St Stephen’s now a full-fledged parish: Holy Name handed to the Diocese

 

While a 61 year service at Holy Name parish has come to an end for the Jesuits, a new mission will begin or rather continue, in Dzivarasekwa as St Stephen’s becomes a full-fledged parish under the care of the Society of Jesus. 

In a letter dated 28thof November 2018 Archbishop Robert Ndlovu decided to grant the request to separate St Stephen’s sub-parish from its mother parish for decades, Holy Name, a request that has been hanging in the prelate’s office since the days of Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa. 

Since it was officially opened in 1957, the parish blessed by then Archbishop, Francis Markall SJ, grew bigger and would service several areas including Inkomo, Norton, Gillingharm (now Dzivarasekwa), part of Belvedere and Gwebi.

Fr Lewis Clifford SJ, had the mixed blessings of being the first parish priest. One would understand his joy and mixed challenged of ministering to the people while serving in one of the most difficult periods for any parish, the construction of the Church. 

His service was followed by several Jesuits who worked at Holy Name including Frs Patrick Kinna, Gilbert Modekayi, Desmond Dale, Dieter Tiel, Edward Hancko, William Makusha, John Davies, Patrick Makaka, Gunther Rueter, Ignatius Zvarevashe, Anothy Berridge, Oskar Wermeter among others. 

The last Jesuit to be parish priest at Holy Name, Fr Ignatius Munyoro SJ, was appointed the first pariest of St Stephen’s Parish, Dzivarasekwa. 

The first mass in Gillingharm was celebrated on 9 December 1973 as the community was developing with most families being of domestic workers working mostly in Marlbereign. 

In one of his letters to the Jesuit Provincial (Fr Edward Ennis SJ), Fr Patrick Kinna SJ wrote that “ Since the masses started about two years ago (1967), the people have only seen a priest for an hour or two on a Sunday. I go there on a Monday for baptism, if any. That is all I have managed to do. They certainly need a priest, You are aware of the fact that the place is growing, and that the community will grow with it.”

The descriptions were full of hope. Sunday masses would attract about 300 parishioners, who obviously could not fit in a classroom of only 40. Many had to be outside, following mass proceedings from the ‘overflow,’ such was the faith of the people. 

The centre had some of its parishioners such as Mr Alois Chimombe receiving Papal Declarations (the Bene Merenti) for apostolic work in the parish in 1979. 

The parish has also been blessed with several religious men and women, including the first priest from Dzivarasekwa, Fr Cosmus Turusa, the current Jesuit Provincial Fr Chieda Chimhanda SJ, Br Ngonidzashe Edward SJ and Fr Eugenio Phiri SJ among others. 

Despite the two places being separate in many ways, both Holy Name and St Stephen’s have become part of the largest parishes in Harare, with a dynamic and active Christian communities. 

Speaking during the St Stephen’s inauguration mass, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu urged the parishioners to value their faith and to be united. 

“You are starting an important journey as a parish. You have grown. Do not hesitate, learn to stand on your own and that is growth. It is possible, value your faith and work together as a parish.”

Handing over the parish to Fr James Ndhlalambi (first Holy Name diocesan parish priest), Fr Chiedza Chimhanda SJ gave thanks to the Holy Name community for the support they gave the Jesuits during their time of service. 

He further asked the parishioners to continue to support the construction and development efforts at St Ignatius of Loyola, the new sub-parish of St Stephen’s Dzivarasekwa parish. 

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