De Aar - St Mary's Cathedral

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De Aar – Cathedral of St. Mary

In a diocese, the principal church in which the bishop usually officiates. In this church Ordinary has his fixed chair (from the Latin and Greek cathedra) permanently erected in the cathedral church as a sign of authority. Thus the cathedral is the parish seat of the entire diocese, or the mother church of all the other churches.


The church was built in 1929.  

The bishop at his Episcopal throne is aided by the canonically appointed clerics who service the cathedral in celebrating the liturgical functions there.



A bit of history

When in 1923 the Priests Of the Sacred Heart took over the Gariep Prefecture, consisting of of parts of the Port Elizabeth and Kimberly Vicariates, there was at De Aar the residence of a travelling priest from the Port Elizabeth Vicariate. There was also a small community of Sisters of the Assumption who conducted a European Day school.

                Rev. Father Hauer, S.C.J. was appointed to De Aar and had as his “Parish” a district equal in extent to the whole of the Netherlands and a large part of Belgium. He travelled around visiting European families and forming congregations in the various locations, including one in the Native and Coloured location outside De Aar. For the latter a stable was rented for a start.

                In 1924 the Holy Cross Sisters took over the school from the Sisters of the Assumption but moved to Waterdale, outside the town, where they purchased an hotel to serve as School, Convent and Church. The Convent and Church buildings in town were sold and the Priest’s residence rented.

                Rev. Father Hauer left for Europe early in 1926 and Rev. Father A. Maennersdoerfer, S.C.J. was sent to De Aar for a short time until the appointment to the parish of Rev. Father Riffelmann, S.C.J.

                There was at that time in De Aar a fairly large congregation and so a more worthy home for Our Lord could be thought of; in fact it had become a necessity owing to the accidental burning down of the Convent in 1928. Consequently, the present church of St. Mary’s and the Priest’s reseicence were built by Rev. Boneventura and Lazarus, S.C.J. the church is a monument to the skill of the Brothers in architectural and carpentry work . It was solemnly blessed in 1930 by His Excellency the late Archbishop B. J. Gijlswijk , O.P. Apostolic Delegate, Rt. Rev. Bishop Fr. Demont and other members of the Sacred Heart Society being present at the ceremony.

                In 1929 the Sisters of the Holy Cross built a large Convent to replace the former and to serve likewise as a European Boarding and Day School. The Sisters have done much in overcoming the prejudices that formerly prevailed so strongly against Catholicity in De Aar.

                Rev. Father Riffelmann, S.C.J. who left for Europe in 1932 was succeeded by Rev. Father V. Wamhof, S.C.J. and in 1934 Rev. Father  P. Max, S.C.J. took over charge of the parish. Under the latter the interior of the church was decorated by the able hands of Rev. Brother Fredolin Strang, S.C.J. The main altar was constructed by Rev. Father T. Demont, S.C.J. and the beautiful tabernacle was a gift to Rev. Father Max from an American benefactor.

                De Aar is a town of Railway-workers, Post-Office and Bank officials and Business men. The number of Catholic parishioners, therefore, fluctuates from year to year, from perhaps 5 to 50. Each Parish Priest in turn has endeavoured to organise sodalities and confraternities which flourish, die down and revive as the numbers of the congregation increase or diminish.

Rev. Father T. Demont, S.C.J succeeded Rev. Father Max as the priest–in–charge at St. Mary’s in 1947.



The first entries into baptismal books, designated to this church, are dated to 1922 with the signature of Fr. Martino Hayes CSSp.

Fr. J.L. MacCormack 1923.

Fr. John Hauer SCJ 1924.

Fr. August Maennersdorfer SCJ 1924-26.

Fr. Carolus Riffelmann 1926-28.

Fr. V. Wamhof 1929.

Fr. Peter Max 1934-1948.

Fr. Theo Demont SCJ 1949-1950.

Fr. Aloysius Dettmer SCJ 1950-   . 

Fr. Jerome M. Turbiewig SCJ 1952-1953.

Fr. Will SCJ 1954-58, 60-61, 66  Msgr Dettmer 1959

Fr Howley scj - 1965

Fr Cecil Wienand (built the church) - 1966

Fr. Kevin Mcnnis scj 19 1966 and Fr Will (supply)

Msgr. Dettmer scj 1967

Fr Francis scj (supply 1967)

Fr A. Green scj 1968

Fr N. S. Jirouf scj 1970

Fr. j.j. Alcaster 1973-74

Fr Giroux scj 1974 (supply)

Fr J Potocnack scg 1977-1987

Fr Adam Musialek scj 1987-

Fr J Potocnak scj 1988

Fr Adam Musialek scj 1989 - 1994

Fr Chris Grzelak scj 1995-1998

Fr Paul Koscielny 1999-2006

Fr M. Przybys 2007-2009

Bishop Adam scj 2009-2010

Fr Douglas Sumaili 6th Feb.2011 -



The Patronal Feast: Assumption of Mary - August 15

The anniversary of the cathedral’s dedication and the feast of the Mystery or the Saint, in whose honor the cathedral has been consecrated, are celebrated by all the clergy of the diocese. Ordinarily, all solemnities of a diocesan character are presided over by the bishop in the cathedral, such  as the blessing of holy oils on Holy Thursday and ordinations.


About the Patron of the parish

Our Lady


By the Feast of the Assumption, the Church not only enables us to render due honor to Mary for her part in the Redemption but also reminds us of a valuable truth. Just as Mary’s Motherhood constituted a grace for the whole world, leading to its salvation through her Son, so her personal Assumption into heaven inaugurated the assumption of all mankind in God. Like Mary, we bear within our bodies – which are the temples of the Holy Spirit – the seeds of eternity. And her Assumption foreshadows our own entry, body and soul, into heaven for all eternity.A Holyday of Obligation (August 15) celebrating the dogma of Faith that the Mother of God was taken up to heaven, soul and body, after her earthly life. Backed primarily by tradition, this dogma is based upon her sinlessness, her Motherhood of Christ, her concomitant virginity, and her participation in the redemptive work. Because of the above and even though sinless, she accepted death as her Son did, yet she was spared bodily corruption and has joined her Son in Corporal glory.




Priest in charge:

Fr Douglas Sumaili

Appointed administrator of the parish on February 6th, 2011



The address:

1 Van Riebeeck Street;
PO Box 73,
De Aar 7000
Priest House. Tel: (053) 631 1120

Fax: (053) 631 1043


The time of services:

Holy Mass:         Sunday:                                           8.00 am (English)

                             weekday:           Mon-Fri               7.00 pm (English)

                                                         Sat                        8.00 am (English)

Other:                  Adoration:        Thu                      6.30-7.00pm

                                Confession         30 min before the H. Mass  or  by appointment


Office hours:

Tuesday              09.30am – 12.00am        /              02.00pm – 04.00pm

Wednesday       09.30am – 12.00am        /              02.00pm – 04.00pm

Thursday             09.30am – 12.00am        /              02.00pm – 04.00pm

Friday                   09.30am – 12.00am        /              02.00pm – 04.00pm


Catechism classes           Sunday after the 8.00am Mass


Outstation:    St Martin de Porres – Britstown.


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