Br. Alfonce Kugwa - Harare, Zimbabwe
The celebrations for the 140 years of Christianity in Bulawayo were a symbol of the massive spiritual and infrastructural development by the Catholic Church in Matebeleland. All this dates from the time of the first missionaries in 1879 when they settled at Empandeni in 1887. The celebrations, held at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Pumula South were coupled with the priestly ordinations of Frs. Prize Kevin Madzivanyika CMM, Brian Francis Kandlela and Vusimuzi Golden Moyo.
The Faith has taken root
The anniversary serves as a testimony of the deep Catholic Faith that has taken root in Matebeleland and Zimbabwe as a whole. The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Alex Thomas, confirmed this reality and said what the Archdiocese of Bulawayo is today has been shaped by the sacrifice of the first missionaries who toiled to lay the foundation.
“Today, we are standing on the Faith and foundations laid by our predecessors. The Faith that was planted like a mustard seed at Empandeni Mission has grown into a tree reaching out to all the corners of Zimbabwe. But we have a responsibility to keep it, make it better and produce more fruit,” said Archbishop Alex.
Missionaries left a legacy of hard work
The Archbishop hinted on the need to cherish, protect and advance the imprint left by the founding missionaries whom he said left a legacy of hard work, Faith and commitment. The Archbishop also stressed that the Church can only grow based on the strong Faith of its members who do not compromise when it comes to faith matters.
Sowing the Word: From Zambezi Mission to the Archdiocese of Bulawayo
The newly ordained priests and the entire clergy were reminded, by the Archbishop, that priesthood in the Catholic Church is a sacrifice for the Kingdom of God and not a position, office, job or profession.
The Bulawayo event was finally capped by the launching of the book, “Sowing the Word: From Zambezi Mission to the Archdiocese of Bulawayo;” then the blessing and launching into the air of the missionary rosary. Several catechists were also honoured for devoting their lives to spreading the Faith and the Gospel within the region.
A rich history that has borne fruit
The history of Christianity in Matebeland dates back to the period of King Lobengula, According to records, the Church grew roots in September 1879 when Fr. Depelchin S.J, Fr. Augustus Law, S.J and Brother De Sadeleer arrived in what was known as “Gubulawayo” and established the first mission, “The Mission of the Sacred Heart,” near King Lobengula’s royal residence.
Bulawayo Diocese was raised to the status of a Metropolitan See by Saint Pope John Paul II on 10 June 1994. The first Archbishop was Henry Karlen CMM followed by Archbishop Pius Ncube and the incumbent, Archbishop Alex Thomas.
The Archdiocese of Bulawayo now has 20 missions, 27 urban parishes, 9 Centres for early child development, 14 primary schools, 13 secondary schools and three vocational centres at Empandeni, St. Luke’s and St. Pius Bulawayo City, respectively. It has 101 priests, 131 sisters and 9 brothers. There are two mission hospitals which are St. Ann’s Brunapeg in Matebeleland South and St. Luke’s in Lupane, Matebeleland North.