Bible Graduates Alumni Reunion at Mater Dei Pastoral Centre, Mokopane
By Mashadi Mathosa – Mater Dei Pastoral Centre in Mokopane is known for its innovation and creativity in organising courses and programmes in the diocese of Polokwane. Another pioneering occasion was a reunion for its Bible Course graduates which saw well over 350 graduates who attended the course from 2010 onwards.
The occasion was four-fold: the reunion of the graduates, a Bible Symposium, a Bible exhibition, and the launch of a souvenir magazine called “The Mirror”.
The event began on a mildly cold Saturday morning, with the Bishop Jeremiah Masela of Polokwane and invited guest speakers lighting a lamp. This was followed by a Bible enthronement by the bible course students of 2022.
The Pastoral Centre belongs to the diocese of Polokwane and has been administered by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) since 2007. Bishop Masela thanked the congregation’s Botswana province for accepting the invitation to administer the centre.
Bishop Masela said the Bible course at Mater Dei Pastoral Centre has created a “new charism” in Polokwane diocese. He said the diocese is enriched by having Mater Dei in the condition that is in today.
“I am always excited and honoured to be invited to the graduation ceremonies at Mater Dei, because I see a transformation in the life of the students and their families after they have attended this course. This course is not ordinary; it doesn’t only feed the mind but the mind-body and spirit,” the bishop said.
Bishop Masela said he was pleased that the students remain committed to the Christian life as so many came back for the reunion. He applauded the initiatives of the centre in organising various courses, retreats and training programmes for the laity and religious as part of the ongoing formation of the people in his diocese.
Fr Joel Skhosana, academic dean and professor of Scripture at St John Vianney Major Seminary in Pretoria, addressed the students on the topic, “The place of the Bible in the Catholic Church”. He dispelled the myth that Catholics do not read and do not know the Bible. He explained that the Catholic Church is the custodian of the Bible, and cited scriptures that show how Catholic traditions are rooted in the Bible.
Fr Skhosana also explained the difference between reading the Bible aloud and proclaiming the Word, and how the three-year cycle allows us to read the bible in its entirety. He gave confidence to the congregation that Catholics are on the right path of truth. “There is no Church without the Bible, we are the Church, we are the Bible,” he said.
Fr Gabriel Afagbegee SVD, provincial superior of the Society of the Divine Word Botswana-South Africa Province, spoke on the topic of “Divine Word Missionaries and the Word of God in the Church’s Mission of Evangelisation and the Catechesis”. He explained that the SVDs are missionaries of God’s word, and that the SVD is international, multinational and multicultural, they are dedicated to the Divine Word because of the founder’s devotion and spirituality based on the Gospel of John.
He congratulated Fr Sunny John SVD, director of Mater Dei Pastoral Centre, for all the work he has done and continues to do with the Bible course and various other courses he initiated at Mater Dei.
Professor Michael Sepota, a graduate of the bible course in 2019, made a presentation on “The Bible Study Course and its implication on Family Life”. He gave a perspective of how lay people had been impacted by taking part in the Bible course. He spoke about how the Bible Course changes our daily lives, family life and our work. The course has helped participants to be grounded in their Catholic faith, he said.
Prof Sepota highlighted various social ills, including people who leave the Church, saying that there is a duty to bring them back to the truth.
In the third part of the programme, Bishop Masela launched the souvenir magazine, with the assistance of Mashadi Mathosa. Ms Mathosa described the way the magazine documents the history of the Bible course: the experience of the course and how students had the opportunity to give back to Mater Dei through the various projects each group undertakes during the course of their studies here.
The exhibition of the Bible story was one of the highlights of this reunion. The whole Bible was shown through art and other visuals and editorial means. Sandra Lorenzo worked tirelessly for months in creating a visual display of the whole Bible.
The reunion event was organised by the class of 2022 together with Fr Sunny and the Mater Dei Pastoral Centre team.