Roman Catholic Church: Fatima Mission

Roman Catholic Church

Fatima Mission

Fatima is a Franciscan run mission in rural Zimbabwe, approximately 130 miles north of Bulawayo, located within the Catholic Diocese of Hwange.  As of 2016, Fr. Jeya, a Franciscan Friar, was the Priest in Charge.  Fr. Jeya has been working on the mission since at least 2002.  Fatima Mission is 600 sq. miles in size and has 16 primary schools, 5 secondary schools, a clinic and a project for disabled children within its boundaries.

German missionary Fr. Odilo Weeger, later Vicar General of the Bulawayo Diocese and Provincial Superior of the Congregation of the Mariannhill Missionaries (CMM) in Rhodesia, started the mission in 1947.  Fr. Odilo (or Otto), as he was known, came from Germany to join the Marriannhillers in Natal, South Africa in 1938.  He later transferred to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where he founded a number of schools and missions in the 1940’s, including the one at Fatima.

Fr. Odilo overcame opposition from the local Native Commissioner to a Catholic Mission being built in an area already containing missions of the London Missionary Society by promising to build a hospital.  Despite a number of challenges, this he did largely due to his own efforts and the financial help of a generous benefactor, Harry Schur.

Begun in 1948, the hospital was officially opened in 1951, at the time the only hospital between Bulawayo and Wankie.  Dr. Johanna F. Davis-Ziegler was its first doctor.  With the arrival of Dr. Decker in 1952, Dr. Davis relocated to St Luke’s Mission, where she opened a second hospital.  Unfortunately, the Fatima hospital was destroyed during the “war of liberation” in the late 1970’s and has not been rebuilt.

Franciscan Sisters (“Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood” – FMDM) currently also serve at the mission helping to teach at the primary and secondary schools, which are now run by the Government.


  • Mark Loomis