On the 20th of February 2017, Bishop Zolile P. Mpambani, SCJ, Bishop of the Diocese of Kokstad (South Africa) commemorated his 60th birthday and 30th anniversary of priesthood at a Eucharist concelebrated by six other bishops (Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Umtata, Bishop Stanislaw Dziuba of Umzimkhulu, Bishop Dabula Mpako of Queenstown, Bishop Jan De Groef of Bethlehem and Bishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara, Vicar Apostolic of Ingwavuma) and many other priests from Kokstad and several religious communities. The provincial superior of the South African Province, Fr. Bernard Tente Sompane, SCJ, and other SCJ priests and brothers were also present to give thanks to God for the gift of their confrere, Bishop Zolile. The presence of religious sisters and brothers, and of Bp. Zolile’s family, was also significant.
In his homily Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Umtata pointed out that though some Bible readers argue that birthdays should not be celebrated because of a few unfortunate situations surrounding the celebration of a birthday (such as the beheading of John the Baptist in Mark 6:14-29 and Job’s curse of his birthday in Job 3:1-10.), there are also many biblical passages that record the importance of birthdays (John 16:21, Proverbs 9:11; Psalm 90:12; 91:16; etc.). He said that birthdays are celebrated to give thanks to God as the source and giver of life, to recognize God’s presence in our lives, and to thank the Lord and those who “made us” who we are. Coming back to the readings of the day (Monday of the 7th week in Ordinary Time, Year I), the homilist invited the whole congregation to be driven by God’s wisdom and be prayerful people so that their lives may be meaningful and may blossom. In a special way he also invited the bishop to make people’s life blossom, especially those of the poor.
After the Eucharistic a lunch was provided in the hall. During lunch, birthday and anniversary wishes of his Eminence Cardinal Wilfrid Napier in absentia were read, followed by the presentation of gifts to the bishop. At the end, Bishop Zolile expressed his thanks to all the guests present and to all those who could not make it: “Your presence and wishes from afar are a sign of love you have for me.”