St Peter’s Mbare parish of the Roman Catholic Church welcomed their new parish priest Fr Ignatius Anoonekwa Tambudzai SJ through a liturgical celebration that was as colorful as it was emotional for Fr Tambudzai.
Fr Tambudzai SJ was ordained a priest at St Peter’s Mbare on 23 July 2011. He replaces Fr Oskar Wermter SJ who has been at St Peter’s Mbare for the past 10 years.
In a tearful homily during the welcome mass, Fr Tambudzai saluted the work done over the last 100 years by his predecessors in developing a united community that has faith in the saving Grace of God. He emphasized to the parishioners that he was only coming in to continue with the good work that they were doing. He spoke passionately to the leaders at different levels within the parish, asking them to join him in the desire to evangelize those who are in need of Christ. “If I fail, we fail together, and if I do good, the credit is yours as well”, he said.
The new parish priest had every reason to be tearful and to ask for support from his parishioners because St Peter’s is not your ordinary parish where the priest is virtually on leave every mid-week day, only to surface weekends. Mbare, the oldest township in the country, is home to the economically down-trodden and this has affected every other aspect of life for the residents there.
The parish, true to the gospel calling, has responded strongly to the needs of the residents of Mbare by offering help in the area of education, justice and peace campaigns, feeding the hungry as well as taking care of orphans, the widowed and destitute, and those who suffer from HIV/AIDS.
“We have two schools – a primary and a secondary” with a combined total population of 1,500 students. We pay fees for some of the students, as well as providing at least a meal a day for the majority of them. This is a response to an observation that we made when some of the students were fainting during classes due to hunger” said Fr Tambudzai SJ. There is also a special “soup kitchen” that provides food for the many destitute who either pass through Mbare or knock on the church’s doors for food assistance. They find themselves something to eat.
Working with Mashambanzou Care Trust, the parish is engaged in offering food, medication and awareness to HIV/AIDS patients. Sr Diana LCBL is there to help the priests of St Peter’s Mbare. And to underline the importance of the social welfare program, Sr Diana was swamped by people who wanted a word with her just after the welcome mass, on a day she was supposedly off.