It was on the 18th of May 2019 where the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill (CMM), the Congregation of the Precious Blood of Christ (CPS), and the faithful of Umzimkulu Diocese, Kokstad Diocese, Mariannhill Diocese, Archdiocese of Durban and other dioceses came together to celebrate the life and works of Abbot Francis Pfanner. It was also a special year where we were celebrating 110 years of his death anniversary. It was amazing to see many people gathered together to worship and to appreciate the works of Abbot Francis Pfanner. The number of people was about 2000. We were graced by the Bishop of Umzimkulu Diocese, Bishop Stanly Dzuiba who celebrated Holy Mass and also a preacher. In his homily, he challenged us to remain faithful to the work that Abbot Francis left with us and we follow the values that he lived. He also mentioned that it is through living these values that the people will see his work and by so doing, he is promoted.
The theme of the whole celebration was: RUN THAT YOU MAY WIN THE PRICE (1 Corinthians 9:24). This is the theme which was used by Abbot Francis Pfanner in all his endeavors. He always encouraged his Brothers and Sisters to be always on a move. This is also our reminder today that we work hard, we run as he did.
As I have mentioned that this is a special year where we celebrate 110 years of his death anniversary, there was a special launch. In doing this, a special candle was prepared and blessed in a special way by the Bishop. It was brought to the Alter by one of the team member of Emaus Heritage Centre in a form of a procession. This was the light which reminded us of Abbot Frances’s last word; “LIGHT”. It meant that we also have to keep our lights burning. From this light, small candles were given to different provincials (CMM and CPS of Mariannhill Province, Umtata Province, Mozambique Province and Austrian Province) to go back to their provinces with this light. They were given a task to go and pray the novena of Abbot Francis Pfanner in their small communities. They have to revive the spirit of prayer, the love of our founder, pray for his beatification and to go and make him known wherever they are. These candles were also given to the diocese of Umzimkulu and St Xavier Parish, kwaMzongwana in Kokstad diocese given the same challenge.
The last thing that was blessed in a special way was the Cross which is moving from parish to parish in honor and promotion of this Servant of God, Abbot Francis. It goes together with a candle. When it is at a parish, the faithful have to pray the novena of Abbot Francis for nine days. During that time the team of promoters will visit where there is a Cross to give workshops about Abbot Francis, recollections and revivals. This is part of the promotion.
Dear brothers and Sisters as we celebrate this feast every year we are really challenged to remember who we are and where we came from. We have a beautiful heritage that was left by our fore fathers and sisters. What do we do with it? This is what we have to show to the world so that they will know God through his servant Abbot Francis. We are called to go out and promote him, to speak of all that he did. But all starts with loving him. Without this love we will never go out and talk about him. We will fail even to do something for our congregations and for the faithful because we failed to love our founder.
Written by Fr Thamsanqa Njiyela CMM