On Holy Trinity Sunday Bishop Siphiwo Paul Vanqa celebrated his first Mass in the Cathedral of Christ the King as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Queenstown (Komani). Bishop Vanqa was accompanied by 6 of his brother bishops, the priests of the diocese, the religious and laity as he took possession of his Cathedra in the Cathedral.
Bishop Vanqa was ordained the 5th bishop of the Diocese of Queenstown on the 29th of May 2021. The ordaining bishop was Archbishop Stephen Brislin, the Archbishop of Cape Town. To support his at his episcopal ordination were 13 bishops from SACBC and the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Peter Wells.
The homily at the ordination was given by the president of SACBC Bishop Sithembele Sipuka who is also the son of the soil of Queenstown Diocese. He said, ‘While Fr. Siphiwo was the administrator of this Diocese he sometimes shared with me about some challenges he was facing and sometimes he would end by saying “but that one is not for me, it will have to wait until a bishop is appointed”. I am sure he is now relieved that a bishop has finally been appointed except that he is that bishop he was waiting for to deal with such challenges.’
In his homily the President of SACBC also addressed the problem of factions of which he said although the focus is on our country’s political factions of the ruling party unfortunately those factions also exist in the Church, “There are those who are for Pope Francis and those who are for Pope Benedict, there are those who are conservatives and there are those who are liberals. Anyway, this is not new, it was a source of pain for Paul among the Corinthians when he noticed among them factions that were identifying themselves with Peter, others with him, and others Apollos.”
He encouraged the new bishop by saying that as he enters the episcopate he is watched by these factions to see which side he will take. Basing his advice on the gospel of the day Bishop Sipuka said, “In the light of today’s readings, wisdom lies in between because there is value in both the old and the new, and so for this reason Jesus in Mt. 13:52 praises the teacher of the law who brings out of this storeroom new treasure as well as old as the true disciple of the kingdom.”
The new bishop’s motto is “That they may be one”, and of this Bishop Sipuka said Bishop Vanqa’s wisdom is needed to unite the church because it is one body. On addressing the people after Mass Bishop Vanqa urged everyone in the diocese to pull up their sleeves and get to work as he believed in the potential of the people of his diocese. He said he can’t do it on his own and believed that if they all worked together the diocese will be successful. In that address Bishop Vanqa also made an appeal for the vocations to priesthood and religious life, stating there a need for a robust family life of faith because vocations come mainly from families who practice their faith.