Catholic Herald Reporter
RAND advances in the work of the lay apostolatc in South Africa and the successful adaptation of the Church to existing social conditions there are praised this week by Fr. Matthew McGough, an Oblate Father who has just returned from a visit to the South African Republic.
Fr. McGough said that he was particularly impressed by the "significant part" played in the missionary work of the Church in South Africa by the Oblates of the Anglo-Irish province.
His impressions of the Church in South Africa include: PROGRESS: Very many new churches have been built. In August, for instance, Bishop Boyle of Johannesburg blessed and opened the 22nd church to be built for African members of the Catholic community since 1954.
VITALITY: There arc no "silent" congregations. Africans, Indians and Basutos all participate in dialogue Masses and sung Masses with great devotion; the traditional hymns are sung in Latin, and some prayers and hymns are sung in the native lang uages.
"I was surprised at the number of soutanes provided for altar boys, until 1 discovered that, like vestments, these are in the various liturgical colours. This novel idea was prompted by the native's love of colour." LAY APOSTOLATE: The Young Christian workers are very active: beside their ordinary meetings they have special study. and they arc completcl
The Legion of Mary is well established, and the Manual has been translated into a number of native languages.
Lay catechists are increasing in numbers: a Zulu-language school for catechists has been established just outside Johannesburg and all candidates follow a two-sear course. following a regulation very like that of a seminary, and modern trends in catechetics figure largely in their programme,
The greatest need of the Church in South Africa is an increase in personnel.
"Everywhere I went", said Fr. McGough, "it was the Same problem. Quite often one comes across a priest who has to look after the spiritual needs of five or six thousand Catholics scattered over a wide area. He will have one central mission, with anything from six to twenty out-stations, some of which he can only visit once a month or less."
"No praise is high enough", Fr. McGough continued, "for the tireless devotion and zeal of the Brothers and nuns: without them the priests' work would simply be impossible. Many of them arc very overworked in schools and
hospitals, and have to employ non-Catholic secular staff. In one school for 900 native children near Johannesburg. there are only two nuns on the staff."
Money is also urgently needed by the Church in South Africa. Apart from the specialised schools, such as those for the blind and deaf, no Catholic school receives a subsidy of any kind, and many Catholic teachers take pay cuts in order to stay on and teach.
Of race relations Fr. McGough said "It is more than difficult-it is simply impossible to speak of the vexing racial problem when one has spent but a short time in South Africa", Fr. MeGough commented. The best exposition of this problem --a problem of baffling complexity and one which admits of no easy or quick solution, is, I think, to be found in the three collective utterances of the South African Catholic Hierarchy.
"One can only express the hope that through prudence, justice and charity, a just solution may be found to this difficult problem, and that the grand work of the Catholic Church in South Africa may continue to expand and flourish.
"Personally I would consider it a major tragedy if, due to Western influence, the native peoples were to change radically their way of life. "They hay: the great gift of enjoying the simple joys of life, and their lives arc very uncomplicated. Certainly. their housing, diet, eanitation and medical services leave much to be desired, but it would be really wonderful if these defects could be remedied without radically altering the structure of their daily life."