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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dec. 26th, 2017

   Holy Moses, another month has almost gone by. I am just off now to do some weed Whacking but when I come back, I will try to pick up where I left off. Boxing day, as they call the day after Christmas here, is a national holiday so things are slow today and it is a good day / time, for using the weed eater. See you a bit later.

     It is now Dec. 27th, I spend almost the whole of yesterday cutting grass (weeds) with the weed eater, morning and afternoon. I was tired and after our Braai Vleis (cookout) at the monastery where I got stuck into a nice hunk of beef and a fat sausage, I came back, watched the news for a while and then hit the sack about an hour earlier than I usually do since I was tired. I am just back from the hospital for the 6am Mass and am heading down for breakfast with the others. After breakfast, I will come back and pick up where I left off.

   Lots of interesting and good things happened in December. I thought that I was putting them down as they happened but…. So here goes.

Dec. 2nd, 2017  Book Launch.  During the liberation war in Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe, some of our Mariannhillers were murdered as well as some of our Precious Blood Sisters. Fr. Ted Rogers, a friend and colleague during my Zimbabwe days working for IMBISA ( Interregional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa), the refugees (exiles) from various countries under siege (Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia) ( I was looking after the South African Exiles who had to flee from South Africa to Zimbabwe or Zambia)…is now retired (he is 93 yrs. Old, a Jesuit) and has serious health problems…he decided to write a book documenting and telling the stories of the religious who were murdered at that time by either the guerrillas (Zanu..supported by the Chinese…or Zapu, supported by the Russions,) or the Rhodesian Army, or the Selous Scouts ( an ugly bunch), for various reasons. There were others besides the Mariannhillers and Precious Blood Sisters, but because it concerned our community, the book launch was here at the monastery with some fan fare and some speeches and entertainment and refreshments. About 70 people came, mostly from our communities, but also a choir from Zimbabwe. It was interesting too that  ZAPU is mainly Shona, and quite a few, and ZAPU is mainly Ndebele, and not so many, the armed wings being Zanla and Zipra, respectively. Since a lot of the fighting took place in Matabeleland, The Zipra guys were often known by the missionaries, where some of them went to school, or worshiped, and who were often helped by the missionaries, and were less inclined to kill the missionaries (unless there was a reason like one of the people being a spy and reporting their whereabouts to the Government authorities). But the Zanla guys were mostly from the Shona part of what is now Zimbabwe and there was less sympathy, and because there was a kind of rivalry between the two guerrilla groups, were more likely to find a reason to murder the missionaries, priests, brothers, sisters, that the Zipra guys. The point is that of the 31 missionaries that were murdered, 29 were expatriates. The bishop had told them that it was dangerous to continue to live in the missions and that they were free to leave without being accused of being cowards. The all chose to stay with their communities and paid the ultimate price for it. They are considered to be martyrs for choosing to remain with their people even though they knew there was a good chance that they would die because of that choise. It was inspiring and encouraging at the same time. The books sells for R150 here but was selling for R120 at the launch. There was also a launch in Johannesburg and may also be one in London, because there were a good number of Jesuits who also experienced the same fate. Fr. Rogers, SJ, wanted to finish the book before the Lord took him home but he is still with us in a retirement home in the UK and was very happy about the launches.

Dec. 3, 2017—Dinner Dance to raise funds for the ultimate building of St. Therese of Lisieux parish ( my outstation at Savannah Park). Tickets were being sold for donations, R150, for a dinner dance that included a meal, doing a good deed, a health component, and some good music, all for only R150, or more if you choose. I sole 41 tickets out of the 250 tickets that were printed. The venue was El-Arish, a very nice restaurant, cum conference center, cum B&B, on the Bluff here in Durban (you can see the sea—Indian Ocean—from the windows). All tickets were sold out and the place was full. Even the whole African community that had attended our morning Mass at Savannah Park were there (to my surprise because I think it was beyond their means but they really tried hard to show their support). Of course the meal was excellent and I moved around greeting all those people to whom I sold tickets as well as others. There was a good spirit as people got to know on another.  Of course the hightlight, to me, was that I exhausted myself on the dance floor. Ha. I think some people got a look at a side of Fr. Cas. They didn’t know existed. I only sat down to catch my breath when they stopped playing the slow ones and started on the hippity hop ones. Ha again.  The final tally for the evening was that we managed to raise R57,000.  00. Wow, that is a lot for us. I guess you could say that a good time was had by all, especially by our parishioners who had never, I believe, seen anything like this before. Very fancy. Thanks to the owner of the venue who put everything in the kitty and didn’t keep anything for himself. That gave us a good start.

In between there were classes with the novices again, and some hospital visits, and on the 8th of December, joining the CPS sisters, one of whom, Sr. Florence, after waiting a looong time, finally was given the OK to make her final vows. She is studying nurseing and that is how I got to know her.

I also got a message from the Bank that they were deducting some R2000 from my account having to do with Vodacom. Holy Moses. I went to the bank (this is always an adventure for an old guy. I stood in the queue for over half and hour and when I finally got to the teller to explain, she told me that I had to go to Vodacom first to find out what it was all about.) Thank goodness, Vodacom is just upstairs so I went up and managed to get someone to explain what this deduction was all about. He said that it was because I used up a lot of data that came to that amount. I explained that for several years now I have been paying R75 a month for a mobile router which I uses on occasion when I have to be away from my home wifi, but in all this time I never went over the amount (1GB). Suddenly, to jump from R75 to over R2000. Didn’t make sense to me as I hadn’t done anything different from what I usually do. But when I asked him to check on his computer, he said that the line was down and that I could wait. Ha. Wait? What a joke. I told him that I was going back to the bank to have them reverse the charge, which I would query, and Vodacom could inform me later what they decided and I would then make my decision.

A few days later, after my Internet access to my bank account is blocked because I can’t remember my password (This really irritates me because I think I have a whole Yellow Pages of passwords that I can hardly remember, and which, for one reason or another, I have to change, so that I wind up confused. Of course, if  you try too many times with the wrong password, it gets blocked …I won’t say what I thought, but I had to go to the bank twice to get it unblocked, and each time if took over an hour. ) I eventually went to the bank manager who turned out to be a very nice lady, and I suggested that she go out to observe what is going on in her bank, that they really need more tellers, since having to wait for over an hour is not acceptable and the bank will get a bad reputation. She said that she already did that but she had 6 people who were off sick and when she asked headquarters for more staff, they said they didn’t have any to send to her so she was stuck. At least it was good that I now have a good contact in the bank if more problems arise in the future.

Dec, 10, 2017---I joined the community at St. Paul’s Church since it was family day in the parish and the parish priest is recovering from an operation to his leg (some strange doctors said he might have to have his right foot amputated, and this was in a very expensive private hospital).  A haematologist was called in and said that all that was needed was to borrow a vein from somewhere else and get a blood supply to that foot and all would be well, which is what they did, and it is working fine but is still a bit painful. In any case I took the Mass and he sat with me up at the altar and I asked all the kids to come up and get a blessing from their father, which they did and that made him and the kids happy.  I joined a family  at home after Mass and then came back to meet the rest of the parishioners who were each coming bringing their own goodies. It was a nice time and a good spirit, a real family spirit.

Dec. 16, 2017…I was invited to a birthday party of a friend who celebrated his 70th. It gave me another opportunity to cash in on the health component with a bit of dancing. I mean, after all, one has to look after his health.

Somewhere in here I did a dumb thing. I was parked (parallel parking) next to the front door of the hospital and when I came out of Mass and climbed into the car, there was no one next to me on the driver’s side, But as I started to pull away to my right, bank, I bumped into a car that had pulled along side of me to drop off his wife in front of the main door of the hospital. Although I was probably only going about 5 Mph, it gave a nice dent to the side of hid bakkie (pickup). He wasn’t impressed and I think that if I hadn’t been a priest, he might have said and acted differently. It was just before Christmas and I really felt stupid. I didn’t want to admit that since I have glaucoma, my peripheral vision on my right side is very limited, and that, I believe, is the reason that I had no clue that he had pulled up along side of me. I think that if I had nomal vision, I would have noticed, out of the corner of my eye, as it were, that he had come along side of me. I still felt dumb.

But that meant informing the insurance company and getting a police report (the system with the police is about the same as the bank. It was over an hour waiting, Ha. There is no escape). However, in the end, I was advised not to report to the insurance company because the deductible amount would be more than if I got someone to repair it whom I know, and that is how it worked out. My friend Anthony told me to bring him the car when I go to Cape Town in January, and he can fix it up for probably a quarter of what the other panel beaters would charge. I am super abundantly blessed.

17th Dec. 2017… A group of ACTS ( a spin off from the Cursillo) came to us old timers and prepared a special lunch for us. We ate like pigs. It was very thoughtful of them. They do it once in a while especially for those who rarely if at all have a chance to get out of the house. We are spoiled.

Dec. 21, 2017---I went for my annual prostate checkup. I had already gotten my PSA done at the lab. They take  a blood sample and can tell if you have cancer in your prostate. Mine was 1.3 ( the doctor said that two years ago it was 1.1, last year 1.2, this year 1.3. He said it gradually goes up as one gets older. The cut off, he said, is 6. Well, by the time I get to six (1.3, 1.4, 1.4, 1.6, etc. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. I will be long gone).

Dec. 22nd, 2017… We had a home mass for some ladies ( the daughter who is about 55 yrs. Looking after her mom, about 90 yrs. And totally blind…haven’t had a chance to get to Mass for years and years. So it was special for them. Some members of the community came and joined up and provided some music which was very nice. There is a good spirit in our community and when someone is sick or there is a death in one of the families, the rest are there to offer support. I also picked up some candles and incense for our Christmas celebrations that morning.

The rest of the time building up to Christmas was preparing for Christmas itself, doing a lot of grass cutting in between, helping out with confessions at the neighboring parishes, and having a special penitential service for our parish on the Third Sunday of advent, when Fr. Macarius came along and helped to hear confessions to let everyone get in shape, spiritually, to celebrate Christmas.

Dec. 23, 2017…After picking up a 5 litre box of red wine for whoever graces my doorstep, I spent the morning and afternoon cutting grass and felt happy that it is mostly under control now.

Dec/ 24th, 2017…4th Sunday of Advent and also Christmas Eve day / night. I knew that no one was going to come to Mass twice, once in the morning and once in the evening for the midnight mass, which, by the was was at 6pm. Since there was no Mass that morning, Mike Pillay organized for us to bring communion to the sick, who would not be able to get to church on Christmas day. Then, in the evenng we just combined everything. Mr. Pillay, the community organizer and catechist, umshumayeli, had managed to find someone to bring his keyboard along. That is all you need for an African community who love to sing, to turn them on. It was like magic. The music was great, and as you know, it is clear that an African can’t sing and stand still at the same time. S/he must move, so everyone was moving to the music and the Holy Spirit took over. A real family spirit. We finished about 8:30 and then I went up to Net and Mike Pillays for bite to eat and to wish each other a blessed Christmas. I got home about 10:45 and to bed by 11:30pm. Not bad.

Dec. 25th, 2017. Since there was no Mass at Savannah Park ( I think that most of them would go to the Mass at the mother parish, St. Charles Luanga at 8am), I had Mass at the Hospital where we prayed for all the patients to get healed and home in time to taste a bit of the Christmas seasonal spirit.  I had intended to move around the hospital from ward to ward to just pray and bless everyone, but at the last minute, I received a message that an old friend was coming to bring her mother from America and wanted me to meet her. We met but then I had to change my schedule. I wanted to visit 4 families so now I had to be satisfied to visit only three. My spirits pick up when I see families together, enjoying each other’s company, and the kids getting good example from the elders, usually at least three generations or four coming together. I came home about 7:30 and was pooped, so by 8:30 I was under the sheet for a nice quiet and peaceful Christmas.

Dec. 26th, 2017…I cut grass the whole morning and afternoon. The weather was warm and a bit overcast which was just right for that. It is called Boxing Day here but I don’t know why. I seem to remember something called the Boxer Rebellion in China but I don’t think it has anything to do with this Boxing Day.

At the end of the day there was vespers in the church where the novices led the singing (5 of them) and I was surprised at how well they sang and harmonized. I taught them in class so I didn’t know they had this hidden talent. Some of the youngsters were cooking the meat and lots and lots of other goodies were on the table. Besides our Mariannhill community and the sisters, there were also some visitors who joined in the celebration. I saw a young lady I didn’t know so I sat next to her to find out who she was. She is the real live sister of the new Bishop of Port Elizabethe, A Zungu. Interesting. We started with vespers at 5:30 and the braai was ready right after that, so by 7:30, I felt tired after spending most of the morning and afternoon cutting grass (mostly on the side of a hill) so I headed for home, watched to news for a while and then hit the sack again by 9pm. I think that I am slowly but surely adding on my sleep hours. I used to turn in by 10 and get up at 4, now I turn in a bit earlier, and get up at 4:30. Does that say something to me. I am still trying to decipher.

Right now, I am waiting to be picked up for a lunch with another family. I will tell you about it when I next add on to my blog. I think I am finished for the time being. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, fruitful new year, and when it is not so happy or healthy or fruitful, but sad or disappointing, and health challenging, or frustrating, that you are given, from above, the courage, strength, determination, patience, and, most of all , Love, to deal with all of that, and keep on moving till next Christmas. Love and Peace, as always, Cas.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec. 1, 2017

Hey, but life has been busy the last few days. Always busy on weekends with one or two masses, most often in Zulu.

On the 27th, we had a meeting of those involved in planning the dinner dance to raise money for a church at Savannah Park. I managed to sell 41 tickets. The plans were more or less put in order, e.g. who is going to welcome, who explain what and where is the Savannah Park church project (me), who is going to bless the gathering, who is going to bless the food (the bishop---he usually takes a long time for his sermons so it was thought better to make it something short like grace before meals), how many are coming (more than 200), how many tables, how about the DJ, there is a picture to be reaffled off (R10,000), who will be the MC, etc. etc. etc. Got home very late, almost 10pm and had to turn the alarm off before I could let myself into the house without waking up the neighbourhood.

28th, of course, my birthday. Too many people have gotten wind of this day and I have been deluged with birthday wishes and blessings, many of them via Facebook and something called Messenger. Hey, I avoid these things and tried to answer, tapping “comment”, and then looking where to send and there is now where to send. So I just gave up. A few days later, I went to our travel agent whose son I depend on the explain what I don’t know. He explained. But, I advise all of you who read this blog to avoid Facebook, please. Just send me an email  ( and I will answer. The trouble is that once you get onto Facebook and all those other things, it hijacks you for hours and eats up your data. So please.

30th, St. Mary’s Nursing College graduation. I was invited because I used some of the money you guys sent to help some of the poor ones with their school fees. It was nice to see these youngsters and their rejoicing parents with an education that hopefully will help them to earn enough to raise a family. However, I keep reminding them that there is not just a “Profession” but is a “vocation, a calling” which goes well beyond just doing a professional job, although that is also important.

I had to leave early because when I tried to buy some air time, after trying several times on the internet banking page of Standard Bank, they blocked it. Darn passwords. I need a Yellow Pages of passwords. In any case, I went straight from the celebration to the bank and it took over an hour to get things right again. I blame the bank for having a confusing web page. In any case, it is done now and this morning I got myself some more air time.

Now I have to start working on answering all those hundreds of Facebook messages. I think they will have to be short and sweet.

Today, I was supposed to have been at the hospital for World Aids Day, I typed out  a kind of service with readings, responses, alleluias, etc. in Zulu for the sister that I work with at the hospital. I will be taken out by a friend for lunch as a birthday treat. That was nailed down some weeks ago after going through several changes and cancelations, so there was no way I could cancel it again.

I forgot that my second cousin (Jerry and Barb’s daughter) Leah, invited me to the birthday party of Aunt Rose on Feb. 4th, 2018. She will be 100 and the family are organizing something.  I told her that I would love to be there and would be able to come only if the family were able to pitch in to pay for the air fare, which would be around $1100 to $1200, at the present exchange rate. However, I know that everyone is up tight with stretched budgets so I am quite prepared to stay home and join with them in spirit and in prayer.

That’s enough for now. I am off to the pharmacy to pick up some medicines and then off to , I hope, a lovely lunch. It will be a Greek restaurant, and I am looking forward to it, especially the Baklova (Maybe some Ouzo too!)  LOL . Cas

Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 23, 2017 (Thanksgiving Day)

I started updating my blog on the 21st and got almost finished a day later when, by some freakish thing, I deleted the whoooole thing. Ugh! So I am starting all over again. Can you imagine starting thanksgiving day by updating my blog.

Oct. 24---I started my trip to Mthatha with several tasks in mind. Fr. Macarius backed out at the last minute because he feels more and more unsure of himself as his eyesight fades. On the 25th I saw Nomaza, NOmonde’s daughter, who has started a school for the autistic. She had a sheaf of papers to fill in applying for help from the government and asked for help. Holy Moses. You would almost need a lawyer to go through all that stuff. Then it was off to Landsend to bring a lot of (a whole trunk full of) used clothes, some still brand new. She was happy. Also saw Sinovuyo, the tailor, who is happy as his business in doing well, he feels. Next, friends Sandra and Phemeza, working for Mike McNamara, who helped Guy a lot. Sandra even bought a ticket for the dinner dance to raise funds for a new church at Savannah Park. Visited Graeme who collects the rents for our project at Bedford who explained some of the ups and downs of that job but now most of the flats are occupied. Hooray. He also gave me a give of some wild game meat (which is being prepared as I type, for a Thanksgiving surprise at our table. It will be a mince curry for lunch and some sausages for breakfast. We are spoiled).

We had a home blessing for one of our friends who had been our insurance broker for many years. Nice family.

26th, Visit to the sisters CPS and a trip to Sabelani Home to tell Mona that because of his continued drinking the bursary will be canceled. He has been given a new start so often and lots of money has been wasted on him when he continues to go back to his drinking again. Also visited Nomanyano, an activist in the local parish and saw the parish priest for about 10 seconds as he was just off to say mass for the sisters. Then had supper with Liz and Raj, old friends from way back. Raj now has his PhD and has been promoted at the university.

27th. Saw Sr. Nokwanda, teaching nursing at the school where Mona was to go. She pleaded for him and said that all had already been paid for for the whole year by Fr. Winfried, so I had to relent. I will have to tell Mona that he has been given yet another reprieve, but Fr.Winfriend will cut off his bursary and supplies if there is the least reason to do so.

28th. The BOM meeting (board of management) at Sabelani Home. Big discussion about what to do about the money from a grant that Fr. Guy had organized before he died. How it is to be used, and that it must be faithfully reported on, openly and transparently, every penny. It was decided to take on 5 new boys to live in the house and be mentored by those who are still there and to find five young women and see how they can be helped, but without living at the house which is only for males. We will see, after Christmas, how that is going. I joined them for supper after the meeting and we had a toast to the ancestors to close the day (Uncle Jack Daniels). We also had some ordinations of new deacons that day but because of the importance of the BOM meeting I was unable to attend.

29th. I left Mthata at 4 :30am to get back to Mariannhill in time to do a lot of things. I stopped to see Fr. Kim at Coolock house, our retreat house near the sea, and had breakfast with him and discussed our formation program for our young members in training. I spent the afternoon and evening pushing tickets for our dinner dance and wound up having supper with friends Ernest and Mala, who also bought two tickets.

30th. I had decided to have a wheel alignment for the car since it hadn’t been attended to since after the accident and repairs. Ha. When I checked to see if I had used any oil for the long trip to Mthatha (it is only a 1.1 litre engine, and I don’t slouch) I discovered that the oil cap was missing. So that gave me another important thing to do for the day. The same day, Rose Mene, the wife of Wally Mene, an environmental activist who passed away suddenly, came to ask if I would take a service for him at their home with mainly members of the family and some close friends. She had been told to ask me by a friend from the Grail, a group that tries to uplift women wherever they are. I surely agreed. It was Monday and it was to be on Wednesday.

Nov. 1—Most of the day was taken up for the memorial service for Wally. He was well known as a passionate defender of mother earth and was an intrepid foe of all who would dare to desecrate or abuse our beautiful mother earth. It was a pleasure to be able to lead such a meaningful service. He didn’t belong to any church but was a deeply religious person, as is his wife Rose, who is the CEO of Biowatch here in South Africa.

Nov. 2nd, of course, all Souls day, so we remembered all of our deceased relatives and friends. ( I still have Mass every morning at St. Mary’s hospital, even though it is now a government hospital. A few nurses come in the morning at 6am. Sometimes they are quite late but I still give them communion because it is not their fault. They have to depend on public transport and that means you just have to wait. It is no like just jumping into your car when you feel like it. Again, we are spoiled.

Nov. 3   We held a bigger service for Wally at the Botanical Gardens in Durban where members of many organizations were present that had worked with or benefited from the wisdom and support of Wally. Several organizations were given the opportunity to pay a tribute to him and I was asked to say a prayer (many people are not church goers but are deeply religious) and the service was closed by Toko Makhanyo, a now retired member of the Grail, who also knew and benefited from Wally who gave a final blessing.

Nov. 6--- a visit to Dr. Khewa to get help with a very itchy rash on my left upper arm. He decided that it is an allergy of some sort. Gave me stuff (ointment and lots of pills). It is gone now. Thank the Lord.

Nov. 7---Class with the novices. The Spirituality of Justice and Peace.  A power point program. One of them fell asleep. What does that tell me? I have the novices for all of November on Tuesdays. This was the first class this month. Hmmm..

Nov. 9—visited a friend at Parklands Hospital. She had just had a hysterectomy and the removal of a cyst that had caused here to fill up with liquid, 8 litres. Wow, that’s a lot. She was still in ICU. I noticed an African lady in a bed across the aisle who looked in not too good shape so I went over and prayed for her in Zulu and she responded, expressing thanks for the prayers. I mean, what else was I supposed to do.

Nov. 10---After breakfast I took one of our house keepers to a school for kids with special needs. She wants to see about getting her child in. It is quite far and out of the way. I don’t know how, if the child is accepted, the child will find transport to get there.     After that I visited an elderly lady (Indian—95 yrs. old) the granny of my eye doctor, who thought that it was time to anoint her as it looked as though she was not going to make it. However, we found her bright and chipper. The only problem was that her hearing is about 1%, so you have to shout into her good ear. Not too good for conversation. Lots of hand signals. We prayed but no anointing.

On the way back I stopped at the Catholic schools office to greet people. Lourdes, the secretary, has had both breasts removed because of cancer and is really down. Hard to think positively. Lionel, the director, reminded me that I was on the roster for next year to give a workshop on Laudato Si again. I can pick the date that suits me. I am sure that there are other workshops waiting in the wings.

11th—I finally got around to making my financial report. Each month I make a copy of my income and expenditure and give it to Br. Tendayi, our bursar, along with the bank statement. He handles my  pension money. If he thinks I am squandering money or misusing it, he can let me know and make me pull up my socks. It is usually between $200 and $400 a month, most of it being for petrol as I move around a lot.

I also made photocopies of my The Joy of the Gospel presentation to be given to the Novices for reviewing later and also gave them a few other handouts regarding J& P.

Nov. 16---This was the day when the fund-raising team got together to see how far we had gotten with the tickets and what had to be organized for the night of the dinner dance. Mark, the owner of the venue, and the one who is sponsoring the whole thing, said that there would be a full complement of 250 people. At R150 a person, That’s R35,700. He is putting it all in the kitty for the future church. He is very generous, as are all those who are offering their time and their skills, as well as some financial help.

I spent a good part of the week, from the 12th to the 17th going around and collecting for the tickets that were still outstanding. I got them all before the meeting. I had sold 41 tickets. One of my doctor friends also kicked in R500 as a donation towards our new church ( We need about R900,000.00 at present rates, which comes to about $65,000---can you build a house, much less a church, for $65,000 these days. But, I am sure that by the time we have enough money to begin the project, it will have gone up to over a Million Rand. Will I ever see the day when the church will be completed…. Only God willing.

It was also a good week in that I was able to track down people in the States, in Germany, in Switzerland, in Zambia and Zimbabwe, since I had lost information when everything was stolen. Hooray for making fresh contact.

Nov. 21---I had to get Br. Tendai to help me to get the DVD, An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore regarding climate change, able to see and hear it. I was able to get the picture going but couldn’t get sound. He solved the problem by organizing the TV room in the monastery that has a machine that takes DVD’s. I still want to know how to get sound out of the projector I was using.

Nov. 22… This day was the funeral of Sr. Kathleen, a wild Irish Cabra Domincan with whom I lived and worked together with her colleague St. Carmel, in Tsolo for several years. It was a great experience and adventure. Among other things, they wanted to be independent so they were teaching the taxi drivers who wanted to finish grade 8 at night, and I was the one, when they were teaching (from 8 to 10 pm on certain nights), to cook the supper. It was total teamwork. One day someone came and wanted to talk to the “superior”. We looked at each other and asked “are you the superior”. Ha. No superiors or inferiors in our house. May the Lord give her a warm welcome and a place of peace.

Nov. 23---today is Thanksgiving Day in the States. I announced that at Mass this morning at the hospital, and invited them to give thanks for whatever they felt they needed to thank the Lord for. After Mass, I visited a sick man, Mr. Malinga, and anointed him with the sacrament of the sick. He has 4th degree cancer and needs a bit of help and encouragement to get out of his negativity. I had, earlier, gone to the store to get a cake and some ice cream, for our Thanksgiving lunch. Then I went to the home of Mala Gabriel, to whom I had brought what I thought was a roast of some wild beast that had been given to me by a friend when I was in Mthatha. It turns out that it was mince (hamburger) so she made a mince curry. Delicious.  I picked it up and brought it back home in time for lunch. It was a hit. Between the Mince Curry, the wine, the cake and the good company, I can say that “ a good time was had by all.”.

I just finished printing out the handouts for next week of Laudato Si and have now almost finished the entry into the Blog. I always wait too long.

In between, I have Mass every morning, except Saturday, at the hospital, and bring communion to the sick there in the hospital as well as, on certain days, to sick people in their homes, who can’t make it to church. I do a good bit of visiting in between time and am busy every Sunday with one or two Masses, usually in Zulu. I also help out at different parishes sometimes during the week and on Saturday nights or later on Sunday. I also had a service on the 20th of November at Diakonia, an ecumenical group trying to respond to needs in a Christian way, as, for example, when people were experiencing Xenophobia and being attacked by stupid South Africans (I say stupid because it is the people in the countries who are now exiles in South Africa, who helped us and gave us a place to stay and helped in many other ways and this is the gratitude we give to them). I keep in touch with Diakonia, because I want them to know that the Catholic Church gives them full support. I first met them in 1967 in Durban.

But that is more than enough for now. I am getting ready to hit the sack. I have a Mass a the hospital at 6 and another at 9 in the Pinetown Parish, so I want to have a look at the Scriptures to see what they are telling me for tomorrow.

I hope that you all also had a good thanks giving if you follow the American custom. Love and peace, And good night. Cas.

Monday, October 23, 2017

October 23, 2017

Hey, it is more than a month that has gone by already and lots of things to share. Well, let’s get started. On the 18th of Sept. I collected my new passport. Hooray. Next is to get to Home Affairs to have my permanent residence stamped in my new passport. I dread it. It probably means the whole blessed day. But….. I also went to the Catholic Bookshop and picked up 5 copies is The Joy of the Gospel, and Laudato Si, the two latest encyclicals of Pope Francis for the novices because I will be giving them classes on those two in November.

I did some home and hospital visiting that week and wound up with two masses on the 23rd, one for the postulants (the like to sing and me too) 6am, and an evening mass at 5:30pm at a mostly Indian parish. They are nice because the appreciate my jokes.

I wanted to take Shirley to lunch for her birthday (long past, Aug. 17) on the 28th, but she got terribly sick and fell down (She was 83 then) and was taken to the hospital by her son. She was bleeding internally and they couldn’t find it. But, after some time, a few days, the bleeding stopped by itself. The scan showed no sign of anything ever being wrong. We had been putting off her birthday lunch for at least three of four times so I told her that next week Friday, in October now, either she is well enough to let me take her for a birthday lunch or we just forget the birthday this year and catch it next year. She agreed to come for the lunch. We both love curry and it was so delicious that she ordered a sea food curry to take home with her as well.

The day before, on the 5th of Oct. a friend had organized to take me to one of his friends at a further away Home affairs office. Ha. We left at about 10am, got there at about 11:10, and by 11:50 we were finished, including an application for a new South African ID (mine is shredding). Holy Moses. A miracle. Others could hardly believe my luck. Thanks to those who organized it. I felt a bit ashamed when I saw all the others there, some mothers nursing babies, waiting and waiting, but my shame wasn’t powerful enough to stop me from being the favoured one that day.

Earlier in the week, on the 2nd, I took the car to Urban Radio, because they had installed the alarm system, and the automatic locking mechanism, after the car had been broken into twice. The automatic locking mechanism stopped working so one had to lock by hand. They discovered that the small motor that operated the locks was dead so they replaced it without and argument since I had the original receipt with me. It was only a few months old.

On Sunday, the 8th of Oct. I took the place of one of the neighboring priests who was in the hospital. At Mass, we celebrated a 25th anniversary of Marriage of a couple, a 13th birthday of a young lady, and then, after the Mass and Brunch at the 25th anniversary couple’s, I went back to Savannah Park to join in the celebration of the marriage of Mark and Dolly, parishioners of Savannah Park. The marriage was performed by the real parish priest (not by me, the mercenary).

I helped out with confessions at St. John’s parish (the Indian parish) as people were getting ready to be confirmed and wanted to be in good spiritual shape.

On Saturday I had the closing Mass of the Catholic Schools Office at 10am. The run courses (some of which I give) during the year, to increase and deepen their knowledge of the faith.  I also had another evening Mass at St. John’s parish, and got invited by my friends Estie and Rami to come and have supper with them. MMMM delicious. Curry.

Somewhere in there, one Sunday, there was a terrible storm in Durban, like a mini-Irma. On the main highway going down the coast, cars were underwater up to their roofs. In the low lying areas of town, it was the same. Cars washed away, people drowning in the rushing water, rushing down the street and at the bottom, no place to go but to get caught in the water running from the side and swept away. Holy Moses. There was also a terrible wind that destroyed buildings and tore off roofs, and damaged many homes. Sink holes that swallowed up cars. A nightmare. And then it was over. We here at our place felt the wind but no damage. However in the township next to us, there was plenty of wind and water damage.

On the 15th of October, the team that is going to help us get the church built (project manager, fund-raising committee, The guys who do the measuring, the architect, and the priest who is helping us by contacting all his friends, were there to meet the community and explain that they were willing to help but that the community had to help in its way too. Tickets had been printed for a dinner dance to start the ball rolling, R150  covering a meal, music, healthy exercise (dancing), and for a good cause. A normal restaurant will charge more than that just for the meal so it is a good deal, but out of the generosity of one of the team who owns the restaurant which will be the venue. I took ten tickets.

Tuesday, 17th, we had 7 bishops and a host of volunteers to pack food parcels for starving children here in KZN. They discovered that there are close to half a million kids who go to bed every night hungry. I stayed for a while, helping with the packing, but then left to attend a lecture in town, I was told that they packed 10,000 food parcels that day.

I had lunch with a friend from Germany at a beautiful restaurant which overlooks  trees, streams, flowers, etc. Helps the digestion. He works for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical firm, and because of the extreme pressure of work, when he gets a chance, he comes down here for a break and for some nicer weather and the sea. That was on Thursday the 19th.

 On the 20th, my friend and mechanic, Musa, checked my car to see if all was well (it hasn’t been checked since the accident back in June) and, after tightening up a few loose things, he gave it a thumbs up.

Saturday, the 21st. was a very interesting day. I was to take a funeral at 11am at the mother church from our branch at Savannah Park. I like to be a bit early just to make sure. I was there by 10:20. I found ladies cleaning the church who knew nothing about a funeral. Hmmmm. The sacristy was open but I couldn’t find any books or hosts or wine or whatever. Eventually I found a chalice and one big host  but there was not water or wine or small host. By this time it was almost 10:45. So I told them I was going back to the Monastery to fetch my things (always have some water and wine and hosts and chalice, etc.) realizing that I should have done that in the first place. By the time I got back it was 5 past eleven and the casket had already been taken into the church. But then, lo and behold, another hearse pitches up and disgorges another casket. Now what. Two funerals. I use my wine and water and holy water because there isn’t any at the parish but, thank God, the catechist is there. So we go to plan B. He know who is in the one casket and I know who is in the other so we just forge ahead. I was proud of our small but powerful choir from Savannah Park. There can never be a service without singing.

After the Mass, we go to the cemetery. There is no road near the graveside, so the old men have to carry the coffin on a very rough hilly and pot-holey ground for about a football field away.  Some day I will describe how an African is buried, but I will jump over that for now.

After the filling in of the grave we all go to the house for a meal and to meet some of the family of the deceased. I finally came home late in the afternoon and I am beat.

But, all this time, I say Mass every morning at the hospital and do lots of things like cutting the grass with the weed eater so the time is filled in completely. Since I had 10 tickets, I started to email, what’s app, and sms people and managed to sell all ten.

Now it is Sunday, yesterday, the 22nd of October. I had two masses in Zulu, one at 8am at Savannah Park, and another at 11:30 at the Pinetown parish, not far away.

After mass at S. P. I debate whether I should go home for a bit or go straight to the other church. I decide to go to the church. I look at my watch and I think it says 10:45. There are still lots of cars from the previous mass filling the parking lot and I park mine in one of the few empty places.  I head for the sacristy and start looking for the mass books in Zulu and can’t find them. Also I am worried again about the sacred vessels, water and wine and tabernacle key, etc. Not it is 10 past 11 (or so I think). At 25 past 11 (or so I think) I am panicing, and am asking were are things and were are the people who are supposed to be running the show. Ha. They say, Father, it is only 25 past 10. You are more than an hour early. Ha. Old bloody age.

Although the sacristan for the English Mass told me that there were not so many Zulus at the Zulu mass, I found the church to be pretty full, and, of course, the music was, as always, outstanding.

After Mass, it was about 1pm (I missed lunch at our house which is at 12 noon on Sunday), so I gave in to temptation and drove by the McDonald’s on the way home and took with me a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Ha. Decadence.

I was tired and sat in my recliner chair for a while trying to decide what to do next. I wanted to visit a sister I know who had a stroke and was learning how to walk again. I had seen her twice in the hospital and heard that she had been discharged. When I phone her convent, I was told that she was taken to their home quite far away for recuperation. In the neighbourhood, was a friend who had said that she would take a ticket for the dinner dance so I phoned and told her I would bring the ticket. As it turned out, her daughter and son-in-law also took two tickets. Since I was on the way to that part of town, I contacted another friend and went over to his house. After catching up on each other’s lives, he said that he would take 4 tickets. Hey, great! His sister, who live clear the other side of town also had said that she wanted some tickets so we phone her and told her I would be coming. I had left home at about 2:30pm and got to her house at 7pm (on the road the whole time.). She, praise the Lord, took 6 tickets. By this time I was poohed out and headed for home and was in bed by 9:30 to be up at 4am.

Today, after Mass at the hospital, I contacted some more people and wound up selling another 7 tickets. Good day.

I filled the back of the car (seats down) with the old clothes that we will take with us to the village near Mthatha and filled the tank with petrol and we are ready to head for Mthatha (a six hour drive with my little thing) first thing in the morning,after Mass at the hospital and breakfast.

Whew, why do I wait so long to keep the blog updated. Now I have to do some packing. Good night. Cas

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sept. 30. 2017

On Monday, Sept. 18th, I went to the US Consulate and picked up my new US passport. Holy Moses, the security to get into the place is intimidating. It kind of puts me off. I am a US citizen and it is difficult for me to get in. I wonder how it is for non-US citizens. I sometimes get the impression that the standard mindset of the US staff at consulates around the world is that everyone who applies for a visa is a potential thief, terrorist, scam artist, of something else bad, and they are sometimes treated as though it is true. I get angry.

I first went to the Paulines (Catholic Bookshop) and picked up 5 copies each of the two encyclicals by Pope Francis, “the Joy of the Gospel” and “ Laudato si (about our common home, mother earth)”. I will be having classes with the novices in November and I want them to read and study these documents (as far as I am concerned, they would be required reading in my course on what it means to be a Christian, 101) so that when we have a closer look at them ( I get once class of one hour to introduce them to them), I don’t want to have to waste time starting from scratch.  I came back and did some work in the garden to get out of the house. The weather has been really funny, cold, hot, cold, hot. Now rainy.

Tuesday I went to Rajes, our Travel Agent to check on whether she could have her friend in Home Affairs give some advice as to how and where to go to  to get my Permanent Residence transferred from my old passport to my new one. She promised to contact him.

Wednesday I attended a function at the Denis Hurley Center which was a tribute to Msgr. Paul Nadal, blessing a garden inside the center in his name as he is a lover of gardens and the great outdoors.

Mpume’s son, Scott (Mpume is one of our house mothers) was told to leave school because of some alleged misbehaviour. No warning, no written letter to his mother (unless he hid it). Well it is some weeks now that he hasn’t been to school and exams are coming up and I felt that it is very unjust, the whole procedure and lack of proper protocol. He will definitely flunk as he is a kind of borderline student, but a hard worker. And that means he will probably want to drop out of school. Even if he is guilty of something, it is not the proper procedure and is not fair. I asked Mpume to bring whatever papers she had in this regard and all she had was the usual handout to parents explaining the rules and regulations of the school. No warning, No letter to her. Hmmm. So I promised to talk to the person who heads the Catholic schools office on her behalf. That was Thursday.

On Friday, I helped a lady to pay her rent and water bill before she got thrown out of her room. I used the money that you guys send to help people who are struggling. I also went to visit a Sr. Michael Mdluli who fell and hit her head and then had a stroke and wasn’t talking or able to use her one side. So they said. Clairwood Hospital. I usually wear my collar when I go to a hospital just to remind the administration who my boss is and don’t give me a hard time. I can’t always go during visiting hours, and I don’t want to go at that time since we may have some confidential stuff to deal with (Confession or communion or just praying).

Saturday, 23rd, I had Mass with 2 CPS postulants. It is always a picker upper because they prepare well and sing a lot and I can join in. Then I went for a lunch at a family gathering at Mike Pillay’s house. Met lots of people, many of whom have long ago given up on Church for one reason or another. So we talk about this and that often some kind of churchy question pops up and the ice has been broken so that can feel free to ask knowing that they won’t be blown out of the water for asking a dumb question or revealing that it has been 200 yrs. Since they last went to church. Ha. I call it “ Informal Evangelization”. Then I had a 5:30 evening Mass at an Indian parish (it gives me a chance, since it is in English, to tell a couple of jokes) and, after Mass, visited a friend who, being a dibetic, had his right foot amputated, and now has to go for dialysis. Not good. His wife prepared some nice Briyani. Always a plus.

Sunday, was the usual 8am Zulu Mass at Savannah Park followed by a lot of studying to prepare for my November classes. It’s coming.

Monday was a national holiday, Heritage Day (Afrikaans, English, Portugese, German, Swiss, French, Greek, Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, Sotho, American ?, ) when everyone remembers his or her heritage. I thought that my heritage was my faith. Because I really believe in the Trinity, Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection, and all the values that he stood up for, I thanked God for this gift which I didn’t deserve and didn’t work for. It was just dropped in my lap and has certainly shaped and formed my life. I don’t know where I would be without it.

Tuesday, 26th, I tried three places to get a cover for my cell phone so I don’t scratch it or mess it up some other way but no luck. So I had to be satisfied to just pick up some copy paper.

Wednesday, I was reminded by a message on the cell phone that I had run out of data. So I used the computer and the internet to get some more data and top up my air time as well.

Thursday, 28th, I was supposed to take my friend Shirley for lunch. She is 83 and has been a friend for 50 yrs. When it is my birthday, she takes me for a meal, and when it is her birthday, I take her for a meal. However, her son Peter phoned me on Wed. that she had fallen and was not well and he had to take her to the hospital. It turns out, as I found out later, that she had been bleeding internally, and when there wasn’t much blood left circulating any more, and the blood pressure was down, down, down, she just collapsed. She went for lots of scans and colonoscopy etc. to find out where the bleeding was and it turns out, it seems, that it healed itself as there was no sign indicating that there had been a bleed, so she is on the mend again, but is taking medicine to build up her blood. She looks a bit pale but she is much better.

In the meantime, since I was to take her for lunch that day, and it was to a place I really wanted to see, I got Mike Pillay to come with me and we had a fantastic curry meal. I usually take a doggie bag, but this time, I really garbaged up. Ha. Then I had been invited for supper by another family (the wife/mother left the ANC in disgust. She was the director of Pinetown Child Welfare Society, a social worker, and ANC activist, but now retired. I also baptized their 49 yrs. Old son, Matthew, who was letting everyone in the restaurant that it was his birthday. It was humorous. But I didn’t have room for another huge meal so I just had two starters and a glass of wine. I got home a bit later than I intended and, as I expected, had acid reflux, and had to keep twisting and turning. I don’t like to eat too late for that reason. I guess it is just old age stuff.

Friday, 29th, I popped in for a long visit with Shirley and she is better by a long shot. So we made a plan to catch up on that meal next Friday.  In the meantime, I went back to Rajes to find out if she had made contact with her friend at Home Affairs. She had. He says to come to him and he will fix it. Hooray. Home Affairs in like lining up to go to the Bermuda Triangle. You may never be seen again. Ha. Rajes’ husband will take me to him next week sometime, I hope.

Saturday, today, I printed a bunch of copies of a little brochure on St. Therese of Lisieux for tomorrow, as it is our church’s feast. It took most of the morning.  In the afternoon, I visited a priest friend who was taken to the hospital by another friend with a very painful foot and swollen leg. He is scared because he says that he has poor circulation in his extremities and they told him that they may have to amputate his left foot. Holy Moses. I would also be scared. So we prayed together for a bit asking God to be merciful and, if need be, to give him the courage to bite the bullet, have it done, and get on with life.

There is no time to be bored around here. Always something. I am grateful that I still have the health to move around and not be forced, like Macarius, who has macular degeneration and can barely see, to sit at home being bored stiff. So, tomorrow, we will celebrate our parish feast day. I am waiting to see what the people will have prepared. Tonight I will sleep like a stone since the weather is rainy and cold and I really appreciate my two blankets.  I also managed to warm up the weed eater which had been sitting idle for a couple of months now. She was excited to be brought back to life so we went out and did a bit of grass cutting just to make her feel good.

Hey, it is getting close to my bed time so I will say, good night, and God bless you abundantly in this coming week. Love and peace, Cas.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sept. 16, 2017
    I just wrote this note to those whom I met in Johannesburg these last two weeks. There were a few days of retreat stuck in between.

My time in Joburg and environs ended when I was taken to the plane by a longtime friend, Kendal. That was on Tuesday, Sept. 12. ( I had arrived on Wednesday, Sept. 6th and was picked up by my friend Phola at the Joburg airport and whisked off to her place in Centurion.). The plane returning to Durban arrived on time at 2pm and I was met by another old friend and confrere, Bishop Paul Khumalo. He took me back to Mariannhill where I grabbed my swimming suit and put all my stuff into my little Hyundai and drove down the South Coast to Coolock House, about 10 or so km. before Port Shepstone. I jumped into a retreat that had started on Sunday and joined them for the rest of the week and only came back today, Saturday. Because I was busy having a look at my spiritual and other life, I put off writing this till I finished the retreat. So here it is.
     The trip was made possible by Nhlanhla and Phola Mabaso. We were in exile together and later, I was invited to bind them in marriage. This we did about 7 yrs. ago, half in Port Elizabeth at the home of Tixie Mabizela, Phola's mom, and later, the second instalment, in Pretoria at the home of Zoda Mabaso, Hhanhla's mom whom I knew from the Grail. They offered to pay for my airfare and didn't put any strings on my time in Joburg. I can't thank them enough as they made possible an incredible week. 
     I hung around their place on Thursday morning but Phola had left her car to be available for me. It took me till noon to muster up the courage to get into her car and drive my way out of their complex and head for Pretoria, to visit an old friend, Paul Knox (we first met in 1966 in Waterkloof Ridge where Mariannhill had a study house. He was 14yrs. old at the time. Now he is an old man, but not as old as me). His son, Benoit, also came over to his office for a bite to eat for lunch. I think I had last say him as a high schooler or even before that. He now is in the publishing business and the proud grandfather showed me the picture of his newborn baby. I managed to find my way back to the complex. There was a problem with the security and when the guard asked me for my ID, I told him, 35 11 28  5193 18 4. Ha. He recognized the 35 (1935) and gave me a back handed compliment. He said, Hey, Mkhulu, are you still driving. How!, you are strong. Ha. He doesn't know that for me driving is like breathing.
     Phola, Nhlanhla, Lihle and Ma batho (?) had supper together and by 8:30 all were heading for bed. 
     Friday, Nhlanhla had organized a meeting with an old comrade, Refiloe Mudimu, who wanted to meet me after not seeing each other for years and years. We had lunch together in Pretoria, and he praised and thanked me for the help he received from me when we were together in exile in Zimbabwe and Zabmia. He told me of things that I did that were a big help to him but that I had totally forgotten. We reminisced about those days and he explained that, on his return, among other things, he had been transferred from the SANDF to the navy as an admiral. But it was an office job, not at sea, and he was able to help and shape many young sailors, especially for disadvantaged backgrounds, fitting them to be the leaders of the next generation. I was touched. He is now retired and living at home.
    Then, Kanyo Gqulu came with Edwin's wife, Desiree, to take me off to Kanyo's place for an party later that night, supported by a nice braai vleis. Kanyo and his friend (they might as well be joined at the hip) Edwim Smith (As Xhosa as they come) wanted me to spend some time with them. We were involved in the struggle before being forced, one way or the other, into exile. Again, they  told tales of my helping them that had gone out of my head. I was getting embarrassed. They had other friends who had also come to meet this guy, Hlathi, priest, comrade, friend, etc. Both Kanyo and Edwin managed to get bursaries to universities (they are called colleges in the States) that helped them to get where they are today. I told them that I was reminded of the story from the gospel where the sower went out to sow his seed. The seed fell all over the place, and some of it also fell on good soil, them, and bore rich fruit. Among the people there at that gathering/party/braai vleis was a Mr. Gugi who now teaches at a university in New York. I know his father who was a playright and who used his skill in producing plays, that he was able, through their acting out, to give therapy to some of the kids who had been traumatized by the atrocities of the war that they had seen. They had become almost autistic. But, with Gugi's help, they began to talk and interact with others again.
    The party went on till quite late (afte 1pm. My usual bedtime, at the latest, is 10pm). Ha. Then Edwin and his wife took me off to their place in Hatfield Pretoria where they both live and work. It was 1:30 pm before we got to bed so I slept my usual 6 hrs. and got up at 7am. Desiree, his wife, got up shortly after and we had time to get to know each other before Edwin started stirring, quite a bit later. Edwin had just recently found his seriously diabetic son dead in his room and has still not been able to be totally recovered, if he ever will. The bond between him and his son was strong, and the paid was terrible at the loss. We also reminisced about our time together before exile, during exile, and post exile. Again, I was praised for things I had forgotten or never thought to remember. 
     On Saturday, after re-connecting with each other, Edwin took me to see another friend, Mandy Gilder. I had met Mandy in exile in Bulawayo, and was the one who performed the wedding ceremony for her and her husband Barry. Mandy was nominally a Presbetyrian from Botswana, Barry was Jewish from Joburg, and the marriage was performed by an American CAtholic priest, chaplain to the ANC. How's that for something exciting. 
    Unfortunately, a few years ago, Barry decided to leave the marriage and has had several partners since then and Mandy is still hurting from this but has been baptized and has put everything in God's hands. We met one of Mandy's daughters and her husband and also looked back at where life had taken us. Edwin had to head back home and shortly after, Mandy took me back to PHola and Nhlanhla for the rest of Saturday night.
    Sunday, Nhlanhla went out for his therapeutic golf and Phola and I went to the hospital to visit a dear friend, Ellie, who had had Meningitis and had recovered from it but was now suffering from other things that put her in an almost comatose state. Ellie's parents came from Moshe in Tanzania to be with her and we all prayed hard and stormed heaven on her behalf reminding God that his son Jesus had promised that anything you ask in my name I will will give you. Not like asking to win the jackpot or a new Mercedes. NOthing frivolous. So we hope that it is in Gods' good graces to help Ellie out of this situation and allow her to get back to her family and her two sons and husband. 
    Then we went back to the house and had a home mass with the family and friends. Wow. I was surprised. There were between 40 and 50 people there. We also celebrated the 10th birthday of one of Ellie and Dumisani's sons. We shared our reflections on the readings for the day which gave us a direction that God would like us to go in for the coming week.
    The mass was quite late and by the time everyone had been fed and had visited everyone else, it was dark and people began to  head for home. Phola, NHlanhla and I started the clean up and did the dishes and general cleaning up and it was almost 10pm when we finished. Poor Phola had to catch an early flight to Mthatha for a meeting on Monday so she didn't get much sleep. We said goodbye to each other before she left at 4:30 Monday morning to catch a 6am flight to Mthatha. 
     Nhanhla had a busy day so I chilled out till he picked me up at about 4:30 and took me to the Bismarck's in Joburg. I have known Basil and Margaret for years now. Margaret is from Zambia and most of her brothers and sisters were in our youth group when I was in Zambia in Kabwe from '72 to '77. Margaret lost her kidneys way back then and has had several transplants. All had been going well but then after several falls, there were setbacks and the recovery is very slow.
We spent the evening together and then, in the morning, Kendal, the son-in-law of Basil and Margaret, took me to the airport to catch the flight back to Durban.
    Now, the point of the story is to thank all of you for your input into my life as a priest and as a friend. I don't think that you would really be able to understand how much faith and inspiration I get from you when I see all the ups and down and challenges and hurts that you have to deal with. I am inspired and say thank you for the friendship that has meant so much to me.
     I know that for some of you, God is a bit remote, or so it seems, but I smilingly see myself as a kind of suggogate God connection. Ha. Some think that I have a direct line to the Boss up there. Don't I wish.
    I love you all and again say thanks to you all for a very rich and satisfying week, especially to Phola and Nhlanhla for making it possible.
Love and Peace, Cas.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It Is Sept. 3, 2017,

     There has been a lot of water over the dam since I last entered anything in the blog. When I checked my Blog Site, I discovered that my last entry was July 11th.

During July, things were pretty normal. Mass at the hospital every morning, Mon thru Fri, ; hearing confessions of retreatants; a second baptism of a couple whom I married two years ago; talks with the guys who are repairing my vehicle (how long, O Lord, how Long), but I can’t complain because they are doing this much more cheaply than anyone else could do it; the usual Sunday masses at Savannah Park ( a nice but small Zulu community, with a few others for whom English is their preferred language, so I say part of the Mass in Zulu and part in English to give everyone recognition.

One of the doctors who started at St. Marys hospital in the early 50’s, passed away. She was 92 (Dr. Gearing) A marvellous woman. A Gynecologist, a Jungian Psychologist, A harpist, a painter, and a raiser of 8 or 9 children, and the wife of Dr. John Brouckaert, who passed away some years back. The funeral was on the 27th of July and the kids came from Germany, England, and the States, to be here. It was an all family choir supported by an all family orchestra (two guitars, two violins, a cello, a trumpet, a flute, a keyboard, and I probably forgot something. I was asked to be the main celebrant since I watched the kids grow up since 1967 when I was chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital. Their home was my salvation. I said often that when one went under the arch, entering the monastery property, at that time, you went 300 yrs. Backward in time. Their family was my much needed therapy as I was the only American when all the rest were German speaking (including the Dutch who also spoke German). But that is another story.

      The funeral was beautiful, as was fitting, and I managed to re-connect with the kids who are now grown ups with their own kids.

     On the 29th I joined the celebration of the CPS sisters jubilarians. Between the three of them they worked for 250 yrs. In service of the people of God. Wow.

    I visited three families for supper the first week of August, just to keep in touch. I also had masses on the 1st. of August and the 3d, with 10th graders from a local Catholic school, where probably 90% are non-catholic, but are willing to put up with us because of the education they get and the discipline, usually, in the religious schools which is not always present in the government schools.

    ON the 4th of August, we had some visitors from Boston College, their Interfaith Program , 15 students and some staff. They are preparing to be change agents in their various religious communities. About half of them were Catholics so we had to take some time to explain what a monastery is and the difference between those members of the community here at Mariannhill who are more monk and others who are more missionary (since we actually started as Trappists who read the signs of the times and got involved more actively in the day to day lives of the neighboring people, teaching them trades , agriculture, and plan old book learning === we have a primary school, an inbetween school and a high school here). In between some visits to hospitals since many parishes are so busy they don’t have time to visit their sick.

    But now comes the trip to the States for a wedding. (Lauren McCarthy and Patrick Noone—an all Irish affair as you can see. I married the parents of Lauren ---Lou and Ed---40 yrs. Ago so we celebrated their 40th while the kids took their first marriage vows. Patrick’s parents celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary a few weeks earlier.) There is no doubt that the mentoring that this couple got from their parents paid a great part in preparing them for their own marriage. Of course, I wore my red socks as they are celebratory accoutrement and used my flamboyant African vestments. It was truly a beautiful celebration. I also was prompted by the Holy Spirit to sing my homily for the couple whose beginning words are “ Love one another as I have loved you…”. It just came out because it is what I really wanted to say, the words of the song, that is. The wedding was on Friday the 11th

We got together at the practice on the10th and had a meal together to get to know each other a bit, especially Patrick’s family. We had another chance to get together after the wedding service (Mass), where I had a chance to shake my bones a bit on the dance floor and even to get a chance to dance with the bride. A great evening.

( I must have pressed the wrong button because it deleted a couple of lines and I don’t know how to get them back so I will have to do it over again.)

Let’s backtrack a bit. I left Durban in the evening of the 6th of August and arrived at O’Hare in Chicago at 3:30 in the afternoon on Tues. the 7th. The family had booked a rent-a-car for me so I picked it up and drove to my cousin’s house not far from the airport. (they live, conveniently, about equidistant from both Midway airport and O’Hare).

I forgot to mention that our travel agent, Rajes, had booked a wheelchair for me. Thank God. The airport in Dubai is huuuuge. In fact most airports these days are overgrown and you have to be as fit as an athlete to tackle them.

     I put aside my pride and went for the ride. I am trying to favour my left knee a bit when I can because the cartilage is gone there and I don’t want to wear out my bones too soon.

     That first night I drove to Midway to fetch my grand niece Katrina. I waited and waited and no Katrina. A strange thing also that there were no suitcases on the carousel that came from her plane from Atlanta. Is it possible that not even one person had checkin luggage???When the carousel stopped and no more evidence of anyone else coming from that plane, and no luggage at all,  I gave up and went home to my cousin’s. Ha. I had picked the wrong date. It was supposed to be Wed. Dummy.

On Wed.(9th) I went to AT&T and got a sim card for my phone so that I could use it in the States. $2,00 for unlimited calls per day. I got it for the week that I would be there. I think that AT&T lost some money on that deal.

Thurs.(10th) a quick visit to my aunt Rose (99yrs. Old) and then the wedding practice. Fri. prepare for the wedding at St. Jane de Chantal parish, Fr.Cronin the pastor. A very nice and welcoming guy. Patrick Noone is one of his parishioners along with the parents and the rest of the family so we both had special interests in the couple getting married.

    On Saturday (12th) I met with my nieces and grand niece (Ann, my brother John’s and his wife Donna’s daughter and Katrina’s mom (they flew up from Atlanta); Karla, another of my brother’s daughters and my niece (who flew up from SanDiego); and Jenna (who is a third niece and who is in the States for a while from Cairo, Egypt where she teaches). WE had lunch together and caught up on each other’s lives and then they took me on an outing to a distillery. New in Chicago since 2008. Interesting. Why would they want to take me, a Catholic priest on an outing to a distillery, Hmmm.  This was the 12th of August

      On Sunday the 13th, we had a family mass at my Aunt Rose where the 4 nieces, from afar, and more nieces and nephews from the Chicago area and two cousins and their wives were also present. We took a family photo. My cousin Bob’s wife, Cathy, has been bed-ridden for a number of years and it was like a miracle to see her with us, sitting in a chair and part of the celebration. That made me very happy.

Hey, it is now my bedtime so I will leave this and come back to continue tomorrow. Lots more interesting and sad things too to report. Good night.

Here it is Sept. 11th, and I am in JOburg and just trying to catch up on my Blog. Let me pick up where I left off.

On Mon. the 14th, I had a whole day before leaving on Tuesday evening, so I decided to invite my 99yr. old aunt, and her caretaker, Lita, and my second cousing, Leah, to all go to visit my uncle Cas (Roses younger brother. It was his birthday, 91 yrs. Old). So off we went to Milwaukee, about an hour and a half drive from Chicago. At first my Uncle Casey and his wife, Rose, wanted to invite us out to a restaurant, but we brought so many left overs from the home mass at Aunt Rose, that we had more than enough eat for all of us. It was a bit hilarious because both Aunt Rose (99yrs.) and Casey’ Rose and Casey, are all pretty deaf, so we had a kind of shouting match so that everyone could hear and be heard. I wondered what it would have been like in a restaurant. Ha. We left in mid afternoon and just chilled out for the rest of the day, and I went back to my cousin’s (Jerry and Barb) for the last night before departure back to South Africa.

Tues. morning, (15th) I went back to say goodbye to my aunt Rose and on the way back to Jerry and Barb’s house, I hit a humungous pothole and actually blew out a tire. Wow. I didn’t know if I could change the tire myself so I phone my second cousin Leah and she came and then her dad, Jerry, also came . I was making some headway in getting the car jacked up with the help of Leah when a black guy cruising by on the other side of the street saw our plight and asked if he could help. Well he wound up putting the doughnut (small spare tire) on for us. I told him that he wouldn’t believe it but I was from Africa and wanted to keep in touch with him to be able to say thanks and maybe send some kind of remembrance from Africa once I got home. I have his wife’s email.

When I got back to Jerry and Barb’s I phone Alamo to ask if I had to buy them a new tire or what. She just laughed and said, just bring the car in and don’t worry. But I worried. There will definitely be extra charges, I thought. Katrina came over and after saying goodbye to Jerry and Barb, we headed back to the airport to turn in our cars at our respective rentals. That was the last I saw of Katrina because she was leaving from a domestic terminal, and I from the international terminal. When I got to Alamo, there was someone directing me to park next to her. I was preparing what I am going to say about the blown tire. I explained that this is what happened but she didn’t pay attention. She just had her machine,  and gave me a receipt for the car and told me to put my luggage on the shuttle which had just pulled up next to us. NO muss, no fuss. I was relieved.

So, I had plenty of time, even with a wheelchair (I am getting spoiled now). The plane left just after 7pm for Dubai. And got into Dubai (would you believe this now) also at just after 7pm. Ha. Going against the Sun. Rajes had organized for me, at her expense, an overnight stay at a hotel in Dubai so that I could avoid and extra flight to Joburg and from there to Durban. IN this way, I had a good sleep and caught the plane from Dubai to Durban, leaving just after 10 am and supposed to arrive at about 2:30 in the afternoon. However, a passenger got sick just as we were getting ready for take off and they had to find a doctor who said she was too sick to travel so we were delayed during this time and they also had to off load the luggage to find hers . So we wound up being two hours late. We got in about 5pm. Again, I was wheechaired around and had kind of given up on being fetched as we came so late and I didn’t have the phone number of Fr. Kevin, the novice master who promised to pick me up, but he was there, having patiently waited all that while. We got back to Mater Dolorosa around 7pm. Back home. That was Thursday the 17th.

Well, I was booked for the 6am Mass at St. Mary’s hospital on Friday, the 18th, plus being part of a service from 10 to 12 or so for some retirees. So I hit the ground running.

Saturday I had an evening Mass at an Indian parish and Sunday, a Zulu Mass at my usual Savannah Park. So now I am back home and the usual routine begins. On Mon. Tues. And Wed I visited a few people and shared with them my adventure in Chicago. Then on Thursday, Aug. 24, I had an appointment at the American consulate to fill in the forms for a renewal of my passport which expires in October. Friday I went to get passport photos and had them couriered to the consulate. Wow. Very expensive. It was a mistake, but I hadn’t thought it would be so expensive so I was just caught. Too late. Anyway, the photos got there.

Sunday, Aug. 27, the usual Zulu Mass at Savannah Park, together with Fr. Macarius who likes to get out of the house and who has a gift in working with the young guys  and encouraging them. After Mass we went, as usual, to Mike and Net Pillay’s for an early lunch together with their three kids. Always refreshing. Then back to MD, home.

Our rooms are on the second floor (that is, here considered the 1st floor---there are only two floors.) and when I got to my room, I found the door open, which is unusual as I was sure that I had closed it. And when I walked in, I discovered that the cupboard (where I keep my socks and underwear and shirts, etc. ) was also open, and only then, I went back to my office and saw that my computer, I-Pad, and BLU cell phones were gone. ( The original BLU phone that Katrina had gotten for me in 2016 when I was on home leave and fallen out of my pocket and the screen was cracked. When I was in Chicago, she had picked up another one with a screen protector and an overall protector so that even if it was run over by a Mack truck, it wouldn’t get damaged. I was taking the information for the old one to put in the new one but wasn’t quite finished. Now, both were gone. What a disaster. Very expensive things but also precious information, gone, gone, gone. Ow! The question was, how did he or they get in. The house was empty of priests as all were out on Sunday and the ladies who look after the house were downstairs in the kitchen (this was about 11:15 in the morning.) We also discovered that thief had also stolen some shorts (pants) from Fr. Macarius as well as his torch (flashlight) and cheap cell phone and his rucksack. He had also visited Bishop Lobinger’s room but was seemingly disturbed and left behind some things he intended to take. The possibility of his getting in through a mistakenly left open security gate at the main door was eventually rejected by some of us because, on closer observation, we saw that there is a pipe that goes right up to Macarius’ room and Macarius found that his window was unhooked and swaying in the breeze. It would make sense that this was the easiest way to get in and out without being noticed. Then a quick get-away into the neighboring townships. Disappeared. Sad.

On Monday morning I went to make a report to the police so that we could get a case number and claim from the insurance. Also, Bishop Lobinger kindly offered to put some money in my account so that I could get another computer and cell phone so that my ministry could continue, almost uninterrupted. So, That’s what happened. I got a new computer and cell phone, but not a BLU because they are no available here.

Then came the need for a sim card for the new phone and the need for a proof of residence and ID to do that. Yuk. But that was done, and the rest of the time, practically all day and night was learning, with the help of our IT man, Br. Tendai, how to use this new Windows 10 version. I began to hate it. Some programs just didn’t work well and others I couldn’t (and still can’t) understand, but at least we are functioning. Skype in particular, in the new Windows 10 (Microsoft) version was giving me lots of headaches and was Excel. I have manage to find alternative ways around them both, but I am not happy. I am grateful for the instant help that Bishop Lobinger offered as well as the explanations by Br. Tendai to help me to learn how to use some of these programs.

I continued saying Mass at the hospital every morning and doing home and other visits during the day and sitting for hours trying to figure out how to use some of these programs. Sunday was the usual Savannah Park community.

Monday, Sept. 4, back to Incredible connections to get some more help with regard to the programs and to get some protection for the cell phone.

Wednesday, Sept. 6, I flew off to JOburg (where I am writing this from ). A couple whose wedding I had a few years ago had offered to pay for a flight up here and offered to let m borrow on of their cars to catch up on visits to people I haven’t seen for many years. So, Wed. night we spent time together catching up.

Thurs,(Sept. 7) I reluctantly, borrowed Phola’s car to visit someone in Pretoria. I was afraid to drive such a beautiful car lest I scratch it or hurt it in some way. I went out and back safely. Thank God.

Friday, Nhlanhla took me to meet one of the comrades whom I helped many years back in exile, who later became a top admiral in the navy.  Then, after lunch together, I was taken off by and to another comrade’s home. They were preparing a get-together (party) for me with some of those whom I had helped when I was also in exile in Zimbabwe and Zambia. They were trying to make a saint out of me and told me that I had done this and that for them, and most of these things I couldn’t remember. After the party, which was at Kanyo Gqulu’s home, I was taken to Edwin Smith’s home with his partner Desiree. I knew both of them from the Transkei and helped them, especially Edwin, to get across the border before the police got him. By the way, the party, for me, ended when It turned 1:30 in the morning. Way beyond my bedtime, but nice reminiscing about those days with the friends and partners who also came around to see who this creature, Fr. Cas, is, that they are always talking about.

Needless to say, I definitely didn’t get up at my usual 4am on Saturday, Sept. 9. After a late breakfast and some time to recall those old day, Edwin took me to another family, The Gilders, whose marriage I had in exile in Bulawayo in about 1990. Unfortunately, the husband left his wife and went off with another young woman, so that marriage came to an end and I was only talking to the wife and hearing how she has been coping since about the yr. 2000.

After having a chance to catch up on each other’s lives, she took me to Phola and Nhlanhla’s place where I spent the night again. She and Phola know each other so they could also be happy to see on another again.

Sunday, Sept. 17th, we went to the hospital to visit and pray for a friend from Tanzania, who had caught Meningitis a few weeks ago, but, after getting rid of the Meningitis, she had some other brain problems and had to have a shunt put in to drain the brain. We prayed long and hard for her, asking God, to bring his healing power to bear on her (Ellie is her name). It seems that she followed but not much indication aside for a blink of an eye or something like that.

Then we came back to Phola and Nhlanhal’s for a Mass (supposed to be at 1pm but wound up closer to 2:30pm since her husband, Dumisani was delayed in getting her with their two boys, one of whom, Simpiwe, was celebrating his 10th birthday, and they were really missing their mom. I was expecting about 15 to 20 people but it turned out to be closer to 50. Holy Moses. WE had a good celebration of Mass and shared what the readings said to us and what God expects of us, via those readings, to be and to do this week. Afterwards there was food and drink and finally about 7pm or so everyone started to head for home. ( One gentleman who is the patriarch of the family had studied at Mariannhill---St. Francis College---in the 40’s, and he couldn’t stop singing the praises of those German missionaries who really sacrificed everything to give them a chance to have a better life. He knew Fr. Bernard Hus, one of Mariannhill’s best known priests. A prophet ahead of his time. I had to smile as I thought that we should hire him to market Marianhill. Ha.

Today,  go to visit another family from the Zambia-Zimbabwe days. But I will wait till after that to let you know what happened. So, this is it for now. I am finally caught up and I hope I haven’t bored you.
As I learned from the younger generation, LOL (Lots of Love).  Cas