Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lumiere Charity remembers Bangladesh

A candle has been by Lumiere Charity in remembrance for all who have been recently affected in the devastating floods in Bangladesh. It is reported that seventy people have gone to final rest, and 200,000 people are stranded in the floods. People are feared trapped in the mud, and rescue operations continue. May strength and safety be with all who are helping those affected by the floods which set off landslides. In the spirit of Lumiere, is there any way you could help?

With thanks to the reporter who reported the plight of our Bangladesh brothers and sisters in our human family, in the link 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Apostle of Lesotho Chapter Six

On 15 August 1878, three young men, a girl and a woman were baptised as believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The baptisms were at St Monica's Mission. Many new believers from Roma attended the celebration. Two of the sisters and twenty school girls also came. The weather was radiant. A benefactor provided the food for the feast. Bishop Jolivet celebrated the Mass. Father Gerard carefully explained all the ceremonies and many people started thinking about seeking baptism for themselves. Two years later, eleven more catechumens were received and many children were baptised.

The Holy Family Sisters started a school at St Monica's Mission. With their help, Joseph began a dispensary and a small residential hospital. In his letters and diaries he mentions the ministry of healing the sick through medical services. Never once did he write of his healing power. Joseph had a great devotion to St Monica, the patroness of his parish. She was the mother of St Augustine. To mothers sorrowing about their sons' behaviour, he would always hold up St Monica as an example.

In 1897 Father Gerard was transferred back to Roma. He left St Monica's, where 759 people had sought and received baptism during his time there. Back in Roma, he took up his duties with the zeal and cheer the old-timers remembered.

In 1912 King Moshoeshoe's grandson, Chief Griffith Lerotholi, became a Christian. He told Joseph that his ancestors had appeared to him in a dream, and as a result he was baptised.

Joseph's life was ebbing towards its end. Two years after Chieft Griffith was baptised, Joseph was sixty years a priest and celebrated the day. On 14 May 1914 - some say on 22 May - he celebrated Holy Mass and took to bed. He ran a high fever. During his last days he took water into which a little mealie-meal had been stirred. On the evening of 29 May 1914 he passed away as he said the words, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen."

*Photograph taken by Catherine Nicolette

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Apostle of Lesotho Chapter Five


To teach about Christianity is a commitment. Joseph Gerard possessed no car, telephone, or computer. And yet Joseph got the job done. Not having a car was one thing. To have to cross a swollen river on horseback after heavy rains had fallen was another. However, Joseph was a man of prayer who believed that nothing is impossible with God. He knew that faith can move mountains. He surrendered himself totally and absolutely to God without holding back any part of himself. Prayer was his mainstay and if he needed anything, he used to turn to God in prayer about the issue. He never forgot what Jesus has told the Apostles about the power of prayer:
"Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks, receives. The one who seeks, finds. The one who knocks, enters. Would one of you hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf, or a poisonous snake when he asks for a fish? If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to anyone who asks him." (The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, verses 7 to 11).

And so Joseph never hesitated to ask God for needs. The Basotho saw miracles that occurred after Joseph's prayer. Their tradition records many of these marvels. One such incident was as follows. People came to Joseph to tell them a man named Azarias was dying. When they arrived, Joseph was about to celebrate the Mass, and he finished the celebration first. At the end of Mass, others came and told him Azarais had died of a haemorrhage. "He would not have gone without speaking to me first," Joseph said. The people tried to reason with him but he ignored all arguments and made his way to the dead man's hut.

Upon arrival, he called out his name: "Azarias!" three times. The dead man stirred and his chest heaved.
Joseph removed the death bandage from his head and said: "Azarias, my friend, you would have amazed me if you had gone before I came. you're going to speak to me first and I will give God to you."
"That's good, Father," Azarias said. His sister asked; "Has my brother really come back to life?"
"Go out of the hut and leave me alone with my friend," Joseph said.
After hearing Azarias' confession he called in the relatives and administered the Sacrament of the Sick.
"Peace be with you, Azarias. Now you can go on your way," he said. "Remember me when you get there."
Joseph left the hut and Azarias died.

At times when Joseph was praying from his breviary, he was sometimes seen to be surrounded by a halo of light. A group of women said they once saw him flanked by angels. The Basotho believed the evidence of their eyes. It was not only due to his example and preaching that Joseph's mission among them became so successful. The wonders people saw were a great inspiration to the Basotho.

*Photograph taken by Catherine Nicolette

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Apostle of Lesotho Chapter Four


From the death of King Moshoeshoe in 1870 until the time of his own death in May 1914 - sixty years after he had been ordained in Pietermaritzburg -  Joseph Gerard continued his priestly actions and labours. If this period in his life were summarised, it may simply be said that he bore the burden of the heat of the day. He was a totally dedicated priest. Joseph Gerard was a deeply humble man, who wrote his thoughts and words in his diary. 

Joseph had great concern for his parishioners. On one occasion the wife of a migrant mineworker, who only saw her husband once a year, came to Joseph and told him how she longed to see her husband. The priest and the woman prayed together for the man's early return. He came home a few days later, quite unexpectedly. When asked why he had come, he said that he had suddenly experienced a great desire to come home. That same day he had packed up and left.

Joseph had an innate belief in the dignity of humanity. He always followed in the footsteps of his Divine Master, Jesus the Christ. Joseph was conscious of the need to live an organised and disciplined life. In July 1871 he devised a comprehensive pastoral plan and programme with different groups at Roma mission. Joseph's only mode of transport to assist him with this busy ministry was on horseback. He was known for the many hours he spent totally absorbed in prayer.

Joseph's pastoral plan included saying Mass, reciting litanies and giving inspirational sermons. He conducted Benedictions of the Blessed Sacrament and recitals of the Rosary. Joseph instructed Catechumens and novice Sisters. He gave pastoral guidance and training to the St Elizabeth, St Anne and St Magdalene Groups. Joseph also heard Confessions, and conducted Retreats. In addition to his workload, Father Gerard made time to write the first Catholic Sesotho books and hymnals. He travelled to East London to arrange their publication.

In June 1874, Pope Piux IX, who had sent Bishop Allard to Africa in 1850, accepted his resignation. Father Gerard bade him farewell and welcomed the new Bishop, Jolivet. In October 1875 Bishop Jolivet and the Roma Mission Council sent Father Gerard to search for a site for a new mission at the kraal of Chief Molapo, the second son of King Moshoeshoe.

Joseph parted from Roma with sorrow. Summing up the situation as he left it, he noted that at the Village of the Mother of Jesus the mission was going fairly well. There were still about twenty Catechumens, including Qhobosheane from Tlo-o-tle Cave and his wife. The work of Joseph at St Monica Mission in Lesotho was to take from 1876 until 1897. The Mission was situated beside the border town of Ficksburg in the Orange Free State. Joseph regularly crossed the Caledon River to work with Basotho on the Free State farms. Boer farmers offered Joseph great kindness and hospitality. He admired their custom of conducting family prayers and Bible readings. Gerard used to minister to the Basotho people on the farms of the Boers during the twenty one years he was based at St Monica's. Joseph was known for his gift of bringing peace and reconciliation.

*Photograph taken by Catherine Nicolette. Please feel free to use copyright free 
for any worthy purpose