On the Feast of St Benedict, July 11 2014, we were able to welcome Fr Dominic Onasseril, a monk of Kumily Priory which, like Inkamana Abbey, belongs to the Congregation of the Missionary Benedictines of St ottilien. He was assigned to Inkamana by our Abbot President Jeremias.
At the end of January 2015, Inkamana Abbey had:
16 Finally Professed Priests: 6 Germans, 1 American, 4 Malawians, 2 South Africans, 1 Namibian, 1 Kenyan and 1 Indian. Abbot Godfrey (74), Fr Prior John Paul Mwaniki (47), Fr Pius Paul (78), Fr Leo Eireiner (77), Fr Ambrose Mshengu (45), Fr Boniface Kamushishi (38), Fr Dominic Onasseril (35) and Fr Pacificus Mwale (49).
Fr Helmenegild Maier (73) is the parish priest of Twasana and chaplain to the Twasana Sisters.
Fr Victor Chavunga (45) and Fr Rafael Chonde (45) have their respective residences in Vryheid, the former being in charge of St Thomas More Parish and the latter in charge of Holy Angels Parish.
Fr Maximilian Jacobs (47) is stationed at Inkamana’s dependent house in Waldfrieden, Namibia
Fr Peter Blue (83) is the chaplain to the Nardini Sisters at Maria Ratschitz Mission in the Dundee Diocese.
Fr Gerard Lagleder (59) is the director of the Blessed Gerard Care Centre in Mandeni and Fr Oswald Gomani (45) is a student at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi. Fr Eugene Badtke (73) who is also a monk of Inkamana on account of his stability works at present at St Ottilien, Germany.
13 Finally Professed Brothers: All of whom are stationed at Inkamana.
Seven of them are South Africans: Br Benedict Ntshangase (84), Br Clement Sithole (73), Br Maurus Khumalo (64), Br Mark Govender (66) and Br Anselm Sayer (67). Br Gabriel Thompson (46) is stationed at Waldfrieden Mission in Namibia while Br Leonard Dlamini (31) is a student at Stellenbosch University.
There are three Germans: Br Ansfried Machatsch (79), Br Bernard Pachner (79) and Br George Ostheimer (74).
Two are Malawians: Br Edward Namwiri (39) and Br Kevin Thumbalabwazi (36).
One Namibian: Br Alphonse Amutenya (43).
7 Temporary Professed Brothers: Stationed at Inkamana or are on training elsewhere.
Three South Africans: Br Isidore Mabaso (33), Br Vincent Ngwane (27) is a student at Majuba Business College and Br Damian Mkhwanazi (32).
Three Namibians: Br Polycarp Taukondjele (33), a student at Nutech Engineering College, Br Bonaventure Johannes (31) is a student at Nthashana Agriculture College and Br Francis Kuutondokwa (24).
One is a Malawian: Br Emmanuel Suntheni (26)
3 Second-Year Novices: Br Michael Stevens (51) from South Africa, Br Adrian Bisika (34) from Malawi and Br Xavier Sauti (32) from Zambia.
1 Candidate: Aphelele Zeka (19) from South Africa.
1. Recruiting and Training Vocations:
Recruiting and training local vocations remains one of the concerns of our community. It is more of a challenge as we can no longer expect personnel from our abbeys in Europe and America. Twice during the course of 2014 we organised a “Come & See Week” for young men who wanted to learn more about the Benedictine way of life. About a dozen candidates attended each of the week-long events. Two candidates arrived in June to try their vocation. However, both realised after a few months that they were not called to monastic life and applied to local bishops to study for the priesthood. Our two candidates who finished their two year novitiate, Br Francis Kuutondokwa from Namibia and Br Emmanuel Suntheni from Malawi, pronounced their temporary vows on July 5 for a period of two years. Five of our young confreres are at present away for special studies and professional training respectively.
2. Works of the Community:
For many years the majority of our priests and brothers lived and worked on the various mission stations spread all over Zululand. Now only three of the 30 parishes in the Diocese of Eshowe are left in charge of a Parish. Two of these parishes, St Thomas More and Holy Angels parish, are situated in the town of Vryheid which is a mere 6 km away from Inkamana. The third one, St Scholastica Parish at Twasana, is 80 km away.
Inkamana High School with the 100 bed boy’s hostel and our 50 bed guest and retreat house are still under the control of the monastery. While the priests in the monastery are engaged in teaching in the formation of our brothers as well as in diverse pastoral activities such as preaching retreats, attending to pilgrims, giving days of recollection, social work and counselling. The brothers are involved in the office work, looking after the boys’ hostel, monastery farm, the vegetable garden and the workshops.
3. Economic Situation
Although the community has made a greater effort to tap in its local resources to generate income such as running the farm, vegetable garden, a guest and retreat house, Repository and the carpentry, we still largely depend on donations from overseas. The current situation has shown that even those overseas donations which come to us mainly through the efforts of individual confreres who keep contact with family and friends are now dwindling. Plans are underway to establish a local procure to raise local donations for the abbey in the near future.
With two-thirds of its members coming from South Africa or other countries in Southern Africa, Inkamana is becoming more and more a genuinely African monastery. This becomes all the more obvious when one takes into account the fact that the average age of its ten German and American monks is 75 years while the local monks have an average age of 44 years.
The term of office of Abbot Godfrey came to an end on the 8th February 2015 and the community of Inkamana gathered to elect their new leader on the 9th and 10th of February 2015 under the chairmanship of Abbot President Jeremias. The community opted to elect Prior Administrator instead of an Abbot. The community then successfully and gladly elected Fr Prior John Paul Mwaniki as the Prior Administrator of Inkamana for the next three years.
With this election, all leadership positions in the monastery are now completely in the hands of the local monks however, with the rich diversity in our community, the challenge to become a truly Benedictine and genuinely African monastic community still stands.
Inkamana, 28th February 2015
Fr John Paul Mwaniki