A much-needed season of hope for peace.
One of the major themes associated with Christmas is peace
captured in the song of the angels on the occasion of the birth of
Jesus: “Glory to God in the heavenly heights, and peace among all
people on earth (cf. Lk.2:14-20).
Yet, as we enter this season of peace, the reality of our situation in
the world, at the national and personal levels, is characterised by a
lack of peace with varying degrees, with some situations being
worse than others. To talk meaningfully about this season of peace,
we must be upfront in naming our unpeaceful situations.

  1. Absence of Peace in the Holy Land
    The worst situation that confronts us daily is the images of the
    destruction from the war in Gaza beamed on our television for
    almost two months now. From these images, we see a portion of
    Palestine country, with a concentrated population of close to two
    million people, being reduced into a rabble by bombs. The
    consequence of this bombardment is the displacement of over a
    million people, with thousands of them dying from bomb
    Even more disturbing are the reports that in this war, every ten
    minutes, a child dies, to say nothing about the number of those
    injured, those separated from their families and those who remain
    orphans. The people who get killed in Gaza are not only
    Palestinians but also journalists, humanitarian aid workers,
    kidnapped Israeli citizens and soldiers. At this present moment,
    Gaza is described by many as the worst place to live on earth.
    What has not been shown on television is what sparked off this war,
    namely the atrocious murder of innocent Israeli citizens by a small
    group of people called Hamas, claiming to be fighting for the
    liberation of Palestine. It is with this group that Israel is fighting,
    but its indiscriminate attack of homes, hospitals, schools and even
    refugee camps is resulting in the death of thousands of innocent
  2. Lack of Peace in the World
    The situation of war in the Holy Land is receiving comprehensive
    media coverage, contributing to knowledge and sympathy about
    what is going on there. Not so forefront in our consciousness are
    similar situations that are occurring in the African continent and
    elsewhere because they are not so well covered by the media, but
    they are there. These areas include Sudan, DRC, Burkina Faso,
    Tigray, Mozambique, and Ukraine.
  3. Lack of Peace in our Country
    As the saying goes, “Peace is not the absence of war”. Therefore,
    those of us spared from the shuttering sounds of bomb explosions
    and constant crack of gunfire are not necessarily at peace. Just
    being able to manage to live, put food on the table, and wake up to
    face another day is not enough to feel at peace.
    Being forced to accept that services for basic needs and
    opportunities for self-development are an exception rather than a
    rule of life does not make for feeling peaceful. Observing that those
    in leadership use the platform to enrich themselves and those close
    to them engenders anger and frustration rather than peace.
    Observing how our country, which was once promising to be a
    model of prosperity in the African continent, is now fast living up to
    the doom prophecy of being “like the rest of African countries”
    makes your heart sink rather than rejoice in peace.
    The lack of ethical leadership at top levels and mismanagement of
    the country has provided space for the mentality and spirit of
    selfishness, bullying, lawlessness, disorder, violence, criminality
    and lack of respect to reign, resulting in a collapse of peace among
    citizens. With gender-based violence, women and girls are not at
    peace at home, on the streets, at school, at work and,
    unfortunately, in the church as well sometimes.
    Taxi drivers bully everybody in the streets. Drug pushing is
    resulting in painful conflict between addicted children and parents
    and between society and those labelled as “Maphara”. The collapsed
    economy, due in no small measure to corruption, has contributed
    to massive unemployment, robbing millions of South Africans of
    their human dignity while a few are obscenely wealthy. The
    indifference of those in leadership to complaints about the lack of
    essential services has resulted in a culture of violence and
    destruction of property as it is “the only way to be heard”.
  4. Lack of Peace in our close circles
    More often than not, the ambience of our family, relatives, friends,
    colleagues, and fellow believers is often marred by discords. We are
    habitually unpeaceful within our close circles.
  5. The dictatorship of Materialism
    Then there is the perennial challenge of materialism and pleasure seeking culture, which renders people to want to live only at the
    physical level. This attitude of pleasure maximisation leads to a
    break of relationships with oneself, as “man does not live on bread
    alone” but also on practising values that make for a respectful and
    caring relationship with others and with our maker from whom we
    came and to whom we shall return.
  6. Lack of Peace between humanity and creation
    Finally, as we enter the season of peace, let us remember that there
    is no peace between humankind and the environment or creation.
    Through fossil energy generation, pollution and destructive
    practices of mining and farming, we are waging war with creation,
    and through changes in weather patterns, creation is fighting back.
    The bombs and guns of the war between humanity and creation are
    not so loud and obvious, but they are silently exploding, and future
    generations will bear the brunt of our present war with nature.
    It is in this context of lack of peace between humanity and creation,
    lack of peace among nations, lack of peace between the leaders and
    citizens, lack of peace among citizens, lack of peace between oneself
    and others, lack of peace within oneself and lack of peace between
    oneself and God that we are invited to embrace Christ who is God
    among us so that we can have peace at all levels of our existence.
    St. Paul invites us not only to be at peace at all levels of our
    existence but also to be instruments and agents of peace in the
    world when he says: “God reconciled us to himself through Christ
    and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor.5:18-19)
    The end of an era for Khanyisa and the beginning of a new one
    In the month of October, we bid farewell to Mr Sebatian
    Vattakunnel and his wife Sara to begin their well-deserved
    retirement in Australia. Mr. Vattakunnel is the founding principal of
    Khanyisa High School and the Khanyisa Children’s Home. He left
    while in the process of founding another institution, Khanyisa 2
    School, in the Ncambedlane area.
    We know missionaries to be priests and religious, but Mr
    Vattakunnel and his wife have proven that lay people are equally
    missionaries, capable of founding institutions that enhance
    evangelisation. There is no need for me here to give an elaborate
    history of the school and its success in providing quality education
    to children of poor backgrounds. Comprehensive information about
    the school is available at this site:
    Suffice it to say that as he takes leave of the school, Mr Vattakunnel
    is leaving the school in the capable hands of more than 80 teachers
    with some of the best facilities for a wholesome education, including
    an Olympic-sized swimming pool. In his departure speech, he
    confessed to being not too much of a prayerful person but more of a
    practical person who is always looking at how best to advance the
    fruition of people’s potential, especially the marginalised. If VK, as
    he is fondly known, was more of a busy Martha that we hear about
    from the Bible (Lk 10:38-42), his wife Sara was Mary, who sat at the
    feet of Jesus praying for the success of her husband’s missionary
    I am grateful to this couple, originally from India, for their presence
    and work in our Diocese. I assure them that the Diocese will do its
    best to support the staff in continuing the excellent work they
    started, and I wish them a peaceful and happy retirement.
    Mrs and Mr Vattakunnel
    I am happy to announce that Fr. Wency Wangila will take over from
    me as the new Priest in Charge of St. Peter’s Parish in Elliotdale,
    which also serves St. Othma in Mqanduli with effect from the 1st of
    January 2024. We wish him well.
    A joyful occasion of the final profession of five sisters
    On the 8th of this month, we witnessed a historical event of five
    young women making their final vows in the congregation of the
    Ursuline Society. They are sisters Ambrosia, Margaret-Mary, Maria,
    Ursula and Pauline. Congratulations, booSisi bam and thank you
    for the joy and hope you have brought us.
    The five Ursuline Sisters who made their final vows.
    Reminder about Parish DATA update
    With everything winding down now and with more time on our
    hands, let us make sure to update parish Data in the digital
    system. For the 2023 statistics, due in January, we will not collect
    statistics from papers but take them directly from the system.
    Contact persons for reporting experience of sexual abuse
    by Church personnel
    I have appointed the following people as contact persons for
    reporting experiences of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable
    people by a Church person, and any one of them may be contacted
    when a case arises

  7. +Sithembele Sipuka
    Bishop of Mthatha

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