Inkamana Newsletter 2/2014 June 2014
Dear confreres, benefactors and friends
In this newsletter we would like to share with you what has been happening at Inkamana in the last four months. After spending a holiday at the home of his family in Cape Town , Br Gabriel Thompson left for Namibia on April 2 to join Fr Maximilian Jacobs at Waldfrieden Mission. On the Feast of St Benedict, March 21, we remembered the diamond jubilee of the profession of our two confreres, Brother Ansfried Machatsch and Brother Bernard Pachner. They made their monastic profession in 1954 at the Archabbey of St Ottilien. Br Theobald Högner, the bookkeeper at the Congregation House at St Ottilien, sang with them the “Suscipe me, Domine” sixty years ago in the church of the Archabbey. This time, Br Theobald renewed his monastic vows at Inkamana together Br Ansfried and Br Bernard. He had especially come to Inkamana to be with them for that occasion as Br Ansfried’s health did not allow him to fly to Germany to celebrate with the whole group of jubilarians this memorable feast. In all the 54 years he has spent in the Zululand mission, Br Ansfried has been involved in farming, starting at Mahlabatini in 1960. Afterwards he was put in charge of the sugar cane farm at Fatima , followed by a ten-year stint at Nandi Mission. Since 1982 until his retirement he looked after the monastery farm in Inkamana.
Br Bernard, who arrived in South Africa in 1958, spent his first fourteen years in Zululand as a gardener and handyman at Little Flower Mission, Eshowe. From 1973 to 1978 he was at Twasana, the motherhouse of the Benedictine Sisters of Zululand. In 1979 he moved to Inkamana where he became head of the boys’ hostel, a post he held until the end of 1993. He is still at Inkamana, in charge of our vegetable garden as well as our water and electricity supply. He is the proverbial Jack-of-all trades whose valuable contribution to our community will only be fully appreciated once he retires. Luckily, he is not thinking of retiring although he will soon celebrate his 79th birthday.
Inkamana Abbey enjoys a very good relationship with the Coptic Orthodox community in Johannesburg . Their leader Bishop Antonious Markos as well as Father Abbadear Elmakary, a Coptic Orthodox monk, have been to Inkamana several times. Groups of Coptic youths from Johannesburg and from Cairo have also repeatedly spent time at our monastery. When the first Coptic Orthodox monastery in Africa south of the equator was opened and blessed on May 10, we received a special invitation. Abbot Godfrey, Father Boniface Kamushishi and Br Cornelius Wagner, a monk of the Archabbey St Ottilien who was at the time visiting Inkamana, went to the place, some 70 km north–east of Pretoria , where the monastery is situated. They received a warm welcome from well over a dozen Orthodox bishops who represented various national Orthodox Churches at that function. Some of them had come from as far away as Australia and California . The consecration of the church took place during a Eucharistic service. The monastery church was packed to capacity for the service which lasted close to five hours.
A good contact exists also between Inkamana Abbey and the German–speaking Catholic community in Durban . On Saturday before Pentecost, Abbot Godfrey was invited to a function at the German School in Durban and on Pentecost Sunday he celebrated holy mass for the German–speaking Catholics in the Convent Chapel of the Precious Blood Sisters in Mariannhill. At the end of May, Abbot Godfrey and Fr Boniface Kamushishi flew to Kenya to attend the 23rd African Region Meeting at the Conventual Priory of Tigoni. During Pentecost week, Fr Prior John Paul Mwaniki conducted the annual retreat for the Nardini Sisters at Maria Ratschitz Mission. Early in June, Fr Maximilian Jacobs, who is at our house in Waldfrieden , Namibia , flew to Manila in the Philippines to attend an international conference of “Couples for Christ (CFC)”. On his way back he used a stopover in Dubai to visit the CFC there.
A number of confreres are due to fly to Europe this year, either on holiday or to attend meetings organized by the Congregation. Fr Gérard Lagleder was the first one on the travel list. He flew to Germany at the end of April. He is spending about three months there, not to relax but to raise funds for the Blessed Gérard Care Centre in Mandeni. He started that Centre almost twenty years ago to care for terminally ill patients. In the course of time he extended the services provided by the Blessed Gérard Brotherhood. A home for children (mostly orphans) was added, nursing teams were created who visit and care for patients in their homes and a number of other social projects were started. All this requires Fr Gérard to make a major fundraising tour in Europe each year. It is the generosity of numerous benefactors that enables him to run the Blessed Gérard Care Centre in Mandeni.
Fr Leo Eireiner will fly to Germany on June 23 for a six-week holiday at Schweiklberg Abbey where he made his monastic vows 54 years ago. Fr Rafael Chonde is due to fly to Malawi early in July to spend a holiday in his home country. Abbot Godfrey and Br Subprior Kevin Thumbalabwazi are booked on a flight to Munich that leaves South Africa on August 11. They will participate in the Congregation Study Weeks which are to be held at the Archabbey of St Ottilien. As a member of the Congregation Council, Fr Boniface Kamushishi will have to travel overseas in September to attend the next Council Meeting which takes place at the Conventual Priory of El Rosal in Colombia .
During the last five months we had an unusually large number of visitors. It began in January when a group of young people arrived from Abbot Godfrey’s home parish in Germany . They were particularly interested in getting to know what the work of Missionary Benedictines is like in Zululand . They used the opportunity to meet with priests and brothers before they left in their hired VW Kombi to explore the Cape Province . Soon afterwards we welcomed Abbot Godfrey’s Sister who owns a company in Germany that specializes in renovating buildings. She arrived with three of her employees to make good on the promise she had made on one of her previous visits, when she offered to return to Inkamana with a working team and renovate the interior of the 30-year old southern wing of the monastery which was badly in need of a thorough overhaul. They worked from morning to night each day, laying new floors, tiling the bathrooms and the monastery kitchen, revamping our chapter room and repainting the monastery chapel. We expressed our gratitude for their generosity by inviting them to a barbecue on the monastery property the evening before they flew back to Germany . Hans and Elfi Braunmüller and Peter Hehl came to us in February. They too did not come for a holiday but to lend a hand in our different departments and at our High School. Peter Hehl had been here a dozen times before, setting up and repairing computers and giving classes to our High school students. More often than not he was accompanied by his wife Anne. Her arrival in South Africa was always eagerly awaited by the class 1 teacher at Nardini Primary School in Vryheid who was glad to have an extra hand in dealing with the large number of lively and active children. Hans and Elfi Braunmüller had also been at Inkamana before, always ready to help where help was needed. Elfi worked in the tailor shop and the guest house while Hans assisted Br Bernard with maintenance chores.
On May 7, a bus arrived in front of our guest house and brought a group of 23 men and women from Germany who had arrived in South Africa by plane the day before. They came with Brother Cornelius Wagner from the Archabbey St Ottilien who had organized a similar trip with members of his parish two years ago. Their visiting program included the Shrine of Our Lady at Ngome and a whole day in Ithala Game Reserve. But the highlight for them was the visit to Nkandla Mission in the heart of Zululand where the Franciscan Sisters of Nardini are engaged in a number of social projects. They care for AIDS patients, run a home for orphans and are involved in various self-help schemes. The visitors were very surprised at the stark contrast between life in the city – they had already been to Durban – and life in a rural area where even the most basic amenities like clean water, electricity and proper roads are lacking. They ended their stay in South Africa with a visit to Mariannhill where German Trappist monks started mission work among the Zulus in 1882.
Over the last twenty years, it has happened time and again that former students of Inkamana High School re-visited Inkamana for a re-union. But it took a little while until they formed a proper Alumni Association. However, such a body has in the meanwhile been created. Among other things, it sponsors school projects. Our brand–new 32–seat school bus is a donation of the alumni.
From Inkamana, which is already in the grip of winter with regular night frost but warm days, we send greetings to all who read this newsletter , Abbot Godfrey and the confreres of Inkamana.