It certainly gives me great joy to write this little editorial to you. I was greatly surprised when I was told by our Superior General that I was to come back to South Africa. Of course I loved the seminary in Australia very much. I had spent the last eight years there, and so, quite naturally it had become my home. But now it was like going from home to home, for South Africa is my country of birth.
Tradition has grown much in South Africa thanks to the very hard and good work of our much beloved Fr. Gerspacher. By the grace of God I saw the beginnings of Tradition here in South Africa way back in 1978. Then there were but two groups, if we may call them so; one in Durban and one in Pretoria. Both these two clusters of Catholics sought to hold on to the faith and were helped by a very saintly priest by the name of Fr. Gregory Zier. He died shortly afterwards, in 1983 at the venerable age of 83. Oh what a priest that was! Faithful to the end, he never did say that abominable Novus Ordo, and was by consequence, as you can imagine, persecuted. Even in his old age he came to us in Pretoria from Durban (Marianhill).
Then we joined our forces and were blessed by the first visit of Bishop Williamson, … then Father Williamson. I remember at his departure in 1979, how we resolved never again to attend the Novus Ordo. But, what were we to do? We remained at home on a Sunday and sanctified the day by an hour of prayer. There were many opinions on that matter. Nevertheless, now looking back, I know we did the right thing before God, because from that moment on, no longer infested with the modernism of the Novus Ordo, our faith grew. God blessed this endeavour because very shortly thereafter, we may say; out of the blue, we found an old priest in the Eastern Transvaal, who himself had firmly refused the Novus Ordo. This was the well loved Fr. Schelmadine, who, in the meantime has also been called by God to his well deserved reward.
Very quickly a group began to form in Johannesburg, and then, in order to make it easy for the old priest, we consolidated the two groups of Pretoria and Johannesburg in Halfway House. Firstly we met in a garage, and then a little later in a scout hall. There we came together every Sunday from far and wide. Slowly, slowly the little group grew. Finally, after four and a half years of struggle, the Society of St. Pius X was established in August of 1984. Firstly in Randburg and then later, it moved to the present locality in Roodepoort. Of course, in the meantime little groups of faithful Catholics united everywhere which gave rise to our many chapels we have today.
Dear friends, I write to you this little history (which is in no way complete) to show you God’s blessing. When I look back, the words of Our Lord come back to me: “everything you do unto me, I will repay you a hundredfold.” Oh how true that is! Humanly speaking it was pure folly to try and save Tradition here in South Africa. What could so small a group hope to achieve? By the way, this was often voiced against us. But, the thoughts often came back to us; if it is God’s work, it will not fail. Anyhow, God certainly does not need numbers. Did He not begin His Church with only twelve men?
True, even now, Tradition in South Africa is relatively small. But, dear friends, let us not forget that our perseverance is not for some worldly crown, but simply for the glory of God, for the love of the Church, for the salvation of our souls and the salvation of countless souls who are even at this moment on the road to eternal perdition.
Last but not least, a little good news: His Excellency Bishop Tissier de Mallerais will be here for the feast of Christ the King, 27 October. We are planning a pontifical solemn high Mass followed by a public procession in honour of the Blessed Sacrament. It will be very good to see you here if that is possible.
May God and His Holy Mother bless and guide you always.