On 13 April 1937, the Prefecture Apostolic, Bulawayo became a Vicariate Apostolic.
The first Vicar Apostolic was Ignatius Arnoz (1 April 1885 – 26 February 1950) who was a Czech prelate. In 1931, Arnoz was appointed Senior of the then Mission Sui Iuris of Bulawayo, rose to Prefect and Vicar Apostolic as the mission was elevated. He was ordained bishop in 1937.
Arnoz was replaced by Adolph Gregory Schmitt (20 April 1905 – 5 December 1976), a German Prelate. On 23 December 1950, Schmitt was appointed Vicar Apostolic and ordained on 2 April 1951.
In 1953, Hwange District and that part of Shangani District situated between Kana and the Shangani River was cut off from the Bulawayo Vicariate to form the Wankie Prefecture.
On 1 January 1955, the Vicariate Apostolic of Bulawayo was given the status of a Diocese.
Mutero Mission began as an outstation of Mukaro Mission. It became its own independent mission in 1956. Located in the Gutu Tribal Trust Land in Masvingo Province, Southern Rhodesia (among the Shona peoples), it was established by the Bethlehem Missionary Society (SMB) under the leadership of Bishop Haene.
Simon Mutero, the son of the local chief, persuaded his father to win the support of chief Chagwiza to permit the Roman Catholics to open a school in 1946. The area had previously been under the influence of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), but the local populace had become dissatisfied when the DRC closed down local schools. Mutero would go on to teach at the mission for over 20 years. When SMB missionary, Fr. Joseph Suter, first arrived, he saw “only a vista of treeless land without water or pasture. Water was obtained from a borehole; buildings were put up and primary and junior secondary schools established.”
The Mutero mission community in the late 1970s consisted of Bethlehem Father Anthony Wey, the mission superior, Fr Walter Kaufmann, Fr James Bernet, Fr Winterhalder, and five sisters of the Diocesan Congregation of the Infant Jesus (SJI) under the leadership of Sr Tarcisia Gundani, the superior. The sisters ran the primary and the secondary school and the clinic. All stayed at the mission throughout “the war of independence, in spite of the dangers and hardships, and being cut off from all outside communication from April 1979 to April 1980. Father Urayai would later join the Mutero from Serima Mission,
The mission presently consists of Chatikobo Primary School, Mutero High school (with a current enrollment of 765 students and 35 staff), and the Mutero Mission Clinic.
Makumbi Mission was established in 1923 as an outgrowth of a number of outstations started from Chishawasha by Father Richartz, the long serving Father Superior of Chishawasha Mission. It is located approximately 30 miles north of Salisbury (Harare) near the village of Domboshava in Chinamora District.
A primary school was begun at Makumbi in 1929 by the Dominican Sisters. The Sisters added a secondary school for girls in the early 1960’s. In 1973, a technical school was introduced to teach boys building and carpentry skills. The two schools were merged in 1980 to form Makumbi Secondary School. Under the administration of the Jesuits, the school is currently known as Visitation-Makumbi High School. It enrolls around 840 students, 600 of whom are boarding students.
Under the guidance of the Dominican Sisters, a novitiate was opened at the mission in December 1932, beginning with 19 African girls. It marked the founding of the first indigenous congregation of sisters in Southern Rhodesia, The Little Children of our Blessed Lady (LCBL). The first novice mistress, Mother Mary de Mercede, remained in office until 1960. There are currently approximately 200 LCBL Sisters in Zimbabwe.
Makumbi Mission is also home to the Makumbi (Upfumihwenyika) Children’s Home. The home, which supports nearly 100 orphans, is a Jesuit Social Apostolate run in collaboration with the LCBL sisters. And in 2013, the LCBL sisters opened a herbal processing plant at the Makumbi. The LCBL Herbal Project aims to provide herbal remedies to those who can’t afford or are unable to obtain prescription medicines.
The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe 1879-1979 – Dachs & W.F. Rea
Mary Anne Cosgrave [spelled Cosgrove in some accounts], pioneer nurse in Rhodesia and Dominican Sisters Prioress, was born May 1863 in Summerhill, County Meath, Ireland. She was the second youngest of four children. Both her parents died of tuberculosis when she was young. She was then raised by her father’s cousin, John Cosgrave, in County Wexford. She attended the Loreto Convent Secondary School in Enniscorthy until age 15. When only 17 years old, she responded to a call for postulants and traveled to South Africa to join the Dominican Sisters Convent in King William’s Town. She celebrated her final profession as a nun in 1882, taking the name Mary Patrick. Sister Patrick would spend the next nine years as a teacher in and around King Williams Town.
In 1889, Sister Patrick and a party of four other Dominican Sisters volunteered to provide nursing services in support of the “Pioneer Column” then being assembled by the British South Africa Company for the occupation of Mashonaland. Sister Patrick was appointed Mother Superior in charge. The sisters traveled separately from the main column, spending time at the hospitals in Mafeking and Macloutsie, Bechuanaland, before reaching Salisbury in July 1891, ten months after the Pioneer Column first arrived. At Salisbury, the sisters took charge of the rudimentary hospital that had been set up. In October 1892, Mother Patrick opened the Salisbury Convent, the first school in Salisbury and one of the first schools in Rhodesia. Mother Patrick and the Dominican Sisters were called upon again to provide nursing care when, in 1896, Southern Rhodesia was engulfed in the uprisings of both the Ndebele and Shona.
Two years later, the Rhodesian Dominicans were separated from the house at King Williams’s Town to form their own independent community, now known as the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Although in ill health, Mother Patrick was unanimously elected Prioress of the new community in 1899. Her health continued to deteriorate, and she died of tuberculosis in July 1900 at the age of 37. Mother Patrick was highly revered. She was awarded the Order of the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria and her funeral, the largest held in the territory up until that time, was personally attended by Cecil Rhodes. In November 1970, Rhodesia issued a stamp in her honor, No. 4 in the Famous Figures Series.