A fair amount of activity has taken place in our church over the last few months, on a spiritual as well as a material level.
On Friday 30th March we held a “Lenten Fayre” gathering. At 5:00 pm we began with a “Lenten Fair” (fair meaning right and just). Both priests were at the parishioners’ disposition for Confessions, and then at 6:00 pm we installed the new Stations of the Cross in the church. This is a wonderful, unique ceremony, the Stations being blessed and incensed and then placed on the church wall one by one, as one “does the Stations”. We were fortunate to have Fr. Gerspacher with us and he presided at the ceremony, albeit that two of his car wheels were stolen from his vehicle during the previous night. After holy Mass the parishioners gathered in the church hall for a “Lenten Fare” comprised of a cup of soup and a piece of bread. Lent may be a time of sacrifice but one can gain many graces in making it a time of spiritual joy too as this occasion proved.
Holy Week ceremonies were well attended with Fr. Swanton being in Durban and Fr. Esposito in Port Elizabeth.
For the Feast of Corpus Christi a Holy Hour preceded holy Mass and on the Sunday following, the parish celebrated the solemnity of the feast with a Sung Mass and procession of the Blessed Sacrament up and down the street outside the priory. An altar was set up before the grotto in our parish grounds and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given there as well as in the church.
Two years ago we had consecrated our parish to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This year on His feastday the consecration was renewed. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed at 3:00 pm and the fifteen mysteries of the rosary were said every hour on the hour respectively, culminating in the Litany of the Sacred Heart, renewal of the consecration prayer and Sung Mass. A gathering of our parishioners afterwards for a snack supper and drinks was also much appreciated.
Of interest also is that we have begun celebrating holy Mass on a regular basis at Umlazi, the large African suburb in south Durban. Every second Saturday one of the priests goes there and after Mass catechism is given to our parishioners. For the moment 14 people are attending. One may say that that is not a lot of people – agreed, but don’t forget either that one soul constitutes a parish!
As well as that our daily parish activities continue, visiting the sick and elderly every Thursday, with a marriage being blessed on May 12th, a funeral for two of our African parishioners tragically killed by fire when their home was gutted by arsonists. I have never seen our church so full as it was for this funeral. RIP. And, dulcis in fundo, three baptisms, all girls who received the waters of grace on the 16th June.
From a material point of view much work has been done on the church as a building over the last few months. A well-designed ramp has been built, so parishioners who had difficulty in climbing the steps are now running up and sliding down the ramp! A lovely choir loft and spiral staircase were completed just before Easter and where the choir used to sing before, a little chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption now has pride of place.
A new sacristy has just been completed. In fact the old ablution block behind the church was demolished to make way for a new, decent sacristy and as I write these lines work has just begun in the sanctuary itself. The wooden partition which served as a dividing wall between sanctuary and sacristy is soon to be demolished, and a raised floor will be put in the sanctuary area. Statues of the Sacred Heart and Immaculte Heart of Mary will find their permanent homes in niches specially made for them. Our church being a former protestant building, had all its beauty in the porch. The body of the church was just a rectangular building. All credit must go to Fr. Leslie for making an empty, lifeless shell into a living home for He who is Life itself. We continue striving to make a worthy dwelling-place for Our Lord Jesus Christ. Deo Gratias!