This is the story of Deacon Quinton Peters (1969-2007), an intercessor for the Church in South Africa, by Marco Cavagnaro.
The Neocatechumenal Way of South Africa has been grateful to host from the 2ndto the 13thof August, Auxiliary Bishop Jan Hendriks of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. His visit has been a seal to a bond that has been established and strengthened in the past years. As the Bishop himself stated, “The ties between the Netherlands and South Africa go back in the centuries, but today, aside from all the historical complexity of this relation, something very significant for us has been the loss of Deacon Quinton Peters, a South African that studied to become a Priest in the Netherlands and died in a car accident on the 23rd of December 2007“.
Quinton was a young South African, born and bred in Cape Town, from a difficult family background. His sufferings brought him on the path of the Neocatechumenal Way, which he joined by entering a community in his city in 1986. The itinerary of rediscovery of his baptism experienced in this small parish community helped him discover a calling to the Priesthood, that he initially tried to follow in the Interdiocesan Seminary of Pretoria, in 1992. This first attempt didn’t work out, but his vocation didn’t fade away and brought him once again to offer his life to the Church, this time entering the Diocesan Missionary Seminary Redemptoris Mater of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
“To move to the Netherlands was a life-changing experience for Quinton“, recalls his Rector Fr. Luc Georges, “demanding a profound interior transformation.” Still, this time of Seminary led him on a path of full reconciliation with his family and his own history. “The death of Quinton, together with the other Deacon Juan Torres, has been a moment of great suffering for our Seminary. But it has also been a moment in which we all were helped to raise our eyes to heaven and to strengthen our faith in the resurrection of Christ. During the funeral Juanita, the mother of Deacon Juan, testified that, even if she had lost her husband some months before because of a cancer, and now her son, she was in pain but with joy, because of the certainty that they were both in heaven. These words gave to our faith a great strenght.”
Quinton’s body was then brought to South Africa for the burial, accompanied by the vice-rector and other priests and seminarians of the Diocese. When the mother of Quinton asked them if her son was fully reconciled with his history, they answered: “Just look just at his face, look how peaceful he is. He was truly fully reconciled with you all!“
This seed, sown in the cold Dutch winter, bore many fruits in the mission of the Neocatechumenal Way. “At first the family and the community couldn’t see this tragic death as something that divine providence could have permitted for a good“, says Dino Furgione, the responsible of the Neocatechumenal Way for South Africa. “The feelings were of disappointment and failure, as if this death was a denial of hope for the future. But since the very first years after Quinton’s death, things started to change and we have seen a new spirit coming. Many families of the Way started to give their availability to the mission. The Way has experienced a sort of rebirth, after many years of difficulties and disillusion. In a few years, the Way opened in four other dioceses, with many communities, and since 2012 the Archdiocese of Cape Town opened its own Diocesan Missionary Seminary Redemptoris Mater. All of this, just ten years ago, would have been unthinkable. And Quinton has a part in all of this, with his intercession by God“.
During his visit, Bishop Hendriks visited Quinton’s grave and his family: “A special moment for me was the visit to the grave of the deceased deacon Quinton. I was accompanied by his Parish Priest, Fr. Louis Padua to the grave. On that same day we had a meeting with the family of Quinton, and all of this made it clear to me that he is not forgotten, and that many times they make recourse to him to ask for his intercession and prayers to God in heaven.”
Among the other experiences of the Church in South Africa, Bishop Hendriks was especially touched when he visited some families in mission of the Neocatechumenal Way. Since 2011, the mission of the Way in South Africa has been blessed with the coming of missionary families from overseas, that leave everything to go and announce the Good News. They do not receive a salary, nor “work” for the Church, but just come to live on the providence of God, testifying their faith among the people. “In the Netherlands as well we have families in mission“, said Bishop Hendriks, “and I know that the families are one of the most effective mean of evangelisation of the Way, because they reach out to the people through natural and more informal contacts, that help those who are far away to get closer to God. Here in South Africa once again I have been impressed by all they have given up, and how great is what they are offering to the Church and how the providence of God accompanies them“.
The missionary families of the Way are accompanied in evangelising teams by missionary priests. This is why John Paul II opened in 1984 a Diocesan Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Rome, to form priests that may accompany the missionary families in the New Evangelisation.
Since 2012 the Archbishop Stephen Brislin has erected in the Diocese of Cape Town a Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the 95th in the whole world. “Quinton had a great love for South Africa, but had accepted the will of God, that wanted him to become a priest in the Netherlands“, says Dino Furgione. “But God has listened to his prayers, and even through events that have been tragic and difficult to accept, God has now taken him with Himself, and now Quinton is truly fulfilling his desire of giving back to the Church of South Africa all the love of God he has experienced“.
The birth of the Seminary is surely one of the greatest signs of his intercession for South Africa. “On the day that we visited Bishop Brislin, in August of 2012, and for the first time he told us of his resolution to erect a Redemptoris Mater Seminary, we went to the tomb of Quinton, to pray. This is why we also consider this Seminary as a fruit of his intercession. But he continues to intercede for all of the mission! For example, the next catechesis is beginning in Stellenbosch, on the 19th of August. Would you believe that the 19th of August is Quinton’s birthday?“