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Beatification Mass

Over 30 000  people celebrate  and worship at the Blessed Tshimangadzo Benedict Daswa shrine site

youth celebrate

The Catholic Youth of Tzaneen Diocese  praise the Lord and after Cardinal Angelo Amato proclaims Benedict Daswa “Blessed”  the banner of Blessed Tshimangadzo is revealed while Blessed Benedict Daswa’s mother ponders on the mystery of this event in her heart. The 13 September 2015 is a day to be remembered in the history of the Church in Tzaneen Diocese.2364618077


On Monday 24 August 2015, the Church authorities and other authorised personnel with most of the close members of the Daswa Family, gathered in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption at Nweli. After the welcome and prayer service, the order of proceedings was outlined by the Promoter of Justice, Rev Doctor Edmund O’Neill sdb. All then proceeded to the cemetery in Mbahe Village and assembled at the grave which was clearly marked by the tombstone inscription as belonging to the Venerable Servant of God.With raised hands, three witnesses attested aloud that they were present at the burial of the Venerable Servant of God, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, and that this was indeed the place of burial of his remains. After calling each of the grave-diggers by name, Bishop Joao Rodrigues instructed them to proceed with their work.As the coffin had been very securely buried with several layers of thick cement between layers of soil, the process of uncovering the coffin took more than four hours.

The steel coffin which was in good condition, was carefully lifted upright from the grave.

Exhumed original steel coffin

With the consent of the Daswa Family it was then carried very respectfully to the grave of Eveline (Shady) Daswa, the deceased wife of Benedict, and placed on top of her tombstone. After the coffin was opened the skeletal remains of the Venerable Servant of God were seen to be intact within the original wrappings, which were themselves intact.The Family indicated their preference for the remains to be kept undisturbed in the original coffin for re-interment. Following the age-old custom of the Church, some small portions of the cloth in which the deceased was wrapped and a tiny portion of bone were taken for future use as relics.
After the coffin had been brushed down to remove excess soil, an official church document testifying to the date of death and exhumation of the Venerable Servant of God was placed inside the coffin.

Original steel coffin laid in new vault

It was then covered in white material and draped in colourful traditional Venda cloth. It was next secured with strong bands, bound with red ribbon and sealed with the wax seal of the Diocese of Tzaneen. The adult children of Benedict Daswa carried the dressed and sealed coffin to the hearse which then departed for the Church of the Assumption of Mary at Nweli, followed in convoy by the other cars.

The remains, carried by the children of Benedict Daswa, entered the church from which it departed 25 years previously. Bishop Joao Noe Rodrigues blessed and sprinkled with Holy Water and incensed the newly prepared vault, coffin and remains, as well as the Paschal Candle which was placed alongside the new vault.The coffin was then lowered on to four bricks to its new resting place, after which all were invited to view the coffin before the undertakers began the work of closing the vault with a new tombstone and headstone. The children of Benedict Daswa placed a veil as well as a bouquet of flowers on the newly sealed vault. After a brief prayer service and vote of thanks by a senior family of the Daswa Family and the Chairperson of the Diocese of Tzaneen, everyone departed.The unveiling of the tombstone will take place on the Saturday 12 September 2015, the day before the celebration of the beatification Mass.

Digital Camera


The Blessing of the Building site is to be introduced by Bishop in this following way:

We have been given in Holy Land twelve miraculous medals of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. So, today, we remember in the Book of Revelation:

Rev 12:1 “A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars”.

This text has been read on the feast of the Assumption of Mary. The Church has understood that that woman is Mary and the Church. The moon is the symbol of the deeds of darkness; the moon is under the feet of Mary and it reminds us that Mary has won the deeds of darkness by her Immaculate Conception and Assumption. The twelve stars crowning her head reminds us the twelve Apostles, the Church, the twelve apostles of the Lamb, the twelve tribes of Israel , the twelve foundations, the twelve doors of the new Jerusalem, the twelve crosses in a church blessed and dedicated, as it is said in Rev 21:9-14:

“9 Then one of the seven angels … came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb”.

I invite you all during the prayer of the Litany of the Saints to pray with these intentions in your hearts:

As the charism of the Servant of God, Benedict Daswa, is to contribute to the deliverance of the people from the deeds of darkness, because he did not want any compromising with the deeds of darkness, we pray through his intercession and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that all the works and buildings on this site dedicated around the memorial shrine of Benedict Daswa, contribute to this grace of deliverance of the deeds of darkness. May the glory of God shine upon us, children of God, and help us to become ourselves holy men and women. May the Lord empower us with his Spirit of Holiness and Love and enable us to bring the Joy of the Gospel everywhere in our world.

– Today is an opportunity for us all gathered here, near the village of Mbahe, the village where Benedict Daswa and his family were living, to enter into the spirit of Christ like Benedict Daswa and not hold any sin against them, so that we become more of a forgiving community and ministers of healing.
– We also pray for the conversion of those who are still alive and who participated in his murder on the 2nd February 1990. We also pray that they are delivered of any feeling of guilt. We also pray for the salvation of those who killed him and have already died.
– We pray for the continual healing and the reconciliation of the family and the people of Mbahe village.
– We pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten us all and especially in this diocese to refrain from the anti-Christian rituals and practices of divination and witchcraft.
– Through the intercession of Benedict Daswa we pray that our Catholic families may experience the reconciliation where there has been conflicts and may experience deeper bonds of communion in their relationship.


Then, in the following or similar words, the celebrant prepares those present for the blessing.

The work we are beginning should enliven our faith and make us grateful. We know the familiar words of the psalm: “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain the builders labour.” Whenever we look to the interests of our neighbour or the community and serve them, we are, in a sense, God’s own co-workers. Let us pray for his help through this celebration, my brothers and sisters, that God will bring this building site to successful completion and that his protection will keep those who work on it safe from injury.

With hands outstretched, the celebrant continues with the prayer of blessing:

All-powerful and all-merciful Father,
You have created all things through your Son
And have made the unshakable foundation of your kingdom.
Through the gift of wisdom,
Grant that the undertaking we begin
For your glory and for our own well-being
May progress day by day to its successful completion.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Then, Bishop will bless the site and with the altar servants follow the way which has been cleaned.
During this time, people sing the Litany of the Saints.

On the way to plant 12 medals

1 November Celebrations at TSHITANINI


The eldest of five children, Tshimangadzo Samuel Daswa was, born on 16 June 1946 in the village of Mbahe near Thohoyandou, in the present Province of Limpopo, South Africa. Growing up in the African Traditional Religion, he belonged to the Bakali clan of the Lemba tribe. On 21 April 1963 he was baptised, Benedict, received his First Holy Communion, and three months later was confirmed. Being greatly influenced by his catechist, Benedict Risimati, he made his own the motto of St Benedict, “Pray and Work”. This became the inspiration for every aspect of his Christian life. Soon after his baptism, Benedict realised that the whole area of witchcraft, which led to the killing of innocent people, was totally against his Catholic faith. From that time on, both in his private life and in public, Benedict took a very strong and principled stand against this evil. It was this consistent stance against witchcraft which eventually led to his own brutal death by stoning and bludgeoning on 2nd February 1990 just four months short of his 44th birthday.


Digital CameraOn the 1st of November, Bishop Joao Noe Rodrigues, together with the Priests (including some priests from the Dioceses of Polokwane and Witbank) and eight to nine hundred Parishioners of the Diocese of Tzaneen, gathered at Tshitanini Village in the Parish of Thohoyandou to celebrate the Solemnity of the Feast of All Saints. The Eucharistic Celebration commenced at 9.00am and finished at 1.30pm. Also present at this celebration were Heads of the Local Tribal and Municipal Authorities, together with their Entourages, the Daswa Family members including his Mother, siblings, adult children and other extended family members, and representatives from some other Christian Churches. During the Mass the Bishop solemnly blessed the 10 hectare plot of land which the Diocese has acquired for the future Shrine and On the way to plant 12 medalsPilgrimage Centre in honour of the Servant of God. At the place where the future church is to be built, twelve miraculous medals brought especially from the Holy Land were buried. These twelve medals of the Mother of God symbolized the Church built on the foundation of the twelve Apostles. Before the final blessing and dismissal, to mark this historic occasion, two trees were planted, one by Bishop Joao, representing the Church, the other by the Mayor of Thulamela Municipality, Her Worship Cllr Mahosi NG, representing the Civil Authorities. A number of speeches were given by various dignitaries, both at the commencement of the Mass and prior to the conclusion of the celebration.


Benedict Daswa’s life and death have a very special relevance, not only for the Church, but also for the wider society. After his baptism, Benedict became a “real” Catholic, very zealous for the spread of the faith and deeply involved in various areas of the local church. He had a preferential love for young people and spent many hours and weekends catechising and guiding them. As a teacher, he was concerned not only about giving good education but also about imparting moral values and character formation to the learners. He was also a very conscientious school principal, moulding and motivating his staff to provide good education and also involving the parents as partners in the educative process. As a family man he was a genuine role-model as husband and father and totally committed to the ideal of the family as the “domestic church”.

In the wider society Benedict made no secret of his stance against the widespread practice of witchcraft, sorcery and ritual murder which have such a crippling effects on the development and progress of society. Accusations of witchcraft are frequently made out of jealousy, fear and suspicion against those who are seen to be more committed and successful in their enterprises. Benedict realised that individuals must be freed from these paralysing effects in order to take personal responsibility and grow into mature adults. Benedict therefore, is relevant not only for the Church, but also for the wider society by helping people to achieve true, inner freedom.


On 10 October we received from Rome the wonderful news that the outcome of the meeting on 9 October of the nine theological consultants appointed by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints to examine the Positio of Benedict Daswa was positive. In fact, the vote was unanimous that Benedict had died a martyr. We also received news that the Commission of twenty-two Bishops and Cardinals who will discuss and vote on the Positio and Report of the theological consultants, will meet in Rome on 13 January 2015. If the result of their deliberations is also positive, a Decree of Martyrdom will be given by the Cardinal Prefect and the Servant of God will be named, “Venerable”. This will be sent to the Holy Father for ratification and a date set for the beatification at which he will then be named “Blessed Benedict Daswa”. This ceremony will take place in South Africa, hopefully sometime towards the end of 2015.
For Benedict Daswa to be declared “Saint” it will be necessary that a miracle, attributed solely through his intercession, be formally recognised by the Church. This miracle must be verified not only by Church officials, but also by a team of medical or other professional experts appointed by the Vatican. We urge people to pray earnestly for God’s continued blessing on the progress of the cause and encourage them to ask God for their needs through the prayerful intercession of Benedict Daswa, so that soon he will become the first South African Catholic Saint.


If anyone wishes to obtain further information about the Servant of God, please contact the Promoter of the Cause, Sister Claudette Hiosan. Novena Booklets (R5), and the Official Prayer to Obtain Favours (R3), printed in English, Northern Sotho, Tsonga and Venda, together with other printed matter, are available from the Diocese of Tzaneen. Contact details for the Promoter:

Cell: 076 579 8843


A day to remember: 25 April 2014 with Pope Francis in Rome

Just before the official meeting of the group of bishops with Pope Francis,Fr Andrew Shingange who accompanied Bishop Joao Rodrigues to the “upper room” had the opportunity to greet the pope and receive the rosary beads.Yes this was indeed a day to remember with joy and gratitude as the communion between the Diocese of Tzaneen and the See of St Peter was confirmed.

HOMILY for the Holy Mass of the Vigil for Benedict Daswa Cause 16 Feb 2014

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Let us listen again to the words of the Lord Jesus in verse 24 (Luke 4,24).

“Truly I say to you: no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”  

“Ngiqinisile ngithi kini: Akukho –mprofethi owamukelwa ezweni lakubo”

“Ruri, ke a le botsa,moporofeta ga a ke a thabelwa motseng wa gabo.”

The Lord Jesus was not only prophesing about himself in this verse but about the experience of the genuine prophets in the history of Israel (and he gives some examples of this in the Gospel account). Jesus was also anticipating what would happen to his followers after his death and resurrection.And again we read in the Acts of the Apostles and in many later church accounts, how Christians were often persecuted and even killed because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. This is still happening today in some parts of Africa and the world.

Why does this happen? The Lord Jesus gives us an insight to this question in verse 24 saying.”Truly I say to you: no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”  A prophet is a person who has been inspired in a special way by the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit enlightens the person in his mind and heart and a new vision and understanding about life opens up which is directed by God. He or she is urged by the Holy Spirit to speak for God, for God’s truth and revelation and to live accordingly.The prophet’s most important point of reference is no longer my people, or my culture or my friends or my nation but first and formost – God. Everything the prophet says and does begins and ends in prayer and worship of God.
 That is what a prophet is – one who speaks for God,who makes known God’s will for humanity and witnesses to this revelation in his or her personal life.And you know what? Anyone can become a prophet because everyone is called to become a prophet in Jesus Christ. And Benedict Daswa was one of those anyones!

Benedict Daswa  heard the prophetic call and answered by being baptised in Christ in the Catholic Church. He responded generously to God’s call and never looked back. He embraced the truths of revelation and lived accordingly with joy in the Holy Spirit. And he boldly made known to others – including his wife, his children,his friends,his co-workers,the learners at his school,his community and all –  the saving loving power and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Truly,I say to you:no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”

People familiar with a prophet think they know him or her but in reality they don’t! People say: We know him.He is one of us.We grew up with him.He is from our village and speaks like us.We went to the same schools together. He is not special or unique. Who does he think he is? Does he think he is better than us?Does he think he knows more than us? The people do not understand that he is special and unique, that he is no longer simply one of them but first and foremost a child of God who can discern the difference between right from wrong, truth from lies,justice from injustice,peace from violence;who has been given the courage in God’s grace to speak out against injustice and lies and to resist the temptations that the “blind and slaves” put on him to give up on God’s way.

Indeed the people who criticise the prophet are the very people whom God is calling to listen to the prophet! These people are blind because they are deviod of the light of the Holy Spirit in their lives and they are slaves of sin because they are ignorant and deny that all people are called to follow the way of God. Those people who are still enslaved to a witchcraft mentality and live with superstitious fears, who are still ignorant of the laws of nature,who are still living with a fatalistic attitude to life blaming everyone else except themselves for the difficulties of life  are “the blind and the slaves” who need to be liberated by Christ.Those people who thought that Benedict Daswa was simply one of them and one like them were gravely mistaken.Benedict Daswa was a prophet of God following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. That is why he was killed by them.
Today we rejoice in God’s grace for and with the Servant of God Benedict Daswa.We rejoice and are glad for Benedict Daswa’s reward is great in the Kingdom of Heaven.Yes, we do not mourn or cry in sadness but give glory to God for having given us such a wonderful prophet. “Yes, rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4,13).

“Truly,I say to you:no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”
“Ngiqinisile ngithi kini: Akukho –mprofethi owamukelwa ezweni lakubo”
“Ruri, ke a le botsa,moporofeta ga a ke a thabelwa motseng wa gabo.”


(Homily by Bishop Joao Rodrigues,the Bishop of Tzaneen Diocese)

Bishop’s Letter to Catholics of Tzaneen Diocese

6 September 2013                                

 Dear Family of God

During this Year of Faith we have been focusing on the importance of the catechetical ministry in the Diocese of Tzaneen. During September we give praise to God for the many volunteer catechists to whom we are most grateful for willingly and diligently teaching and forming our young and old in the way of the Catholic Christian faith. I appeal to all the parishes to consider September month as a “Month of Catechesis” and to celebrate on Sunday 15 September “Catechetical Sunday” during which the importance of the catechetical ministry can be presented anew with an appeal for more to be done in organising the programmes of religious formation in our Catholic families and adult catechumens. Formation in the Faith is concerned with our character and how Christ calls us in the grace of the Holy Spirit to be people of dignity who act with justice and peace in all our relationships both near and far. I urge you to consider Sunday 22 September as a day to emphasise this and to pray for the needs of many people in the world today who are crying out to God for justice and peace because of human selfishness shown in violence and greed. Pope Francis has made a special appeal for us to pray and fast for the people of Syriawho are involved in a terrible civil war and to remember many other nations that are caught in violent conflicts.

October month is World Mission Month for our diocese and the 20 October is World Mission Sunday. During October we are challenged to share more of ourselves and resources in the missionary work of the Church throughout the world. Tzaneen Diocese is still heavily dependent on the missionary congregations of priests and sisters who serve in many different ministries and projects. During October we give thanks to God for the missionaries and at the same time we are called to make a substantial financial contribution to the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Propagation of the Faith and Holy Childhood. We are still benefiting from these mission societies so in a very real sense we are helping ourselves as well when we take up these special mission collections in our parishes.

Because of widespread corruption in the public and private sectors of South Africa, I make a special appeal that during October month we also pray that corrupt practices may be exposed, that “whistle-blowers” may be protected, that the guilty may be justly punished and that better ways of preventing corruption may be implemented in our work life. Honesty is the best policy for South Africa to develop as a united nation.


May God bless you all with the peace of  Christ.


Bishop Joao Rodrigues                                                


Fr Andrew Shingange about to leave for studies in Rome

On Sunday 23 June the Parish of Tzaneen said a special farewell to Fr Andrew  who has been helping in the parish as well as directing the youth and vocations promotion to priesthood and religious life in the Diocese of Tzaneen. He will be studying at the Pontifical Urbania University for a licentiate degree in Canon Law. The bishop gave him a special blessing and everyone wished him  well and success. It was pointed out that living and studying in another continent and culture will not be easy for him but with the grace of God and the support of his teachers and fellow students,he will manage and adapt to the new situation. May the Lord protect him on his journey and may he learn well and continue to grow in the Spirit of God.
We will miss him and will be waiting for his return.Arrivederci!

Fr Andrew will soon be in Rome