Hundreds of people gathered at Chishawasha Mission recently to witness the historic re-opening of the church that was built in the 18thcentury, which was renovated and given a “new face”.

It is also one of the country’s monuments like Great Zimbabwe among others.

The ceremony was blessed by the presence of the Honorable, Paddy Zhanda, MP for Goromonzi and the permanent secretary for education, the parish priest Fr. Fidelis Mukonori SJ, his assistant Fr. Tinashe Mhaka SJ and the provincial of the Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe, Fr Stephen Buckland SJ, who was the main celebrant.

Fr. Buckland expressed the IHS logo in a more satiric way in his sermon saying it means I Have Suffered but in actual fact, it is a name indeed of Jesus in a Greek word that their patron saint St Ignatius of Loyola followed.

The acronym AMDG, famous with the Jesuits in Latin, Ad Majorem Dei Glorium, is All for the Greater Glory of God, which he simplified as Mwari Ngaarumbidzwe. “That was the main agenda of the Society of Jesus when we come to the Zambezi Mission” said Fr Buckland.

Working at the frontiers has been a desire of the Society Jesus as the Superior General of the Jesuits in Rome sent his men in 1891 to the Zambezi Mission to work at the frontiers.

“Fortunately we have two of the LCBLC Sisters who worked in Zambia in 1932 as the Zambezi mission” said Fr Mukonori the parish priest.

The move was not only for evangelical purposes but also for human formation. Chishawasha became their favorite place to reside during that time and the community gave different life skills trainings.

According to Fr. Mukonori, the church at Chishawasha was built of bricks without cement made by the Chishawasha community; females to be specific because it was the era of World War 1 where women were gathered collectively in the mission and men went out for war.

The construction of the church started in 1898 and was completed in 1902, rounding up to 111years now. “The Church was built without cement like these buildings we see today but it was pure soil mixed with water and it is still standing” said the parish priest.

As the church was aging, it began to have some cracks which were threatening to the community and renovations were under way by a Chinese construction company.

Nothing was changed on the building because it has to keep its structure since it is a national monument. Fr Mukonori added that people have gathered to celebrate the successful renovations of the church not the re-structuring of it.

“As a national monument, we are not allowed to restructure it but to renovate and maintain its structure and that is why we are all here today celebrating our successful renovations” he said.

The church at Chishawasha has the relics from the cross of Jesus which give it more value and credibility to be a more sacrosanct place. “People fly as far as Rome to find the relics of the cross but we are blessed to have them here so you are all welcome to have your prayers in our church”, said the jovial parish priest.

Some of the notable things that Fr Mukonori highlighted in passing were that the first people to build houses with bricks in our country were those from Chishawasha, first plough to be used in agricultural sector; first bricks to build the capital and the first interpreter of Latin were all from Chishawasha. Finally, Fr Buckland officially opened the church, marking the end of the parish’s temporary open air prayers and sessions!