Dear confreres, friends, relatives and benefactors
Greetings and consolation to all.
Prayer is our consolation in this time of pandemic and quarantine brought about by Covid-19.
Today, May 18th, we remember the 100th birthday of St. John Paul II, the pope who beatified the Founder of our Consolata Missionary Family, Blessed Joseph Allamano, on 7th October 1990.
In a few days’ time, we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord; the mentioned solemnity reminds us of how the Lord commissioned the apostles to go and make disciples all over the world. Last year in October we celebrated the extraordinary Missionary Month with the theme: “Baptized and Sent”. In many parts of the Catholic world this theme has become a pastoral plan, actually it is our plan especially when we consider the motivations of Blessed Allamano in founding our Missionary Institute. Baptized and sent should be the theme of our preparation towards the Consolata Missionaries Golden Jubilee celebration in South Africa – Eswatini.
In the morning of the 24th February 2020, the South Africa – Eswatini Delegation Council: Fr. Rocco Marra - superior; Fr. Daniel Kivuw’a - deputy superior and Fr. Nathaniel Kagwima - councilor, met the Rt. Rev. Graham Rose, Bishop of Dundee and in the afternoon, they met the executive of the Parish Pastoral Council of Osizweni where arrangements were made for the planning of the Jubilee celebration. Actually, Osizweni is the only parish in the diocese where Consolata Missionaries are currently ministering. The preparations towards the Golden Jubilee celebration will involve Consolata Missionaries, the local clergy and the lay people.
As many people know, Consolata Missionaries started their evangelization in South Africa on the 10th of March 1971 when Fr. Jack Viscardi and Fr. John Bertè arrived in the country. Their first mission was Piet Retief in the Prefecture of Volkrust, which later became the Diocese of Dundee on 19th November 1982. For several years, the missionaries were in different missions and parishes of Dundee diocese consolidating the local church. It was only in June 1995 when they went to Pretoria where we remember Fr. Jack Viscardi and Fr. Alex Lipingu who were the first to arrive in Waverley and Mamelodi West.
A day like today the 18th of May in 1953, a Consolata Bishop Rt. Rev. Luigi Santa, Prefect of Kaffa, Ethiopia, died. According to one tradition of the Consolata Institute, Bishop Luigi Santa received an image of Our Lady Consolata from Blessed Joseph Allamano and kept it in his office. When it was time to open a House for further studies in Cape Town, the bishop gave the image to the missionaries destined in that region, probably the same year of the opening in 1948. The image was in the Consolata House of Study in Cape Town, till early 1980s, when it was brought to Damesfontein (Mpumalanga) and in April 2004 to Pretoria. This particular icon of Our Lady Consolata will soon make a pilgrimage to the missions and parishes where the Consolata Missionaries have ministered in the last 50 years.
Another historical quotation of Consolata Missionaries in South Africa is signed by the 89 missionaries from Kenya, who were inmates in a camp at Koffiefontein, which is 120km from Kimberley; this happened between 1940 to 1943.
Preparing the thanksgiving celebration that will have its climax next year on the day of Pentecost, at Newcastle (KZN), we are encouraged to collaborate with the activities of missionary animation, led by our Vice Delegate Superior Fr. Daniel Kivuw’a. I ask everybody to be a protagonist of this Jubilee by sending to us memories, prayers, reflections, videos, symbolic objects, written articles and any other materials, initiatives or proposals.
I see as a sign of God that the quarantine forced me to write this letter at Osizweni Parish. In this time of covid-19, I encourage everybody to multiply initiatives of solidarity and to be a symbol of peace and unity and to always be happy to be missionaries as Isaiah the prophet wrote: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Is. 52:7).
With this letter I declare open the year of the Golden Jubilee on the evangelization, starting from the Ascension Day: 24th May 2020.
Osizweni 18th May 2020