Read about the SSPX's continuing work to promote the Catholic Faith to souls in Africa.
We offer here issue #1 of the SSPX's Africa District newsletter published in September 2015. We have included below the text a gallery of images from the newsletter.
Editorial by the District Superior
This new letter sent by email will be more regular than the printed edition which we send during the course of the year. By giving information of the African District of the Society of St. Pius X, the email edition can easily be sent to more people who may be disposed to help our apostolate.
Living in countries which have enormous economic and social difficulties, we continue with the only work that can bring the solution to these difficulties: the preaching of the Catholic Faith in the purity of Tradition by parish life and the education of children. From these, priestly and religious vocations will spring forth and they will be the assurance of a true renewal.
This year we have the joy of sending three young men to the seminary. Some female vocations look towards the communities of sisters. In our priories other youngsters are preparing themselves so as to follow the above mentioned examples and in the fully Catholic setting of our schools, we pray that vocations that persevere will bud forth.
At the moment our main preoccupation is the enlarging of our schools. We would like to complete the work that has already begun. What we really need is missing. (I do not know an apt translation of "le nerf de la guerre”—its "the thread of war"—SSPX.ORG). Providence does not abandon us and in due time this same Providence will give us the means to complete the necessary work so that the children will be able to study and sanctify themselves.
How can you help us? First and foremost by prayer. All goodness comes from our heavenly Father who gives food to the birds of heaven. Your prayers and those of all our faithful brings down on our work all the spiritual goods that we need. Each day, please spare a prayer for all Catholic Missions throughout the world.
The material help comes as a supplement. You can help us by a donation according to one of the different examples that you will find at the end of this letter. Please give, from the “goodness of your heart”, each according to your means: Divine providence will reward you a hundred fold.
I thank you already for your spiritual and material help, and please be assured, dear friends, of the daily prayers of all our priests, brothers and religious sisters who pray daily for your intentions.
Fr. Loic Duverger
September 3, 2015
The enlarging of our schools
South Africa, Roodepoort: St. John the Baptist School
On Monday, July 20th, after the sung Mass, six new classrooms were blessed. All the school children, their parents and parishioners were present. This construction was indeed necessary so as to be able to receive the one hundred children who had been squashed into rooms which were originally built to receive half that number.
The new building should have been ready in December 2014. However, things were delayed. Material was delivered late, work was delayed, plus the parishioner who generously gave of his time and was in charge of the construction was ill. But all things come to those who wait. The classrooms were quickly occupied by the children and teachers who like their new rooms. The second half of the year will continue in better circumstances.
Knowing that the school has been enlarged, more people want to place their children there. The school is first and foremost Catholic, and so this allows children to be strengthened in the Faith. The majority assists of their own free will at morning Mass, and some are asking to be baptized. It is the occasion for parents to shake off their laziness and for some to slowly find their way back to the Church and to the Sacraments.
We must look into enlarging even more, perhaps by purchasing the next door property. The owner, Greek in origin, is difficult to convince. We place this intention in the hands of Providence.
Gabon, Libreville: Juvenat du Sacre Coeur
The work of enlarging the school came to a stop as money was lacking. It was even suggested that we go into debt so as to finish the work. This was not accepted so as to avoid putting our already weak financial situation into danger.
The extension of work is necessary to receive the children in the senior classes which had already begun two years ago. The first “baccalaureates” are to be held this year. These exams have been held back because of recurring strikes in the National Education during the course of the year.
The second floor of the new building will be able to receive boarders. About 30 children will thus be preserved from temptations of the outside world and they will find a study situation which will help them to profit from the good that the school provides.
Kenya, Nairobi: Holy Cross Academy
The youngest of our schools comes to the end of its third year. No senior pupils yet. However, the existing building is already too small. It is necessary to build. A first part has been constructed; all that is needed now is to finish the interior, which comprises about ten classrooms, a refectory and a large kitchen. Large expenses are envisaged but we cannot see to them at the moment.
Education is a priority in this country where 42% of the population is less than 15 years old.
Our school, with large classrooms will easily be able to receive children whose parents want serious schooling but seek also a solid Catholic formation which can give the riches and all the good of the Church to souls.
Within the borders of South Africa lies a small independent nation high in the Maluti Mountains called Lesotho. In this region of Africa, with snow-capped mountain peaks in the winter season, the people can still be seen wearing colourful blankets year round as their clothing, riding on donkeys and wearing cone-shaped straw hats on their heads. Their round huts made of baked mud with thatched roofs still spot the remote mountainsides, forming small villages, and bells on the necks of their sheep echo down the valleys. Waterfalls streaming with clear icy waters decorate the landscape here and there.
90% of the inhabitants are “Christians” of whom half are Catholics. These Catholics, whose ancestors had worshipped cows, were evangelized especially by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who arrived in 1861 after being invited to Lesotho by King Moshoeshoe I to help bring peace to the region.
Among these Oblates was the renowned Blessed Joseph Gerard, who in 1853, at the age of 22, left France for South Africa, never to return home again. After 9 years of unsuccessful labors among the Zulus, he moved to Lesotho in 1862, where his labours during the next 52 years of his life would in time bear much more abundant fruit, still strikingly evident to this day. King Moshoeshoe I never converted, but his grandson Griffith Lerotholi, who rose to be Paramount Chief, became a Catholic to the very great joy of Fr. Gerard.
Fr. Gerard had worked and prayed for more than 2 years before he won his first Basotho catechumen. But in God’s good time the work of Father Gerard grew apace. Grace was taking hold of the Basotho people. Within 5 years of his coming there was the beginning of a Congregation of local sisters and his first mission station at Roma began to blossom.
Throughout his years in Lesotho, Fr. Gerard’s concern and care for the sick and the old was remarkable—even heroic at times. Despite the distance, despite the weather, despite the inconvenience, he would set out on foot or on horseback, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, to minister to those afflicted. His deep devotion to Mary was reproduced in his first converts, and since his day the nation has been dedicated to Mary Immaculate. There is no count of the miles he travelled up and down the steep mountains of Lesotho, and his all-embracing care of the weak, the sick, of those in need is part of the history and lore of the people of Lesotho. His deep commitment to prayer was always an example to the people, and at his funeral one of them expressed it well:
Fr. Gerard was a man who you might say, did not eat food but fed himself on prayer, and if prayer is something with which one can feed the people, then he has fed us Basotho too for a very long time."
The last years of his life were spent back at his first mission, Roma. He still continued his rounds of visiting even when arthritis bent him over almost double, his sight was mostly gone, and he had to be lifted up onto his faithful horse, Artaban. Up to a month before his death he was out on the mountain tracks caring for those in need. He was 83 at the time. On May 29, 1914, after a life of patient and enduring devotion, Fr. Joseph Gerard in the fullness of years came face to face with the Master he had served so long and so well.
Fr. Gerard, in one of his retreat notes, gave the key to his constancy when he wrote about the people he served: “…we must love them, love them in spite of everything, love them always”. He lived out his belief in the joy of spreading God’s Word, despite the hardships and opposition he encountered. In his loving he drew the Basotho’s with him to the contemplation of God. The Church recognized this when Pope John Paul II, on his 1988 pastoral visit to Lesotho, knelt at the grave of this great missionary, and on September 15 before a vast multitude of the Basotho people declared their spiritual father, Blessed Joseph Gerard, O.M.I.
The pioneer French missionaries in Lesotho were followed by a strong contingent of Canadian Oblate priests and Brothers. They started arriving in Lesotho from 1930 onwards.
The Society of St. Pius X first came to this region of numerous Catholics when newly ordained Fr. Pius Nanthambwe from Malawi, (with the encouragement and organization of the prior of Roodepoort, Fr. Peter Scott) drove 5 hours in March 2014, with an elderly Roodepoort parishioner to her home village. He offered Mass in her one-room house, which thereafter serves as both the chapel and rectory. Nearly all the residents of this village are her relatives and share her surname, Mosese.
The chapel building is a mud hut with a thatched roof, having two windows and one door. There is no running water or electricity in the village. From the last paved road, one must travel 40 minutes on an unpaved, washed-out road with deep ruts and large protruding stones to get to this village named Ha-Shaka. Father, returning to Roodepoort, reported that there was good interest in the Mass offered in this humble setting.
Because this first Mass was well attended, Fr. Peter Scott, offered a second Mass there in the following August. Third, fourth and fifth visits to Lesotho were made by Fr. Paul Kimball between March and July 2015, along with the elderly parishioner, who again acted as an interpreter for the sermons, catechism classes and confessions.
Over 50 souls attended the Tridentine Masses, with children sitting on the floor and the elderly on random benches and chairs. About 20 faithful could not fit in the small building, and so listened to the Mass from outside. Harmonic singing of Catholic hymns in Sotho, as taught by the missionaries of olden days, were sung with much enthusiasm during the Mass.
Nearly all the faithful were enrolled in the brown scapular. Explanations about the differences between the Novus Ordo Mass and the traditional Latin Mass were given in a catechism class following the Mass. The faithful then asked for a chapel to be built in their village by our priests. Thereafter a meal was provided for all attending, which gave the gathering an air of a joyous celebration.
The faithful there are slowly coming to an understanding of the value of the traditional Mass. They say that they now are adamant in their refusal of Communion in the hand, whenever they make their long walk to the local parish with the new rite of Mass. They repeat their request for a chapel to be built in their village. Now the properties of the entire village are available or not depending upon the approval of the local chief, and generally without cost.
Some bilingual (English as well as Sotho) and educated persons have come forward and we are confident that they will eventually serve as solid supporters of the Society of St. Pius X, as required for the foundation of a more regularly served mission. Until then, in the footsteps of Blessed Joseph Gerard, the priests of the Society will continue to visit Lesotho several times per year as their schedule permits.
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Make your payment to: Foreign Mission Trust.
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SSPX African Missions
Regina Coeli House
11485 N. Farley Road
Platte City MO 64079 USA