About us in South Africa
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CAPUCHIN PRESENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
The Capuchin presence in South Africa was initiated with the arrival of three Irish Capuchins, who arrived in Cape Town on Sunday 20 October 1929.
In 1933, the friars moved to Athlone and the first Capuchin Church in South Africa, St Mary of the Angels. As the number of friars increased, the Capuchin presence was extended to Welcome Estate and Parow, with pastoral ministries established in Matroosfontein, Langa, Parow Valley, Belgravia, Bonteheuwel, Bridgetown, Mannenberg and Parow, all suburbs of Cape Town. It is noteworthy that the Holy Cross Sisters played an integral role in assisting the friars in their ministries as well as running and teaching at primary and high schools, a teachers’ training college, and also an orphanage. Until 1968, we formed one mission with Zambia, with the superior living in Zambia and friars being transferred between Cape Town and Zambia. In 1968 Cape Town became a separate jurisdiction, with our first Regular Superior. So far, the Capuchins had been operational in Cape Town and surrounds. That changed in 1985, when Capuchins took over care of parishes in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal. This was followed in January 1986 by establishing of a Capuchin fraternity there, which included students who attended St Josephs Theological Institute (Cedara). Subsequently, the Capuchin General Minister, Br Flavio Roberto Carraro, visited Cape Town in June 1986 and established the Capuchin Vice-Province of South Africa, Mary Mother of Africa, with Cape Town hence becoming a separate Capuchin jurisdiction.
Over the years, pastoral care and ministries of and in parishes expanded from Cape Town and its suburbs, to include Pietermaritzburg, Sobantu, and Durban in KwaZulu Natal, Malabar and Charlo in Port Elizabeth, Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga.
St Francis Friary in Welcome Estate, which was initially a formation house, which was officially blessed and opened in 1979; today St Francis Friary is the Curia of the Custody.
Building of the Padre Pio Formation House began in June 1998, as a student house, and was formally blessed and opened in March 2000. Changing circumstances and a scarcity of local vocations culminated in this house evolving into a Retreat and Spirituality Centre in 2014 which has been popular and well attended by various Christian Groups.
Our newly established Formation House is St Lawrence of Brindisi Formation House in Howick, KwaZulu Natal.
While Parish Ministry is one of our principal apostolates, friars have also been involved in, amongst others, parish missions and retreats, education and spiritual direction (such as lectures given at seminary). Over the years, fraternal collaboration with the Capuchin Provinces / Custodies of Maharashtra in India, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya has enhanced the number of friars in our Custody and greatly contributed to extending our ministries.
There are numerous highlights and dates of significance, but two cannot escape mention:
12 September 1993: Mr Nelson Mandela visited St Mary of the Angels, Athlone, to thank the community for their assistance during the ‘struggle’ years. Archbishop Lawrence Henry was the principal celebrant at a Mass celebrated to mark the occasion.
20 October 2019: Mass of Celebration on occasion of 90th Anniversary of Capuchin Presence in South Africa was held at St Mary of the Angels, Athlone, with the main celebrant being Archbishop Stephen Brislin.
Please join with us in prayer for vocations, to ensure continuity of our Capuchin presence and ministries in South Africa.
Mary Mother of Africa, Pray for us.
Capuchin Custos and Council 2021
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