King Williams’s Town Dominicans – 140 Years in South Africa
Sr Sandra Becker OP – King William’s Town Dominicans celebrated their 140th anniversary in South Africa with a jubilee Mass in Johannesburg led by Auxiliary Bishop Duncan Tsoke.
As a congregation we have experienced a number of marker events of God’s transforming power in the last two years, within the congregation and as part of the wider community.
The Dominican Order celebrated its 800th anniversary worldwide in 2016, and 2017 opened with a final thanksgiving for those 800 years of Dominican spirituality manifested in the preaching of God’s Word into a world searching for meaning.
Although this marked a closure, it opened the door to usher in a year of three major thanksgiving events.
3 Major Events
The centenary of Mary’s appearance to the children in Fatima certainly forms the centre of the year for many people, as Our Lady travels the world in the form of the original statue of Fatima in Portugal.
For the Dominican family and more specifically for the King William’s Town Sisters and the Dominican brethren, who recently celebrated their centenary of presence in South Africa, Fatima has had an even deeper significance since Mary is the patroness of the Dominicans and also of South Africa.
Mary’s presence centring the year symbolises the continuity of our God-given mission manifested in Our Lady handing Ss Dominic and Catherine the rosary.
We Start With Prayer
This mission consists first and foremost in prayer and contemplation, and then preaching in word and deed to pass on what we have received in prayer.
The celebration of 140 years of King William’s Town Dominicans was also steeped in symbolism.
The fact that St Vincent’s School for the Deaf was a building site was a reminder that our mission too is always a construction site of new ways of responding to the needs of the times.
At St Vincent’s, a Wellness Centre for the deaf community is being built, where they can find the help they need and which ordinary facilities cannot offer.
A strong reminder of the need for sharing is the fact that St Vincent and Pridwin are no longer just adjoining schools but share sports facilities and the auditorium where we enjoyed our celebration meal.
Jubilee Mass Celebration
The jubilee Mass celebrated by Bishop Tsoke and concelebrated by five of our Dominican priests — Frs Martin Badenhorst, Lewis Tsuro, Emil Blaser, Seboka Vincent Mokete and Mark James — most certainly formed the highlight of our celebration.
Together with the many Sisters of other congregations, the Dominican Provincial Fr Stan Muyebe and some Dominican Brothers, representatives of past and present schools, as well as friends and benefactors, the hall reverberated with more than 150 voices praising and thanking God for the gift of 140 years.
Added to this was the celebration of the jubilee of profession of six Sisters—Srs Dietmund and Megan (65 years), Sr Lauda (60 years) and Srs Eva-Maria, Maureen Yenson and Ottilia (50 years).
As a true shepherd of his people, Bishop Tsoke in his homily expressed his appreciation for all that the Sisters have done in the past and continue to do even now in spite of their reduced numbers.
The Heritage Centre made it possible for our visitors to connect with the history of our congregation, and two presentations were given, one by Sr Katy van Wyk (“Reflections and Quotations by Dominican Women and Men Past and Present”) and the other by myself (“God’s Call—A Call to Mission in South Africa and Beyond 140 Years of KWT Dominican Sisters”).
May we continue our journey united in the spirit of Ss Dominic and Catherine.