February 2012

So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.(II Corinthians 5:20, 21)

These beautiful words of St. Paul mark the call to us on the first day of Lent which we priests will undertake with our people later in this month. In our ministry we do everything possible to bring people back to the Lord. It is also of vital importance that we are reconciled with each other and with our parishioners.

I rejoice in the news just released that the founder of the Oblates of Francis de Sales is to be beatified in Trois on 22 September 2012. We join the Oblates on this occasion with the prayer that the beatification of Fr. Brisson be an opportunity for personal and communal renewal in living in spirit the teaching of St. Francis de Sales.

For the members of the Diocese, this will be an occasion with special significance in which we give God thanks for the dedication of Fr. Brisson who was instrumental in putting into effect the wondrous work of God which meant that the Good News was brought to the people of our diocese and they too became members of the family of God.

At the conclusion of his third visit to Namaqualand in April 1869, Bishop Ridley wrote in his diary: “May God for his own greater glory and the salvation of souls bless this great work. I place this glorious undertaking under the protection of St. Joseph, the spouse of our Holy Mother. No work placed under St. Joseph ever failed, neither shall this.” (The Catholic Church in South Africa, W.E. Brown, page 68.) Thanks to Fr. Brisson and the Oblates, this dream and this prayer was fulfilled.

In anticipation of Lent which will soon begin, I quote again from St. Paul. I also wish each of you a grace-filled time of renewal and rededication in your baptismal vocation.

“Cleanse out the old leaven … Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” ( 1 Corinthians 5: 7, 8 )

+ Bishop Edward Risi