Blessing and opening of the large extension buildings of Blessed Gérard's Care Centre - 22 June 2008

The celebration of the Solemnity of St John on Sunday 22 June 2008 at Blessed Gérard's Care Centre.

The main celebrant was His Excellency, Bishop Xolelo Thaddeus Kumalo, the new Bishop of the Diocese of Eshowe.

Our member John Schnell and Caroline Clark represented the Most Venerable Order of St John. Our member Johan Viljoen, the Project Coordinator of the HAART Programme of the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference Celicia Serenata, Treatment Advisor of the Division of Care and Treatment of the United StatesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Brother Bernhard Pachner OSB celebrated his 50th missionary anniversary with us on this very day.

Bishof Xolelo Thaddeus Kumalo during his homily: "The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard fulfils a prophetic role in our country ..."

After the sermon, Bishof Kumalo blessed the membership medals for the new members of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard. The new members were solemnly received and presented with their membership medals. Bishop Kumalo then blessed the new members.

Blessing and opening of the large extension to Blessed Gérard's Care Centre

    • for the extension of the Blessed Gérard's Hospice,
    • to create a new clinic for the antiretroviral treatment of AIDS patients, and
    • for the expansion of Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.
      Festive Assembly:

Festive Assembly:

Fr Gerhard welcomed our new Bishop Xolelo Thaddeus Kumalo and congratulated him on his appointment as Bishop of Eshowe. He made a pledge of allegiance that we, as a Catholic association, will continue to be an instrument of the Church to make the love of Christ tangible in our charitable works. Father Gerhard affirmed what a great honour it was for us that the Bishop had come to visit us just a few days after his episcopal consecration. On behalf of the entire organisation, he wished him God's blessing.

A special welcome went to Celicia Serenata from the United StatesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who has now become an active member of the organisation, having supported us financially out of her own pocket for many years.

Then Fr Gerhard welcomed the 20 new full-time and part-time staff we have employed since the Feast of Blessed Gerhard on 14 October 2007 (which has enabled us to undertake a major restructuring and improvement of our organisation): Hlengiwe Nyakeni (nursery nurse), Pretty Thabile Sithole (hospice nurse), Thamsanqa Jeffrey Gumede (accountant), Sr. Fikile Doris Buthelezi (hospice nurse), Nkosingisizile Lorraine Mbatha (receptionist), Cebile Linda (kitchen assistant), Dr. Sikhumbuzo Khayelihle Nzimande (doctor), Buhlebuyeza Brenda Mthethwa (hospice nursing assistant), Thokozile Promise Mnguni (hospice nursing assistant), Hlaleleni Betrina Biyela (teaching nurse at the hospice), Victor Martin Himunchul (educator and deputy manager of the children's home), Mlungisi Mthokozisi Xulu (caretaker's assistant), Fred Norris (caretaker), Sr. Mirriam Makhoba (Hospice nurse), Duduzile Primrose Mchunu (Hospice nursing assistant), Nkanyiso Fire Mlotshwa (Hospice nursing assistant), Hlengiwe Precious Dube (Social worker), Nozipho Monica Mkhwanazi (laundry assistant), Lindiwe Cynthia Vilane (nursery nurse) and Fanelesibonge Cynthia Ndwandwe (nursery nurse).

Father Gerhard congratulated our benefactor Brother Bernard Pachner OSB on today's celebration of his Golden Mission Anniversary. Br Bernard had passed on the gifts he had received for the occasion!

Abbot Gottfried Sieber OSB will celebrate his 40th missionary jubilee on 29 June 2008. Heartfelt congratulations and blessings!

The reason and purpose of the extension:

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, with its nearly 2000 members, is the largest Catholic relief organisation in South Africa and runs the largest hospice in South Africa and a children's home among many other projects.

Statistics do not tell the whole story, but they give an indication of the extent of the work done:

In 2007 we

421 HIV-infected patients cared for
202 HIV-infected patients treated in our AIDS clinic (per month)
60 AIDS patients received counselling (per month)
128 AIDS patients were on antiretroviral treatment (HAART)
89 new home care patients
1213 Home Care Patients Home Visits
386 New patients in the hospice
1995 outpatient treatments
39 Children in the children's home
42 Children in the kindergarten
60 Children and young people received education scholarships
  (as of 19 December 2007)

Our buildings have become too small for all the work. Especially the children's home and our AIDS clinic were bursting at the seams.

Since 2000, Blessed Gérard's Children's Home has been giving a home to abandoned, neglected, abused, sick, malnourished, disabled and orphaned children who would otherwise have no future.

Blessed Gérard's children's home is now fully occupied with 41 children. Up to eight children have to share one bedroom (in the baby room). We have now built an extension so that we can accommodate our older children, i.e. the teenagers in double rooms where they grow up like in a real family and are introduced to "real life" and help with cleaning, shopping, cooking, washing dishes, laundry, ironing etc. themselves. This will expand our capacity by another 10 places. In another extension, a dining room, a play and recreation room and a study room for the younger children will be built. We would like to build a third extension for primary school age children, which will create 24 more home places, but it will depend on the success of our fundraising whether or not we can extend this wing (in a second construction phase).

Blessed Gérard's Hospice HAART Programme has been providing Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) free of charge to poor AIDS patients since 2003.

Our member Mr Johan Viljoen, had invited us in 2003 on behalf of the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference to participate in the programme. He now coordinates the whole project and we feel very much at home under his extremely friendly and helpful wing.

Blessed Gérard's Hospice HAART programme used to share the rooms of our hospice's infirmary. Now we built our own HAART clinic to provide better privacy for our AIDS patients, better consulting rooms for our doctor and nurse, and a secure pharmacy for the antiretroviral medicine.

We have to offer all our services free of charge to the sick because our target group is the poor who are not insured and would not have money to pay for anything anyway. Therefore, we are especially grateful to all our benefactors:

We thank the donors who made the construction possible:


Sternstunden e.V. donated 160,000 euros. This enabled us to build extension no. 1 of Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.

Herzenssache e.V. has donated 100.000,-- Euro. This enabled us to build extension no. 2 of Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.

RHI Refractories donated the equivalent of 18,000 euros and pledged another 18,000 euros. This enabled us to build new offices and a service flat.

Mr. Albert Render, the director of RHI Refractories in iSithebe had proposed us to his group management in Vienna for sponsorship and handed over the first part of the donation to us on 23 January 2008.

Mundo Compartido donated 12.000,-- Euro and promised another 22.000,-- Euro. This enabled us to build our new HAART clinic.

A special thank you went to the contractor, Mastercraft:

The DioceseRegensburg pledged 30.000,-- Euro (and transferred it in December 2008).

The Archdiocese of Paderborn donated 19,900 euros.

The parish of Manching donated 14,830.31 euros through the Epiphany campaign.

The Malteser Hilfsdienst Munich donated 5,000 euros.

Two anonymous donors donated the equivalent of 5,000 euros.

and many many more have contributed.

The professional construction team: Harry Ramsunkar - architect, Rowan Shuttleworth - civil engineer, Alan Mckay & Alison Stewart of Walker Mare - construction cost estimator and all companies involved: SEC Electrical, Ideal Air Conditioning, Lenkru (ironwork), etc.

We celebrated the 15th anniversary of the work of

Blessed Gérard's Emergency Relief Fund:
We help people in unexpected emergency situations.

Blessed Gérard's Scholarship Fund:
We support needy students through scholarships.
We have paid out over 50,000 Euros in scholarships in these 15 years.

Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard's Hunger Relief Project:
We hold consultations where we examine, treat and feed malnourished children and teach their caregivers infant care.
In these 15 years, we have spent 40,000 euros on this and provided countless children with food. Many of them would otherwise have starved to death.

Blessed Gérard's Senior Citizens' Club:
We provide activities to prevent loneliness in the elderly.
Mrs Yvonne Renaud had started the senior citizens' club,
Mrs Margarete Hawthorn took over from her.
and nowadays Mrs Joyce Buss takes care of the project.

The "President's Award" of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard for 2008

The President had to make an exception to the rule (that the award be given to the person who has most distinguished himself in faithful service): If he had given the award to the person he had originally thought of, it would not have been appropriate in view of the person he had equally thought of. These two people always appear in a two-pack anyway and could well serve as a school example of inseparability. Therefore, the "President's Award" of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard for the year 2008 has been awarded to [...] for her three years of full-time commitment as an active volunteer member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, her dedication in serving those entrusted to our care, especially in our hospice and children's home, her valuable contribution in our pastoral ministry, leadership roles, public relations, housekeeping and guest services. Mandeni, 22 June 2008. And the two recipients of the one award were: Deacon Thomas & Mrs Angelika Müller. A final thank you was due to Susanne Stauffer, Caroline Beaumont & Carolyn Nunn who shared the brunt of the preparations for this wonderful celebration.