“Women in time to come will do much” Mary Ward
On the 8th of October, the Zimbabwe Region, and indeed the entire Mary Ward family, had a double celebration, namely: the golden jubilee of Sister Christopher’s arrival in Zimbabwe from England in 1972 and the Zimbabwe Region 70th anniversary book launch. Sr Chris is now 105 years old but still fully alive.
“When one would think it was befitting for her to retire, having already done the Church and the Congregation much good, primarily through teaching and eventually being the Headmistress at St Mary’s School in Cambridge, Sister Christopher defied the odds and showed herself a true daughter of Mary Ward by accepting the mission to come and teach at St Ignatius College, a boys’ school in a country that was in the middle of a war.” Said Fr Harold Barry SJ during his homily.
Mary Ward was committed to the education of girls and women; she sought to give practical expression to the hope expressed in the gospels of a world of equality and justice. Having read the signs of the times, Sister Christopher understood that the definition of equality in our contemporary society had changed and thus she came to teach boys. Later on, having served at the college for more than two decades, she went further to assist in the formation of novices before finally retiring to her apostolate of praying for the Church and the congregation.
Sister Christopher’s story is well captured in “The Congregation of Jesus Mission @70 in Zimbabwe, 1951-2021”, the book which was launched concurrently with her Golden Jubilee celebrations. The book is an initiative that was undertaken in a spirit of gratitude to God and our pioneers in the Zimbabwe Region. The book does justice to the history of the growth of the CJ Zimbabwe Region, the joys and sorrows, struggles, and many witnesses that indeed women in the present day are doing much as our Mother Mary Ward prophesied.
In the book are contributions from an all-encompassing spectrum of authors including Friends of Mary Ward, former students at St Ignatius College, priests and sisters. The contributing authors are men and women who carry in their hearts the testimony of how God has been very present in this mission for the past 70 years and are filled with hope that he will continue to see us through for the glory and honour of His name. The book was compiled and edited by Sr Maria Mercy Shumbamhini CJ.
Having that as a preamble, the actual day for the thanksgiving Mass and celebrations was a memorable one. It was graced by the Provincial of the CJ English Province, Sr Sarah Dobson CJ, the Vice Chancellor of Arrupe Jesuit University, Fr Afulo SJ, the Rector of St Ignatius College, Fr Daka SJ, the Rector of The National Seminary of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, Fr Nyathi and many other beloved companions in the Lord.
The main takeaway message was a reminder that we are all missionary disciples wherever we may be and that “it is an honour to work for God”. Going beyond this point would pre-empt the treasures from the book, copies of which are now available for all to appreciate and to rejoice with us, for the Lord has done great things for Sister Christopher and the Zimbabwe Region at large.
Indeed, women in these times are doing much more for the greater glory of God.
Venerable Mary Ward – Pray for us and give us your spirit.
Compiled by Sr Charlene Makuzha CJ