Caring for our Common Home

On this feast day of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment, we celebrate the works of God our Creator. As the Season of Creation comes to a close we are encouraged to continue the good work begun during this time – making our earth a common home for all God’s creatures. To keep Laudato Si’ and the environment foremost in our minds we are encouraged to visit this page from our most recent Archdiocesan News.

Archdiocesan News 3 of 2023

HOT OFF THE DIGITAL PRESS: Consistory and Thanksgiving Mass to be live-streamed; three new Deacons ordained for Cape Town; World Youth Day 2023; On the Red Carpet…; Overwhelmed by generosity…; Book of Tributes launched in honour of ‘Reluctant Prophet’ Albert Nolan OP; Catechist Alive!; The Letter Screening and Laudato Si’; A Vocation Story; Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee; Rosary Week turns 21; Mimosa Shrine turns 50; Therapeutic Art; Portuguese Festival; Not me, Father!; The Multi-Party Charter – a viable option?; The 2023 Zimbabwe Elections: Local and Regional Implications.

AD News 3 of 2023

CPLO Briefing Papers, Digests and Responses

The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) is an office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), housed at the Chancery, Cape Town. It is the official vehicle for contact and dialogue between the Catholic Church in South Africa on the one hand, and the country’s Parliament and government on the other. It provides an avenue for the Church – as part of civil society – to contribute to debates on issues of public policy, to exert an influence for the common good in areas of political, economic and social concern, and to help shape legislative and policy developments.

Below is their page in the most recent edition of the Archdiocesan News, with hyperlinks to papers and articles for your benefit.

Fazenda da Esperança opens in Elsie’s River

FROM AD NEWS 2 OF 2023: A wonderful day of celebration was had on 13th May as Archbishop Stephen Brislin officially opened the Fazenda da Esperança Rehabilitation Centre in Elsie’s River. It was the perfect day for the opening of a centre for women (and their children), coinciding with the feast of Our Lady of Fatima when Our Lady appeared to three vulnerable children. The Centre is located in the former Nazareth House for the Elderly, which the Nazareth Sisters very generously donated to the Archdiocese of Cape Town so that social outreach work could continue there for the benefit of the community. Many of the Nazareth Sisters were in attendance at the opening to witness the start of a new chapter in the life of this well-known building in the community.

We were also blessed to have in attendance the two founding members of Fazenda da Esperanca who travelled all the way from Brazil to attend the opening in person. Fazenda da Esperança was founded by Lucilene Rosendo and Iraci Leite in Brazil in 1983. Since then, it has become a worldwide program which helps people to overcome substance and alcohol addiction through its three pillars of Spirituality, Community Life and Work. The first South African Fazenda project opened in Bethlehem five years ago and the Cape Town centre is the second centre in South Africa and the first for women (and their children). It was a busy week for Fazenda as a third Fazenda project opened the same week in Rustenburg, so we wish that project many successes as it begins its journey at the same time as the Cape Town project.

The Centre opening began with the celebration of Holy Mass by Archbishop Brislin in St Clare’s parish church, which was concelebrated by eight priests who have all played a part in guiding and supporting Fazenda in its journey so far. The congregation was treated to a beautiful display of dancing by a local children’s group, following which the Archbishop cut the opening ribbon and blessed the premises.

Cake and refreshments were served followed by music and dancing, setting the tone for the joyous occasion that it was. So many people gave their time, resources and energy to make the day a great success. Four parishes who had partaken in the Caritas Cape Town ‘Sponsor a Room’ Program (Sea Point, Constantia, Brackenfell and Lansdowne) provided support that went above and beyond the rooms that they sponsored. The local parishioners of Elsie’s River provided tremendous support to the Fazenda team as well as the newly formed Fazenda Board of Trustees. In addition, many others have provided food, advice and support to the Fazenda team since their arrival in February.

Fazenda hopes to accept ladies into its program in the coming weeks. These will be ladies who suffer from addictions such as drugs and alcohol and who are willing to commit to a God centred one-year residential program to address their addiction. More details about the program can be found by contacting the Cape Town Fazenda Project Manager, Jordana do Amaral.

We wish Fazenda da Esperança many blessings and success as it begins its journey in Cape Town. We know that they cannot do this alone and so we appeal to those who would like to donate their time, items, money or skills to this worthy cause to contact Project Manger Jordana do Amaral at 063 850 5123 (email:
The webpage from Brazil is in Portuguese but it can be easily translated by right-clicking the black bar at the top of the page, which will show you the translation options.

Aisling Foley
Caritas Co-ordinator

Archdiocesan News 2 of 2023

HOT OFF THE DIGITAL PRESS: In this edition: Celebrating the Joy of Life and Ministry; Book Launch – Reluctant Prophet – Tributes to Albert Nolan OP; Youth Events and Ministry; Salesian Youth Retreats; Pilgrimage from Kommetjie to Schoenstatt; Fazenda da Esperanca opens in Elsie’s River; Catechetics – Snapshots from our workshops and events; Justice & Peace Programmes on offer; Winter Living Theology: Our Bible with Fr David Neuhaus SJ; Vocations Feature: My Internship Experience; Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Resources; Archbishop awarded Doctorate; Lady R: Subterfuge or Just Asleep at the Wheel?; The Value of Waste-Pickers; St Kizito stands up to violence.


Caritas Parish Programme Support

FROM AD NEWS 1 OF 2023: Caritas Cape Town (CCT) provides advisory, capacity-building and, where necessary, financial support to effectively aid parishes of the Archdiocese of Cape Town to initiate welfare and development programs or projects in their local communities.

In August 2022, CCT and the parishes of St Ignatius, Claremont and St Bernard’s, Newlands collaborated to assist pregnant women in disadvantaged communities. CCT had 25 wicker Moses baskets and disposable nappies available which it wished to donate to a local community. The parishioners of St Bernard and St Ignatius very generously raised enough money to buy baby products to put in each of the baskets and also added a hand-knitted blanket and prayer for each of the babies.
CCT was keen to present these baskets as part of an important health message around the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy may lead to the baby being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) which results in permanent brain damage, for which there is no cure. South Africa has the highest rate of FASD in the entire world.

CCT decided to join hands with the Zoe Project, a local NGO which provides maternal health care services to vulnerable women throughout their pregnancy journey. In October/November 2022 workshops were given to 25 pregnant mums as part of the Zoe Project pre-natal program at Lavender Hill and Retreat. At the end of each workshop the baby baskets were presented to the mums as a blessing for the forthcoming birth of their baby.

CCT would like to thank the parishioners of St Bernard and St Ignatius for their generosity in supporting this program, and in particular the PPC Community Engagement leaders in both parishes – Pat Rother and Angie Bruni-Morgenrood.
CCT was delighted to be part of a parish program that may impact the lives of children, even before they are born. We wish the Zoe Project and the mums many blessings for themselves and their new babies.

In the coming weeks and months CCT hopes to meet and work with the newly elected PPC Community Engagement leaders of all parishes. We foresee that there will be many parish projects and programs which will change lives in the course of 2023 and beyond.
For further information about Caritas Cape Town, please contact CCT Co-ordinator Aisling Foley at or 069 126 4841.

Renewing our Parishes

FROM THEOLOGY TODAY IN AD NEWS 1 OF 2023: The new PPC Statutes promulgated a year ago by Archbishop Brislin were intended to facilitate an implementation of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Plan (2019) at grassroots level. The defining aspect of these statutes is the promotion of a team of leaders in different pastoral portfolios at the parish level. The Parish Alive programme in the archdiocese, launched in November last year was intended to help new PPCs to fulfill the requirements of the new statutes.

Essentially what is intended is the renewal of parishes, so especially needed after the Covid-19 crisis. At the heart of this renewal will be the mobilization of lay leadership at the parish level; that is, the baptised exercising their gifts for the mission of the Church.

Basic to this engagement in mission will be the creation of missional parishes, parishes which engage in the core work of evangelization. Evangelization, which facilitates a life-giving encounter with Jesus Christ and his saving work in our lives, is the surest path to on-going discipleship. Those who are evangelised and are being evangelised want to be connected to other disciples and want to be involved. Those who are evangelized desire to engage with others who have also been evangelized, and disciples of Jesus make disciples of others. Evangelization instruments like Alpha or Sycamore, have a community-creating dimension and can at the same time be a leadership-pipeline or ministry-pipeline in our parishes.

Parish renewal will depend on the active engagement of many more people in our parishes. The syndrome of STP (the same ten people) engaged in parish ministries does not bode well for the overall sustainable health of a parish. So, how do we activate more parishioners for ministry, realizing that ministry is not just something we want from parishioners; it is something we want for parishioners?

Preliminary results from the Parish Culture Survey administered by the Centre for Pastoral Development indicate that those who are involved in our parishes want to do more and those not involved want to get involved. How we engage these people? The power of personal interactions and invitations cannot be overstated. Invitations borne of friendship and personal conversations are so much more effective than appeals for service in ministries from the lectern at Sunday Mass.

Those in leadership at all levels in parishes should be engaging in this process of succession and activating parishioners for ministry. To ask the Holy Spirit to “point out” to us those we encounter on a Sunday who could be approached and invited to participate more actively, is sound strategy. Those we get to know can be affirmed and invited and welcomed with a “I see in you …”, adding in the gifts which the person has, and which can serve in ministry.

In terms of ministry, we are looking for people who are Faithful, Available and Teachable. Even better, in terms of leadership, we also want people who are Contagious, people who have the capacity to influence others. In some programmes these qualities are summed up by FAT and FACT.

A good strategy would be to invest in new parishioners, those who have recently joined the parish for some reason or other, often because they are looking for some new dynamic and so will be open to making a contribution. Newly confirmed young adults and those completing the RCIA, are other good “sources” of ministers. The power of an active hospitality ministry in recognising, identifying, and recommending parishioners, new and old, cannot be overstated. Those responsible for faith-formation of young adults and RCIA candidates can be mobilized to invite those in their care for ministry. And instruments of evangelization, like Alpha, can be harnessed for a ministry and leadership pipeline.

Fr Zane Godwin
EV for Pastoral Development

Becoming Christ’s companions, learners and ambassadors

FOCUS ON VOCATIONS, IN AD NEWS 1 OF 2023: As seminarians we feel called by Christ to be his companions, learners and ambassadors. For a seminarian this is formed in us by the four pillars of our priestly formation: spiritual, intellectual, human and pastoral. Every semester begins with a seven-day guided retreat. It is a time of prayer and reflection, silence and solitude, to help foster companionship with Jesus, to be attentive learners, in order to become passionate ambassadors of Christ.
In this time set-apart, I take it upon myself to learn to mind my thoughts as they will affect my tongue and behaviour. I learn to mind my emotions and my ego, for as you progress in formation, it is easy to become arrogant from all the praise and attention one receives while back at home during winter or summer holidays. There is also the temptation of looking at your junior brother seminarians as subordinates. It is through nourishing our interior life that we lose the need to be puffed up with vanity. It is through sitting at the feet of Jesus that one is reminded that he is Lord.
Our spiritual father, Fr Jerome Nyathi, hands us what he has dubbed ‘a love letter’. It contains the theme as well as words of encouragement and this semester’s theme was ‘Finding God in our deepest struggles of life.’ This semester’s ‘love letter’ has a quote by William Booth. It reads, “then look Christ in the face – whose mercy you professed to obey – and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.” I would like to add another, “the greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”
We pray for family and friends, we pray for our benefactors, we pray for our country, we pray for our continent, we pray for the world. May we continue to pray the Lord of the harvest for vocations to the priesthood and religious life as well as for men willing to serve Christ and his Church who are after his heart.
Solomon Shikwambana
3rd year Philosophy
St John Vianney Seminary

From the Book

As we come towards the end of the season of Lent, it might be helpful to reflect on Bishop Sylvester David’s reflection from his column in the most recent edition of the Archdiocesan News:

Lent as a gracious gift from God

Some have been accustomed to seeing Lent as a dry season filled with gloom. But the opposite is true. Lent comes from an Old English word lencten meaning spring when the promise of new life becomes evident. Lent is a joyful season. 

How can Lent be joyful when we have to give up pleasures? Simply because any turning toward the Lord is a joyful experience – both for the Lord (Lk 15:7; 10) and also for us (Pr 3:13; Ps 40:4). We also need to distinguish between joy and pleasure. Pleasure is what the world offers and which we receive through the senses. It could be either good and bad – e.g. watching a good movie is pleasurable in the good sense but watching something indecent is not. Joy, on the other hand, is what the Lord gives (Jn 15:11). This is not the same as pleasurable sensations. It is an internal condition of knowing that “all shall be well” (cf. Mother Juliana of Norwich who lived through a plague which devastated England from 1348-1350). The gift of joy is what enables us to tearfully bury our loved ones and still have the certainty that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Joy enables us to face situations of death with hope and with peace. Jesus reminds us that the peace which he gives is not what the world gives (Jn 14:27). Peace and joy are co-relative terms meaning that we cannot have one without the other.

Let us therefore fully embrace this gift of the lenten season to fine tune our motives and perspectives so as to participate more fully in the life of faith.

Minds made pure

Minds made pure refers to conversion. We frequently equate conversion to a change of heart and that is not bad, but it needs to be refined a bit. The word for conversion in the NT literally means “to go beyond ones ordinary way of thinking”. It is an invitation to see the world through new lenses and to broaden ones vision. Going beyond this ordinary way of thinking so as to embrace God’s logic is what conversion is all about. This is why the Church defines faith as an intellectual assent to the truth. We experience a change of mind and the change of heart follows.

This is also how the Gospel writers define enlightenment, discipleship, and the path to eternal life. Seeing, understanding, and having faith are all conveyed by words which indicate going beyond ones ordinary way of thinking and embracing a faith perspective. Lent gives us an opportunity to see whether our judgements and thoughts fit into the template shown in the Gospels, or whether we have to make adjustments. The way in which I treat my neighbour, who is just as precious to God as I am, can be a good indicator. Although the Church speaks of renewing the mind, conversion is not abstract. It is always embedded in our lived experiences and in our relationships.

Eagerly intent on prayer

Nutritionists advise us to drink before we become thirsty so as to remain properly hydrated. To wait until we are grossly thirsty and then to gulp water is not good. Similarly we need to pray prior to experiencing need. That way when the time comes to articulate a need we do what comes naturally to the Christian. St Paul reminds us to pray at all times (1Thes 5:17).

But what is prayer? There are several words for prayer in the Bible e.g. petition, praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and contemplation. The last two categories describe the true attitude of a genuine believer before God. It is to know ones place before the Divinity and it is linked to the virtue of piety. This is the type of prayer Jesus called for in Mt 6:5-8. There is liturgical prayer and there is private prayer. There is communal prayer and individual prayer. There is priestly prayer such as the Mass and the Divine Office, and also devotional prayer. All these prayers are celebrated by all the baptized whether ordained or not, each participating according to what he or she has been called to in the Church. These days many lay people pray the Divine Office and so engage in the priestly prayer of the Church just as they do when they attend Mass.

Lent is a time to sharpen our awareness of the need to pray and, through prayer, to become more and more reflective of the Body of Christ which we are meant to be.

Works of charity

Love of God is shown in love of neighbour. One can see this clearly in the first reading (Is 58:1-9) of the first Friday of Lent in which we are reminded rather forcefully by the prophet that service to the poor is not an optional extra or something that is added on to our faith lives. It is the very substance of our faith. All else is mere lip service.

Let us use this invitation to engage in works of charity so as to make our participation in the sacred mysteries more real, more meaningful and more biblical.

Participating in the mysteries. Who can participate?

This is not only for the Catechumens who will be baptised at Easter but for all disciples of Jesus. All need to participate wholeheartedly in the mysteries of the faith. In this regard we will do well to enlist the help of Psalm 24 which asks: “Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?” (Ps 24:3) – in other words: “who shall rightfully offer worship or participate in the mysteries of salvation?” The psalm continues in verse 4-6 to give very clear indications of who shall be admitted into the divine presence.

Whenever we go to functions we ensure that we are suitably attired. The more important the function, the more impressive and glamorous the fashions will be. St Paul, speaking of the Christian life in the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians, urges us to seek the things of Christ. A reading of this chapter is highly recommended. It ends with advice on how to live together as a family. When describing the profile of the Christian community, after recommending the virtues, the Apostle urges us to “put on love” (Col 3:14). Love is the garment by which the Christian is recognised. 

Lent is a useful time to examine our lifestyles and see where we need to grow. A good place to start is to see what my family life is like and to honestly see how I fit in – as a peacemaker, or a trouble monger? As someone who forgives, or someone who bears grudges? As someone who is selfish, or someone who is generous? As someone who is compassionate, or someone who is hard of heart? St Paul’s hymn to love in 1 Cor 13 is another good text to assist in this exercise.

I wish you a joyful return to the Lord during this holy season.

+Sylvester David OMI

Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town

From the Heart


Lent is a most blessed season of the Church. It is associated with abstaining, fasting, works of charity and a renewal of prayer life. We are called to make a special effort to sacrifice and to repent of our sinfulness. Erroneously, this can lead some to think of Lent in a negative way, as a time of hardship and deprivation. It is quite the opposite. Yes, we are called on to discipline the body and to make sacrifice, but we do so in order to rejuvenate our spirits, to renew and refresh ourselves. It is especially during the time of Lent that we approach the Living Water so that we can drink once again from the springs of salvation, and to satisfy our thirst through the grace that Christ offers to all of us. In order for the new shoots of life to manifest themselves in our spiritual lives, there has to be some pruning of the dead wood, letting go of our favourite sins and bad habits. So Lent is a time to avail ourselves of the life which Christ offers us and to allow his life to fill us.

Perhaps one of the most important things we could commit ourselves to this Lent is reconciliation. Yes, we must be reconciled to God and that we do through Confession and striving to do somewhat better in the future. Reconciliation with God also means that we do our best to reconcile with others. We all know the Biblical text that if you remember that someone has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled first, and then come and offer your gift (Matt 5:23-24). It is so easy to fall out with others – in our families, with our neighbours, at Church, to name just a few. It is so much more difficult to say “sorry”, “forgive me”, “I was wrong”. It is also difficult to forgive whole-heartedly. But this is what Christianity demands of us. We are not to be ruled by our baser instincts and our emotions of hurt. We must go beyond ourselves and do the right thing. When we are wrong we must seek forgiveness. When we have been wronged we must not be slow to forgive. Sometimes, even when we know we are right, it is better to be the peace-maker and to restore the relationship. It is not always easy, but time is so short and passes so quickly. We should not waste it on negativity and acrimony, on high-handedness and petulance. To seek forgiveness and to forgive liberates us, it frees us spiritually, we become more fully alive and filled with life. St Paul says: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor 5:20). A big part of being reconciled to God is to reconcile with others.

+ Stephen Brislin
Archbishop of Cape Town