Wilfrid Napier (left) became Archbishop in 1992 when he took over from Archbishop Hurley. His mitre shows the insignia of the Franciscans of whom he is a member. (photo: IOL Archives)
Not many people have had the same job for half a century, but last week Cardinal Napier celebrated 50 years since being ordained a priest. In that period, he has been a bishop for 39 years, Archbishop of Durban for 28 years (succeeding from Archbishop Hurley), and a Cardinal for 19 years (involved in the election of two Popes: Benedict and Francis).
Cardinal Napier followed in the footsteps of his predecessor in working closely with people of all religious traditions, and is a highly regarded leader of inter-faith bodies at provincial and national levels. Recently, he again showed his commitment to ecumenical activity by helping to lead the KZN Christian Council’s appeal for food vouchers, a direct and efficient way of getting food to needy families.
It was Cardinal Napier who approved the innovative model of the Archdiocese creating the Denis Hurley Centre as a Trust in order to ensure good governance and to maximise our ability to raise funds. This model has since been replicated in the creation of his own legacy project, the Napier Centre 4 Healing. It was during the Cardinal’s hands-on street visits with the DHC clinic team that he saw for himself the need for a ‘safe and faith-filled environment to help the homeless recover from addiction’.
A collection of his writings, The Here and Now Christian, is available in print form and electronically. Each of the 28 chapters is reflective and can be used as a personal guide as well as a resource for discussion in small groups.
We give many thanks to God for all the help our Cardinal has been to the poor of Durban and wish him many more years of priesthood. At 79, he remains busier than many people half his age and deserves a long retirement!
[Reprinted from the Denis Hurley Centre News: 31 July 2020]