After being at the helm of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Gaborone for the past 26 years – during which period he reached the canonical age – the Right Reverend Bishop Setlalekgosi finally steps down to pave the way for the ordination of the youngest Motswana bishop at Ditshupo Hall on April 25th.
The ordination of Fr Valentine Tsamma Seane, whose appointment has been blessed by both the entire church and Pope Benedict XVI, would see multitudes of Catholic personalities across the globe grace the occasion.
These will include His Excellency The Most Reverend Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop James Patrick Green, who is the Papal Ambassador to 5 countries in Southern Africa, and His Eminence Wilfrid Cardinal Napier.
“The ordination of Valentine is seen as the milestone not only in Botswana but the entire Southern Africa and the world, particularly so because he is among the 10 youngest bishops to be ordained in the Catholic Church around the world and the youngest in the Southern African Bishops Conference,” said the retiring Bishop Setlalekgosi at an impromptu press briefing Wednesday designed to enlighten the public about the looming ordination.
While he cherishes the days he spent as the bishop, the journey, however, was not a walk in the park particularly during the early years of his ordination.
Bishop Setlalekgosi had the daunting task to establish ministries across the country but often had difficulties in reaching far places, such as Ncojane and other northern areas. Today he can sigh with relief because most ministries have been established across the country.
Asked about the confidence and quality of his successor, Bishop Setlalekgosi beamed for a moment to announce he has all the “trust and confidence in Valentine”.
“Every Bishop has his own way of establishing and coordinating his ministries and I believe he would be building on the foundation that I have built so far,” he added.
As is custom with the norms of the church, the Bishop-elect will be ordained by the supreme personalities in His Excellency Archbishop Green, assisted by Bishop Setlalekgosi and the Right Reverend Bishop Frank Nubuasah, Bishop of the Vicariate of Francistown, with a letter of appointment from Pope Benedict XVI read over to enhance and consummate the ordination.
Like most Catholics, the new 42-year-old Bishop spent his early school days in a Catholic school doing his primary school at St Theresa and proceeded to Lobatse Secondary School.
Ordained in Stigmatine Congregation, Fr Valentine was later incardinated into the Diocese of Gaborone a few years ago. Until his appointment, he was Administrator of Christ the King Cathedral in Gaborone. From 1986 to 1993, he did his philosophical and Theological Studies at St. John Vianney Major Seminary in Pretoria and was ordained a Priest on 19 March 1994.
He studied Moral Theology/Ethics AT Alphonsiana University in Italy Rome and graduated Magna Cum Laude, receiving a Licenceiate in Moral Theology/Ethics.
He served as a Youth Chaplain from 1994 to 1996 in Jericho Pastoral District of Pretoria.
According to the statement from the Bishop’s office, the ordination takes place during Mass after which Fr Valentine’s letter of appointment as Bishop from Pope Benedict XVI will be read to be followed by the homily, which will be delivered by Bishop Setlalekgosi.
“Then the Rite of Ordination begins. After various prayers have been said and Litany of Saints sung, each of the bishops in turn will lay their hands on Fr. Valentine’s head. This is a sign of the passing on of the authority they share as Bishops of the Church,” says the statement.
Next, the Book of Gospels is held over the Bishop – a symbol of inspiration that the words of Gospel continue to offer the Church as a rule of faith and life.
“Next the prayer of Consecration is prayed by the three consecrating bishops. The new bishop is anointed on his head with the Oil of Chrism- a symbol of being set aside for the specific duties of his office and is then given the Book of Gospels and told to “receive the Gospel and preach the Word with unfailing patience and sound teaching”.
Finally, he is presented with the symbols we associate with the bishop, symbols reflecting his authority: the ring, mitre and the crosier.
From this moment on Bishop Valentine now begins his new ministry.