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South African Bishop Says People Struggling to Survive, Announces Consecration of Diocese

Bishop Victor Hlolo Phalana of South Africa's Klerksdorp Diocese/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Catholic Bishop of South Africa’s Klerksdorp Diocese has announced the consecration of his Episcopal See to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on separate days during which the people of God who the Bishop says are struggling to survive will pray for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his August 6 pastoral letter, which ACI Africa obtained, Bishop Victor Phalana laments that many people have died and others lost their sources of livelihoods owing to COVID-19 and invites the people to offer their “spiritual war” against the pandemic.

“In the light of the Coronavirus crisis, I am calling for a time of prayer… The Pandemic has taken the lives of our loved ones. I have lost many Christians in this Diocese in the past 18 months. Among them, we have Priests, our Bishop emeritus, Lay ministers, Catechists, members of sodalities and Lay Associations, and many other committed Catholics of goodwill,” Bishop Phalana says.

He adds, “As the pandemic continues, let us take a stand and fight a spiritual war against Covid. Let us also pray for those who lost loved ones. Let us pray for those who lost their jobs, their salaries and other income-generating activities. Let us pray for the mental and physical health of our Laity, Priests and the Religious. Let us pray for the finances of our Diocese. We have been hit hard by Covid and we are struggling to survive.”

The Catholic Bishop expresses gratitude to the people who continue to support the Diocese during the difficult times, adding, “We pray during this time that we can have more people who can be generous enough to support the diocese. Please remember the Diocese of Klerksdorp in your last will and testament.”

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The South African Bishop invites the people of God across various Parishes of the Diocese to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart on August 15. This is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the Patroness of Southern Africa.

“On the 15th of August, I ask you to consecrate yourselves and your Parishes to the two Hearts. On the 22nd of August I will consecrate the Diocese of Klerksdorp to the Two Hearts,” the Catholic Bishop says.

He adds that through devotion to the Sacred Heart, the people will get the strength they need to endure the harsh COVID-19 times.

“Devotion to the Sacred Heart inspires trust, confidence, hope and joy. No matter how broken, low, unworthy, alone, desperate, anxious or feeling guilty, the very thought of the Sacred Heart of Jesus opens a door, brings light, lifts the spirit and heralds a return to healing, victory over Covid, breakthroughs, peace and joy. Open your heart to Him and experience the power of his eternal love for you!” says Bishop Phalana.

Providing guidelines on how the prayers will be conducted, the Bishop says, “At the end of the Mass, you may expose the Blessed Sacrament, and then do the Act of Consecration as a Parish.”

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“It is my prayer that all our parishioners may be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with deep sincerity, joy and commitment!” Bishop Phalana says in the letter obtained by ACI Africa, and adds, “You will be consecrating yourself, your family and your Parish to the Sacred Heart.”

The Local Ordinary of Klerksdorp who doubles as the Chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) urges those who cannot participate in Holy Mass due to COVID-19 restrictions in the country to do the Consecration from home, using the various resources provided by the Diocese.

The Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be followed by the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Bishop says, and explains, “We need to ask for the intervention of Our Lady.”

He says that the Blessed Virgin Mary is like the neck that connects the Body of Christ including members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and the Laity to Jesus, the Head of the Church.

“Imagine if the neck is missing in a human person?” Bishop Phalana poses, and adds, “By consecrating ourselves and the Parish to the Immaculate Heart, we are saying, individually and collectively, that we want to become even more alive in Christ.”

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The Bishop quotes the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, in her 13 July 1917message in Fatima said, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph”, and adds, “This Parish consecration is one very sure way to help to accomplish this prophecy. We invite our Lady's intervention against COVID-19 and other challenges we face.”

“The historical record shows that consecration to the Blessed Mother and her rosary is more powerful than the former Soviet Union and the atomic bomb! When consecrating ourselves to Our Lady, we are consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary,” Bishop Phalana says.

About the August 22 Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Local Ordinary of Klerksdorp says, “The consecration to the Sacred Heart reminds us that we know the love of God, that the Father has given us in Jesus, his Son”

Bishop Phalana has announced to consecrate the South African Diocese to the Sacred Heart, asking for that grace “that Jesus take us over and that our will become His own.”

“We will entrust the Diocese to the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us,” he says, and adds, “We also recognize that in the light of the pandemic, poverty and the violence we have experienced recently, we must make Reparation for our sins and the sins of others because God's love is offended by sin, when we turn away from God.”

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The Bishop of Klerksdorp appeals to the people of God in the Diocese to say the prayer of reparation ahead of the Consecration.

Meanwhile, Bishop Phalana has urged those participating in public worship to continue adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols, highlighting the possibility of getting infected in places of worship.

“There is a concern in our country that churches can become places where we spread the virus more and more. We must observe government health protocols to the letter. We must administer Sacraments safely and maintain social distance, masks and sanitizing. We must try, to the best of our abilities, to keep the numbers of 50 inside a church and 100 outdoors,” Bishop Phalana says.

He adds, “Our Bishops have decided not to rebel against government regulations. We are ready to comply in order to save lives and to teach our communities to observe the rules and regulations.”

The South African Bishop has urged those who are aware of the COVID-19 vaccination to encourage others to take the jab.

“Please encourage people to vaccinate and still continue to observe the health and safety protocols. We are losing too many people and we cannot relax. We must pray and continue to do our best to fight this invisible enemy,” he says, and adds, “May God bless you and grant you peace, joy, protection, healing and comfort.”