Bishop's word for Xmas 2016


Firstly, not only the Advent season, but also the ADVENT of our lives, is the time to remind ourselves that Emmanuel (means God-is-with-us) is with us. Through our good Christian lives, we should affirm his presence in our daily activities, in our relationships with others and, especially, in our relationships with our families. The liturgy of Advent prepared us to commemorate Christ’s incarnate love among us and to welcome Him in our midst, with hearts filled with love, peace and joy. This is why, at Christmas, we joyfully greet one another and sing of joy, love and peace in our Christmas carols. Christmas is a beautiful time and sometimes emotional. But this shouldn’t be just for Christmas. The corporal works of mercy, which we seem only to reserve for Christmas, are the best gifts and signs of love which we can offer Christ and our brothers and sisters throughout the year. We should also give them to ourselves by strengthening our relationship with Christ and re-affirming our Christian identity.

Secondly, the coming year (2017) will be the 100th anniversary of the appearances of Our Lady at Fatima (Portugal). During her appearances, Our Lady pleaded for prayer and conversion. Her plea is still relevant. We need to convert constantly. In order to be faithful to her Son, we are called not only to pray for the conversion of sinners, but also continue to pray for our own conversion. To practice the works of mercy verifies our true love for Christ and Our Lady. We are told by St James: “Faith without good works is dead”! I’ve always said that the appearances of Our Lady at Fatima, especially the last one on 13th October, was a moment that strengthened the faith of some people and shook up the faith of others. We know that many unbelievers came to Fatima to prove that the Fatima children were wrong. But many of these unbelievers were converted in a moment by the miracle which they experienced on that day. But we are not looking for miracles: we experience our miracle in the Eucharist and other Sacraments in our Church. But in order to believe, our faith must be rooted in Christ – Christ whom we adore as the new-born Child at Christmas.

Thirdly, 2017 will be a special year for our Diocese of De Aar. In 2017, we will celebrate the Jubilee Year of our Diocese. Fifty years ago, on 13th April, 1967, by a Decree of the Holy See, the former Prefecture of De Aar was raised to the status of Diocese. We will also thank the Lord for giving us so many faithful Bishops, Priests, Sisters, Members of our Families and Friends who came before us and those who are still living among us who gave and are still giving witness to the living God, Christ our Lord, the Emmanuel. The Jubilee Year will be a time for all of us to affirm the Faith passed on to us by our predecessors and, for those still alive, to discover and refresh the joys and challenges which are part and parcel of the Diocese of De Aar. In the coming year, we will have to face the challenges caused by the departure from the Diocese of Fathers Bambata (Ntsikelelo) and Chapalamadugu (Gerard). At the same time, I welcome to the Diocese Fr Zbigniew (Ziggy) Pieczuro who will serve the Graaff-Reinet community. These changes will affect all the parish communities who will have to review their timetables of activities, especially the Sunday Masses. This will be a challenge for all of us, but particularly for parish communities where the changes take place; but I hope that the New Year will be for us a year also of rooting even deeper our faith in Christ.

At this Christmas time and at the end of this year, I thank all you dear Parishioners at whatever level for your involvement in the Diocese as well as my Co-workers who are involved in pastoral work. It hasn’t been an easy year; but with God’s grace and your perseverance we may say with a smile that we were able to complete the tasks laid down for this year by our diocesan pastoral plan. Thanks be to God, and thank you All!

Therefore, when we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come …” at this Christmas Season, let the joy, peace and love mirror within us and our lives, the union with Christ, our Emmanuel. Let the New Year be filled with hope for a better world and let our hearts be filled with peace, and a sense of belonging to Christ and our Community, under the protection and guidance of Our Lady, the Mother of God.

Wishing you a merry Christmas and prosperous New Year, I assure you of my prayer, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.


Bishop Adam Musialek SCJ

             Bishop of De Aar Diocese

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