A Christmas Prayer
Christ is born in us today
in order that He may appear
to the whole world through us.
O Christ, Light of all lights, Star of all stars,
Dweller within these human homes of ours,
Open our wandering minds and hesitant hearts
So your endless goodness radiates more completely in us.
We welcome you again and again, with gratitude and trust,
Not only in this Christmas season of remembrance and celebration
But through the New Year that awaits us.
Dear TLC and EFL supporters,
It is with joy and gratitude that I write to you to thank you for your ongoing support of my ministry throughout the year. Following on from my last letter in April and my visit home I have now arrived in Cape Town. Cape Town is the Mother City and known for its beauty and tourism. In the midst of its beauty, mountains and oceans, there lies beneath its bridges, on doorsteps, in the city side allies, shop doorways, many homeless and destitute people, men, women and children. This is a very sad situation as the city rates par with any first world country. This Christmas I am very happy to be part of our parish that will bring these homeless to wine and dine at our table. My new parish, Maitland, will set up lunch so that we all share what we have together. We estimate any number from 900 to 1000 homeless to arrive. Those who cannot come physically will be brought lunch, wherever they lie. I am excited about this as it is a share in the poverty of the poor. This will be our Christmas lunch as community. Through business last month I met a young man, a very prosperous developmental housing planner by profession. He is new to the city of Cape Town and knows few people, apart from his immediate family and a few friends. I told him our plan for Christmas day and he thought what an idea! Two weeks ago he sent me an email to ask if he could come and share lunch with the homeless. He felt a deep desire to be part of our outreach. Anybody else who would like to join us please let me know asap so we put you in the pot too (a simply local way of saying you will be catered for!!!!). I am deeply grateful and very proud of all of you because from the recent money of £5,000 I received last month we, as Holy Cross, will make a generous contribution towards our Christmas lunch. I will send you photographs soon after Christmas. From the same money we will continue to help some of our homeless and single mothers, pay for the children’s school uniforms, shoes and fees, and use it for other needs that will present themselves.
These past two weeks I have been in Lesotho. This is the same country I lived in five months after my first profession in 1989 when I went to learn the local language, Sesotho, and returned to in 2000 to teach in the local school. It is a very rural small country surrounded by South African borders. It is unique for its mountains. I am at our local convent called, Lapeng La Sefapano (Home of the Cross). It is very quiet and silent here as we are directing our junior sisters in their annual ten day retreat. The Sisters come from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia. We make up three different Holy Cross Provinces. We will return to South Africa on the 21st December for the Sisters to return to their home countries in time for Christmas.
In one of our out stations called Holy Cross our Lesotho Sisters have opened a bakery. This is a new initiative for them and a source of income. The whole village is called Holy Cross because the Holy Cross Sisters were the first inhabitants to arrive there. Some of the photos below bear witness to the importance of Holy Cross.
Good business partners below!
In Lesotho there are no signs of Christmas that I would be familiar with from growing up at home. The closest we will get is a hail storm in the midst of great heat that will cool us down.
Material goods are not so important. Exchange of gifts and long Santa lists are not common,especially in the rural villages. Being home with family, going to Mass and being able to share a meal is very important.
Cape Town will be different, Christmas trees and lights will be the first to meet me when I arrive back next week. There are so many worlds in this one big culturally diverse country.
(Some of the children after the rain).
Another big important event that I shared with you in April was our decision to open a new Holy Cross Community in the North of Namibia. Preparations are going ahead. Unfortunately we are still waiting for a house to live in. The archbishop is helping us with this. In March next year we will go again to see what are the possibilities. The three young sisters who have been assigned to pioneer this mission are ready to move as soon as they get their visas. We ask you to keep this new venture in your prayers. I believe this move will bring us local Namibian vocations. Below is the photograph of two of the sisters who will pioneer the new community, Sisters Annah and Juliana. Both of these made their final vows this year.
With deep gratitude for all your support and from the bottom of my heart I say THANK YOU… I wish each of you a blessed, Christ-filled and peaceful Christmas. May Christ find a home within you.
With love and prayers,
Sr. Bernadette Duffy,