 8am and arrived about 1:15pm. I delivered a huge crucifix to one family, took a parcel to the CPS sisters at Ikwezi Lokusa (morning star), visited an older confrere , Fr. Francis Jank and then came out here to Libode (about a 45 min. drive from Mthatha) where Fr. Winfried is parish priest. We had a long discussion as to why so many young people (mostly young but not all young) have given up on the “institutional Church” but continue to believe in God and live good lives trying to be good people (Christians?) and doing their little bit to make this a better world. Any Ideas?
But to jump back to where we left off (at the hospital).
I forgot to mention a very traumatic but very happy wedding on Jan. 2nd. A young couple (I have known he girl since she was a youngster—Ziningi Mabaso) came to me back in October to ask what they have to do to organize a church wedding, and if I could take the wedding on Jan. 2nd. I told them that the usual place to start was with her parish priest. (She is from near Mariannhill, a place called Klaarwater but both she and her fiancĂ© are living and working in Cape Town. ) She managed to catch her parish priest immediately after Mass back then and started the paper work for their church wedding. However, when they tried to contact the parish priest to continue and complete the paper work, he was unable to be contacted. They flew up twice from Cape Town ( a bit expensive) but didn’t succeed in seeing him so they talked to their priest in Cape Town, who finished the paper work for them.  I also reminded them that I am not a marriage officer so they must go and register their marriage at the Magistrate’s office or at Home Affairs. Then we would do the church/God thing after that. They tried unsuccessfully to get to home affairs ( I guess that Magistrates’ are not the usual way any more) as they were told that all the offices were closed till the new year sometime in Feb. as they were being renovated. Can you believe it!!! I checked with a Bishop in CT and a priest friend and they both confirmed that it was true and that Home Affairs is hopeless. So What’s new. Well I decided that if worse comes to worst, I would conduct the church part of the wedding and would tell them to just go to Home affairs and get themselves registered there. However, I wanted to check with  a bishop friend here in Durban where this was kosher or not, but I was going to do it anyway, as they had already found a church who would allow us to have a wedding ceremony in their church, not far from where the reception would be help after the wedding ceremoy. The bishop told me that I could easily find a priest there at the monastery who is a marriage officer and he could do that. I breathed a sigh of relief to hear such a (what I thought) simple solution to a scary problem. I organized a meeting with the priest at the monastery and them for the day before the church ceremony. It happened. Then, the next day, when I went to get the civil ceremony  copy to give to the parish priest at the church, I was told that, no, he, the priest, had to be there at the church ceremony to witness to it and get them all to sign. Holy Moses. I thought that everything was taken care of. Now what! I begged him to cancel whatever he had to do that day and please come with me to do the job from the civil point of view. Thankfully , he agreed, and came along with me. Otherwise, I don’t know what would have happened. In fact he was a special blessing since he is also a musician and he wound up playing the usual wedding march and a few other things during the service which helped it be alive. The only problem was that, he is 83 yrs. old, and while I was looking forward to the dancing after the meal reception, he was tired and wanted to go home. I had to respect him so, I missed out on the dancing. This is the second time this has happened and soon I am going to lose my touch. Ha!
Just a mention of a few other highlights of this January’s events. I met a friend from Austria and we spent some time together and as a result, he wound up helping one of the women who is trying to build a house, with some funds, for which she is very grateful. I used some of your donations for that same purpose. Now she is up to the roof and we want to find some more funds to finish off the roof.
I also attended the jubilees of the FSF sisters, down the South Coast. I have known many of them for lots of years and I even had a chance to visit one of them who welcomed me when I first arrived in South Africa at my first assignment in a place called Harding. She is well on in age now and was super happy to know that a priest friend still remembered her and felt honored by the visit. It was I who was honored to spend some time with a real old faithful soul, friend of the Lord.
I’ve been back to the Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Naidoo, who checked and was satisfied that the troublesome knee is doing OK. He gave me some stuff to build up the cartilage and an anti-inflammatory to take from time to time to ease the discomfort (they say, pain, but it is easily bearable---some of you know what I am talking about---old age sort of stuff).
Since the weather has been very hot this month, and because there was a good bit of rain for a few days, the grass was busy doing its thing. So, I spent a lot of time cutting the grass especially the grass that grows on the side of the hills where the usual lawn mower can’t go. But, I discovered, that after an hour and maybe a bit more, I was running out of energy, sweating like crazy, so I had to come in, have some water and a cup of coffee, watch the Al Jazeera news for a half hour and then go back, if I felt up to it, and continue the cutting. After lunch, I usually, (if I was going to do it) went straight to work (starting about 1pm) till about 2:30 and then did the same, cleaned up the machine, had some water and a cup of coffee , watched another half hour of news, till  3:30 then took a shower and Skyped with a friend at 4pm (if there was a signal—very frustrating, on and off, now you have it, now you don’t).  Then say my evening prayers, get the table ready for supper, watch the news from 6:30 to 7:15 and then spend the rest of the evening preparing thoughts for the Mass the next morning, as well as the workshops I have agreed to give on the two new encyclicals of Pope Francis, Laudato Si (Caring for our Common Home) , the Gaudium Evangelii (the Joy of the Gospel---how he sees what the church is and what is should be doing to bring love, mercy, hope and peace to our world) and finally, Justice and Peace, especially as you see in in Luke’s Gospel. But, by 9am, especially if I have been  cutting grass and am really tired, I just say that’s it and hit the sack. Very hot, so no blankets, even a sheet is sometimes too much.
 I have to stop now as I am going to lunch. Fr. Winfried just came back from his Xhosa mass at 10:30. I took the English Mass this morning at 8am and enjoyed being able to do the whole thing in English. See you later.
Feb. 4, 2016
I am picking up again. We had a Board Meeting at Sabelani Home at 3pm with Fr. Guy’s guys. Each gave a report as to where he was at in his work or studies and then we assessed the situation as to how long we could go on before people got married or found jobs far away or whatever and what should happen to the house and grounds when people have been scattered and are starting new lives. There is no doubt that their lives have been immeasurably enriched by their upbringing by Fr. Guy. I guess that everything must come to a close but the repercussions will last for generations. We had supper together before I went off for the next meeting at Abbot Francis Home.
The meeting started on Sunday evening and lasted until 9pm on Monday. Lots of things were discussed, especially the financial situation which is precarious. (It seems that this is true where ever I have been with all communities.) But the main thing is that elections were held and a new team was chosen to lead and guide the Mthatha Province for the next three years. The world situation has changed so much in the last few years that it will be a real challenge for them to find the best way forward. On Tuesday the three young Congolese novices took their temporary vows. One is being transferred to Zambia to continue his studies there and the other two will remain here and continue their studies in South Africa. Two of our confreres made their permanent vows, one from Congo and one from South Africa. The life of the community moves on.
I spent Wednesday and will spend today visiting people, especially at Landsend and Bedford, where people are struggling, and will use some of the donations I received from some of you for helping them (some school fees, a water tank, finishing the roof, etc. etc. etc. ) The lack of water is a real problem. We really need lots of rain. Many of the dams that provide water are dry or almost dry and this is true throughout South Africa. On river, the Orange river, like our Mississippi, that is the main river taking water from the mountains to the West and the Atlantic Ocean, is completely dry. Unheard of.

Well, that’s enough of updating you. I am now planning my home leave and fine tuning who I can visit and when and where. Many of you are on my list and I really look forward to that. In the meantime, I hope that the new year is treating you with love and respect.  Me too. Love and Peace, Fr. Cas.