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Chaplain's Blog

14 March 2019

Thursday of the First week of Lent
Grade 11 Mass

One of the most beautiful Lenten observations refers to how well we treat the people we love. We do our best to make them happy and always think of what is best for them. Parents work hard in order to afford a comfortable life for their children and will always provide the best for them. Whenever our loved ones ask for something, we give without thinking twice, and sometimes we even sacrifice our last in order for them to have the best.

The other side of the coin speaks to how we receive the goodness and generosity of others towards us, whether we appreciate their efforts at making us happy or we just continue with life as if their good gestures never happened. Reality is that it hurts sometimes when our good efforts are not recognized and those who love us feel the pain when they do not receive appreciation and affirmation from us. Indeed, we too often feel broken whenever we are not appreciated. This brings us to the advice of Jesus in today’s Gospel when he says: …whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them…

If you feel the need to be loved by others, be the first to love. If you want to be forgiven, start by forgiving others. If you want to be respected by others, then you must be the first one to show respect. Jesus reminds us that, as human beings, we are not islands – we find fulfilment in life when we live it with others. This fulfilment is the result of meaningful relationships where there is mutual respect, caring for one another, and being there for those who are in our lives.

The scripture that supports our theme this year – A Team above all, Above all a Team – reads: …perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same purpose… (1 Corinthians 1:10b). Looking at this phrase in relation to the lesson that Jesus is teaching us today, we will find it necessarily to treat others the way we want to be treated and in so doing we will establish around us an environment where mutuality, love and respect are a priority.

May we be the first ones to share the Love of Christ; the first ones to show respect; the first ones to express gratitude and the first ones to work towards goodwill in our community. Through this, we will be participating positively towards realizing the proposal of our theme this year – A Team above all, Above all a team..

21 September 2018

The Mercy of God upon us.

In the Gospel account of Matthew (25:35-40), Jesus teaches about the works of mercy and He calls us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison. These works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in their needs. Further in the text, Jesus alerts us to the reality that as often as we do these to the least of his people, we effectively do the same to him, and therefore he will remain with us.

This text inspired Timothy Schmalz to sculpture an image now known as the Homeless Jesus. Some of the staff members of St Benedict’s College came in contact with one of about 40 such sculptures around the world when we visited Holy Trinity Parish in Braamfontein during our day of recollection. The image depicts Jesus as homeless man, sleeping on a bench and covered in a blanket with only his pierced feet showing – in fact, that is the only indication that it is indeed Jesus. This for me is an excellent representation of who He is in our lives.

The exposed wounds on His feet are the part of the sculpture that speaks to me the most. For me, the wounds reveal in a powerful way the love, compassion, and mercy that Jesus has for us, especially those of us who are poor and marginalized. The wounds were inflicted on Him when He was nailed to the cross and freed humanity from the slavery of sin. On this sculpture, the same wounds continue to tell that beautiful story of love beyond measure, beyond condition and beyond pain.

This love comes to us from Him and He expresses it in an affectionate way because He knows that in the midst of our pain and brokenness only His love and mercy can heal us and make us whole again.

Mercy can be seen as a primary form that God’s love for the world assumes. It is God’s response to the neediness and brokenness of His people.  He hears us when we call and with compassion sees to our needs when the time is right. No pain or hurt of human beings falls outside the mercy of God. Not even ours.

Blessed Joseph Gerard OMI.


May 29, 2018 

Blessed Joseph Gérard was born near Nancy, France, in the village of Bouxières-aux-Chénes on March l2, 1831. He spent his childhood on the family farm but, with the help of the parish priest, was able to commence studies for the priesthood.

While in the local seminary of Nancy for two years, he was impressed by accounts of missionary work, and, in 1851, he joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He was ordained a deacon by the founder, Saint Eugene de Mazenod, who assigned Joseph Gérard, at the age of 22, to the mission of Natal in South Africa.

In May, 1853, Deacon Joseph Gérard set off for his mission field, never to see France again. On February l9, 1854, he was ordained priest in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and started his ministry to the Zulu People. Despite all his good efforts, his ministry among the Zulus did not seem to bear immediate fruit, and, with a sense of great disappointment, he moved, in 1862, to the kingdom of Lesotho to bring the Gospel to the Basotho People. Fr. Gérard worked and prayed for more than two years before he won his first Basotho catechumen. Even after that, progress was slow. However, more and more people in these early years heard the message of Christ, and came to the church. Within five years of his coming there the first mission station was established at Roma. Today it is the site of many novitiates and of seminaries, a University founded by the Oblates, high schools, numerous religious houses, and a hospital – all the legacy of this remarkable man of God.

Throughout his years in Lesotho Fr. Gérard’s concern and care for the sick and the old was remarkable. Despite the distance, despite the weather, despite the inconvenience, he would set out, on foot or on horseback, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, to minister to those afflicted. His deep devotion to Mary was absorbed by his first converts, and since his day the nation has been dedicated to Mary Immaculate.

The last years of Fr. Gérard´s life were spent back at his first mission, Roma. Up to a month before his death he was on horseback, out on the mountain tracks caring for those in need. On May 29, 1914, Joseph Gérard died. He was 83.

In one of his retreat notes, Blessed Joseph Gérard gave the key to his constancy when he wrote about the people he served: “We must love them, love them in spite of everything, love them always”. He lived out his belief in the joy of spreading God’s Word, despite the hardships and opposition he encountered.

By Fr. Frank Santucci OMI


26th September

Confirmation 2017

On Friday, 22nd September, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, OMI conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on some of our Grade 10 boys. It was indeed a special and moving celebration. Present at mass were sponsors, family and friends, St Benedict’s members of staff, as well as some of our old boys. All these gathered at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Malvern, to share in this special occasion where the Church welcomed 37 candidates as its full members. 

One of a number of facts that made this evening memorable was the homily that the Archbishop presented. Andre Oosthuysen (Executive Headmaster) noted that Archbishop Buti in his homily mentioned the right thing at precisely the right time. Much as he struck a chord for Andre, the Archbishop did the same for me. In his homily, he interrogated the weakening moral fibre of men in society, especially as it relates to the abuse of women. He expressed the sad reality that divorce has become a necessary evil and that there is a growing decline in our society to the commitment of marriage. He also mentioned that we need to return to the values of kindness and decency; and that grace and honour are the fruits of the spirit that all men need to cultivate. 

These are some of the words that spoke to me as I sat and listened to the homily. I was glad that it was on the occasion of the confirmation of my boys that this homily was delivered, and for me, it spoke to the reality that through confirmation, young men not only receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit but, among others, also take up the challenge to participate in the moral restoration of our society by word and by example. We as their parents, teachers, and sponsors are called to take part in this by not only encouraging our boys to be better and morally sound men of tomorrow, but also by living out the same values so that the boys may see us as an example to imitate.

With this, I congratulate the Confirmation class of 2017 on this great achievement. I also commend their parents as well as the teachers who journeyed with them through the initiation path. May God, through his Grace and Blessing, bring to fulfillment that which he has started in us. 

31st March

In light of the fact that the school has taken up as theme for 2017 'What do you want from me', and considering that the Archbishop of Johannesburg - His Grace Buti Thlagale, OMI - has declared 2017 as the year of devotion to Mary in his Archdiocese, I thought it would be good for me to upload his pastoral letter for you to read. The letter talks about the spiritual motherhood of Mary and, as it were, highlights the role of Mary in our lives as Christians. 

The link below will direct you to the pastoral letter.

The Spiritual Motherhood of Mary.

God bless 


1st March

A note to Bennies' Boys.

Lent is a perfect time for us to turn towards Jesus.

Our days are filled with challenges and with a competitive spirit, we spend minute after minute focusing on winning and coming ahead of others. Competition is good when it encourages you to strive beyond your limitations and achieve better results in your field. However, it becomes bad when, while you strive beyond your limitations, you use others and harm them for the purpose of succeeding. It is through this bad side of competition that we break the hearts of others, and we too, in the long run, are broken as well. 

We make acquaintances and friendship without discerning the value of these unions, and whether or not they will contribute to our growth. As human beings, we are intrinsically relational, and these relations are meant to benefit us and those with whom we share them. Unfortunately, not all these relations are aimed towards a positive end. That is why we have to always be vigilant whenever we make friends.

The negative sides of competition and friendship are examples of many other harsh realities that, when taken for granted, can cause us to fall into the temptation of engaging in things that we should rather not involve ourselves with. None of us wants to fail, none of us wish to grow up to be a drug addict, an abusive person, or a delinquent; and yet, along the path we tread, we stumble upon circumstances that encourage us to try what we know to be wrong, and by the time we realize it, it is often too late. We are in pain, lost, wounded – broken inside; and we wonder where it all went wrong and whether God is still on our side. Well, God remains with us. He is always by our side. Our task is to turn back to him and allow him to heal us. 

Lent is the perfect time for us to turn towards Jesus. He understands and knows our pain more than we can imagine. He, like us, was tempted (Mt. 4:1-11), but he did not sin. He resisted all three temptations: temptation to worry only about oneself, temptation to test God, and temptation to want power, wealth, and status for oneself. Through Jesus’ desert encounter, we learn that temptation is sure to come our way – and that is fine – but we have to always be ready to resist it. The world may have wounded us already; however, this is not the time to give up, but to go back to Jesus who will remove our sins and free us for his service. That way we are always ready to be his co-workers, and others come to know and experience him through us. 

May this Lenten season be life-giving to your spiritual life. May it be a phase of allowing Jesus to purify you , mold you, and fashion you into his image so that, when you are ready to ask him “Lord, what do you want from me?” you may be willing and able to take up the challenge that comes as his response.


17th February 

The celebration of the approval of the Constitutions and Rules of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

It was on the 17th of February, 1826 when Pope Leo XII approved the Constitutions and Rules of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Ever since that time, Oblates, in one manner or another, remained creative - in their different ministries - to bring to life the values embedded in these Constitutions and Rules. For about two hundred years now, these men continue to leave nothing undared in their quest to evangelizing the poor and the most abandoned across the world.

Today, as we celebrate, once again, the same event; I sit and reflect on some of the writings of St Eugene found in the Rule book, and the one that comes across strongly to me is as follows: “What more sublime purpose than that of their Institute? Their founder is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God; their first fathers are the Apostles. They are called to be the Saviour’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind…” From this text, we gather that, the founder of the Oblates, unequivocally calls his men to find inspiration, firstly in the person of Jesus Christ, and also in the example of the lives of the Apostles; as it is also through affiliation with these holy figures that they can go out to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel and to be missionaries to the poor in their many faces. 

As we pray for the Oblates today, we, the community of St Benedict’s think, in a special way, of those who work in difficult missions – those who are in parts of the world where there is persecution and political unrest. We pray that; when they are in pain and feel broken, God may heal them and restore their souls; that when they are overcome by fear, God may give them courage, and when they are in despair, may they experience in a profound way the presence of Christ in their lives. 

To my brother Oblates, I use the words of the Holy Father when he addressed the members of the 36th General Chapter on October, 7th 2016: "Following the example of the Founder, may charity among you be your first rule of life, the premise of every apostolic action; and may zeal for the salvation of souls be a natural consequence of this fraternal charity.” Happy feast day to you all.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit help us to discern God’s Response

At the liturgical celebration of the closing of the Year of Mercy (20th November 2016), Pope Francis mentioned that even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open for us. As a result, we continue, even after the closing of the doors, to reflect on the infinite mercy of God through Christ who mirrors His merciful face, and we never cease to show mercy to others the same way that God continues to show mercy to us.
Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God continues to urge us to discern his response to our reflection “Lord, what do you want from me?” These gifts are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents them as the ones that sustain the moral life of Christians, and as ones that are permanent dispositions which make a person docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

Having received these gifts, we are brought closer to God who is the giver of the same gifts, and are moved by His mercy and love to communicate with Him through prayer and meditation, and as a result we open our hearts to receiving His grace so that, for His sake and that of our lives, we may be ready to do whatever He wants us to do. Through this grace, we will continue doing the corporal works of mercy, we will carefully observe the Ten Commandments as well as the six chief commandments of the church. We will also be able to identify areas where we can be charitable and be available to help those in need of what we can provide. In a nutshell - we will be able to put on Christ and radiate him in the world.

It therefore becomes clear that, through reflecting on and putting into practice all that which God wants of us through the guidance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are sure that the whole community of St Benedict’s will enjoy fruits that come from the Holy Spirit, since, in its life, the community will see prosperity in its endeavours, and the presence of Christ will be evident.

I wish you all of the best in 2017, and hope that, as you begin to reflect on that which God wants from you, the gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide you so that, each day, you may look forward to making a difference in the lives of those around you.

God bless 
Fr. Thabo Mothiba, OMI