Jamestown

Jamestown was always served by the priests of Aliwal, since the 1940s and 50s. In those times of apartheid one priest(Fr.Cahi) travelled on Sunday from Aliwal to Jamestown to say Mass in the hotel for the family of his uncle who owned the Hotel and for the few other white Catholics while a different priest, one of St.Francis Mission in Aliwal, travelled separately from Aliwal on the same Sunday to the small township to celebrate Mass for the few black Catholics.

 

For some time one of the full-time catechists of St.Francis, Mr Phakela, resided in Jamestown with his family, in order to invite African people to become Catholics. The African township, called “location” was on the East side of the Road, and was in a very poor condition. Catechist Phakela may have lived there for about five or more years.

 

During the climax years of apartheid, when the government wanted to divide each town into three different towns for the three different races it decided to abolish the tiny township East of the town because it was too small and primitive and to disperse the black people to other places.

 

Around 1983 a different decision was made. A new township, Masakhane, was built West of the town. Ecclesiastically Jamestown was regarded at that time as part of St.Francis Parish. The Catholics were, however, very few and on most Sundays the priest just conducted catechumen lessons and did not even say Hl.Mass.

 

About 1985 the family of Mngxuma moved to Jamestown and opened a small shop in the township. Mr.Mngxuma had been trained as a community leader in Whittlesea parish and had an immediate animating influence in Jamestown. The people attended in greater numbers and worked together very well.

 

In 1987 Bishop Lobinger took over serving Jamestown. At that time the Sunday services were held in the small sitting room of one of the Catholics, Family Tyulu,  house No.309 of the township Masakhane. It was a small sitting room, and all sat round a low table, one or two men and about ten to twelve persons altogether.

 

In 1988 the Sunday services moved to a slightly larger room, in house No.106 in the main street of the township, where also the Easter services of 1988 and 1989 were held.

 

In the same year 1988 the Catholics asked for a Church site. Building started in 1988, the design being made by architect Bonnici of Bloemfontein and built by Mr.Coetzee, Jamestown. From August 1989 the new Church building was used for services.

 

Sunday Mass was irregular since the bishop was often away for diocesan obligations. Sometimes there was Mass continually for two months, then a whole month there was only a Service of the Word. In 1994 there were 4 men trained as leaders, but one died and another left. Since that time each Sunday two men vested and stood next to the priest, conducting certain parts of the liturgy. They also conducted a Service of the Word by themselves and conducted funerals.

 

As from November 1995 one of the priests residing in Aliwal took over from the bishop in serving the community.

 

Priests serving Jamestown Parish from Aliwal:

  •  – 1987 Fr Notermans
  • 1987-1994 Bishop Lobinger
  • 1995-1996 Fr Benno Hansel SCJ (Dec 95 – Oct96)
  • 1996-20.. Fr Willi Tratz (Oct 96 – …