Celebrating 25 years as a Region ~  Congregatio Jesu in Zimbabwe

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On the 18th of May 2024, the members of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Region, gathered to joyously give gratitude to God on the occasion of the Regional Jubilee. The Congregation has been present in Zimbabwe for over seventy years now, but only 25 years ago, it became a Region, separate from the Mainz province.

The Mary Ward sisters, friends, collaborators and all other faithful gathered for a thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration presided by Very Reverend Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro of Gweru Diocese, concelebrated with Jesuit and Diocesan priests who journey and work with the sisters in different capacities.

The colourful celebration was given a first spark with poems of appreciation from students from Mary Ward Primary School. The Children thanked the sisters for their selflessness and the sound values they impart on them.

In her opening remarks, the Regional Superior Sr Maria Goretti, paid tribute to her predecessors, Sr Xaveria Bachmann, Sr Hildegardis Chimhanda, Sr Salome Mateko and Sr Mercy Shumbamhini. She acknowledged the presence of the General Bursar Sr M. Anna Schenck CJ and General Assistant Sr Pratima  Pinto CJ and  thanked the many Bishops who have invited and allowed the sisters to extend their apostolates in their Dioceses. Heartfelt gratitude went to the Generalate and CJ sisters from other Regions and provinces for their continued support. She highlighted many significant achievements, including the opening of four new convents in the past twenty-five years, with a gradual increase in the number of members. The most recent mission was opened in Mozambique at the invitation of the Jesuits in Tete. She expressed optimism that the Region is still on a growth trajectory, especially in light of the eminent union with the IBVM.

Fr R Von Nidda SJ in his homily reminded the sisters that they were shepherds and that they should follow Christ the good shepherd, going before the sheep, being present among the sheep and following behind the sheep. He appreciated how the role of women in society has greatly improved since the foundation of Christianity as a religion and especially the great works done by the sisters which show truth in the prophecy by Mary Ward that, ‘women in time to come will do much”.

In a prayerful congratulatory message, CJ Sisters’ General Leader, Sr Veronica Fuhrmann CJ, represented by Sr Pratima Pinto CJ expressed deep joy and gratitude at this sign of growth and resilience. She commended into our Lord and Master’s hands all the members of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Region, encouraging them to remain rooted in the charism and find solace in the maxims of Mary Ward.

The vicar General of Gweru diocese Fr Maviya, on behalf of the Bishop, acknowledged the dexterous presence of the sisters in Kwekwe and the many fruitful collaborations the sisters engage in at the diocese level. They expressed a deep desire to engage the sisters in more collaborations as they strive to reach out to the marginalised.

Indeed, the presence of the Sisters in the country is making a bold statement, as was role played by children from Mary Ward High School who briefly spoke against drug and substance abuse, while with music, encouraged the sisters to rejoice and continue widening the space of the tent.

A tree planting ceremony to mark the historic event, music from Mary Ward High School, a scrumptious lunch and socials marked the close of the day.

Esther Finis