Newly Ordained South African Bishop Urged to Reach Out to Those “haunted by sins of past”

Bishop Thulani Victor Mbuyisa, ordained Bishop of South Africa's Kokstad Diocese on 11 June 2022. Credit: SACBC

A Catholic Bishop in South Africa has called on the new Local Ordinary of the country’s Kokstad Diocese to live his Episcopal ministry by giving hope to those “haunted by the mistakes and sins of the past.”

In his homily during the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Thulani Victor Mbuyisa on June 11, Bishop Sithembele Anton Sipuka highlighted what is expected of Bishops in their resolve to “seek out the stray”.

“As you will resolve today before you are ordained to seek out the stray, your task as Bishop will include encouraging those who are haunted by the mistakes and sins of the past,” Bishop Sipuka said.

The Local Ordinary of Umtata Diocese who doubles as the President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference said the mission of seeking out the lost includes reaching out to “those who have left the Church”, offering them a message of hope so as not “to despair about themselves but to come back home and use the gifts God has given them for the building up of his kingdom."

“Some of these people who go astray will include the Priests who will need your fatherly encouragement and guidance to regain the purpose of their vocation," he told Bishop Mbuyisa during Ordination Holy Mass held at Kokstad College Rugby Sports Field of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province.


In seeking out for Priests who have gone astray, the member of the  Congregation of Mariannhill Missionaries (CMM) was told to focus on having them return to “a life of holiness”.

Bishop Sipuka told Bishop Mbuyisa in reference to Priests who have strayed away, "You will have the task of guiding them from being destructive to themselves and the Church, to a life of holiness and effective mission in the Church."

The 62-year-old Bishop who has been at the helm of Umtata Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in May 2008 encouraged the new Bishop to emulate St. Barnabas in identifying the potential that people have rather than reminding “them of how bad they are”.

“Barnabas encourages us to speak to the potential that people have than to remind them of how bad they are, to look at the bigger plan of God, and to encourage others to participate in this plan in spite of their mistakes of the past,” 62-year-old Bishop said during the Ordination event that took place on the Feast Day of St. Barnabas.

Bishop Mbuyisa was appointed to serve as the Local Ordinary of the Diocese of Kokstad in April. At the time of his appointment, he was serving as the CMM Superior General.

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The 49-year-old Bishop has succeeded Archbishop Zolile Peter Mpambani who was appointed the Local Ordinary of Bloemfontein Archdiocese in April 2020.

In his maiden speech during the June 11 event, Bishop Mbuyisa expressed gratitude to his Consecrators.

The new Bishop acknowledged with appreciation the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio in South Africa, Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells. The presence of the Nuncio, he said, "is a sign of the closeness of the Holy Father to us.”

The June 11 ceremony was also graced by representatives of Catholic Church leaders from the  Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) region. 

In a statement read at the ceremony, members of the Diocesan Clergy and religious of Kokstad Diocese thanked God for answering their prayers by giving them a new Bishop. 


“It has been two years since we have started praying for a Bishop and now our prayers have been heard. He has given us a wise, young and energetic, enthusiastic and spiritual father to lead us and to guide us," they said in the message read by Fr. Louis Mathew. 

On their part, the Laity of the South African Diocese pledged to collaborate with their new Bishop, Priests, women and men Religious.

“We the laity promise to work with you, and the priests and religious to build God’s Kingdom in the Diocese," Ms. Nomonde Macoba said. 

The lay faithful in Kokstad Diocese also expressed gratitude to the new Bishop for "selflessly availing yourself to this appointment.”

SACBC Communications Officer Fr. Phuti Makgabo contributed to this news report

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Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.