IN Eucharistic celebrations rich with episcopal tradition, Archbishop of Harare, His Grace Reverend Robert Christopher Ndlovu ordained Monsignor Paul Horan of the Carmelite order as the new bishop of Mutare diocese.

Thousands of priests, deacons, religious leaders and lay people from different walks of life joyously gathered at Mary Mount Teacher’s College in Mutare to witness the episcopal ordination and consecration of the highlands diocese’s third Bishop.

Archbishop Ndlovu, the consecrator and main celebrant of the ordination mass poured the oil of sacred chrism on Monsignor Horan’s head. He invested him with an episcopal ring as a sign that he is bind to the diocese, a mitre and crozier which are the ceremonial staff of a shepherd. He laid hands on Monsignor Horan’s head, as did the other Bishops in turn.

Monsignor Horan is a 54 year old Irish Carmelite who has served the church in Zimbabwe for 15 years. In his appointing letter dated 22nd May 2016, Pope Francis described Monsignor Horan as adorned with required gifts, an expert in ecclesial matters and in the theology of spiritual things.

His naming followed the resignation of Mutare bishop of 34 years, Right Rev Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa from pastoral care. Bishop Muchabaiwa reached 75 years, the mandatory retirement age, in 2014.

He assumes the rule of the diocese with more around 120 000 Catholics spread around Mutare, Mutasa, Maungwe, Nyanga, Chimanimani and Chipinge civil districts.

The area was accorded the status of a diocese in 1957 and entrusted to the rule of the late Bishop Donal Lamont O Carm (Carmelite). He was then succeeded by Right Rev Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa, now emeritus (retired). Bishop Patrick Mutume, who is not in good health remains theAuxiliary Bishop to Mutare.

In a letter read to the congregation by the Diocese’s Vicar General Fr Welcome Chipiro, the Holy See exhorted the congregants to receive the bishop with joy and remain continually united with him.

The Bishop of Gweru, Right Rev Xavier Munyongani, encouraged the people of Mutare to receive and support their new shepherd with an open heart.

“We must give thanks to Bishop Muchabaiwa for his great works. It was never easy since he started. I exhort that you receive your new bishop with an open heart,” said Bishop Munyongani in his punctuated homily.

“No matter what difficulties we face in our lives, the sons and daughters of Israel went on for 40 years through the dessert, but they carried on, they soldiered on until they reached the Promised Land. Now it’s high time the church in Zimbabwe must grow. It’s you who will make the church grow,” he said.

Adding to thousands of parishioners and clerics in attendance were Zimbabwe’s eight bishops, the Papal Nuncio to Zimbabwe, Archbishop Marek Zalewski, bishop Horan’s family members and the leadership of the Carmelite religious order.

In his concluding remarks, Bishop Emeritus, Right Rev Muchabaiwa commended the people of Mutare for the support they gave him in his 34 years of service and sternly urged them to receive and support the new diocese shepherd.

“Together we must thank God for his abiding love. This is a welcome continuation, of the intimate relationship between Mutare diocese and the Carmelite order. My request now is that you support him, as you have supported me and even more than you supported me,” said Emeritus Bishop Muchabaiwa.

“For our diocese to continue to grow, the new bishop needs our love, our understanding and above all our prayers. We need to remain hardworking and united to build a strong local church,” he added.

He urged the parishioners and clerics to strive to be genuine Christians and do away with all double standards in faith.