Bishop Frank: “I am coming in humility and obedience to God who called me,”

“There is a need to restore the confidence of the faithful in the integrity and honour of the priesthood,” said Archbishop Buti Tlhagale in the homily at the ordination of Bishop Neil Frank as the Coadjutor Bishop of Mariannhill Diocese. The ordination took place on the 26 February 2022 at the sport grounds next to the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Mariannhill.

Talking about the importance of unity the Archbishop of Johannesburg said, “Unity guarantees progress and ultimately success. But unity depends on each one of us. We should sacrifice our own personal interests for the benefit of others and the diocese.”

“I thank you because you welcomed my appointment with a lot of joy. And you worked hard in preparation of today’s celebration. Thank you for making sure that we have a beautiful mass,” said the news ordain Bishop Neil Frank in his thanksgiving speech at the end of Mass. He thanked the faithful for their deep faith and he said he’s thanking God for all the good gifts have gave to the faithful.

Bishop Frank said the fruits of the deep faith of the faithful of Mariannhill show through many vocations to priesthood and religious life and the Lord has really blessed them. The bishop said he had a joy of meeting the faithful in their parishes and sodalities that are in this diocese. “I am coming in humility and obedience to God who called me,” added the Bishop. He continued, “There is still a lot we still need to do together in cooperation, but we are not going to rush things. This celebration is yours, let us together thank the Lord for good things he has done for us.” Bishop Frank thanked Bishop Pius Dlungwane for his warm welcome and generous spirit. He also thanked Archbishop Slattery for embracing him for the last couple of months. He went on to thank the Nuncio, Archbishop Peter Wells, for his fraternal support and confidence he has shown in him, pledging through him the filial gratitude and allegiance to Pope Francis. Thanking his brother bishops for the effort they made to be at the ordination. He had already met the bishops in the plenary meeting that took place in January.

Earlier the apostolic nuncio had congratulated the diocese of marriage on the ordination of their new bishop. Talking about his experience of growing up in the rural area from where they often had rabbits crossing in front of their car with a shocked look in its face because of the headlights, the nuncio said that is the same face you get when a man is told that he has been appointed a bishop. “I am so please that the bishop now does no longer have that look, he looks more at ease,” said the Nuncio.

The Nuncio thanked Bishop Dlungwane and Archbishop Slattery, stating that the last two years have not been easy because there have been scandals and division in the diocese that everyone knows about. He put it on record that the Holy See had not imposed an apostolic visitation in the diocese, but it was the bishop of the place, Bishop Dlungwane, who asked for help. The nuncio appreciated the humility of Bishop Dlungwane in asking for help. “He said I need help, that takes a lot of courage,” said the Nuncio.

Adding to that Archbishop Wells said today the church is turning a new page, and may it be a positive moment for the Church. To the newly ordained bishop the Nuncio said the most important characteristic of bishop is that he must be a man of prayer. “I know you are a man of prayer and you must continue to be. If our priests are men of prayer, we know it,” said the Nuncio. He went on to say there’s a big difference between being a pastor and ad administrator, a difference big difference between be a teacher of Christ and a bureaucrat, a big difference between a man who wears nice clothes and a big hat, politicians do the same, and bishops are not politicians, they are pastors. Referring to the Holy Father he said Pope Francis recently reminded us beautifully saying a good shepherd is the one who knows how walk in front, sometimes with the people and sometimes behind the people. He said the same is true in the bishop’s life of prayer, to lead the prayer of the people of God, to pray with the people of God, to be lead in prayer by the people of God.

Archbishop Slattery, who was the Apostolic Administrator on a visitation, thanked Bishop Dlungwane the priests and all the faithful for their cooperation and he has managed to visit almost all the parishes in the diocese. The archbishop thanked the faithful of Marrianhill for the deep faith the have. “I have a great hope that this diocese will help the whole church of South Africa. Keep unity, keep together, it’s true we’ll always disagree with other people but let us work together,” exhorted Archbishop Slattery.

Fr Lizwelinjani Mlotshwa, the Provincial of the OMI in Southern Africa, wished the new bishop all the blessing from God. Congratulated the diocese for having a new bishop and thanked all the people who welcomed their brother warmly. He said he believes Bishop Frank comes a son of the Church to work in cooperation with other sons and daughters of the Church to grow and strengthen the Body of Christ.

Bishop Dlungwane, the Bishop of Mariannhill said, “today we commit ourselves to work with you, to show all love and support in your episcopal ministry for the salvation of souls.”  



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