The Jesuits have been working in Zimbabwe for over one hundred years with the first school founded in 1887. In 1894 Fr General decided to entrust the mission to the British Jesuits although many of the Jesuits who came from other countries stayed on. Despite the wars of the first decade of colonialism, it was a hectic period of expansion. Missions, schools and parishes were established in Bulawayo (1894), St George’s (Bulawayo 1896), Gokomere (1896), Mutare (1899), Embakwe (1902), Gweru (1903), Chikuni (1905), Kasisi (1905), Driefontein (1906), St Joseph’s Hama (1908), Katondwe (1910), St Peter’s Mbare (1910), etc. In 1927 authority was delegated from the British Provincial to a Mission Superior on the spot, and in 1930 the first bishop was consecrated, Bishop Aston Chichester.
There were always a large number of Germans among the Jesuits in this country, and they felt they needed their own area in order to focus their efforts and give identity to the support they knew would come from Germany. So in 1957 the East German province took over the Sinoia (Chinhoyi) Mission. Within a few years they built missions in Guruve (1958), St Albert’s Mission and school (1962), Karoi (1963), Chitsungo (1964), Magondi (1964), Banket (1970) and St Boniface Hurungwe (1970).
By the late 1970s it was felt to be time for the British and German missions to come together, and Fr General Pedro Arrupe called them to form one province in 1978. Both missions were beginning to receive vocations locally and, at the same time, the number of Jesuits coming out from Britain and Germany was rapidly reducing. The two provinces combined resources to respond to this new phase in our story.
The Province in 2014
in 2014 Fr Chiedza Chimhanda was appointed provincial, you can read more about him here. The Jesuits in Zimbabwe work with street children, providing young boys with an experience of family and belonging, often for the first time in their life. The Jesuits also run 18 schools forming young people with gospel values and principles intended to make of them men and women who will be committed to justice and the service of others in society. We also support the Jesuits in Zimbabwe in the running of Silveira House, the Jesuit Social Justice and Development Centre. Here the Jesuits work to explore effective ways of addressing challenging structures and practices that undermine justice, peace and development in Zimbabwe. Based on such information, we seek to influence centres of decision making and structures of power. At the same time, the results of this research form the basis of designing Silveira House programmes seeking to address very specific problems and needs.