The Night-Vigil of prayer asking God’s blessing on the Cause of the Servant of God, Benedict Daswa, went very well, thanks be to God. More than 3000 people were present from at least 8 dioceses of the SACBC Region – the Dioceses of Tzaneen, Polokwane, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Witbank, Klerksdorp and Kimberley, as well as individuals from other dioceses. Archbishop Jabulani Nxumalo OMI of Bloemfontein representing the Southern African Bishops’ Conference, and Archbishop William Slattery OFM of Pretoria representing the Metropolitan Region, were present and concelebrated the concluding Eucharistic Celebration with Bishop Jeremiah Masela of Polokwane who welcomed the people, and the two bishops from the Diocese of Tzaneen, Bishop Joao Rodrigues and Bishop Emeritus Hugh Slattery MSC. The Benedictine Monks from Subiaco, many priests from various dioceses, a significant number of Religious Sisters from different Congregations together with large numbers of the Lay Faithful, many in Sodality uniforms, made up the congregation.
The eight adult children of Benedict, some with of their spouses, his two remaining brothers, some nieces and other relatives were also present. Benedict’s mother who was 93 last December was not there as the long trip to Mater Dei Pastoral Centre followed by the night-long Prayer Vigil, would have been too much for her. She is, however, praying very earnestly to be alive for her son’s beatification. Mr Norman Servais from Metanoia Media who made the Daswa DVD, flew from Cape Town to record the Prayer Vigil.
Weather-wise, the night was clear with the moon shining brightly overhead. The Prayer Vigil which commenced about 6.30pm Saturday and ended 6.30am Sunday, was permeated by a very joyful yet really prayerful atmosphere. The Programme had been well-planned, was interesting, informative and inspiring. Many wonderful testimonies were given by people who knew and had worked closely with Benedict, including his eldest daughter, Helen, who gave a most touching personal testimony. This was for many people, the highlight of the Vigil. Helen spoke very courageously and simply about her father. She said that she was only 13 years old at the time of her father’s murder and was the last person to speak to and be spoken to by her father who had asked her to tell her mother that he would be a bit late home as he was going to drive an old man carrying a 12.5kg bag of mealie meal to his house. After dropping the man to his house, Benedict was ambushed on his way home by a mob of youths goaded on by some adult men, then stoned and finally bludgeoned to death. All this because he refused to give R5 to pay a sangomer to “sniff out” the witch who had caused lightning to set alight a number of rondavels in the village the previous week.
To Bishop Joao and the people of the Diocese of Tzaneen, the success of this Prayer Vigil gave a clear indication that the Cause of Benedict Daswa is gaining wider recognition and support in Southern Africa. There is a definite sense among all who participated in the Vigil that Benedict Daswa is indeed a true martyr of the Catholic Church and at the same time, a very special intercessor for people in Southern Africa. It is vitally important to continue praying for his beatification in the hope that more and more people will do so and receive abundant blessings for their lives. Already there have been a number of favours attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God through praying the Novena and Prayer to Obtain Favours.
Naturally, as the Cause progresses the demands will increase. This is especially true with regard to the development of the Pilgrimage site and Shrine in honour of Benedict Daswa. As the costs are huge, so much will depend on the success of seeking and receiving many generous donations both from outside the SACBC Region and from within it. Bishop Joao has indicated that this Cause will be an important focus of the forthcoming Ad Limina visit of the Bishops of Southern Africa to the Holy Father in Rome this coming Easter.