I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Redemptorist community here at Holy Redeemer, to pray for every blessing to all of you on the wonderful Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Blessed Lord, as He returned to His Father, His work for our salvation completed in glory.
Over the past few weeks I have been making use of Pope Francis’ recent Exhortation on the Universal Call to Holiness. I am delighted that so many parishioners have expressed their appreciation of being able to read and reflect on the words of Pope Francis. In the coming weeks I hope to continue with more extracts from the Exhortation.
But today I would like to turn closer to home, to matters involving the Redemptorist Community. This coming week, from Monday morning till Friday evening, all the Redemptorists of South Africa will hold a special gathering at Schoenstatt. The meeting will also be attended by two members of our General Council, who will attend from Rome. This in itself is an indication of the significance of this meeting. During this week therefore, most of us will be unavailable to the parish during the day. Our daily meetings will continue as normal, as will the evening meetings that have already been set up. But I would just ask you to be aware that the priests working within the parish will only be able to respond to emergencies during this week. I thank you for your patience in this matter.
The purpose of the Redemptorist gathering is to give us an opportunity to reflect on our present realities in South Africa today, and also to look forward to the future, where we are being asked to work in closer collaboration with all other Redemptorists working in the continent of Africa. At a time when the number of vocations to our way of life here in South Africa seems to be diminishing, we need to be aware that we are simply not in a position to continue to maintain all the ministries that we are presently involved in. We are therefore going to have to set priorities about the coming years. This will inevitably involve us in making some difficult decisions about our pastoral commitments.
As you are well aware, many of our Redemptorists living here are elderly and frail. They continue to offer a huge spiritual gift to our parish, through their prayer and sacrifice. For this we are deeply grateful. At the same time, as I have spoken about often, we can no longer simply assume that Holy Redeemer will always be guaranteed to have plenty of priests and brothers to serve all the needs of the parish. This should not be seen as a disaster, but rather as an invitation from God for all members to participate in the service of one another.
Obviously, it is not my place to anticipate the results and the consequences of our forthcoming meeting. We have to leave that to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But it would be naïve to imagine that everything will simply remain as it has been, here at Holy Redeemer. It is likely that all Redemptorists presently in South Africa will somehow be affected by the outcome of our meeting. This means too that all our present pastoral commitments will be affected too. I will, of course, keep you up to date with any decisions that are made, and how those decisions might impact on our parish life.
I ask each of you therefore to keep our Redemptorist Community in prayer during this coming week; that we reach decisions that will enable us to best serve the people of God throughout South Africa. I also urge you all to pray for an increase in vocations to our Redemptorist way of life, so that the Good News of the love of God will continue to spread throughout our land.
Fr Gerard, CSsR