Roman Catholic Church: St Albert’s Mission

Roman Catholic Church

St Albert’s Mission

The East German province of Jesuits established St. Albert’s Mission in 1962, which became the center of their efforts in Southern Rhodesia.  The mission is located near the village of Centenary in Mashonaland Central province, on the escarpment overlooking the Zambezi Valley.

St. Albert’s Mission Hospital was completed in 1963 with 85 beds.  It was originally run by nurses from the Dominican Sisters.  In 1983, Dr Elizabeth Tarira became the first resident doctor, building up the hospital to its present 140-bed capacity.  A convent for the Little Children of our Blessed Lady (LCBL), who also worked in the hospital, was completed in 1968. St. Albert’s became a district (government funded) hospital in 1985. It is the only hospital serving the 120,000 people in the district.  Today the hospital includes male, female and children’s wards, maternity and neonatal units, surgical theater, laboratory and pharmacy.  It admits about 5,000 patients per year and treats approximately 40,000 outpatients.

The Dominican Sisters opened a secondary school (St. Albert’s High School) in 1964. By 1973 the school had 197 students and there was a primary school of 261 pupils.  In February 1973, the High School was closed by Rhodesian security forces as a ‘communal punishment’ after the discovery of a guerilla base nearby. The school reopened in April, but three months later a force from the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) captured approximately 300 pupils and staff and force marched them towards Mozambique to train as guerilla fighters. Before crossing the border, Rhodesian Security Forces were able to secure the release of all but eight of the children and staff.  The school was later closed in the late 1970’s during the height of the “liberation struggle”, not opening again until 1981 with 120 students.

References

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis

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