- Created on Monday, 29 April 2013 14:12
^ Zimbabwe Jesuits at their annual Province Assembly
Characteristics of the Jesuits in Zimbabwe
Young Jesuits in Formation came up with the following definition of who we are, and what we aim to achieve:
Jesuits in Zimbabwe VISION
A responsible, available, discerning, international religious order
that strives to build and further the Kingdom of God in Zimbabwe.
Jesuits in Zimbabwe MISSION
The Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe seeks to build and further the Kingdom of God in Zimbabwe through:
- Compassionate and professional support of the poor and marginalised;
- Promoting the transformation of society, by working and advocating for peace, justice and reconciliation in the nation;
- Initiating and implementing educational and other programmes that promote integral Christian development of the human person;
- Propagation of the faith, and pastoral and spiritual care of the People of God;
- Research and social analysis of our context.
IDENTITY of the Jesuits in Zimbabwe
Education has been a thrust of the Society of Jesus’ mission since 1546, and the Jesuit province of Zimbabwe has been no exception. In the early 1890s, the Jesuits founded Empandeni and Embakwe schools in Matabeleland, then Gokomere just outside Masvingo. By the 1960s after the Jesuits moved North, they were running a Teacher Training College at St Paul’s Musami and six secondary schools (St George’s, St Ignatius, St Paul’s Musami, St Albert’s, Visitation Makumbi and St Peter’s Kubatana) as well as primary schools in all the missions. Kutama college is sometimes thought of a Jesuit school, but, although the adjoining parish was Jesuit run for a long time, the school has never been run by Jesuits, Currently the Jesuits in Zimbabwe are responsible for 18 primary, secondary and technical schools.
^ Children pumping up water at St Joseph's Primary School, Chishawasha
These schools vary from some of the most remote schools, catering for very poor rural people, as for example at St Rupert's Mission, Makonde, through the better established boarding schools at Musami and Makumbi, to the academically presigious St Ignatius College in Chishawasha, and then St George's College and its preparatory school Hartmann House in Harare.
But in all these schools we seek to provide quality education. Quality, not just in terms of academic results, but also cultural and sporting activities, special interest clubs and societies, personal and human development and, above all, in inculcating the Jesuit ethos. Jesuit ethos is all about how the child grows, is able to take good decisions, is able to discern between right and wrong, good and bad, and is willing and able to use the knowledge and skills they develop at school for the Greater Glory of God: not for the greater glory of themsleves.; not to become 'me for myself'. – but to become men and women for others.
Justice and Peace
Involvement in Justice and Peace has been an integral part of our mission from the earliest days.
Back in the early 1899, Fr Prestage championed the cause of the young men around Empandeni mission, who were being treated cruelly by the police. When he brought a case to court, the local maginstrate denounced Fr Prestage as a liar "as are all missionaries" – though, in fact, he was of course speaking out the truth and trying to promote justice and peace.
On another occasion, when the newly arrived white settlers were forcing local young men to go and work in the mines, Fr Prestage went around encouraging them to resist.
Sr Josephiine Bullen SND, Empandeni Interlude 1899-1903
A high point in our witness to gospel justice was the involvement of Jesuits in the Justice and Peace Commission during the racist Smith regime of the 1970s. Dieter Scholz, Fidelis Mukonori, Paddy Moloney and a number of others were involved in exposing the government atrocities against rural civilians during the war. These publications drew the attention of the world to the sufferings of the people, and irritated the Rhodesian Government, who again denounced these truth-tellers. Dieter was arrested twice and eventually deported.
Meanwhile there were several Jesuits working at rural missions during that war, determined to keep their schools and hospitals open at the service of the local people, and using all their skills to mitigate the effects of the war on the civilian population. During the 1970s, seven Jesuits were among the thousands of non-combatants who were killed in the struggle for a just and peaceful Zimbabwe.
The same pattern continues even today. We have had Jesuits denounced, harassed, arrested and thrown into police cells when they speak out the truth, and champion the cause of the downtrodden.
There are also other initiatives in social justice in which the Jesuits have been involved over many years. The School of Social Work and Silveira House were started in 1964 by Fr John Dove and Fr Ted Rogers respectively. Work with victims of violence, with the disabled, then with street children were initiated by Bro Canisius Chishiri. The Jesuit AIDS Project was initiated by Fr Ted Rogers, in communications by Frs Oskar Wermter and Nigel Johnson, while Fr Brian MacGarry runs the Tree of Life - Aqua project for the victims of violence.
Today, younger local Jesuits are also moving into Justice and Peace projects. Anold Moyo is currently working with on justice issues and the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church at the Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, while Fr Gibson Munyoro has just taken over to give new empetus to Silveira House.
^ (Fr Gibson Miunyoro SJ Director of Silveira House)
The Intellectual Apostolate
The early Jesuits produced some of the earliest dictionaries in Ndebele (Fr O’Neill) and Shona (Fr Hartmann). Then Fr Michael Hannan was awarded a Doctorate for his production of a detailed Shona-English dictionary.
The Jesuits ran the Chishawasha Regional Seminary from its inception in 1936 until 1976 and are still involved in teaching there. Over the years we have had Jesuits teaching at the University of Zimbabwe, as well as at the School of Social Work and the Jesuit School of Philosophy and Humanities Arrupe College in Harare, Hekima Jesuit College of Theology in Nairobi, and the Biblical Institute in Rome.
For many years now, the Society of Jesus have provided the Catholic chaplain to the University of Zimbabwe, and the National Catholic Students Chaplain. A Jesuit was also instrumental in founding the National Movement of Catholic Students. Very recently Jesuits have also been involved in the formation of the Catholic Professionals Network.Zimbabwe Province Jesuits with Fr General in 2009