Visit report: some new youngsters and great work done by the Sisters

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The nicest part of this trip was meeting some new youngsters: two 13 year old boys in the Penhalonga area who both did extremely well at the end of primary school but could not have gone on to secondary unless we had helped them. Then we found another very bright girl in Chipinge, suggested to us by her teachers whose mother tries to make a living to support 5 children by buying and selling fruit and veges. And in Sherugwi we picked up 4 very bright girls from very poor homes; two of them were heart breakingly thin and malnourished. Of course there are tens of thousands of youngsters who also need help and we can’t give it. That is very saddening too.Chipinge Rejoice Chanaka

There were some problems at St Augustine’s. 3 of our teenage boys, all without parents, unwanted at home, in dysfunctional family relationships, are dropping out of school. Really they want to go to school, want to do well, want to be good, but no one encourages them or supports them. I do have a counsellor lined up to see them so I hope she can make a difference.
In Harare they have just moved house, to a really nice house in a much bigger property. This will give much needed space for our 16 young people and also space for guests. We can also increase our chicken rearing from 100 to 400 at a time and grow more vegetables. The house has a lovely garden and so our boys will have to look after it properly. That will be a good bit of learning for them.

Edwin is developing the agricultural project at Penhalonga; having grown a successful crop of maize, he will move now to vegetables and potatoes through the winter, and also make floor polish which we can sell to local Anglican churches. The most exciting development, we hope, will be bee keeping. This requires some investment for training and equipment and I hope Sr Heather Francis’ beekeeping friends will cough up. Once established, beekeeping should be quite low maintenance, reasonably profitable and environmentally friendly. One woman told me “Bees save trees”. When people realise trees improve the quality of the honey they stop chopping them down!


I didn’t see much of church in Harare, beyond a couple of conversations with Fr Paul Gwese who is running a very thriving parish, (the one I grew up in). He had 200 people every day in Holy Week and 400 on Easter Day. He also travels quite a lot, last month to America, on consultations. Harare diocese, I think, is in good form as there is money around in the capital and the diocese itself was not much divided in the Kunonga years. Their main problem is repairing churches and rectories and paying unpaid bills.St Augustine's (2)

Manicaland is much more problematic, with far less money, far more divided congregations, poorly trained clergy and too few of them anyway. Fr Luke Chigwanda is doing a great job as DDO, and all sorts of other things and is about to move to St David’s Bonda where his wife teaches in the nursing school. Fr Sam Doma is about to move to St Agnes, Chikanga in Mutare and asks for our prayers. Julius seems on top of things as Bishop and is very grateful to CR for paying for clergy to be trained at Gaul House. He says the few who have come through are already making a real difference.

I spent most of my time at St Augustines, but spent a night in Chipinge. I also said Palm Sunday mass in Tongogara for about 50 people. There is a real challenge there as hardly anyone understands English or Shona and only the pastor can interpret into KiRwandan. I could as well say mass in Latin! But we need to address the matter of teaching. Ben Bradshaw will try and do something there in September. They are delightful people and deserve a better deal than the one they get as refugees.
St Augustine’s, Penhalonga.

I found staying there hard. It feels divided, the Church, though clean doesn’t feel much prayed in as it is used largely as an assembly hall for the school. I deliberately said mass in Holy Name Chapel to get that back into life. The old priory, which should be a good retreat/conference facility is badly run down. We need to pray for all the people living on the mission.


I visited three communities of Sisters. All suffer from the same problems – poverty, poor education, too much work for an ageing community, no novices for at least ten years. Having said that there are differences:

CHT – the five sisters who remained true to CPCA and moved to St Francis Sherugwi are probably the healthiest group, being slightly younger and better educated. It is a very hard place to live, dry, poor, dreadful roads, but they are much appreciated in the community and their work with Tariro kids is making them more so. They seem all to relate to each other very well and though their offices are a bit chaotic they do get said (or badly sung!).

CBLM – They have two sisters at Shearly Cripps, one at Tariro House and 2 in Masvingo. This is not satisfactory from a Community point of view. I managed to get all of them together for a two day retreat at an RC retreat house and that was much appreciated. They were very quiet and prayerful. The sisters seem all to be happy with each other but it is not a good place for novices to come. Sr Dorothy who is a saint is also going blind so I don’t know how they manage for offices.

CZR Sr Heather Francis and I spent much time with them There are only 9 of them 3 of whom are quite elderly. Sr Annamore is training to be a teacher. She is very able, energetic, and forceful.
If I am able to go back in September it will be with these priorities in mind:

Continuing work with the sisters
Bee-keeping for Tariro
Counselling for the kids in the rural areas.
Teaching for Tongogara congregation with some attempt to do liturgy in KiRwandan
A workshop on confession for Manicaland clergy.

Nicolas 29.04.14