St Vincent Pallotti, invites all believers to realize their apostolic vocation
to love God and shower God’s love on others
100 years of existence with the motor and the spirit of willingness that drove the sisters from Germany to serve in South Africa. The key words from St Vincent Pallotti were for the infinite glory of God and the salvation of souls which was the main factor that drove the first missionary sisters to start their apostolate, their mission work.
The sisters in South Africa celebrated this miraculous moment on the 12 September 2023 at St Joseph’s community Montana where also their hospital is located for children with chronic diseases. Before the celebration of the holy mass the Provincial Superior of the Province Sr Prabha Varghese welcomed the guests with a short message of love and appreciation to the first late missionary sisters who formed the province, she requested from the Superior General Sr Josephina D‘Souza to go ahead and light the candle as a symbol of them being present and for the appreciation of the ministry and service in the country as they were true disciples of Christ. The celebration started with the holy mass led by his grace Archbishop Stephen Breslin who was recently appointed as the cardinal.
In his homily he acknowledged the presence and ministry of the sisters, their dedicated service, the seeds of their hard work and enthusiasm. They touched the lives of those they served and gave them hope and opportunity in their lives. The courage and faith of the first sisters, their belief and trust in God led them to serve in a country which at the time was a hostile environment with some anti-Catholic feeling and racial discrimination. The archbishop highlighted the motivation of the sisters who came to live and spread the charism of St Vincent Pallotti, knowing that they had a mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God and knowing that God was with them and accompanying them at all times. They were aware that they were not sent to the rich and mighty, but as the prophet Isaiah says, to break unjust fetters, to set the oppressed free, to share their bread with the hungry and to serve the poor. Concretely, the sisters practised this through their care of the sick. He concluded by saying that this is important and relevant for us today because there are three things, we must have in order to ensure that our commitment never loses its spiritual foundation and meaning. First, we must never forget the awareness of our smallness, knowing that we are dependent on God and can only achieve good fruits if we trust and believe in Him. Then we must always focus on the mission for which we are meant. We need to renew our commitment constantly to remember that mission and to remain faithful to it. And lastly, we should give ourselves completely to the service of the Church. Like the Sisters had practised, trusting in the will of God, fulfilling the charism and apostolic zeal of their holy Founder. So they followed Jesus and accepted wherever he was taking them, why they brought forth love, harmony and peace, respect and human dignity.
At the end of the Holy Mass, Provincial Superior Sr Prabha expressed her gratitude to all who had accepted the invitation and also to those who joined through live stream. Among many others, she thanked Archbishop Brislin for his constant support and encouragement to the sisters in continuing Christ’s mission in the Archdiocese of Cape Town. Finally, she acknowledged Mr Stanley, who was cared for by the Sisters in the house from an early age and still lives and works here today.
Text: Katlego Rapelego
Remembering with gratitude all those who were and are part of our South African mission
After the Eucharistic celebration, a plaque commemorating the centennial was unveiled before all the assembled moved to the hall where the festive program continued in a joyful atmosphere. St. Joseph’s Children’s Choir performed some songs very beautifully. In her address, Superior General, Sr. Josephina D’Souza, looked back at the history. She recalled the missionaries from Germany who had worked all these years in education, health, social work, pastoral care and care for the vulnerable. She thanked the native sisters who did not give up and were not discouraged even when it was difficult to accept the will of God. She recalled that the future of the South African Province was in question when since 2000 many aged missionaries had returned to Germany. She expressed her gratitude to the young missionaries from India and Tanzania who had come to South Africa since 2011, making it possible to have two international communities in Cape Town. She expressed her gratitude to Archbishop Stephen Brislin for his support of the sisters in South Africa and all those who continue the mission today. She also conveyed the papal blessing given by Pope Francis to the South African Province on the occasion of its jubilee. Afterwards, a former child of one of the sisters’ orphanages came forward to express her memories and gratitude for having been raised by the sisters many years ago, which gave her many opportunities she would never have had otherwise. During the meal that followed, there were many opportunities to talk with each other and to meet and greet other guests.
All photos (6): Sr. Adelheid Scheloske
In an event gallery you find more photos of the celebration at St Joseph’s Home, Montana, Cape Town.
The Holy Mass presided over by the Cardinal-designate, Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, was broadcast on YouTube: https://youtube.com/live/yRBjM_4u8_Q.