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South African President Zuma Visits Archbishop Denis Hurley’s Tomb

July 5th, 2012

South African President, Jacob Zuma visited Durban’s Emmanuel Cathedral on 19 April to pay tribute to Archbishop Denis Hurley’s contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle by laying a wreath on his tomb. This was part of a national program of visits throughout South Africa to mark the centenary of the ANC’s foundation. The brief ceremony at the Cathedral began with Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM, and other religious leaders greeting the President and his party at the entrance to the Cathedral and then escorting them to the Archbishop’s tomb in the Lady Chapel.

President Zuma lays flowers at the tomb of Archbishop Denis Hurley, OMI

At the tomb, the national anthem was sung and the Cardinal read a message of welcome to the interfaith gathering, in which he said: “Denis Hurley, whom you have come to honour today, was a prime example of humble Christian service. He put God, his Church and his Country first. My prayer and wish is that Archbishop Hurley will pray for our leaders of today that they may follow his example of selflessness.

“Mr. President, my prayer for you is that you too will put God, his People and our Country first in all that you do. … Thank you for coming to Emmanuel Cathedral to honour our late Archbishop. God bless you.” In his response, the President paid tribute to Archbishop Hurley as “one of our heroes, well known not only in South Africa but around the world.” He said the Archbishop was a fine example of someone who had put words “into concrete action”. He said that Archbishop Hurley and many other church leaders should be acknowledged for their important role in the liberation struggle.

The ceremony concluded with the Cardinal showing President Zuma a model of the Cathedral and the new Denis Hurley Centre, which has been specially prepared for a forthcoming exhibition. Immediately after the Cathedral ceremony, an ecumenical service honouring Archbishop Hurley was held at St Paul’s Anglican Church next to the central Post Office. This was organised by the Diakonia Council of Churches, which was founded by the archbishop in 1976. In addition to thanksgiving prayers for the achievements of the liberation struggle and prayers of concern and commitment about the aspects of liberation still needing attention, slides of Archbishop Hurley were shown, highlighting his multi-faceted work to promote a just South Africa. (Sources: Oblate Communications; Oblate Connections, Anglo-Irish Province, May 2012)

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