Sunday, January 16, 2022

Father JJ Kgaodi: 25 years of service, still going on…

A former classmate at the Pastoral College defined him as a smart, born with leadership qualities and special character. Father Johannes Kgaodi overcame long illnesses which interrupted his primary education and his priesthood, as well as postponement of his diaconate and priesthood ordinations and endured all the challenges that come with his calling.

Consequently, Batswana of different social, political, economic and educational status the past Saturday convened in a joyous gathering meant to commemorate his Silver Jubilee as a Church Minister. It was celebrated at St Peter’s Catholic Parish in Gabane, where he is Parish Priest. Songs, prayers, speeches, poems and ululations were the order of the day as various speakers took share in describing the type of character Fr. JJ or Ndara, as he is affectionately called by his Parishners.

Said Fr. Barnabas Machingauta, his friend and former classmate at Pastoral College: “It is uncommon that a friend can be called to define to a gathering like this one, the character of his friend, unless they are dead. I am going to speak about our friendship at Pastoral College, not anywhere else. I am going to talk about Kgaodi the smart one. Everything about him was smart. His cigarette…smart…” he had to pause so as to allow calm as the congregation was hysteric with laughter. Fr. JJ himself broadened his eyes and covered his mouth in astonishment. Decades have passed since he had his last smoke.

“Beer…smart one…” continued Manchigauta amidst shouts of doubts. “He was the only one who played smart sport-long tennis and he even attracted Instructors to play it. He wore smart outfits…I mean everyone wished he had his wear. He was the only one who did not submit hand-written assignments. He was the first to purchase himself a type writer in our college while instructors struggled with some of our poor hand writings,” he said, and continued:

“Now I talk of Kgaodi the antagonistic debater. Here was a man who would come and find you arguing, and without even knowing what the argument is about he would trash the speaker he would find speaking. He would then dominate the topic. No doubt this man was born a leader. You could tell from the way he wore his spectacles. He lowered the glasses so his eyeballs rolled and appeared above the glasses’ rims. To us that showed leadership. And he proved it when he became Chairman of Student Representative Council.”

Following his completion of his studies and disturbing ordination postponements, new dates were slotted and honored. The Right Reverend Bishop Boniface Setlalekgosi ordained Fr JJ a Catholic Priest on the 16th December, 1989 at his home Parish, St. Conrad’s Mission, Ramotswa. He was appointed to our Lady of the Desert in Francistown where he served until 1991.

In 1993 Bishop Setlalekgosi sent Fr. JJ to Amecia GABA, Kenya for Pastoral Theology: Communication and counseling. Upon arrival in 1994, Fr JJ was appointed Parish Priest- his first such appointment, for St Patrick’s Mission in Mahalapye. While there he was appointed the St Ann’s (the largest of Catholic groups) Sodality Spiritual Advisor by the Bishop.

His leadership led to the growth of the sodality. The Sodality’s member introduced only as MmaB, who had been with it for decades testified that Fr JJ’s directorship was miraculous. She said; “As you might be aware, where women are, gossips and petty talks are the order of the day, but Fr Kgaodi prevailed over all those. I recall one day when he made us remove idolatrous ropes around ours waists. He stood during a conference, where hundreds of us were gathered and told us that the only Catholic ropes were the black ones which are part of the uniform. Any hidden ones were not permissible in the Church. He urged each of us to go to the toilets, remove the unwanted ropes from our waists and surrender them to him. Unwillingly, each of us who had such ropes left and obeyed instruction.”

Through his missionary journey biography, Fr JJ states that he first experienced burning desire to be an ordained Catholic Priest made early flashes when he was in Standard 4.

“These flashes were transformed into an extinguishable passion after he witnessed the ordination of the late Fr. Johannes Seane on 10th September 1967. Upon successful completion of his studies at St. Theresa’s Primary, the young Johannes transitioned to St. Joseph’s College in pursuit of Form1 to Form 5. This is where the youthful Johannes met Mgr Boniface Setlalekgosi who further shaped and modeled him. The less travelled path seemed compelling…” it states.

He was born in an already Christian Catholic family of seven him being the first born.
When given the opportunity to talk to the fully packed big tent he thanked Catholics for praying for him, payers that saw him recovering from deadly cancer.

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