Farther Gérard's Circulars

FATHER GERARD T. LAGLEDER
BOX 440
MANDINI 4490
REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

Christmas 1991

My dear relatives, acquaintances and friends,

as I am writing my Christmas mail I do not feel like Christmas at all, at least not in that way as people usually think Christmas should be like. Neither "Peace on earth" nor "Jingle bells" nor "Silent night" nor "White Christmas". In lieu of that political murder and unrest in the townships, unemployment, malnutrition, lack of education, homelessness, AIDS and fear of the future, of violence, sicknesses, witches and evil spirits. But God was born right into this world, in order to be a light of hope, faith and love, which cannot be extinguished by the misery of this world. Christmas will only happen, if we go there, where Christ came to, in order to be light, path and salvation for the people in need. Jingle bells, candlelight and Silent Night are fine, but we must not get stuck there, otherwise they are a hollow emotional facade, where we won't find Christ behind, as he is already staying with the poor.

But exactly there I do find him again and again, e.g. when the faithful of Whebede, which are not well off at all, collected second hand clothing in aid of those who are poorer then they are themselves, or when the community of Mandini collected toys for the crèche in Mambane and laid them down under the Christmas tree at church. There are so many sign of sincere faith, joyful hope and real love amongst the people here. That gives me a continuous push of encouragement. Of course, being a parish priest I am not free from problems: The bad condition of many of my church buildings, the continued violence in the Sundumbili Township, the desperation in the squatter settlements next to Isithebe, the political insecurity in the country, alcoholism, AIDS and the sublime anxiety of ancestral or other evil spirits.

Being church we try to help as good as possible, e.g. in Mambane by a nutrition project with milk and baby food and by refurbishing the crèche. Mambane is next to the industrial area of Isithebe. The crèche gives an opportunity of breadwinning to mothers, which is often the only income for a big family. Many parents cannot afford school or university fees, we help as good as we can. We support handcraft as occupational therapy in a home for chronically sick in Mandikini by giving them raw material. Again and again we help people whose mud huts were destroyed by wind and weather to build simple houses. The repair works to five churches in Mangete parish demanded lots of funds. In 1992 we are going to intensify the catechetical activities of my parishes by training suitable laypeople and by purchasing of good catechetical teaching aids. I am writing all that as a kind of report for all those who supported our mission work financially. May I take the chance to extend my heartfelt gratitude for it.

I'll ask the Three Magi to take along this letter to lay it down at your crib as a rare gift of mine. I do beg your pardon, that I did not write any letters to you for a long long time. I did not even thank for donations or mail. I am so terribly busy, that I did not find time to do so. Kindly accept my vote of thanks now for all your support and your friendship.

May the blessings of Christmas be with you all throughout 1992!

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Father Gérard


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