Monday, July 18, 2011

A New Chancery for Johannesburg Archdiocese

 Cathedral of Christ the King, Johannesburg  
 Here's an interior picture of our Cathedral in Johannesburg dedicated the Christ the King.  It was dedicated in 1960 and has  very fine stained glass and an excellent organ.  It is situated on the edge of Hillbrow, a high density housing suburb that was very much a centre for newcomers to Johannesburg from the continent of Europe.  After the demise of apartheid the area became an area of inner city decay with newcomers from other countries in Africa.  Now it has turned the corner and is fast renewing itself but many problems remain.  It is the perfect place for a Cathedral Parish as there is a huge amount of outreach to the surrounding area.

The Archdiocese decided that the Chancery, a ramshackle collection of buildings and halls, some of which are heritage protected, should be consolidated and refurbished and a new Chancery built.  This is what was stated at the Diocesan AGM in May last year:

Mr Richard Waller of TPSP Architects presented the conceptual plans. There will be three components to the project – upgrade of the Moth Hall on the west; upgrade of the existing halls including the one presently used as the chancery and the building of the new chancery.

The old Moth Hall will house the soup kitchen and interview or consulting rooms. The halls are art deco heritage buildings. They were built in 1934 as a factory which at one time housed a Pepsi bottling plant. They will be sensitively refurbished to meet the needs of the Cathedral parish and the Archdiocese. The new chancery will be built on the terrace above the halls to the east of the priests’ house. It will be a 2,000m2 3-story building with basement parking. It will have balconies and arcades on the north and south. The space between the Chancery, Cathedral and the halls will be a tranquil courtyard in keeping with a spiritual place of prayer. The parking lot will be treed (sic). The chancery will cost R30m and the money will be raised by parishes.  

‘R30m is a lot of money’

Mr Charles Rowlinson, of the AFC presented the funding target. Parishes will have an obligation to raise 4 times their 2009 levy within 2 years or, if their levy then was above R100,000, they will be required to contribute 5 times the amount.
In a subsequent letter to every parish priest, PFC and PPC chairperson Archbishop Buti Tlhagale admits to wondering ‘if we have made the right decision in these difficult economic times, but feel that if it was not me then someone sometime in the future would have had to make the decision to upgrade the very old, present make-shift Chancery.’ He also asks each parish to sign a commitment to raise their target and urges that a dedicated fundraising team be appointed in each parish.

There are various Diocesan Fund Raising Schemes aimed at parishioners, the details of which I am not going to go into.  We get feed back occasionally saying how wonderfully the fund raising is going and the building is going up anyway so I gather the Archdiocese knows what it is doing financially.

I can understand that there is a need to improve the existing facilities.  My own Parish spent in excess of R500 000 to provide consulting rooms for the medics who supplement our Soup Kitchen with medical advice and the kitchen was also upgraded and we didn't get much for the money!

What I can't understand is the need to spend so much money on what is effectively new offices when the Cathedral is surrounded by a vast number of buildings that are crying out to be bought and refurbished as part of the Inner City Improvement Scheme.

Parishes will presumably respond with various degrees of enthusiasm but as you can see the laity are expected to be acquiescent and pay without a murmur.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Liturgical Musings.

Our "Musical Director" don't have "Organist & Choirmaster" anymore.......really loves providing good Anglican hymns for the Sung Mass on a Sunday.  Even if the hymns aren't Anglican at least the tunes are.

This week we had "All people that on earth do dwell" (Old 100th) as the Entrance Hymn and "Lead us heav'nly Father, lead us" (Mannheim) during the Preparation of the Gifts.  He always has to stick in lots of voluntaries between verses for the censing!  The University holidays are almost over so we've got our cantors back.

Fr Frans Claerhout OMI (RIP)
My wanderings from church to church have come to an end.  It's amazing how many Catholic Churches are really quite unpalatable when you have another option and don't have to grin and bear it.

I spent eight years in the Free State and really enjoyed the fortnightly Mass at 20,30 on a Saturday evening with Fr Claerhout, the well-known South African artist, in Tweespruit.  The Mass was usually celebrated by Fr Michel for the few of us seeking a Mass in English.

As we were the only couple who were English-speaking there was no homily, just one given to you on paper when you left.  You would idly pick it up during the week and it would smack you right between the eyes, metaphorically, of course.

 On special feast days the Portuguese would bring cakes and we would repair to Fr Claerhout's house for cakes and wine and good conversation.  I have never had more compulsion to go to Mass as if you were late everyone would wait for you so had to let the priests know if you were not going to be there!
Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bloemfontein

From Tweespruit to Bloemfontein and a cathedral like a juke box inside.  There was no choice but much to my amazement our children survived it and remained Catholic really because of the kindness and holiness of the priests.

In Johannesburg there is choice and despite driving past four Catholic Churches, including the cathedral, I much prefer making the effort to go to Holy Trinity with its quality music and liturgy and its acceptance of and outreach to all.

St Vincent de Paul Society at Holy Trinity, Braamfontein.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ordinary Time....sigh! Oh, and Two Weddings.

We are back in Ordinary Time and here is a poem that sums it up for me.  The green vestments of "After Trinity" makes more sense to me than the baldness of "Ordinary Time".  It's an English Anglican Poem but it resonates with me.

After Trinity, John Meade Falkner (1858-1932):

We have done with dogma and divinity,
Easter and Whitsun past,
The long, long Sundays after Trinity
Are with us at last;
The passionless Sundays after Trinity,
Neither feast-day nor fast.

Christmas comes with plenty,
Lent spreads out its pall,
But these are five and twenty,
The longest Sundays of all;
The placid Sundays after Trinity,
Wheat-harvest, fruit-harvest, Fall.

Spring with its burst is over,
Summer has had its day,
The scented grasses and clover
Are cut, and dried into hay;
The singing-birds are silent,
And the swallows flown away.

Post pugnam pausa fiet;
Lord, we have made our choice;
In the stillness of autumn quiet,
We have heard the still, small voice.
We have sung Oh where shall Wisdom?
Thick paper, folio, Boyce.

Let it not all be sadness,
Not omnia vanitas,
Stir up a little gladness
To lighten the Tibi cras;
Send us that little summer,
That comes with Martinmas.

When still the cloudlet dapples
The windless cobalt blue,
And the scent of gathered apples
Fills all the store-rooms through,
The gossamer silvers the bramble,
The lawns are gemmed with dew.

An end of tombstone Latinity,
Stir up sober mirth,
Twenty-fifth after Trinity,
Kneel with the listening earth,
Behind the Advent trumpets
They are singing Emmanuel’s birth.

The Princely Marriage in Monaco and the Royal Marriage in Westminster Abbey made me think as I watched both of them.  Both were State occasions and also religious occasions but they were very different in emphasis.

The Prince William & Catherine Middleton wedding was quintessentially Anglican and very English with beautifully choreographed ceremonial and all the grandeur of British Royalty.  It was wonderful to watch but it didn't have the spiritual impact of the Prince Albert & Charleen Wittstock wedding.

It wasn't just that a Nuptial Mass was the main part of the service, it was the way that everyone responded to it.  Archbishop Bernard Barsi of Monaco, supported by French Bishops and all the clergy of Monaco, hit just the right note in his homily.  Prince Albert maybe a well-known philanderer but he knows the Mass off by heart and the Church is for sinners both public and private otherwise it wouldn't exist.  I am sure that both he and his bride would have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before the wedding.  Both of them received Holy Communion so Princess Charleinne has obviously been received into the Church even though it maybe on the "Paris is worth a Mass" principle.  The Kiss of Peace was exchanged by everyone present and so many people received Communion that all the bishops had to take a segment of the congregation for distribution.

Finally the wedding bouquet was laid on the altar of the Saint Devote Church as an offering to the Patron Saint of Monaco.  So the wedding was much more of a communal religious occasion

Incidentally, Saint Devote was a 4th century martyr from Corsica whose body was being taken to Africa for burial so that it would not be burned by the Roman authorities.  There was a storm and the ship ran aground in Monaco on the site of the present church where her body was interred

We wish both couples well and our prayers.