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Twin Parish

St. Luke's and Holy Cross parish is twinning with Regina Coeli parish (which means Queen of Heaven) in the Diocese of Dundee, South Africa. The official twinning document was signed by Fr. Jose Luis and Fr. Paul McNamara in November 2002. Diocese of Dundee is twinning with Diocese of Brentwood and hence the parish under both dioceses are encourage to twin between each other. The Bishop of Dundee, Bishop Michael Roland is nature of Grays, Essex.

With this twinning we are supporting and praying for each other, as well as to build friendship, to understand each other. It is a learning process to increase our awareness of each other's richness. Below are some images about our twin parish Regina Coeli. Click on the images to enlarge them.



August 2008 Visit

(By Rachel Rowley)

People always talk about their trip of a lifetime, so now I figure you are about to read yet another story about a life-affirming experience that myself and five others shared out in South Africa in August 2008. The people involved in the trip were David Summerville, Anthony Rowley, Fr. Bernard Soley, Eamonn Hyde, Christopher Lloyd and myself. Our experience took place in the country of South Africa in the district of KwaZulu-Natal amongst the Zulu people. Back here in England, it is not customary to shake hands with every person you meet and invite them to join you for Mass on Sunday; however, in the townships of KwaZulu-Natal, this is perfectly normal. The people are the friendliest and warmest people that anyone could hope to meet and they make total strangers feel perfectly welcome. There was never a dull moment and one was never made to feel alienated. They gave to us everything they had and then some, which was a truly incredible feeling. These are people living in arid lands with barely enough essentials to survive on. By the age of eighteen it is possible that the people of South Africa have felt and experienced more hardship than we could even think of enduring in a lifetime.

A few places that we went to that I would like to share with you in particular were St. Anthony’s Orphanage, Madadeni Hospital, Maria Ratschitz’s Hospice, the local secondary school and the parishes in Madadeni. Many of these places involved the youth which was so exciting for all of us, but in particular Eamonn, Christopher and myself because Eamonn is the chairperson of Harlow Catholic Youth within our own Parish of Holy Cross and St. Luke’s where Christopher and I are also members. St. Anthony’s Orphanage in Blaauwbosch was absolutely breathtaking. The amount of care that the children have for each other as well as the care that the carers give to them is second to none. All the children seemed very happy and contented even though they had lost the people that are meant to provide them this love and care. A predominantly striking moment was when the children ran up to us all and wanted us to pick them up and take them round with us. One child even cried when we left. These children have been deprived of parents, but not of love and affection. There is even an association for child care workers because of the lack of staffing, but also because these children can earn a living. They see being a carer as being part of an extended family rather than a mere job. These children are truly remarkable, as are the staff that care for them.

On our travels, we had a base in Newcastle, a town just outside the township of Madadeni. We briefly had the opportunity of visiting Madadeni hospital for Father Joseph, a friend and guide to us, to visit a sick parishioner of his. The hospital was heart-wrenching to see. It was cold, clinical and very run down. There were not proper cleaning and hygiene facilities for patients, staff or visitors and there appeared to be once again a lack of staff. The hospital is situated in a poor area, but the staff do amazingly well with the facilities they have to make the patients feel safe and comfortable. There was hardly any technological equipment and the people were suffering because of the lack of medical advance. Just a while away from the hospital there is a HIV clinic, but it is unable to be opened due to the absence of staff to work there. The job process is a long process out in South Africa for many areas of work, and many are too poor to fund their own training in certain career fields in order for them to train as professionals to aid in such work as hospital and clinical work.

Maria Ratschitz is a hospice that is situated just outside the town of Dundee; however, the hospice itself burnt down in May 2006, killing four people. We visited the former Bishop Michael and proceeded to meet the resident Nuns. I was extremely privileged while at Maria Ratschitz to be able to visit the two patents in residing in the home while the new hospice is being built. It was something special for me personally because I was the only member of the group that went in. I met a man who was leaning over his bed, clearly in distress and pain and he turned round to see me and my African friends and guides Mandla, Buyisile and Mbali and he smiled at us with such warmth that I felt immediately at home and touched by meeting him. This was further enhanced by meeting another girl in the hospice of fifteen years of age: a friend of Mandla’s. She was very small and withered because the only muscles in the whole of her body that she was able to use were her facial muscles. Despite this, she was very happy and clearly loved because of all the toys and photographs around her room. I have never felt as humble in my life as when I saw how happy this girl was, even though she was totally immobile at only fifteen years old.

We were also fortunate enough to meet more of the youths at two particular institutions: Majuba College and St. Lewis Bertrand’s High School. The youth of the college and the school wanted to be there. They wanted to learn and they wanted the opportunity to do well for themselves. They also prided themselves on their uniforms; whereas the chance would be a fine thing in England. They see it as a symbol of belonging. Even the youth groups within parishes have their own uniforms to create a sense of unity and family. There were classes of up to eighty pupils all at once in one classroom and there were often not teachers to be able to teach every lesson, but the pupils made the most of this even though they had a lack of textbooks and proper learning facilities. Their libraries were so small that not even all the shelves were filled with books. This was such a different way of appreciating education and it made all of us feel very lucky for the opportunities we had at school; much of which was down to the facilities available.

The final experience in the trip that I wish to share with you is the youth of the parishes in Madadeni. The power of faith and the enthusiasm that these young people have is incredible. We celebrated Mass at Regina Coeli Parish on our first Sunday there and the people of the parish particularly many of the youth put on a concert for us of singing and dancing and included all of us in it as well. It was a very enjoyable afternoon in which we got to know all members of the Parish, but for Christopher, Eamonn and I, we got to know many members of the youth and share our ideas. We were even privileged enough to attend one of their youth meetings and converse about how each of our different youth groups is run. The Saturday before this that we spent at Regina Coeli, the youth were having a day retreat. They celebrated Mass for an hour, yet an hour and a half later, they were still singing and dancing round the Church, praising God and thanking them for what they had. They invited all of us to join in with them which was a very special and moving event for all of us to see just how alive in Christ these teenagers were. I think one of the most striking points that we spent with the youth was our final day in Madadeni when the youth arranged an afternoon of games for us. At the end of this day, we were presented with gifts from the youth as a token of their bond with us. It was truly unbelievable because these people come from poor families and they do not own much themselves, yet they showered Christopher, Eamonn and I with gifts. It was very poignant and I count myself as one of the luckiest people in the world to have been able to partake in this experience and meet some of the most truly remarkable and wonderful people that anyone could hope to meet. Their warmth, hospitality and friendship will stay with us forever.


Covenant - Regina Caeli

We the people of Regina Caeli Parish pledge ourselves:

  • To deepen our friendship and partnership with the communities of:
    St. Luke's & Holy Cross, Harlow, ENGLAND
    through prayer, support, raising awareness and action.
  • To listen to the voices of the powerless in our world and take actions solidarity with them to address courses of injustice and poverty.
  • To protect life and to live in harmony with all creation so that the limited natural resources of our world are not exploited and consumed, but respected, shared and regenerated.

Sign on behalf of the parish community;



Covenant - St. Luke 's & Holy Cross

We the people of St. Luke's & Holy Cross Parish pledge ourselves:

  • To deepen our friendship and partnership with the communities of:
    Regina Caeli parish, Dundee,

    through prayer, support, raising awareness and action.
  • To listen to the voices of the powerless in our world and take actions solidarity with them to address courses of injustice and poverty.
  • To protect life and to live in harmony with all creation so that the limited natural resources of our world are not exploited and consumed, but respected, shared and regenerated.

Sign on behalf of the parish community;

Dave Somerville


August 2005 Visit

(from David Summerville's letter on St. Mark's newsletter September 2005)

In August 2005 I visited the parish of Regina Coeli in the Diocese of Dundee South Africa. Regina Coeli is twinned with our parish of Holy Cross here in Harlow. With me, I brought donations totalling £2500, raised by Holy Cross and St Mark's, to help the people who live in South Africa.

It was a wonderful experience, often sad and very humbling; I spent my time with Zulu people in a township called Madadeni. They are great people living lives which are very poor compared to ours. Their belief in God is simple but true and they get on with their lives, trusting in God and without moaning.

During my time there I visited an orphanage catering for children from birth to 18 years old; I was overwhelmed by what I saw. The children sang and danced for me and two little ones held my hand the whole time I was there. I also visited a school with classes of 60-80 pupils where the only text books were the teachers' and the Library consisted of one small bookcase.

I went to the funeral of a local woman who was only 30 years old; her death was related to HIV/Aids which is a massive problem in this area and killing millions in Africa. She left behind three young children; hopefully her family will be able to raise them. I also visited a local hospice; again there were many people there dying from HIV/Aids.

Local people invited me into their simple homes and shared their food with me; at every opportunity they sang and danced - from the very young to the very old. We went to Mass in the local churches where the services were real celebration - singing, dancing, drumming - and although they were very long the time passed very quickly.

The money I took with me has already been spent: to pay for education for the young; to help the poor buy food and clothes; to help those affected by HIV/Aids. Many thanks to all whose contributions helped: I will continue to collect money in school every week - a little goes a long way in South Africa and it lets the people of Regina Coeli know that we care.

Latest News from Reginal Caeli & St. Paul

Many thanks for your continued support, with the final total from the reitring collection, coming to £536, which will be sent, together with the money raised by St. Mark's School, to arrive before Christmas. The school fees are due on 1st January 2006, so the money will help with that. In addition, there is great news..... on 26th November, two new priests from Madadeni are to be ordained. Please pray for them. The funeral that Tony and Dave attended, of Gladys, the latest news is that her three children are able to stay together, with help from the SVP, and some of our contributions will go towards helping hte SVP too. Also, the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS, are in decline, in recent months. Please remember our brothers and sisters in your prayers. Dave.