INKAMANA NEWSLETTER

1/2006

1 February 2006


 Year 2005 – a review

Two confreres of our community died in 2005. Fr Norbert Rőhm, who had spent 52 years as missionary in Zululand, died on August 27 at the age of 82. Fr Severin Pschorn, who came to South Africa in 1968, passed away on October 14 after suffering a massive heart attack in June. He was 64 years old. In the last two years we lost four confreres through death and three others returned to Germany for good. Our numbers have consequently shrunk. It was therefore all the more gratifying that we had three ordinations in the last 12 months. Fr Victor Chavunga was ordained on 11 July 2005 and Frs Rafael Chonde and Oswald Gomani on 7 January 2006. Five confreres made their solemn vows on 28 December: Brs Gabriel Thompson, Alphonse Amutenya, Cosmas Kahirimana, Edward Namwiri and Boniface Kamushishi. On the same day, one confrere, Br Leonard Dlamini, pronounced his temporary vows.

Inkamana Abbey has at present 21 expatriate monks (16 priests and 5 brothers) and 24 local monks (6 priests and 18 brothers). Three of our brothers are at present at Peramiho Abbey (Tanzania) to learn a trade. Two of them have completed half of the four-year training course and one has just started his second year as an apprentice. The average age of the expatriate monks is 68,4 years and that of the local monks 40 years. In January 2006, Inkamana community consisted of:

22 finally professed priests: 15 German, 1 American, 3 South African and 3 Malawian. Ten of the priests are stationed at the abbey: Abbot Godfrey (65), Abbot Gernot (65), Fr Prior Richard Multerer (65) Fr Herfried Holzgassner (89), Fr Leopold Meier (69), Fr Leo Eireiner (68), Fr Maximilian Jacobs (38), Fr Ambrose Mshengu (36), Rafael Chonde (36) and Oswald Gomani (36). Fr Aloysius Roets (35) is on leave-of absence and works in the Diocese of Keimoes. Fr Hermenegild Maier (64) and Fr Eugene Badtke (64) are at our house in Waldfrieden, Namibia. Fr Victor Chavunga (36) is the superior of our study house in Cedara, Fr Ruprecht Wolf (68) is the secretary of the Diocese of Eshowe and Fr Gerard Lagleder (50) is at Mandeni where he manages the Blessed Gérard Care Centre. Six priests work in different parishes in the Diocese of Eshowe:

             Fr Albert Herold (77),                at Mthunzini

             Fr Peter Blue (74),                    at Richards Bay

             Fr Michael Mayer (73)              at the Shrine of Our Lady at Ngome

             Fr Peter Scholz (70),                  at Melmoth

             Fr Pius Paul (69),                      at Vryheid

             Fr Karl Brahm (51),                   at Twasana. He is also chaplain of the Twasana Sisters

17 finally professed brothers all of whom are stationed at Inkamana or are on training elsewhere.

Seven of them are South Africans: Br Sub-prior Placid Makhanya (53), Br Benedict Ntshangase (75), Br Clement Sithole (64), Br Maurus Khumalo (55), Br John Memela (71), Br Mark Govender (57) and Br Gabriel Thompson (37).

Five are Germans: Br Adalbert Plőtz (85), Br Ansfried Machatsch (70), Br Bernard Pachner (70), Br George Ostheimer (65) and Br Eric Schuck (66).

Three are Namibians: Br Alphonse Amutenya (35), Br Cosmas Kahirimana (31) and Br Boniface Kamushishi (29).

Two are Malawians: Br Zachariah Mambo (31) and Br Edward Namwiri (30).

  6 temporary professed brothers. Among them are:

Two Malawians: Br Pacificus Mwala (40) and Br Kevin Thumbalabwazi (27).

Two Namibians: Br Mel Ndemulonga (33) and Br Felix Nangolo (31).

One Angolan: Br Zephaniah Cassoma (30)

One South African: Br Leonard Dlamini (22)

  1 novice: Br Anselm Sayer (58).


Events of January 2005

The highlight of the month was, without doubt, the ordination of Fr Rafael Chonde and Fr Oswald Gomani on January 7. As the Diocese of Eshowe does not have a bishop at present, we asked Bishop-emeritus Gerard Ndlovu, formerly (1987-1994) ordinary of the Diocese of Umzimkulu, to ordain our two confreres. Cassino and Twasana Parish where Fr Rafael and Fr Oswald had been working as deacons for some time sent a strong contingent of parishioners to represent their parish at the ordination. A good number of diocesan priests had also traveled to Inkamana to share this festive occasion with our community. The Administrator of the Diocese of Eshowe, Fr Jabulani Ndaba, was prevented from participating in the ordination mass because he was the main celebrant at a jubilee function of the Benedictine Sisters of Twasana which was held at the same time. He came to Inkamana in the afternoon to convey his good wishes to the newly ordained personally. It was a great joy for Fr Rafael and Fr Oswald that some of their family members and friends had come all the way from Malawi to witness the ordination. The two newly-ordained priests joined them a few days later on their home-bound journey. They wanted to celebrate their first mass in their respective home parish. Fr Rafael hails from the Dedza Diocese and Fr Oswald’s home parish belongs to the Diocese of Lilongwe. Br Boniface Kamushishi who was ordained deacon on January 7, spent the last two weeks of January in Grahamstown. He was chosen by the St Joseph’s Theological Institute of Cedara to represent the Institute at an ecumenical workshop.

During the course of January two new candidates, Sasalakhe Sibiya (20) and Paulo Monteiro (33), were accepted as postulants. Sasalakhe’s home is Mbongolwane in the Diocese of Eshowe. Paulo was born in Mozambique but grew up in Vanderbijlpark, an industrial town not far from Johannesburg. The two of them joined Lungelo Mabaso (24) who started his postulancy already last year. Br Zachariah Mambo, our postulant master, introduces them into the Benedictine way of life. Our two confreres who are responsible for recruiting candidates and keeping in touch with potential vocations, Br Maurus Khumalo and Fr Maximilian Jacobs, have held a vocation workshop in December. It is obvious, though, that South Africa is no longer a seedbed for vocations. Other religious communities have the same experience. We get letters regularly from young men in Malawi, and even further away, who want to come to Inkamana and try their vocation here. Last year we had no fewer than 19 applications from Malawi, 4 from Nigeria and 3 from Tanzania. In agreement with our four Benedictine communities in Tanzania, we refer them to our abbeys there because these are much closer to the homes of the applicants.

It has become a tradition in our abbey to confirm the appointment of monastery officials or to appoint new officials at the beginning of the year. Fr Eugene Badtke who had been superior of our study house in Cedara was appointed assistant priest to Fr Hermenegild Maier at Waldfrieden, Namibia. The two of them will soon get the company of Abbot Gernot who is still at Inkamana but will join them at the beginning of February. Part of Fr Eugene’s task will be the care of the hostel children. His many years of experience in the high school boarding of the Archabbey St Ottilien will stand him in good stead as he takes over the same responsibility at Waldfrieden. Fr Victor Chavunga is Fr Eugene’s successor as superior of our study house. Fr Maximilian Jacobs is the new chaplain of our high school. He is also guest master of our abbey. Fr Rafael Chonde will assist the three parish priests who reside at the abbey in their many pastoral duties. He has also been appointed hospital chaplain. Fr Oswald Gomani will divide his time doing pastoral work and assisting our book keeper, Br Eric Schuck, in his office. Br Anselm Sayer, assisted by Br Felix Nangolo, is the new boarding master of our boys’ hostel. This gives Br Mel Ndemulonga, who had been in charge of the boys’ hostel for a number of years, an opportunity to hone his skills as farmer and handyman.

The senior of our community, Fr Herfried Holzgassner, celebrated his 89th birthday on January 26 while helping out at Elukwatini, some 200 km north-east of Inkamana. The Benedictine Sisters of St Alban who have a convent there asked him to be their chaplain until the bishop of Witbank makes a permanent appointment in the near future. Fr Herfried is still in good health and enjoys looking after the small garden with all sorts of herbs that he had planted when he came to Inkamana last year. As he was not at Inkamana on his birthday we shall have a little celebration when he comes back.

Early in January, Abbot Godfrey traveled to Subiaco Abbey in the northern part of South Africa to meet Abbot Kris of Keisersberg Abbey in Louvain (Belgium) and Fr Mark Hargreaves of Prinknash Abbey, England, who were there on a visitation. After completing their stay at Subiaco they accompanied Abbot Godfrey to Inkamana and spent two days with us. Fr George Lautenschlager CMM, the promoter of the cause of beatification of Abbot Francis Pfanner (1825-1909), the founder of Mariannhill Monastery, visited us at the end of January together with a friend from Germany. A few days later we welcomed two Mariannhill Brothers, Br Otto Waldműller and Br George von Aarburg, who wanted to revisit our monastery which they had not seen for more than thirty years.

Our three theology students (Brs Boniface Kamushishi, Pacificus Mwala and Zephaniah Cassoma) are getting ready to return to Cedara for the start of the new semester in the first week of February. They will be joined by five confreres from other monasteries of our Congregation: Brs Salvatory Ngimbudzi and Trinitas Sinkala of Hanga Abbey, Tanzania, Br Benoît Tchala of Agbang Priory in Togo, Br Dominic Onasseril of Kumily Priory in India and Br Laurenti Mkinga of Peramiho Abbey in Tanzania.

Finally, some news from our Inkamana High School. 24 boys and girls sat for the matric examination last year. 21 were awarded matric exemption and 3 gained an ordinary pass. Thus the long record of no failure is still holding. The new school year started on January 18. There are now 108 girls and 92 boys enrolled at Inkamana High School. All of them are boarders.

With kind regards to all our confreres, friends and benefactors,

Abbot Godfrey Sieber

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