What follows is an edited reflection by Michael Dolan, who at the time of writing was the Director of Communications for the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova (United States of America).
This article followed his visit to the Augustinian mission in South Africa, which the Villanova Province opened 1996.
There's a reason that the author AlanPaton called South Africa the "Beloved Country."
Its beauty knocks you over; it captures the eye and refuses to let go.
Outside the Augustinians' friary (house) in South Africa, the friars are met with this beauty. Looking down over the "Valley of a Thousand Hills," South Africa's beauty burns in your mind as something resembling paradise.
"Cry, the beloved country," Paton writes, "for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. . . ." A look at the countryside surrounding the Augustinian friary shows South Africa as both beloved and beautiful.
A second look, however, illustrates so much more, and therein is the fear to which Paton refers.
Paton's famous book, Cry The Beloved Country, was published the same year South Africa institutionalized apartheid (1948).
He lived just minutes from the Augustinian friary in Botha's Hill, a small town in the South African Province of Kwa-Zulu Natal - the Zulu Nation.
The fear about which he wrote still remains, and the Augustinian friars and sisters ministering to the people of Natal know that fear well.
It is on the faces of the Zulu people they meet each day - the fear that comes with the unending struggle simply to survive.
That second glimpse of the South African countryside paints a portrait of South Africa the tourist does not normally see. The images are ones you won't find in any tourist book:
The impoverished Zulu family, living in a mud hut not much bigger than a jail cell. Sunlight pours into the home through a wall washed away by rain.
The wall needs to be rebuilt and, like the rebuilding of South Africa after apartheid, it is a struggle. The mud wall will be built again, but so too will the rains follow. The struggle is eternal.