U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard visited the Eastern Cape to pay homage to an American nun who served the people of South Africa for more than five decades in rural Eastern Cape.
Sister Mary Paule Tacke was coldly murdered one year ago and her body was found in a river near Nyandeni Great Place near Libode. She had been kidnapped the day before when she was busy delivering food to her children’s project, Thembelihle Home, in Norwood in Mthatha.
Sister Tacke served more than 57 years as a nun in rural Transkei. She made an indelible mark on the lives of thousands of people of the Eastern Cape. One such person was struggle veteran Mosiuoa Lekota, who she taught at the Catholic missionary school Mariazell in Matatiele.
Mosiuoa Lekota said to Daily Dispatch: “She (Sister Tacke) was a strong advocate of African education. She taught me we are humans irrespective of our race, color or background”.
In 1955 Sister Tacke left her home in Idaho, United States to come and live in South Africa, as a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. She lived at the Glen Avent Convent in Ikhwezi Lokusa in Ikhwezi Township just outside the Mthatha city centre. She also founded Thembelihle Home in Norwood and the Bethany Children’s Home.
This week Ambassador Gaspard traveled to her convent in Mthatha, Eastern Cape to honor the memory of Sister Tacke, where he visited her grave.
Daily Dispatch reported this week: “(Ambassador Patrick Gaspard) cut a humble and respectful figure as he visited the Catholic convent in Ikhwezi Township and accompanied the nuns to Tacke’s grave where he laid a wreath of flowers”.
Sisters from the convent sang softly as Ambassador Gaspard closed his eyes and prayed.
Ambassador Gaspard also wanted to see the institutions that Sister Tacke helped build. He visited the Thembelihle Home in Norwood, Mthatha and the Bethany Children’s Home to hear how the people from local communtities are doing a year after Sister Tacke’s death.
The ambassador urged the nuns to draw strength from Tacke’s work.
At this children’s home Ambassador Gaspard was joined by nearly 80 kids from the children’s home who wanted to meet him. He also met with Bethany Children’s Home director Rose Kasumbi and Thembelihle Children’s Home director, Pumeza Mqayi.
Ambassador Gaspard listened to the work volunteers were doing in the community and said he wanted to ensure there was still an umbilical cord between the U.S. and the projects that were started and run by Sister Tacke.