May 13, 2017
It wasn’t my intention to put something in my blog today but if I don’t I may not be able to tomorrow.
There were two major deaths in our lives here in South Africa. One was Fr. Guy who finally passed away on Monday May 1st. St. Joseph the Worker. A fitting day to say goodbye as he was a very hard worker in the vineyard of the Lord.
There was a memorial Mass held for him in Mthatha last Thursday, May 11th. Here is what one of those present had to say:
10:49 AM (8 hours ago)
A very good day to you Fr hoping that you are well. Fr Chikadi did send messages to friends who knew Fr Guy and those whom he touched their hearts through his kind works.The initial date send 12/May/2017 at Glen Avent Convent and later another date was forwarded to us with a changed venue being the Cathedral on 11/05/2017. The Memorial Holy Mass was well attended by friends from all the places which Fr Guy was of help, namely Sabelani, Maiden Farm, Phola Park, Hill Crest and locally in town. Bishop Siphuka officiated the Holy Mass Service but he was very quiet. Fr John Chickadi is the one who spoke about Fr Guy as he officiated the sermon and he clearly drew a picture of who Fr Guy really was since his arrival and the experiences that they had with him as Priests. He also did not mince his words when stating that they as Priests had their weaknesses, failing the Community in various ways. Electricity went off just a few minutes as the service had begun followed by thunder and lihtning. Fr Stephan spoke on behalf of the CMM Priests also expanding on Fr Chikadi's sermon painting a broader picture of who Fr Guy was and how they as Priests did let him down when challanges caught up with him purely seeing that the church was now being divided. Jerome send a written letter on behalf of friends as he could not attend. The letter was a farewell note to Fr Guy also thanking him for being a pillar of strength to him and others and also having learnt so many things from him. Sr Mary Corda also spoke on behalf of the 80 CPS Srs and Thembelihle Home where the also thanked Fr Guy for his services and guidance. She also reassured the community that they will continue where he had left as that was his most humble request in helping the poor. Sabelani Guys were present but no one went to speak and we are not sure what prevented them from doing so. I personally presume that it could be grief or the mere presence of Bishop Siphuka, but they were there to witness the service. Yes indeed a huge rock has fallen and we are very grateful and we will mis him. May his great soul rest in peace.
I won’t comment now but will do so later, regarding to the life and times and death of Fr. Guy.
The other death was that of Bishop Barry Wood, the vicar general of the Durban Archdiocese, right hand man of Cardinal Napier. He, like Guy, was passionate about trying to lift the poor out of their poverty and was a hands on person when it came to listening and responding to the voices that are traditionally tuned out of the hearts and consciences of many Church leaders and their followers.
On Thursday, also May 11th, there was an ecumenical service at the Diakonia Center in the heart of Durban, an ecumenical social service organization, which was headed by Bishop Barry Wood for two terms, from 2005 to 2011. Today, was the funeral Mass for him, led by Cardinal Napier, assisted by the Apostolic Nuncio, a fellow student from St. Meinrad, though much later than me, as well as more priests concelebrating than I could count, surely over 100 and a whole bevy of his brother bishops. It was a very inclement day, bloody cold, as one here would say, and threatening rain at any moment, but holding back till just after the service had been concluded. He was lauded and praised by all, priests and laity alike. He was, like Guy and Francis, special in his obvious love and concern for the poor, a model for us all.
However, I almost didn’t make it. The Mass was held in the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzbug, about 80 km. from Durban (50 miles). As I was entering the city, forging ahead with a welcoming green light, from the left side (passenger side here) a car ran the red light and slammed into me between the front wheel and the door. I spun me around several times before winding up on the island in the middle of the road, up against a pole that stopped me from going further. The car that hit me also spun around and floated backwards and almost rammed into my door, but stopped just about 2 feet from my door. I was stunned and didn’t want to move. I just sat there thinking, you know what (sh…). Now what.
Someone who had seen the accident came to the door and told me to sit tight until he came back which I was doing anyway. When he came, he helped me out of the car and felt my neck and some other places asking if it hurt. It didn’t. There was no whiplash because she hit me from the side, not the back. I was OK. But now (this happened about 9:15 in the morning and it is after 8pm in the evening) I am beginning to feel the pains of the muscles that were stretched and around the ribs, especially on the left side where the seat belt must have tightened up because of the crash.
While we were standing there waiting for the police to come and maybe even an ambulance (thank God the two young children who were in the back seat of the car the lady was driving were unhurt. I am sure that the lady driver of the car that went through the red light must have been hurt somehow because the whole front end of her car was bashed and she too must have experienced the seat belts tightening up to keep her from going out the window.
Of course, there was a tow truck right there and within two minutes he was trying to sign me up but I told him to wait till I contacted the Insurance Company to get instructions from them. In the meantime, lots of sisters were also on their way to the funeral and they saw my wrecked car and then me on the side of the road so a bunch of them, in different cars stopped to ask if I was OK. The tow truck driver was impressed by my harem.
I told them that once we got things sorted out with the towing company and the police, I would ask them for a lift back to Mariannhill, since a whole car load of them are my neighbors and the hospital and convent here.
I managed to sneak in sideways among the clergy after getting properly dressed for the occasion (alb and stole). No one knew why I was late. I am skipping some things here but will catch you up on them another time.
After the service, about 3 ½ hrs, as we were leaving I managed to greet a few of the bishops whom I have known since my Justice and Peace days, and even manage to hand a note to the Cardinal from our Provincial, Fr. Chikadi, assuring the Archidioce of the condolences of us brothers of Mariannhill in the Mthatha Province. I also weeneed my way next to the Apostolic Nuncio (The Pope’s representative to South Africa) and tell him that I was proud to see a fellow son of St. Meinrad here in South Africa. We both went to the same seminary, St. Meinrad in Southern Indiana, but I was a few hundred years ahead of him. I saw his picture on the wall at St. Meinrad last year when I passed by on my home leave. The walls are full of the class pictures. I even took a picture of the picture and sent it to him when I got back to South Africa. He never responded. I guess he has other more important things to do.
Well, after a few short meetings, I skipped the meal as I didn’t want to lose the nun who was showing me the way to the car. Now I am guessing that there were between 3000 and 4000 people at the service, and you can imagine the fun and games trying to get out. That is, if you can remember where you parked the car. Ha. We wandered around, up and down for about 20 minutes, but eventually we were spotted by one of the sisters who came from the car to look for us, and guided us back to the car.
Well, that is almost the end of the story. While was watching the 7pm news, Br. Tendai came to see if I was still alive, and when he saw that I was, he told me that we have guests in the house tonight and asked when I turn on the alarm. I really wanted to hit the sack like NOW, but now there is a new twit to the story. I will wait till 9:30 and then, as I told Tendai, I will turn on the alarm. If they are not here and try to get in later, I will definitely hear the alarm go off and then, hang around till the security company comes to see what’s up, and I will tell them all is well and go back to sleep.
I am up at 4am so it is no problem in the morning as I turn off the alarm before most people have started to think of getting up.
Well, that’s it for tonight. I hope that I don’t turn the wrong way in bed and irritate that bottom rib and give a yelp.
I will go over my Zulu readings for tomorrow and my homily while I am waiting, but will happily climb beneath the blanket just after 9:30
Y’all stay well. Love and Peace, Cas.