Dear Priest, Deacons, Religious and the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo.

1. Christmas 2015
As we have  begun the “Year of Mercy” in all earnestness  and  have every reason to be joyful and to give thanks to God during this Christmas season. The birth of Christ we celebrate is the visible sign of God’s mercy.  This is an opportune time for us look deep into our hearts and come closer to God, the merciful Father who waits for us. This year should be a serious journey of our life knowing God as a merciful Father.  Through our intense spiritual and corporal works of mercy at the end of it we should be able to rejoice and say like the Psalmist;  “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy”.  Psalm 116:1-3.
I Invite each every Catholic in our Archdiocese to take up this journey of faith seriously.

2. 2015 Grade 7 Results
We congratulate our  primary schools for improving their pass rates this year. The pass rate given here is based on % of units passed. 1. Dominican Convent: 100%. 2.  St. Thomas Aquinas: 100%. 3. Sacred Heart: 97.5%. 4. St. Patrick’s: 97%.  5. Minda: 96%. 6. Regina Mundi: 95.4%.  7. St. Bernard’s: 94%.  8.   Embakwe: 65%. 9. Magama: 55%. 10. St. Joseph’s: 49%. 11. Ekusileni: 44%. 12. Empandeni: 38%. 13. Brunapeg: 32%.

3. AMR General Chapter
We wish  many blessings on all the sisters of AMR congregation  during their General Chapter from 13 – 20 December.

4. Pastoral Resolutions for 2016
Theme:  Be Merciful as the Heavenly Father (Lk. 6;36). The resolutions are already  sent to all the priests and chairpersons of parishes and associations. Let us practice these resolutions honestly for our own spiritual welfare and of our fellow brothers and sisters in faith.

5. Important Dates for 2016 in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo
5.1. Chrism Mass: 22nd March
5.2. Sacred Heart National Congress: 25th June
5.3. Priestly Ordination: 30th July
5.4. Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima: 20-21 August.
5.5. Pilgrimage to Empandeni: 30th September.
5.6. AGM of Pastoral Council: 28-30th October.
5.7. AGM of Priests: 12-13th December.   

6. Door of Mercy
Opening the “Door of Mercy” in Rome Pope Francis said; “We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything done with the tenderness of the Father. We too are like the crowds who asked John the Baptist, 'What do we do?'”  
Here at St. Mary’s Basilica we have blessed and opened a similar “Door of Mercy”. This represents Jesus who is the way to the Father. “I am the gate, says the Lord, whoever enters through me, will be saved; he will enter and go out and find pasture”. (John 10:9). I invite each and every Catholic in our Archdiocese to use this door at the Basilica during this year to enter through and pray. Let us be filled with God’s infinite mercy and be instruments of His mercy in our daily life.

7. Missionaries of Mercy
During the “Year of Mercy” Pope Francis has granted special faculties to Missionaries of Mercy to forgive the sins that are reserved to the Pope and to the Bishops. There are 8 of those sins. This faculty is given to them only for the year of Mercy. For our Archdiocese they are: Fr. Hlakanipha Dube, Fr. Johanes Maseko, Fr. Charles Nabwenje and Fr. Pamidzai Mudzudza. They will be officially commissioned for this task on Ash Wednesday next year.  They will be available all through the Archdiocese to assist the faithful in spiritual matters. For details of reserved sins kindly contact your priests.
For the “Year of Mercy” only all the priests are granted permission to forgive the sin of abortion. After the “Year of Mercy”  for the forgiveness of reserved sins faithful will have to follow the  normal procedure of approaching their Bishop.

8. Appointments
8.1. Fr. Ajit Kumar Kujur SVD: Priest in Charge, St. Bernadett’s Parish, Waterford.
8.2. Fr. Leo Hartoyo SVD: Assistant Priest, St. Theresa Mission, Plumtree.
8.3. Fr. Maciej Malicki SVD: Assistant Priest, Holy Family Parish, Nketa.
8.4. Fr. Hughine Marizani: Assistant Priest, St. Mbaga Tuzinde Mission, Nkayi.
8.5. Fr. Similo Ncube CMM: Assistant Priest, St. Theresa Mission, Fort Rixon.

9. CMRS Bulawayo Committee
The religious superiors of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo have elected the following for their leadership team:
Chairperson: Sr. Yeyani Nyoni FMDM           
Vice Chairperson: Fr. Charles Nabwenje OMI            
Secretary: Fr. Lawrence T. OFMCap.
We wish them many blessings.

10. Closure of Offices
All the offices at the Bishop’s House, Caritas, Youth Office and Education will be closed from 18th December 2015 till 04th January 2016.

“In this Year of Mercy, there are these two paths: one of those who hope in God’s mercy and know that God is the Father; and then there are those who take refuge in the slavery of rigidity and know nothing of God's mercy.” (Pope Francis)

Many Blessings
to you all for this Christmas and the New Year 2016

+ Alex Thomas
Archbishop of Bulawayo

16 December 2015

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