Message from Fr. Stuart Bate O.M.I – Oblate Provincial
OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE
PO Box 17035, CONGELLA, KwaZulu-Natal, 4013, South Africa
Message to St Francis Xavier Parish, Bluff
On the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of the Parish
It gives me great pleasure to greet the whole parish in the name of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate on this special anniversary year.
Your history as a parish is intimately linked to our own history in this local Church. We are missionaries sent to evangelise the poor and to plant churches in places they have not existed before. As founders of this local church of Durban we have been proud to stand aside and hand over the control of the Diocese to local leaders and a local clergy. This is a sign of God’s blessing. In this way we are able to move on and continue to fulfil the particular mission the Holy Spirit, the Church and the Congregation give us. But we are always concerned to retain a presence in a church that we founded for as ancestors of this family how could we ever abandon our children? That is why we remain to serve particular parishes and missions within the local church. Such is the case with the parish of St Francis Xavier. We were there right from the beginning when Saturnino Do Valle and Fr Baudry OMI, worked together amongst Mozambican and Zanzibari former slaves, liberated from Arab traders by the British navy, and Zulus of the Amatuli Clan. They set up and developed the new mission site bought by Bishop Jolivet OMI. We are still here today as Fr Mchunu OMI works together with Deacon Wright. We Oblates have worked together with the people of the Bluff for 125 years to establish and develop this parish of the Bluff into what it is today.
We rejoice with you! Joy is indeed the correct mode for this celebration. It is part of the ethos of this parish which should never be lost. Right from the beginning St Francis Xavier mission had a particularly joyful spirit with Bishop Jolivet calling it ‘one of our most interesting undertakings’. Father Lenoir OMI used to ‘entertain the parishioners with conjuring tricks’ at parish picnics and the jokes of Father Boulle, OMI are well known to all. But we have also witnessed a deeper joy in the life and commitment of Fr Williamson OMI who suffered so much here and died amongst you in great joy and peace. He also showed us the deeper meaning of the joy of salvation which can be lived amongst the pain and tribulation of the world.
We continue to be filled with joy at the growth and progress of St Francis Xavier parish. We remember with grateful thanks all the Oblates of Mary Immaculate who have served this community uninterrupted from the beginning and all the parishioners who have dedicated their time and talents to making this parish what it is today.
May God Bless you all
Sincerely in Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate
Father Stuart C Bate OMI
Message from Cardinal Napier | Message from Fr Stuart Bate OMI | Forward: Professor Joy Brain | Introduction | A history of the St Francis Mission | Establishment of the Church at Fynnland | The Church at Wentworth | Centralisation of St Francis Xavier and Building of the New Church | The Building of the Parish Hall | The Building of the New Presbytery | The Building of the Wall of Remembrance | The Architectural meaning of the New Church | Your Church in Rhyme by Fr Andy Slowey | The Human Contribution to the Growth of the Parish | Groups and Organisations that have contributed to the Parish | Current Groups within the Parish | Local Vocations | Awards and Recognition | An Armchair tour of the Parish | The Shrine to Our Lady of Natal | Landholdings of the Catholic Church on the Bluff | A Portrait of the Life and Times of St Francis Xavier | Picture Gallery | Timeline of incidents of the Bluff Parish