A Tribute to Father Heinz-Werner Schneider
First Parish Priest of the Constantia Church
About 40 years ago the families of Constantia were without the benefit of a formal Parish structure. They were supporting Rondebosch, Corpus Christi, Holy Redeemer parishes etc.
We were few in number and like sheep without a shepherd until one day Father Schneider was appointed as our Parish Priest and he set in motion a scheme whereby one of the Schoenstatt sisters, Sister Paulita, contacted the families that would form the new Parish and slowly a community was formed.
In the beginning, we did not have a Church so the sisters were kind enough to let us use their hall. Slowly the Parish grew and though we had no headquarters, a Pastoral Council was formed. Holy Masses were celebrated in homes with impromptu suppers served afterwards. There were weekly discussions in Advent and weekly discussions in Lent, pancake evenings etc. The parish was humming with life and vibrancy because though no one ever mentioned the words “Covenant of Love”, it was alive and well in the Parish.
The day came when the community began to speak of building a Church, so penny, halfpenny, fundraisers became the order of the day. We had braais at family homes, a fete at Rondebosch and other ventures and all the time the binding of the parish took place.
Eventually a piece of ground was found. It was over the road from Schoenstatt which possibly pleased Father Schneider because, being a Schoenstatt Father, he probably hoped for a close connection between the burgeoning parish and his great love, Schoenstatt. The cost of the ground was generously donated by Roger and Colette Burkett St Laurent and Father Schneider went to Germany to raise funds to pay for the Church. The community, however, soon realized that braais on the plot and our feeble fundraising efforts were not going to cope with the, then, exorbitant cost of the building. Unbelievably, the business men of the Parish came forward. They were top businessmen, many with their own business, and led by Harry Schuurmans who was unwilling to see Father Schneider saddled with this heavy burden. And so “The Constantia Country Fair”, a huge undertaking, was born and set in motion by these extremely busy people.
Thanks to the Constantia Country Fair, the Church was soon paid for. The Parish continued to flourish. Mrs Williamson, under the guidance of Sister Marina, got an education project going, first in her garage and in parish homes and eventually in the parish hall. She has never forgotten the day an old man was reduced to tears because he could write his own name, “John”. Slowly many parishioners became teachers and taxis to ferry students home.
Infants were baptised, confessions were heard, First Holy Communions, Confirmations and Weddings were celebrated and all the while Sister Adeltrud, our Parish sister acted as confidante to many parishioners. If at any time, anyone had been asked whether we were a Schoenstatt parish the answer would have been “No”. Nevertheless, the fact remains –“The Covenant of Love” proved to be the foundation stone of the parish of Constantia.
There is much more that could be told. The day has come when, as Father Schneider is recalled to Germany, we sadly have to bid him ‘Good Bye’ for the second time but his Church remains, a monument to, and a sign of “The Covenant of Love”
Father Schneider, we will never forget you.
Father Schneider's Farewell
Father Schneider returned to Germany in June 2010. A farewell Mass and lunch were held for him on 17 April. Please take a look at the pictures in our Photo Gallery of Father's Schneider's farewell.