Roman Catholic Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Xavier Munyongani, currently Chaplain of Zimbabwean Catholics in England and Wales, as Bishop of Gweru in Zimbabwe.
Mgr Xavier Munyongani was born on 1 January 1950 in Mutero mission in Gutu district in the diocese of Masvingo. His parents Joachim Mudhodhi and Anna were blessed with ten children – Xavier was the eighth child.
After his primary education in the schools in Gutu district, Xavier completed his secondary education in the Gweru diocesan Minor Seminary (1967–1970). Later he joined Chishawasha Major Seminary for his Philosophy and Theology studies (1971-1977). He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Gweru, on 20 August 1977 by the then Bishop of Gweru, Rt Rev Tobias Chiginya. He obtained a Diploma in Religious Studies from the University of Zimbabwe in 1978. In 1986 he was sent to Rome for higher studies and he obtained a Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy from St. Anselm.
On his return from Rome on completion of his specialization in Sacred Liturgy in 1990, he was appointed Lecturer and Formator at Chishawasha Major Seminary. Since 1998 he held the post of the Vice-Rector of the same Major Seminary. He trained and formed the future priests of Zimbabwe for fourteen years.
In 1999, Gweru diocese was divided to establish Masvingo diocese. Since Mgr Munyongani’s Gutu district is in the Province of Masvingo, he belonged to the new Masvingo diocese. He has held various pastoral ministries in the dioceses of Gweru and Masvingo. In Gweru diocese, Monsignor Munyongani served as Assistant priest at St Antony’s mission in Zaka, Parish priest of St. Alois mission and Spiritual Director of St Paul Brothers in Serima.
In the diocese of Masvingo, Mgr Munyongani held various other positions such as Promoter of Lay Apostolate and Spiritual Director of St Joseph Association of Masvingo diocese, Assistant priest in Silveira mission and spiritual director of St. Anne’s Association, Parish priest in Rutenga mission, Diocesan Consultor, Member of Priests’ Council. Member of diocesan Liturgical Council etc.
In 2007, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference appointed him as Chaplain of the Zimbabwe Catholics in England. In recognition of his exemplary priestly life and meritorious pastoral zeal for the Church in Zimbabwe, Pope Benedict XVI conferred upon Fr Xavier Munyongani the title of ‘Monsignor’.
Mgr Xavier Munyongani speaks his mother tongue Shona, and is fluent in the second major local language Ndebele, as well as English, Italian and German.