It is a tremendous pleasure for me to attend this jubilee celebration hosted by the St Francis Xavier Parish of Mahlabathini, in honour of the Right Reverend Dr Mansuet Dela Biyase. Earlier this year my political responsibilities kept me from personally attending such a celebration to congratulate Bishop Biyase on 40 years of service in the priesthood and 25 years as a bishop of the Eshowe Diocese. On that occasion, I sent a message of encouragement and support to my brother, but today I take pleasure in standing here myself to greet Bishop Biyase and celebrate his commitment together with this parish, in my own area of jurisdiction.

When I consider Bishop Biyase’s many years of service in the work of the Lord, I am reminded of the first Psalm which tells us that blessed is the man who delights himself in the law of the Lord and meditates in this law day and night. He shall be like the tree that is planted beside rivers of water, which bears its fruit in its season, and whose leaves also shall not wither. We are assured in this Psalm that whatever such a man does shall surely prosper. I believe that, having committed his life to being under God’s command and in God’s service, Bishop Biyase set himself on a path of prosperity which would see all his actions useful, all his words bear fruit, and all his days become memories worth celebrating.

Twenty five years ago, Bishop Biyase chose to be planted in the Eshowe Diocese and committed his service to answering a call for guidance and leadership which he was well equipped to fulfil. Today, this congregation is expressing its gratitude. After twenty five years, it is good to see our brother looking so full of vitality and life. I believe he is enjoying the full benefit of living according to scripture, for his leaves certainly have not withered and his is the fullness of life. I trust that in the years to come Bishop Biyase shall continue to receive the strength of body and enthusiasm of spirit which has allowed him to labour in the fields of the Lord for 40 years.

I am deeply encouraged by the life’s work of Bishop Biyase. I myself have walked a path chosen by God and I have come to know that, while this is not an easy journey, our travelling companion is unsurpassed in wisdom, strength and understanding. My walk has not been as a leader of the Church, yet I am likewise a leader of people and I share the foundational understanding that a life of leadership is truly one of service.

Bishop Biyase has spent 40 years attending to the practical and spiritual needs of his fellow man. He has been in the service of ordinary men and women, and has changed lives through his service. During this time he has given the example of the true

ecumenical spirit, for he has worked across denominations to uplift the Church as the complete bride of Christ. Serving across denominational divides, Bishop Biyase has confirmed the role of the Church in the ministry of reconciliation. As we celebrate his leadership today, I pray that the challenge of reconciliation will enter the heart of every Church leader in South Africa, driving forward the contribution that the Church has to make towards the healing, restoration and reformation of this country.

I believe the Church has an irreplaceable role to fulfil in the making of South Africa’s future history. We are set on a course of development which requires the training of an apostolic people, ready to carry South Africa from where we are to where we ought to be. I believe the Almighty has a destiny for this country which is beyond what we have thus far achieved. I believe that God, through the men and women in His service, will change the face of our country to bring genuine liberation for all its people. This work is being achieved through dedicated servants such as Bishop Biyase and must be taken up by every man, woman and child in South Africa, creating a triumphant tide of goodwill.

I am grateful for this opportunity to personally express my admiration for the Bishop of the Eshowe Diocese. I have lived and worked among the communities of this region all my life and I know the vast ocean of needs which still exists here. Many people in this region continue to suffer and lead lives of hardship and constant trial. It was to such as these that Christ gave His time and talents. He said that He had not come into this world to heal those whose hearts were whole, but to reconcile broken hearts to the great Healer. As the author and finisher of our faith, I pray that Bishop Biyase will continue to seek the inspiration of Christ as he works here, in this community.

Today, Bishop Mansuet Dela Biyase receives a double honour. Many of those whom he has led and ministered to for 25 years have come here to celebrate his compassionate care, his strength of leadership and his spiritual wisdom. On this day, we are also made aware of the true delight of working in God’s Will and Bishop Biyase is recognised as such a man, planted beside rivers of water, whose work has always borne fruit. This is perhaps the greater blessing for our brother, and today we join in the jubilant celebration of this blessing, congratulating Bishop Biyase and wishing him Godspeed for another 25 years to come.

May God grant him an increase in spiritual prosperity, personal peace and abundant joy, and may his work continue.