“I do not have words to express enough how special my Dad was to all of us as a family. I am glad he gave us a firm Christian foundation and teachings of the Church from a very young age”. Those were the words of the daughter of Benedict Daswa quoted by Bishop Jeremiah Masela, the Bishop of Polokwane who was the main celebrant at the Feast of Blessed Benedict Daswa in the morning of the 1st February 2022 in Tshitanini.
The feast was celebrated for the first time since 2020 due to the 2021 festivities being canceled owing to covid-19 restrictions. Present too were Bishop Joao Rodrigues, the local Bishop of Tzaneen, and Bishop Emeritus Hugh Slattery as concelebrants in the Mass. The morning started with the exposition and veneration of the relics accompanied by confessions and the rosary.
In quoting the daughter of Benedict Daswa again Bishop Masela said she posed a challenge that still remains a challenge for us even today, “Dad was a man who was never afraid to uphold the teachings of Christ and was prepared to stand firm against antichrist principles. How many of us here tonight would have opted to stand against witchcraft practices in our communities even when the threat of death is possible?”.
Bishop Masela said the Church’s celebration today is part of that process of remembering Blessed Benedict Daswa and while people cannot foresee the blessings that will be showered upon those who are touched by his life, the congregation goes away with the assurance that since the grain of wheat has fallen into the ground and died, there will be abundant fruit.
Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa was born on 16 June 1946 at Mbahe village near Thohoyandou, South Africa, Baptized in 1963 by Fr. Augustine O’Brien MSC, he qualified as a teacher and later became a school principal. As a married man with eight children, he was very involved in both Church and community activities. On 2 February 1990, he was bludgeoned to death for refusing to take part in anti-Catholic practices of witchcraft. He was beatified on 13 September 2015 by Cardinal Angelo Amato in Tshitanini.