Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

On behalf of the Bishops of Southern Africa I would like to thank you, once again, for your wonderful response to the 2014 Bishops’ Lenten Appeal. Despite these financially challenging times an amount of R 9 307 850.03 was collected last year, a true testament to your compassion and concern for the plight of the poor needy served through the many projects of the Catholic Church.

The Bishops Lenten Appeal is the primary source of financial support for our local Church’s activities. We your Bishops, in addition to being tasked with the responsibility of nurturing the spiritual wellbeing of our people are also concerned with the holistic development of the People of God. Your generous contribution to the Bishops Lenten Appeal continues to make this possible. We are extremely grateful to you for helping us fulfil our mission.

“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches”. Galatians 6:6

Our Pope, Francis, is leading the Catholic Church throughout the world in a NEW EVANGELISATION in the spirit of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. We, your Bishops, have answered this call and have made it a central focus of our prayer, reflection and planning. Through a process of Laity Consultations, it is hoped that a NEW Pastoral Plan will be implemented in Southern Africa as we read the signs of the times and respond in the light of the Gospel.

The Season of Lent is a favourable time to respond, it is an opportunity for a NEW beginning. It is during the Season of Lent that the life changing gifts of our God will be highlighted for us: His Grace, His Mercy, His Forgiveness, and His Love. All of which compel us to respond through Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Our response could be embraced on an individual level (in our private space) or on a community level (in our Churches). But how wonderful it would be if this response is embraced on a family level (in our HOMES)?

With a renewed focus on the Sacredness of the Family, we would like to share with you the words of Pope Benedict, addressing the Synod of Africa.

The family is the best setting for learning and applying the culture of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. “In a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them”.

In the Letter to the Philippians the Apostle Paul has this to say “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”. Philippians 2:4. May we all respond as the family of God to this wonderful Season of Lent allowing the Word of God to penetrate our lives and renew the relationship that we have with God and neighbour. Through the grace of our God, may our homes and families be reclaimed as places of Prayer, Peace and Reconciliation.

Inspired by Christ during this Holy Season, may our response through Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving be pleasing to God and life giving to others, so that the Mission of Jesus, may continue through us THE CHURCH.

I wish you all, the Church of God, blessings for a holy and Grace-filled Lent and Easter.

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