Province of Bloemfontein
The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Right Reverend
Appointed Bishop on 31st December 2008
Ordained Bishop the 28 March 2009

Postal Address:

PO Box 366
Bethlehem 9700
Tel: (058) 303 5351
Fax: (058) 303 5352


Bishop Jan De Groef was born in Belgium on the 7 January 1948. He entered as candidate of the Missionaries of Africa in 1972 in Louvain and did his Noviciate in Birkdale, Great Britain in 1974. He did his theology studies at the Missionary Institute London in London from 1974 till 1979. He was ordained priest on 7 July 1979 in home parish of Belgium. He arrived in Africa on the 15 February 1980 and in Bethlehem on 6 March. He was member of the pastoral Animation Team and worked in Senekal, Qwaqwa and Bohlokong-Bethlehem until 1990. He turned back in Belgium for 5 years then went in Burkina Faso for five years before coming back in South Africa where he worked in Pretoria Diocese. His last appointment was in Merrivae, Cedara. In 2007 he was appointed as the sector superior of the Missionaries of Africa working in South Africa. On the 31 December 2008, he was appointed as bishop-elect of the Diocese of Bethlehem.

Coat of Arms and Motto

Alive in Christ” is taken from Gal 2: 20. Our life as Christians and still more as priests and bishops is to be a sharing in the death and resurrection of the Lord.

The green color expresses life. The light from the son radiating all over Africa is the light of Christ which is proclaimed in all sphere’s of life. The shield yellow turning into orange is a warm color which is welcoming and homely.

The three figures have different shades pointing out the different cultures called to be the one family of God. Above their heads there are tongues of fire: the fire of the Holy Spirit who makes them truly alive praising God and announcing the Good News to the whole of creation.

The map of Africa reminds that it is as a member of the society of Missionaries of Africa that I came to Africa. The little star indicates the Dioces of Bethlehem. The Rosary reminds us of Mary, Our Mother in the faith. She has a special place in the Diocese, dedicated to her with the Marian Shrine at Tsheseng, Qwaqwa. At last, the Pelican reminds that it is believed that in case of need it is prepared to give her own blood in order to feed her young. As the pelican, I am to give my life for the flock.


  1. Rt Rev Leo Klerlein CSSp, Vicar Apostolic of Kroonstad 8 April 1935 – died 22 May 1950
  2. Rt Rev Bishop P Kelleter CSSp, first bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem 11 January 1951; died 7th January 1991
  3. Rt Rev Bishop Hubert Bucher, Retired since March 2009

History of the Diocese

Prior to 1924 this territory formed part of the Kimberly Vicariate. From 1924 it was known as the Kroonstad Vicariate. Msgr. Leo Klerlein CSSp was appointed Prefect Apostolic in 1924, Vicar Apostolic in 1935. By Papal Decree dated 12 February 1948, the Sacred Congregation of Propagation of the Faith partitioned the Kroonstad Vicariate into two separate Vicariates. The western part with Kroonstad was entrusted to the Dominican Fathers of the Dutch Province. The eastern part with Bethlehem was entrusted to the Holy Ghost Fathers (CSSp) of the German Province. Msgr. Klerlein retired in 1948, with the creation of the new Vicariate. He was succeeded in 1950 by Bishop Peter Kelleter CSSp, who resigned on 5 July 1975.

The diocese comprises the following magisterial district: Bethlehem, Clocolan, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Frankfort, Harrismith, Lindley, Reitz, Senekal, Vrede, Phuthaditjhaba (Qwaqwa), and part of Ladybrand.

Area: 34 965

Total Pop: 714.807

Cath Pop: 74.343

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