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South Africa’s Oudtshoorn Diocese Gets a New Bishop

Fr. Noel Andrew Rucastle, newly appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Noel Andrew Rucastle as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape province of South Africa. 

Until his Monday, May 4 appointment published by the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Rucastle has been serving as Judicial Vicar and Parish Priest of Our Lady of Fatima, Bellville, Cape Town. 

The 52-year-old Bishop-elect succeeds Bishop emeritus Francisco de Gouveia who retired in July 2018.

A Clergy of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, the Bishop-elect was ordained a priest in July 2000. He holds a licentiate in Canon Law from the Canada-based Saint Paul University.

During his twenty years as a Priest, he has served in different parishes including, Corpus Christi Parish in Wynberg; St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kraaifontein Community and Hout Bay Community. He also served two terms as President of the Canon Law Society of Southern Africa. 

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Following news of the appointment, members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) have reached out to Fr. Noel, congratulating him.

“We congratulate the Bishop-elect for his role as the new shepherd of the faithful of Oudtshoorn and also we congratulate the Catholic Church in Southern Africa for this new shepherd of the people of God,” the Archbishop emeritus of Pretoria, William Matthew Slattery wrote Monday, May 4.

He added, “Other logistics regarding the ordination of Fr. Noel Rucastle as the Bishop of Oudtshoorn will be announced at the later stage.”

A diocese within the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cape Town, Oudtshoorn was established in 1872 as the Apostolic Prefecture of Cape of Good Hope from the Apostolic Vicariate of Cape of Good Hope, Western District.

It was renamed as Apostolic Prefecture of Oudtshoorn in June 1939 and promoted to an Apostolic Vicariate of Oudtshoorn in December 1948. The diocese was constituted on the establishment of the Catholic Hierarchy of Southern Africa in 1951.

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According to statistics from the website of the diocese, it measures 113,343 km² with an estimated population of 856,975 people, of whom 28,159 are Catholics.

Together with the other suffragan Dioceses of Aliwal, De Aar, Port Elizabeth and Queenstown, Oudtshoorn diocese relies, to some extent, on the Archdiocese of Cape Town for ecclesiastical support.