I would like to take this oportunity to wish all our Parishioners, visitors and friends a very Happy New Year and a Prosperous and Blessed 2016.
My wish for you at this holiday time is that this is a very special occasion of grace for you and an opportunity to take time to reconnect and strengthen those special bonds of marriage and family. This is a wish and prayer so close to the heart of our Pope Francis.
The past year had for all of us its special moments – times of celebration, of joy, of dreams and ambitions fulfilled, while for others the experience of loss and pain may have taken their toll. Our community had its share of both as we bade farewell to some of our dearest and long serving members and also opened our doors with a constant trickle of new members. This is what the Cup of Life is all about - a Cup in which joy and sadness, mourning and dancing are inseparable.
All in all it was a great year of blessing, growth and outreach in the service of God and His people. To all of you who went the extra mile in the sharing of your time, skills and resources, you are a constant source of inspiration.
The first visit of Bishop Vincent for the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation was another milestone in the history of our community. We pray that the fruits of his visit will continue to bless us in the year ahead.
Our new Website must surely rank as one of the most professional and attractive in the country! Hopefully we will take full advantage of this resource in becoming better informed and improving our communication. Our sincere thanks to Frank for his time, talent, patience and perseverance.
'Your beauty to behold’ – the touch of the Master’s hand has indeed transformed and brought an incredible energy as well as a new depth of vision and life to our church of St Francis. This work has been a remarkable outpouring of creativity, skill and vision, all under Divine inspiration. We are deeply indebted to Carel van der Westhuizen for this magnificent gift which he has so lovingly and generously shared with us. This sense of beauty, peace and Divine presence is sure to inspire us to ‘Sing a New Song to the Lord…’
The New Year will present us with many opportunities and challenges to grow as God’s family. The Jubilee Year of Mercy invites us to be the face of God’s loving mercy and forgiveness as well as channels of love and reconciliation. These are some of the projects we are planning for in the New Year:
1. The Parish Mission scheduled towards the end of April will be another opportunity to grow in our faith and deepen our relationship with the Lord.
2. The Diocesan Vision and Priorities will provide a focus for our ongoing renewal in conjunction with our brothers and sisters throughout the Diocese.
3. The erection of a new Columbarium – garden of remembrance - at St Francis of Assisi, which has so generously been funded by donations, will provide a fitting resting place for our departed loved ones. This project is expected to be completed within the first half of the year.
4. The proposed erection of a new Catechetical Community Centre (CCC) at Jeffreys Bay will be the culmination of years of planning and waiting. This project has been given the full sanction of the Bishop and Diocese and will receive an initial financial input from the sale of the vacant plot adjacent to the Church in Jeffreys Bay - facing the Church, on the right hand side. The sale of this land has all but been finalised, and we thank the Bishop and the Diocese. which technically owns the land, for permission to effect the sale, and to use the proceeds for the CCC. The new building will contain classrooms for the growing Catechetical needs of the Parish, as well as a space for social events, funerals, weddings etc. The building will be built on left hand side of the church, if you stand facing the front from the outside. Details of plans, costings, timelines etc, will be released following an extraordianry meeting of the Parish Finance Committee next week (saturday Jan 9th.It should be noted that as with all Parish meetings, this meeting is open to any interested party in the Parish.
The building fund has also been boosted by a decision by the trustees of the Jeffreys Bay Church Building Fund to allocate the unused balance of the Fund - left over after the conversion of the old Hall - to this project. The possibility of further assistance in the form of grants is also being considered, based on local initiatives and contributions. All parishioners will be given the opportunity to make their contribution in various ways. It is hoped that the Centre will in time meet the many needs of the Kouga community - religious, catechetical, educational, pastoral, youth and social, as well as provide opportunites for fund-raising.
I have decided, in association with the Finance Committee, to allocate the proceeds of the Christmas Day collections, which are usually earmarked for special projects, to the Catechetical Community Centre Building Fund.
It is my wish and prayer that the Centre will serve as a tangible symbol of our unity in the Body of Christ and a visible expression of the collaborative spirit to which we are called as disciples of the Lord. It will also serve as an expression of our faith in and hope for those who come after us, as well as a gift for future generations. Although the immediate beneficiaries are likely to be the local residents at JBay it should be borne in mind that the Centre will be at the service of the entire Kouga Community and beyond.
On a personal note I wish to thank you for your continued prayers for my health. I am ever more aware of the gift of health and life and feel compelled more than ever to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of each new day. I hope to return to Ireland in the middle of the year for ongoing treatment as well as to provide some support to my ailing siblings.
The blessing which I wish to impart on you is contained in my following prayer for you :
Lord, you come to us in so many wonderful ways, in good times and in bad, you come in Word and Sacrament as well as in the glory of creation. Above all help us to realize that you are Immanuel – God now with Us – God in the very depth of our humanity. Help us to become ever more aware now and in the coming year, so that when we embrace one another we embrace you – the Word made Flesh – as You embrace us. We ask this for today and everyday. AMEN
With Love and every good wish for the New Year
- Father Paul.
(Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the CCC - Catechetical Community Centre- Fund may do so by making a deposit or EFT to: First National Bank, Acc Name: Catholic Church; Branch Code: 210515; Account No: 52541433000 Make sure you place the following in the reference line: Your Name + CCC. Contact person for more information: Diana Alberts 0422961844 or 0833682254, or firstname.lastname@example.org)
The lovely Church of St Francis of Assisi in Humansdorp has had an interior "facelift", getting the "Michelangelo" treatment from international interior designer and artist, Carel van der Weshuizen (right).
The project involved the creation of a magnificent three-dimensional land- and skyscape mural at the rear of the sanctuary, the creation of "sandstone" walls and architraves on both sides of the sanctuary and at various other locations in the church, and the painting of incredibly detailed three-dimensional murals, which appear to have been carved from sandstone, alongside the mosaics of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady.
This vast project was completed in an incredible 12 days, with Carel working up to 18 hours a day to get it completed in time for the celebration of the 4th anniversay of the dedication of St Francis of Assisi Church, and of course, the Christmas festivities.
This project, the dream and vision of our pastor Fr Paul Fahy, was conceived some years ago when Fr Paul met Carel at the home of Fr Paul's long-time friends, Veronica and the late Terry Wittstock, in Knysna. Carel has been a close friend of Veronica's for many, many years.