Immaculate Conception Church
Sacred Heart Church
St Theresa Church
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, ST THERESA & SACRED HEART
Graaff-Reinet enters the History of the Catholic Church in South Africa in 1838. The first Bishop and Vicar Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope, the Rt. Rev Doctor Patrick Raymond Griffith, O.P. arrived at Graaff-Reinet on the 21st August at 5 p.m. First Mass at Graaff-Reinet was celebrated on Friday, August 24th in the house of Mr Abos. It was attended by eight Catholics and eight Protestants.
In July 1847, the Rev. John Cauweleart was sent to establish the Mission in Graaff-Reinet. Two schools were opened, one for boys and one for girls. The number of Catholics was estimated between 80 and 120. The Mission in Graaff-Reinet remained under the Jesuit Fathers until 1889. 25th June 1894 saw the opening of the Convent with seven sisters.
The Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bourke Street was consecrated on the 23rd April 1957 and the High Altar on the 24th April 1957. The first relics of St Plus X and St Mary Goretti are buried in the altar.
There was an older church on this site as mention is made of Rev Father Lennon’s remains being placed in the R.C. Church of the Immaculate Conception by Rev J. Coffey assisted by the members of the congregation and on 6th September 1870. The instruction was received by Father Coffey to pay off the mortgage on the property.
In 1948, the National Party came into power and implemented the policy of Apartheid. (“separateness”) The “separateness” put South Africans of different racial groups on their own paths in a partitioned system of development. When the Group Areas Act was passed in 1950, it imposed control over interracial property transactions and property occupation throughout South Africa. Graaff-Reinet was no exception. Communities other than “whites” were forced to move out of town and Umasizakhe to allocated suburbs like Sunny-Side and Kroonvale. Their Churches were demolished and some became museums. The Catholic community in Graaff-Reinet were fortunate to accommodate all Catholics in Graaff-Reinet at Immaculate Conception Parish in Town.
Because of distance and lack of transport, ideas of building a church in Kroonvale under the priesthood of Father John came to light. Committed Catholics in the three suburbs took on the task, under the first Parish Council. Mr Horace Shultz, Mr Bell, Mr Lawrence, Mr van Jaarsveld and Mr Pieter Lawack, worked endlessly to raise funds. Parishioners embarked on a “donate a brick” effort costing R1.00. The parishioners also had the support of the Nuns who stayed in the Convent in town who raised most of the money. All of them were of European origin. As mentioned, under the priesthood of Fr John and Fr Howly, in 1968, the newly established parish, Sacred Heart was officially opened by Bishop J. De Palma SCJ on 11th of May 1968. Fr John remained until 1972.
1973 saw the arrival of the first so-called coloured priest Fr Bowes. He came and remained until 1976. Then came Fr. Wienand in 1976 until 1967.
Fr Wienand was replaced in 1977 by Fr Alcaster who left in 1985. In 1985, Fr Alcaster was replaced by Fr Joseph Potocwak and Fr Marian Zwalzji. Then we had Fr. Joseph and Fr. Pete. Fr. Joseph left and then Fr Phil Elmore joined Fr. Pete. In 1986 till 1992 Fr Ziggy took over.
Parish Council members were: Jonny Fortuin (Chairman), H. van Jaarsveldt (Vice-Chairman) and
Carolus Carelse (Treasurer)
In 1991 the new Parish Council was elected: Sandra Fortuin (Chairperson), Lorene Loff (Treasurer) and Joyce Marias (Secretary)
Then came Fr Andrew who stayed from 1997 until 2003. Fr Post was with us from 2003 till 2007. Fr. Angel took over in 2007. Then followed by Fr Sanil and then Fr. Gerard followed by Fr Mark. Fr Nstiki Mbambatha came in 2010 till 2016. Fr Zbigniew started in 2017 and is still with us.
Parish Council 2014 – 2015: Augustine Bosman (Chairman), Edmund Carelse (Vice-Chairman),
Laurine Loff (Secretary), Elenore Davids (Treasurer) and Mr Andrew Dallah
The elected parish council, elected during the term mentioned below, after attending Diocesan meetings, started to realise that the time had come to mobilise our parishioners and start putting our shoulders to the wheel and start getting ways and means to generate funds to maintain and sustain our parish. We managed to get the support from the parishioners and we enjoyed the efforts together. The 2016 “The Rosary is a priceless treasure – inspired by God” and the 2016 Rally Captain” were a few events we enjoyed together.