Postcards: Society of Jesus – Zambesi Mission

Society of Jesus

Zambesi Mission

No.sDescriptionEarliest PMK Date
N/AA Chief's Welcome to Rhodesia
N/ACatechist's Hut at an Out Station
N/AStamping Corn at Empandeni

 

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Empandeni Mission

Empandeni Mission

Plumtree

Empandeni Mission, near Plumtree, Matabeleland South, is the oldest surviving Catholic mission in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).   The Jesuits re-entered Zimbabwe from South Africa in 1879 with a team of eleven men, led by Fr. Henry Depelchin.  In 1887, they opened Empandeni mission on a tract of land granted them by Chief Lobengula of the Ndebele, with Fr. Peter Prestage in charge.

Fr. Prestage started the first trade school at Empandeni, “but when few students turned up and no converts were forthcoming,” he returned to South Africa, along with the temporary withdrawal of the rest of the Jesuits in Zimbabwe.  Fr. Prestage returned to Zimbabwe in 1890 as part of the “Pioneer Column,” which militarily occupied Chief Lobengula’s territory.

In 1896-97, the Empandeni Mission faced severe draught.  Fr. Prestage wrote in 1897 “During the second period of our residing at Empandeni, now a period of a little over a year, we have baptized twenty-four persons, ten of whom died shortly after baptism.  Death was brought on in each case by starvation… We will be glad when the famine is over.”

Fr. Charles Bick arrived at Empandeni in 1898.  A year later, five Sisters of Notre Dame arrived from England to take charge of the school.  “Despite strong opposition to Christianity, especially from the older generation,” 500 baptisms had been administered before the end of 1904.

The Christian congregation at Empandeni grew to 1,800 by 1923.   During the 1920s, the mission established four out-stations – at Mkaya, Silima, Kwite and Mhlotshana.  In 1930, administration of the Bulawayo area, including Empandeni, was transferred from the Jesuits to the Mariannhill missionaries who had previously established the Triashill and Monte Cassino missions in Manicaland.

Today, Empandeni is part of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo and consists of the Empandeni Clinic, Vocational Training Center and Empandeni Girls Secondary Boarding School.  It is also the site of a convent operated by the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood (CPS).

Postcards

References

  • A History of Christian Missions in Zimbabwe 1890 – 1939 –J.M. Zvobgo
  • On the Frontline: Catholic Missions in Zimbabwe’s Liberation War – Janice McLaughlin
  • www.jesuitszimbabwe.co.zw
Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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Brunapeg Mission

Brunapeg Mission

The Roman Catholic Church established Brunapeg Mission in 1954.  The mission is located in rural Zimbabwe near the Botswana border, in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South Province, approximately 70 miles south of Plumtree.

Brunapeg is site of St. Anne’s (Brunapeg) Mission Hospital.  The hospital includes a nursing school – St Anne’s Brunapeg School of Nursing.  In 2007, the Canadian International Development Agency supported expansion of the school, which graduated 95 nurses between 2014-2017.

Capuchin fathers from the Province of Amala Annai (Immaculate Conception), Tamil Nadu, India were responsible for the mission and its outstations, such as Mayobodo’s Our Lady of Loreto parish, beginning 1989.  Capuchin friars are a reform offshoot of the Franciscans begun in the 16th century seeking a return to the original emphasis on prayer and poverty.  The Capuchins handed the mission back to the archdiocese of Bulawayo in 2005.

Brunapeg is currently part of St. Anne’s Parish, Archdioceses of Bulawayo.  As of 2017, it was under the direction of diocesan priest Fr. Ndlovu.

References

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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Peter Prestage

Peter Prestage

1842 – 1907

Father Peter Prestage was born in London, England in 1842.  He was educated at Mount St. Mary’s College, the College at Liege and Stonyhurst College.  In 1860, he “took steps towards missionary work when he entered the Noviceship of the Society of Jesus at Beaumont.”  He completed his theological studies at St. Bueno’s College and was ordained in 1875.

Following ordination, Fr. Prestage joined the missionary work of the Jesuits in Africa, traveling to South Africa in 1877.   He taught at St. Aidan’s College in Grahamstown for five years, before joining the staff of the Zambezi Mission, first at Tati and then moving to Bulawayo in 1884.   He is credited with opening Empandeni Mission in 1887 – the oldest surviving Catholic mission in Zimbabwe.

Fr. Prestage was forced to withdraw from Zimbabwe due to lack of converts and political developments, but returned in 1890 as a part of the “Pioneer Column.”  He advocated for the overthrow of the Ndebele State, which he felt necessary to pave the way for Christianity.  The Ndebele kingdom was defeated (First Matabele War) in 1894, and Fr. Prestage returned to Empandeni Mission in 1896.  He would remain there until his death in April 1907.

Reference

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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Methodist Episcopal Church: Marange Mission

Methodist Episcopal Church

Marange Mission

The Methodist Episcopal Church established Marange Mission (earlier known as Mt. Makomwe mission), about 40 miles southwest of Mutare (Umtali) near Odzi, Zimbabwe in 1904-05 as an outstation.

A site was selected on the side of Mount Makomwe.  Revered E. H. Greeley was the first missionary.  He began his work of preaching under a large tree. “He kept on faithfully in spite of indifference and after a time more interest was show by increased numbers.”

By 1907, a school, church and dispensary had been established.  New buildings were built in 1916 to replace cracking walls.  As of 1920, a railway station was located 3 miles away and the mission had 650 acres of land.  A boarding school was opened and the Methodist Women donated a Girls Hostel opened officially by Mrs. Sells.  The mission was part of the Marange circuit, within the Mutambara District.

The boarding school and mission were abandoned in 1951.  It was later revived and the mission center jointly run by the Anglicans, Methodists and the local community.  In 1995, Marange returned to the control of the United Methodist Church (UMC).  It is presently known as the “Marange UMC Center” and is the site of a church, the Mt. Makomwe Primary School (with enrollment of over 500) and Marange High School.

References

  • Annual Reports of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Record of Christian Work, 1908.
  • The United Methodist Church Zimbabwe Annual Conference Special Centennial Session, 1997 Annual Report
Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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St Patrick’s Mission

St Patrick’s Mission

 

St. Patrick’s Mission (St. Patrick’s parish) is located in Mzilikazi, a suburb of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (part of Makokoba “Constituency”/Township).  Mzilikazi is named after the founder of the Ndebele nation, King Mzilikazi.  Prior to independence, Makokoba (Makhokhoba) was a segregated township of Bulawayo.  The development of trade unionism began in Makokoba in 1928.  In 1945, an important strike by railway workers started there.

St. Patrick’s was established by the Jesuits as of 1902.  From their base in St. Patrick’s, the Jesuits attempted to establish an early mission at Pandametenga, on the boarder of present day Botswana.  In 1930, reorganization resulted in the Jesuits swapping responsibility for Matabeleland (including Bulawayo and St. Patrick’s) with the Trappists (now Mariannhill Missionaries) in Mashonaland.

Today, St. Patrick’s is part of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo and home of St. Patrick’s Primary School.  Mail is posted through Bulawayo.

References

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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Mutambara Mission: Mutambara Mission Hospital

Mutambara Mission

Mutambara Mission Hospital

 

Medical work started at the mission in 1909 with the arrival of nurse Miss E.D. Nourse.  The beginnings of the Mutambara Mission Hospital began in 1918 with construction of a one-room maternity hospital.  By 1937, Reverend Roberts reported that the medical work of the mission had increased to such an extent that it had completely outgrown the mission Medical Department. From January to September 1937, over 11,000 outpatients and about 500 in-patients had been treated in its 18-bed facility.  The hospital was remodeled and increased from 55 to 100 beds beginning in 1967 to address “woefully inadequate conditions” and “untold problems in delivering medicines and supplies.”

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society: Mutambara Girls School

Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society

Mutambara Girls School

In June 1918 the Methodist Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) began work at Mutambara Mission, laying the foundations of a girl’s school.  Lula Tubbs and Sadie Rexrode were the first WFMS missionaries at Mutambara.  They walked the fifty miles from Umtali to the mission in order to be able to visit the kraals along the way down – a journey that took them ten days.

Their work consisted of teaching in the Primary Department of the school and supervising the “industrial training” (sewing, etc.) of the girls.  In May 1919 construction of a schoolhouse began, which for some months housed the WFMS workers and the boarding girl’s school.  By 1922, total enrollment was 310 girls, with 72 in the boarding department (living at the mission).

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society

Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society

The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) was the earliest of several missionary societies that are now United Methodist Women.  Its origins lie in early missionary efforts of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) in India.  As the men worked at establishing churches, “the wives, unnamed and unconsidered in the conference, sought to reach the women who fled from the [male] missionary.  [They] saw the way to the evangelization of India through her helpless, degraded, unhappy women.” The men likewise began to recognize that single women missionaries were needed to work with Indian women.”

Based on the experience in India, a handful of women came together in 1869 in Boston and formed the WFMS  “for the purpose of engaging and uniting the efforts of the women of the Church in sending out and supporting female missionaries…” Despite opposition from some in the MEC male hierarchy, within only eight months WFMS had recruited and sent out two women missionaries to India.

Following the death of her missionary husband, Helen Emily Springer (later wife of Bishop John M. Springer) returned to Africa in 1901 as the first WFMS missionary in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  Stationed at MEC’s Old Umtali Mission (Old Mutare), Helen founded a girls’ boarding school.  WFMS would later open and operate girls’ schools/hostels in Mutare and at Mutambara, Mrewa and Nyadiri Missions.

When MEC North united with MEC South and the Methodist Protestant Church in 1939 to form the Methodist Church, WFMS joined other women’s groups to become the Woman’s Society of Christian Service.  In 1968, the Methodist Church became the United Methodist Church. 1972 the Women’s organizations in The United Methodist Church merge to form one inclusive organization with the name, “United Methodist Women.”

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References

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
  • James Gavin
  • Walter Herdzik
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Helen Emily Springer

Helen Emily Springer

(1868 – 1946)

Helen Emily Chapman Springer was a pioneer Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) missionary to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC).  Helen volunteered as a missionary after hearing Bishop William Taylor speak, and sailed for the Congo in 1891.  She married a Danish missionary, William Rasmussen, whom she met during the voyage.  The couple was forced to leave Africa due to malaria after 18 months.  They returned to the Congo with their son in 1894, but William soon died and Helen again “left the field.”

Helen returned to Africa a third time in 1901 following the death of her son as the first missionary with the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) in Zimbabwe.  Stationed at MEC’s Old Umtali Mission, Helen founded a girls’ boarding school.  She also wrote an important grammar/dictionary and translated Scripture and hymns into the Chikaraunga dialect of Shona.

In 1905, she married future MEC bishop John M. Springer.  Two years later, the couple trekked across Africa to scout out locations for mission stations.  For the remainder of her career, the Springers initiated and served at missions throughout DRC and Zimbabwe.

Helen authored “Snap Shots from Sunny Africa” and “Africa and Camp Fires in the Congo.”  She died August 1946 and is buried with her husband at the Mulungwishi Mission, DRC.

References

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
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