The Company of Mary
Company of Mary
The Company of Mary (also known as the Montfort Missionaries) is a missionary religious congregation within the Catholic Church. The community was founded by Saint Louis de Montfort in 1705. The congregation is made up of priests and brothers who serve both in the native lands and in other countries. The Montfortian Family comprises three groups: the Company of Mary, the Daughters of Wisdom and the Brothers of Saint Gabriel. The Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith confided evangelization of Nyasaland to the missionaries of the Company of Mary.
On 28th June, 1901, the first three missionaries of the Montfort Fathers arrived at Blantyre and on 25th July began their first mission in Angoniland. The Vicariate Apostolic of Nyasa, erected in 1897, had jurisdiction over part of modern Zambia and was entrusted to the White Fathers. A Vicariate was a form of territorial jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church centered in missionary regions and countries where a diocese has not yet been established.
In 1903, the mission became the Prefecture Apostolic of Shire (a ‘pre-diocesan’ missionary jurisdiction where the Catholic Church is not yet sufficiently developed to have it made a diocese) and was formed from the The Vicariate Apostolic of Nyasa (who had jurisdiction over parts of modern Zambia and was entrusted to the White Fathers). A Vicariate was a form of territorial jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church centered in missionary regions and countries where a diocese has not yet been established.
One of the Monfort Missionaries, Rev. Father Prezeau, former missionary of the Diocese of Kingston, Canada, was elected the first Apostolic prefect. Already four stations had been founded, and numerous schools established in all directions spread the Christian doctrine.
On 14th April, 1908, Pope Pius X erected the prefecture into a vicariate Apostolic with Mgr Auguste Prezeau as the first vicar. Prezeau was consecrated at Zanzibar on 4th October, 1908, by Mgr Allgeyer of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost, and died in France on 4 December, 1910.
On 4th May, 1910, one of the missionaries received from Rome the notification of his elevation to the dignity of Apostolic vicariate. Mgr Auneau was consecrated at Chilubula, Northern Rhodesia, by Mgr Dupont of the White Fathers, 1st Nov., 1910.
In 1952, the Apostolic Vicariate of Shiré was renamed as the Apostolic Vicariate of Blantyre. In 1959 it was promoted as the Archdiocese of Blantyre.
- Keith Harrop