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Fr William Guri C.Ss.R., writes...

6 February 2011 

Update on Frs Cletus and Joseph 

Dear Confreres,


Greetings from St Anthony of Padua, Coronationville in Johannesburg. This is the home of our two Nigerian confreres . Frs Charles Augustine Uloko C.Ss.R, and Cletus Onwudiwe C.Ss.R started ministry here in October 2009 and look after two parishes St Anthony of Padua in Coronationville, and St Joseph the Worker in Bosmont.


As you have all heard by now, two of our Redemptorist confreres, Fr Cletus from Nigeria and Fr Joseph Musendami from Zimbabwe, were involved in a motor car accident on their way to Merrivale, to attend the Preaching Symposium.


The accident happened on the main Johannesburg to Durban highway the N3, between Germiston and Alberton, just outside Johannesburg. Our confreres were travelling in convoy with Joseph and Cletus in the leading car. According to eyewitnesses, a car travelling in the opposite direction came through the ramp in the middle of the road, at very high speed and rammed into our car. Apparently the lady driving the car had lost control and she died on the spot. We do not know much about her – may God rest her soul.


Fr Cletus sustained a major dislocation and a minor fracture in his right leg. He was admitted into the Garden City Clinic, in Brixton. Fr Joseph sustained internal injuries in the abdomen around the horizontal seat belt area and was admitted into Union Hospital in Natalspruit.


Fr Joseph was operated on the day of admission, 31 January, in the evening. They repaired a section of the small intestines that had been injured and cleaned up the internal bleeding. The operation was successful.

I abandoned the Preaching Symposium and flew up to Johannesburg to be with the injured confreres on the 1st of February. My coming was a great relief to Fr Charles who had been looking after the two confreres by himself and covering the parishes alone too.


I saw Fr Joseph on my way from the airport and he was still weak and tired from the effects of the operation the night before. But he was conscious enough to recognize and welcome me. I was able, on the same day to meet with the doctor in charge of the unit and the surgeon who had operated on him. Both doctors predicted a short stay in the hospital provided there were no complicated developments.


I began the daily routine of going to the hospital to visit and monitor the progress. By Friday the 4th Fr Joseph had progressed well and was meeting all the targets expected in the treatment plan. He was ready to be moved to a general ward out of the high care unit.


Fr Cletus, whose ankle has been set into a cast and is mobile with the aid of crutches, was discharged from hospital on Friday the 4th of February. He is now at home in St Anthony of Padua and is doing well.


I was due to leave South Africa on Sunday the 6th of February. I managed to change my ticket to Monday the 7th hoping that I could see Fr Joseph’s doctors in the morning to discuss his discharge from hospital. It was a happy surprise that on Sunday the 6th, Father Joseph was discharged and was at home by lunchtime.


Fr Joseph will be in the Coronationville (St Anthony Padua) community until the 11th of February, when he will go back to the hospital to have his stitches removed. When the Preaching Symposium finishes, on the 11th, Fr Larry Kaufamann will take Joseph to his residence in Linden, Johannesburg and care for him there until he is ready to return to Zimbabwe.


I would like to express my deep gratitude to our confreres in South Africa for the great help and caring support that they have offered us during this time. Fr Larry was most helpful when the accident happened and has offered every assistance during the hospitalization and in the time of convalescence. Fr Charles carried the weight of caring for the two injured confreres from the moment of the accident, through hospitalization and afterwards. I am very grateful and humbled by the generosity of these confreres.


I am also grateful that the lives of our confreres were spared in this accident. Inconvenient and painful as it has been, our brothers survived with treatable injuries. It could have been worse, and God has shown, once again, his great care and love for us.


The confreres who were in the car behind the accident saw it all happened. They too narrowly escaped, and were protected by God. They offered much needed help to the injured brothers at the site until they were safely admitted into hospital. I want to thank these confreres for their presence and help. I am sure the trauma of watching the accident remained with them during the Preaching Symposium. I wish them a quick recovery.


I am also most grateful to our confreres in the other communities in South Africa, in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, the UK, and Rome, who received the news of the accident and immediately applied themselves to prayer for the injured confreres. Your prayers and support helped us cope with the reality on the ground. Fr Charles and I brought ‘good news’ to the hospital each time we told our injured confreres that we had received messages with the promise of prayers and wishes for healing, from the confreres in different places.


Gratitude is due to the people of Coronationville, who prayed along with us and supported in various ways, our brothers, in hospital and at home in St Anthony Padua. I know that many prayers have been offered by the people in our Redemptorist Parishes and many others who share our life with us. I am very grateful for that cloud of witness.


Much gratitude is due to the police, paramedics, ambulance staff, doctors, nurses and hospital staff who responded quickly, intervened effectively and ministered compassionately to our brothers in their time of need. May God bless them always.


I would like to appeal for more prayers for Frs Cletus and Joseph as they convalesce. May God grant them healing and full recovery, that completely restored, they may return to us, to love and to serve. 


Yours in the Most Holy Redeemer,


Fr William Guri, C.Ss.R.

Regional Superior of Zimbabwe.