St. James parish celebrated 90th anniversary
Father Nkosinathi paid tribute to the Dominican Sisters for the work of evangelization they had done to establish the church.
Our Sisters Alison and Sizakele represented the Dominican Sisters of Oakford at a celebration to mark 90 years since the foundation of St James Church in Magaliesburg, situated almost on the western boundary of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.
Father Nkosinathi: “This church was started by women!”
At the beginning said Fr Nkosinathi in his remarks at beginning of the Eucharist, “the place was just a little bush.” He paid tribute to the Dominican Sisters for the work of evangelization they had done to establish the church. “This church was started by women!”
Parishioners of St James and from the Mass Centre in Tarlton, plus a few visitors filled the church and “made a joyful noise unto the Lord, giving thanks for the graces and blessings received over the many years.
Remembering the clergy and Sisters who had been part of the parish community
Many parishioners present who had themselves been baptized, confirmed, and married at St James remembered the many people, clergy and Sisters who had been part of the parish community. Family members of the first catechist who assisted the priest, and families whose now deceased relatives were among the first parishioners, contributed their memories of the many people and events that had been part of St James.
Father Nkosinathi: “We are again and again called to begin something new”
There was pain when certain family houses had been demolished to make way for new developments, but, said Fr Nkosinathi, “we are again and again called to begin something new. The foundations of our parish were laid by others in the past, now we are called to take new steps.” He challenged everyone present to grow in faith and unity.
Sr Alison recounted a brief history of the Sisters’ presence in Magaliesburg from 1933
At the end Mass Sr Alison was asked to say a few words on behalf of the Dominican Sisters. She recounted a brief history of the Sisters’ presence in Magaliesburg from 1933.
The Sisters were involved in catechesis, they ran a farm, they began a school which catered to over 350 children (and which was forced to close in the 1950s because of Apartheid legislation), they ran a clinic, they supported Fr Orsmond who established Boys Town. Most of these Sisters have died, but those most recently in Magaliesburg live now in Pietermaritzburg and at Ekukhanyeni. Sr Sizakele lives at Rosewell Guest House nearby and teachers at Mphe Thutu school.
Many fond memories of sisters were shared
During lunch, people shared their stories of Sisters they had known, some of whose names they had forgotten because of the striking nicknames they had used for them.
One lady present is a retired nurse who had worked with Sr Olive. She and her sister had had holiday jobs as schoolgirls helping the Sisters who hosted priests’ retreats in Magaliesburg, and earning some pocket money.
One elderly man whose father had been a driver in Magaliesburg had done some bricklaying for the first of the Boys Town buildings. He later became a police officer, and as station commander in Magaliesburg remembers being called out of Mass on one occasion to investigate a break in somewhere.
“We grew up with the Sisters”
Another had done electrical work on some of the buildings. “We grew up with the Sisters,” they said, “we rescued Sister Clothilde (who was asthmatic) when the convent burned down.” They remembered Sisters Fabiana, Ingrid, Catherine Madlala (who cooked at Boys Town), Clement, Clothilde, James, Bede among others.
Two women from the parish joined religious life, neither of them the Oakford Dominicans. Sr Blandina of the Companions of St Angela was one of the visitors at the days’ celebrations.
The parish hopes to continue the celebrations in one form or another till the end of the year, and to produce a book telling the story of a wonderful 90 years.
Text Sr Alison Munro OP
Photos Dominican Sisters
9th October 2023