To: The priests, religious and all God’s people
in the Diocese of Manzini
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“The Word became flesh” (Jo 1:14)
You’ve heard me greeting you with these words in the past. These are the words I chose to lead me when I was appointed bishop.
The Lord calls and, each time He calls, one is somehow caught by surprise and overwhelmed by the mission entrusted by Him. I still remember how I felt when I was appointed bishop and Vicar Apostolic of Ingwavuma in November 2008.
Five years’ later the Lord calls once again. This time He calls me to be the shepherd of the Diocese of Manzini in the Kingdom of Swaziland following in the footsteps of Bishops Barneschi OSM, Casalini OSM, Zwane and Ndlovu OSM.
With Mary I say once more “be it done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) trusting in God’s grace as ‘My grace is enough for you: for power is at full stretch in weakness’ (2 Co 12:9).
I believe you all understand it is not easy for me to leave the Vicariate of Ingwavuma after just a few years. At the same time I am encouraged by the warm welcomed you have given me in every community in the last 16 months of my service among you and the messages you wrote since you got the news.
I entrust myself to your prayers as “little can the shepherd do without the prayer of his people” (Pope Francis). Pray the Lord who calls me to your service that I may be a Good Shepherd like my predecessors.
Pray with our brothers and sisters in the Vicariate of Ingwavuma as they wait for the appointment of a new shepherd. In the meantime Pope Francis has appointed me their Apostolic Administrator.
Fraternally yours in Christ and Mary “Consolata”,
+ José Luis Ponce de León IMC
“Consolata Missionaries” (IMC) is the name of the community I belong to.
Mary’s title as Our Lady Consolata reflects the attitude of early Christians who saw her as a loving mother to whom they would turn to in times of difficulties, tribulations and persecutions.
The early Christians had many problems and in Mary they had a consoling mother a source of love, encouragement and hope.