Christmas 1999 / New Year 2000
My dear relatives, acquaintances and friends,
This time my Christmas letter comes attached to the newsletter of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, which we normally send to members only, because I want to give you a deeper share in my whole missionary life. I have mentioned this repeatedly in previous circulars, but I would like to explain to you again, what the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is all about:
When the abbot of my mission monastery, i.e. Inkamana Abbey, sent me to Mandeni as a monk and missionary nearly 10 years ago, to work for the diocese of Eshowe taking on the task of the parish priest, I was given the big responsibility, to make the pastoral care of the church for the people a living reality through liturgy, proclamation of the faith and charity. This is the task of every parish priest, but the challenge for me was the fact, that the people and the church in the area of my parishes have to cope with many grave problems, troubles and needs: Ancestral worship and belief in evil spirits, which chains the people to fears; sectarianism, which misleads the people; poverty, insufficient education, unemployment, hunger and sickness, which jails the population like in a vicious circle and finally the lack of or insufficiency of organised help for the needy. I had two choices, to give up facing an insurmountable task or to roll up my sleeves and do with the help of God, what is possible. I decided for the latter and God surprises me again and again, what is actually possible, not because I considered myself such a big deal, but rather in spite of my and our weaknesses. What I deemed important with all this was, to make the help for the people independent, to avoid financial or personal dependency on the missionary or his monastery and jeopardise its continuity, if the Lord may one day have different plans with me. Therefore I have founded the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard seven years ago, where South Africans organise and realise many different projects of aid for their own countrymen as self-help. Thank God, the Brotherhood has meanwhile more than 800 members who made several things possible. The newsletter of the Brotherhood gives you some examples of this. Of course, as the father of the organisation I am involved in it and I will use all my strength to try to achieve, that the child will develop in the right way.
Please, do not be angry with me, because I have attached an application form for membership in the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard once again. I do not want to annoy you with it and I will not be angry with you, if you ignore it. In case you are already a member, you will find your membership number in the top right hand corner of the address label in red ink. Kindly pass on the form (which you may copy as often as you want) to somebody else then, who could possibly support our work. If the address label shows no red number, I would be glad, if you would decide to join as a member. Maybe you think: That does not make a difference, if I am a member or not. I can pray and/or donate for the work of Father Gérard anyway. That is correct and I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the prayers and donations that help me so much, but the membership has big advantages for you and us: Firstly we will mail you all the newsletters of the brotherhood, which keep you so much better informed about our work and needs, secondly it is just nice to know that you want to belong fully to the family of our brotherhood and thirdly we can plan our budget and therefore our projects much better, if we can calculate with set pledges of membership dues.
I also beg your pardon, if this letter may possibly get to you only in the New Year. The postage for airmail is much more expensive than for surface mail and we have to save costs where possible. Thanks for your understanding!
Finally, I would like to thank you cordially for all your faithful friendship, your prayers and sacrifices and for the financial support of our work. All this enabled us to achieve a lot, but we also have big plans for the future and thus we ask you to continue your support.
May the incarnated Son of God let his light shine deeply into your hearts on Christmas, so that you may experience all his warming love and care and may he be close to you in every second of the new millennium and keep you protected in his loving hands.
Yours most sincerely
This page was last updated on Friday, 18 March 2016 00:48:13