Parish of Maria Ratschitz
Newcastle, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Diocese of Dundee, South Africa … Twinned with The Parish of Brentwood
The past year has seen a re-newed focus on our twinned parish, Maria Ratschitz. It started last July when a meeting was held in the parish hall, to which all parishioners were invited to attend. The aim of that meeting was to gather ideas on how we could strengthen the bond between our two parishes. Naturally, there was a focus on what their needs are and how we can help them. The meeting was well attended and there was a great deal of enthusiasm to build relationships with Fr Tom and his parishioners.
However, practical difficulties regarding language and communication mean that is has been difficult to progress a number of the suggestions. We are hoping to enhance the communication links and, ideally, looking for someone to visit Maria Ratschitz to bring back first hand experience. This would really help to build rapport between the parishes and enable our parish to engage more fully with the project.
Despite these practical difficulties we have found ways in which we can build the bond between our parishes. In particular, we now have two retiring collections each year (May and November) for Maria Ratschitz. In 2009 we raised £3,511.28 of which £3,000 has been used by Fr Tom to supply a water borehole in Matiwane (the largest outstation in the parish). We have received some wonderful photographs from Fr Tom showing us the joy that the borehole has brought to the people of Matiwane! Our next project is to raise funds to build secure accommodation for Fr Tom at Matiwane.
At the last retiring collection in May we raised £658.52 towards this project, which together with the amount carried over from last year means we currently have £1,169.80 to make available to Fr Tom.
We regularly pray for our twinned parish in our bidding prayers and in May we were delighted to welcome Bishop Graham who celebrated Mass at the Cathedral and brought us news of the Diocese of Dundee.
The challenges for the year ahead are to continue to raise the profile of Maria Ratschitz throughout our parish and to galvanise support within our parish for Maria Ratschitz.
Reports from Fr Gerald Gostling in South Africa
Mpumalanga Catholic Aids Response – M-Care Website
Reports from Ithemba Nanjubulo Youth Project