“Silver Jubilee. Aliwal Vicariate 1923 – 1948” gives this information:
“About a hundred years ago the territory now comprising the Herschel Native Reserve was set apart by the Government for the sole use of the Natives. An exception, however, was made in the case of some European shop-keepers who were allowed to settle there and were granted 2 – 4 morgen of ground at a distance of 5 – 10 miles from each other. Ministers of some Protestant sects also received permission to live within the Reserve, to build a church and school for their flock and a home for themselves. Methodists, Anglicans and Adventists thus founded churches and schools in the territory and many of their schools were government aided. Later when disagreements about schools arose a decree was issued by the Government that no new school was to be erected within five miles of an existing one.”
This was the situation in 1923 when the Gariep Prefecture was formed. Rt. Rev. Monsignor F. W. Demont, S.C.J. endeavoured to start mission work in he Reserve as soon as possible, but when the Protestant sects heard of his intentions they did their utmost to prevent his doing so. Seeing that it was impossible to open a school, Rt. Rev. Mgr. Demont decided on another venture, the purchase of a shop, in the hope that, in time, prejudice and opposition might be broken down and the site be used later as a mission station.
A rich Coloured man, who owned eight shops in the Reserve and was a benefactor of all the churches there, was approached. When reminded of his generosity to other denominations and asked why he should exclude the Catholics, his reply was the gift of the piece of ground on which Teresa’s Mission now stands. On the ground at the time were two dilapidated huts and the ruins of a former shop.
Mission work was at once started by Rt. Rev. Monsignor Demont and Rev. Father A. Maennersdoerfer. The fort-nightly services of a Mission-doctor were procured and three Holy Cross Sisters conducted an open-air school until Rev. Brother Augustine and his helpers had erected a school building and house of the Sisters and a house for the resident Priest.
When Rev. Father V. Wamhof, S.C.J. arrived in Aliwal North from overseas, he was appointed to Teresa’s Mission as Priest-in-charge. In 1928 he founded three out-stations, Musong, Mfincisridge and Gatberg. He had a horse for his missionary journeys but it was so old and feeble that he found it quicker to go on foot.
At the beginning of 1929 the first buildings at Teresa’s Mission were completed. At the end of the same year Rev. Father Wamhof was trans¬ferred to De Aar and Rev. Father P. Platten became Priest-in-charge at Teresa’s Mission. In 1937 – 38 the existing buildings were enlarged and a new Priest’s house was erected. Today the number of out-stations has increased to 30 and the Catholic Faith is spread throughout the Reserve, there being no village without its Catholics or Cate¬chumens. The humble open-air school has developed into a flourishing Primary and Secondary school, both departments of which receive the benefit of a government grant. Five Priests are stationed in the Reserve but the number is totally inadequate for the large harvest to be reaped for Christ.” (SV, 17-20)
The Lueck chronicle (LC) reports very briefly for 1927: “25 August Teresa Mission in the Herschel area is opened.”
In 1948 the construction of a new secondary school started. Progress was slow because of a shortage of building material and it was only completed in 1950. (Ann.Stat.1948 and 1950 )
27 May 1954 the Church at Teresa, dedicated to St Teresa, was blessed by bishop J.Lueck. The foundation stone had been laid 1953.
1953-1977 Teresa School is forced to become a private Church school by the apartheid government. It loses all government grants and must itself find payment for the teachers. The school may only accept Catholic pupils.
7 June 1961 Swartfontein Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was blessed by bishop J.Lueck. Swartfontein was a farm on the North bank of the Orange river, opposite Walaza. The farm was bought by the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart as a centre of formation and as a residence for priests who would do pastoral work in the homelands where white priests were no longer allowed to reside without difficulty by the apartheid government. Swartfontein also served as a kind of minor seminary for some years.
1967 a large double-storey preparatory seminary was built in Teresa, the “Leoninum”. It was opened by the Mission Procurator Fr A Huppertz. Twenty-two boys were residing there while attending the secondary school of St.Teresa. (Ann.Stat.1967) The building is the property of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
As from this time there were two separate parishes, Teresa and Walaza(=Swartfontein). The two parishes were later joined again in 1990 when Fr Leyens retired to MtCarmel where he died in 1992.
Several church buildings were completed during that time:
22 October 1967 the new Church St.Nicolaus in Palmietfontein, Teresa parish, was blessed by bishop J.Lueck.
28 April 1968 the new Church at Thabalesoba, (Gatberg), dedicated to St.Lucia, was blessed by bishop J.Lueck.
20 October 1968 a new Church at Ndofela, dedicated to the Good Shepherd, was blessed by bishop J.Lueck. It is also known as Mnqumeni and is served from Walaza (later from Teresa).
17 November 1968 a large new Church at Walaza, dedicated to the Lamb of God, was blessed by bishop J.Lueck. Adjacent to the sacristy there is a flat for a priest and Fr Leyens began to reside there until 1990, serving the whole area from Walaza as the centre of this parish.
The church at Macacuma was built around 1970. It was blessed only thirty years later, 6.5.2000, dedicated to the Precious Blood.
The church at Qhimira was also built around 1970.
Departure of the Holy Cross Sisters from Teresa. For sixty years a large community of ten to twelve Holy Cross Sisters had served Teresa parish and school. In January 1991 the provincialate informed the bishop that the Congregation would no longer be able to staff Teresa and would have to withdraw. The bishop tried to get others Sisters, asking the Dominican Sisters and the Precious Blood Sisters but they declined. In 1995 the last Holy Cross Sister, Sr.Domitilla, left.
After 1991 the quality of Teresa School declined. After the departure of the last principal who was a Religious Sister the priest acted as principal for a short while, then a lay principal was appointed. The religious character of the school diminished and soon disappeared completely. Educational standards, which had been outstanding for decades, decreased and in 1999 and 2000 it had dropped so low that 85% of the matriculants failed. It began to recover only in 2005.
Employed catechists are replaced by an animation team of Sisters. When the systematic training of lay leaders started in the diocese around 1990, the employed catechists had to choose between becoming trainers or becoming voluntary lay leaders like others. Most of them chose the second option and continued doing what they had always done, but in each community next to them dozens of unemployed leaders now did the same work. This transition time faded away slowly and was officially ended in 1998 when the few who still received a small remuneration – without doing any special work – were officially retrenched.
As from 1990 two Sacred Heart Sisters, Sr Cecilia and Sr Bernadette, worked full-time as an animation team. For the first year they resided at Sterkspruit parish centre, then Sr Cecilia resided at Teresa as from 1992, being employed at the school as Afrikaans teacher. When both Sisters left Sisterhood in 1994 Ms Cecilia R. Mckenzie continued to reside at Teresa and to work as Afrikaans teacher but spent much of her time as parish animator for the whole parish. A diocesan vehicle was put at her disposal and she did all training and animation in the parish during six years. During the years of rapid change of priests she was the main animator of the whole parish.
No longer a “Mother-church with children” but a cluster-parish of equal communities. Until around 1995 all outlying communities were regarded as “outstations” of the “mother church Teresa”. On the first Sunday of the month all outlying communities were expected to attend the service at Teresa. All outstations had to follow the pattern of the mother-church in all matters.This changed when all eight or nine centres were invited to establish their own church committee and their own leaders. These church committes then formed one central parish council. A parish council had already been established in 1993 but it was only a few years later that it based itself more strongly on the nine local church committees. In 1996, during the Community Week, the bishop explained to the parish council that all nine centres are equal and there is no longer any mother-child relationship.
In the course of 1998 the Title Deeds of Teresa are changed. Two pieces of ground are cut out from the large site owned by the diocese and become property of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. The Title Deeds for the presbytery and the Leoninum are separate and these pieces of ground are now property of the SA Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart while the rest of the site remains property of Aliwal Diocese.
During November 2000 a wooden ceiling is added to the church in Walaza. For a few years the parishioners had been collecting funds for this, but the larger part of the costs was donated by Propaganda Fide.
The Sisters of Charity arrive. During 1999 and 2000 negotiations took place and in mid 2000 two sisters arrive for making first preparations. As from January 2000 a permanent group of five sisters arrives and the clinic is established in the former Leoninum. The Convent is now called “Holy Trinity Convent”.
19 June 2001 Official Opening of St.Teresa Clinic. The clinic is opened in the presence of the bishop, of Mr.Meje as the Medical Superintendent of the area and of SrProvincial of the Sisters of Charity.
7 Dec 2002 three SCJ priests are ordained in a big outdoor liturgy by bishop F Lobinger: Fr Innocent Muthanyo SCJ, Fr Innocent Mabeka SCJ, Fr Bernard Sompane SCJ.
11 December 2004 William Ketso of Teresa Parish, Macacuma, is ordained priest of the Diocese of Aliwal North by Bishop Lobinger. The ordination took place in the cathedral and there was still room for another two hundred in the cathedral. Fr William is the second locally born incardinated priest of the diocese.
For five years the parish will be served by diocesan priests. An agreement is concluded between the SCJ Provincial and the bishop, dated 1 October 2004, that from 2005 to 2010 the parish of Teresa will be served by diocesan priests because the Priests of the Sacred Heart find it difficult to staff the parish.
In 2004 and 2005 some repairs are carried out to the school buildings. These repairs are financed by the lease payments paid by the Department of Education, as laid down in an AGREEMENT negotiated by CASPA (Catholic School Proprietors Association).
5 September 2005 LESEDI HOSPICE in Mmusong is opened. Many guests have come for the occasion, especially many nurses of this district. It seems it is the very first hospice of this kind in the homelands far and wide. It is a fruit of the intensive SCC work in Mmusong. The SCCs, the work of the home care givers, and the construction of the hospice is very much the work of Ms Cecilia Mckenzie.
Priests serving Teresa Parish:
- 28 – 29 Franz Wamhof SCJ
- 29 – 40 Peter Platten SCJ
- 37 – 40 Gerhard Schultz SCJ
- 40 – 42 Francis Ward
- 46 – 50 Daniel Rogers
- 47 – 48 Peter Platten SCJ
- 48 – 89 B. Sahr SCJ
- 48 – 50 B.Sahr with Aloys Dettmer SCJ
- 50 – 50 B.Sahr with Leonard Will SCJ
- 50 – 51 B.Sahr with Heinrich Braun SCJ
- 51 – 54 B.Sahr with Elias Shea
- 54 – 55 B.Sahr with Cornelius Rosenbaum SCJ
- 59 – 64 B.Sahr with Hans Schaefer SCJ
- 64 – 67 B.Sahr with William Leyens SCJ
- 67- 68 B.Sahr with A.David SCJ
- 68 – 89 B.Sahr with W.Leyens
- 89 – 94 William Wilson SCJ
- 94 – 95 JP Notermans SCJ
- 95 –97 Peter Surdel SCJ
- 97-98 Woijciech SCJ
- 98-2002 Michael Ciemiega SCJ
- 99-2000 Michael Ciemiega SCJ with Adam Maslowski SCJ
- 2002-2003 Chris Grzelak SCJ, with Bernard Sompane SCJ
- 2004 Emmanuel Nkunyane with Bernard Sompane SCJ
- 2005 Noah Ssekitto with Emmanuel Nkunyane