Pastor’s Corner for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

Called to serve in a different way


A month ago, I announced that I will be leaving Holy Trinity parish at the end of July and moving to St Martin de Porres parish in Craighall Park. It is a heart-breaking but necessary move.


Holy Trinity holds a special place in my heart as I was ordained here, served here for 4 years after my ordination, and again for the last three years. I love the variety of ministries which we do here, from schools, universities, old age homes, hospitals, outreach to the poor and the marginalised and so much more. The community exists of people from all over Africa and the world and is the most diverse parish in the whole archdiocese. Just as I have tried to feed and nurture this parish community, I too have been nurtured by this ministry and community. For that I am grateful. THANK YOU!


So why do I need to leave Holy Trinity? It all comes down to the difference between diocesan priests and priests from religious orders such as the Society of Jesus, so let me briefly mention those differences. Religious orders are historically founded for a particular context or need, and they have a unique character. This includes orders like the Jesuits, Franciscans, Oblates, Dominicans and many more. Members of an order answer to their provincial and ultimately to the head of the order, and they can be sent anywhere in the world. They also do a great variety of ministries.


Diocesan priests are answerable to the bishop of their diocese and will invariably be used for pastoral ministry within their diocese, that is, as a parish priest within that geographical area.


Over the past two years I have realised, for a number of reasons, that I am not willing to work anywhere except here, in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. I suppose you could say I have fallen in love with this local church and the ministry I am doing. This makes me a bad Jesuit but a very good diocesan priest, which is why I am seeking to become part of the archdiocese of Johannesburg. The archbishop has accepted me for a trial period of three years, and the provincial of the Jesuits is kindly allowing me the time to confirm if this is indeed where the Holy Spirit is leading me. I am truly grateful to both for their kindness.


Holy Trinity parish has been entrusted to the pastoral care of the Society of Jesus, which means that as I “test” this different way of life I need to leave and work in a parish run by the diocese. My last Sunday in the parish will be the last Sunday of July, and the following weekend the parish will welcome Fr Russell Pollitt SJ as the new pastor.


I want to express my gratitude to all members of this parish community for accompanying me on this faith-life journey, especially the members of the PPCs’ and PFCs’ with whom I have worked. I am also backed up by a wonderful team of Deacon Billy, Cameron, Cathy and Tebogo. My deepest gratitude goes to them.


Fr Bruce Botha SJ