On the 16th of December 2016, we celebrated 20 years of the existence of Mercy House. Bishop Sandri kindly came and celebrated a Holy Mass of Thanksgiving with us. We especially invited Bishop Sandri, because it was he, as Father Jo, together with Fr Henry, who, in 1996 helped us to start Mercy House. The photos show Sr Clementine and Innocentia, both Mercy House co-workers attending, another of Bishop Sandri and Diana after the Mass, and another of Bishop during the Mass.
We thank Bishop Sandri very much indeed for coming and giving us of his time. Needless to say, he was amazed to see all that has developed in the 20 years of our existence.
It has been a real sorrow for us, that, for various reasons, since Father Jeremias left in October 2015, we have not been able to have our regular recollection days. So it was really good news when we found that a new Comboni Father Rafael, from Spain, was willing to give us a whole weekend of recollection and sharing at the Comboni Mission in Maria Trost, Lydenburg, Mpumulanga. Due to the fact that our arrangements were fairly last-minute, several people who wanted to come had already committed themselves to other activities. But we went ahead on the last weekend of November, and our small group had a most enriching weekend, studying and sharing on our Holy Father’s publication entitled: The Joy of the Gospel. It took 4 to 5 hours travelling, but was well worth it. It was so refreshing to get away from the city in the heart of nature, and we all went home very happy. We thank Father Rafael for the huge amount of work he put into making our weekend such a success. Our next weekend will be during Lent, on the first weekend of April, again with Father Rafael. We invite all and anyone interested to join us – book it in your diary NOW. The one photo below shows the group, from left to right, Diana, lawyer Dr Etienne (Rwanda), Steven Wanyoike from Kenya, Eddie Dunia from DRC, Jane Wanyoike and Bertrand (Rwanda) and the other photo shows Father Rafael (right) leading our discussion.
As usual we spent weeks getting ready for Christmas making sure that everyone of our estimated 60 guests would receive a gift which suited them personally. Our new co-worker, Nozizwe, and Zeng, took on the gift wrapping and did a splendid job. We are immensely grateful to Rosebank Union Church, which every year acquires gifts for all our attendees under the age of 18. St Vincent De Paul of Victory Park provided us with 20 cooked chickens and a good lunch was served to all. Ivan had composed an excellent play getting the Christmas message across most powerfully and a group of Rwandese dancers entertained us well. So, Christmas was good this year, as usual. The photo shows Lawie Kalenga, our Father Christmas.
Anja came from Germany as a volunteer to Mercy House in 2009. She stayed for about 4 months, then went back home to Germany to complete her university degree. She returned in 2011 to do another few months of volunteering. Subsequent to that, she got married and wanted to bring her husband out to show him Mercy House and our work, and to revisit her MH friends whom she loves so much. Everyone welcomed her, as she is much-loved by all and her loyalty and dedication live on. She and her husband took her favourite, Moise, away for a weekend of fun. The photo shows her with her husband, Tommie, with Moise on the left and our house leader on the right. This certainly was a highlight of 2016. The second photo was taken on the day Anja and Tommie arrived: we had a special Mass to welcome them with Father Rafael celebrating.
St Vincent de Paul groups in several parishes are most faithful in their support of our work. We are indebted to them and wish to thank them publicly. The society in Victory Park brings food every Thursday and sometimes more often. St Vincents’ in Rosebank offers monthly financial support, so too does Bez Valley branch. They also provide our people with a braai in December each year. The photo below was taken at the braai this last December. St Vincents’ in Malvern brings their youth down regularly, several times a year, to provide a luncheon for our people and it is always on a Saturday, when outside kids have come for extra lessons, so they can benefit too – see photo below.
It was a privilege for Mr Neels Coertse, the lawyer who helps Mercy House, to have been invited to speak in parliament to comment on the proposed new refugee law. It was on the 24th January. Many high profile people were present. We are proud of him and thank him sincerely for his commitment to our refugee work. He is seen in the photo above with Emmanuel, our website designer.
We are blessed with having so many very loyal, humble and silent background helpers within the Mercy circle, who quietly make their contribution without much publicity. We would like to mention a few here, even though we cannot mention everyone. There is Emmanuel who does our website. There is Peter Holding who has for years done our monthly shopping – surely a mammoth task. There is John Faller who does our payments, his brother Paddy, who organises the stationery packs for our scholars. There is a very humble and selfless woman, Diana Gordon Grant, who runs a school sandwich circle for us, and bring sandwiches, bread and vegetables to our house every week, not to mention the other support she and her husband give. There is Felicity Borland who, with her husband, has helped us in numerous ways, there is Judy Dumbutshena who takes special care of one of our young orphans… Then there are those who help significantly from a distance: Jerry and Tommie, Art and Mary Lou and Father John Converset in the USA, our UK Mercy Team and Father Andrew in the UK, Father Jeremias in Rome… There is our beloved Sister Fidelis who worked for us for 10 years and is now retired, who continues to pray for us and take a lively interest in our work. To you and the many others who cannot be mentioned here: thank you so much. We could never reward you adequately, but God will… May you be blessed.