How Redemptorists Came to Zimbabwe
It was in 1959 when Fr Gerald Hughes, C.Ss.R, who was the Provincial Superior of the Redemprosists in London, got a request from Archbishop Francis Markal, SJ to come and work in the Archdiocese of Harare. When the request came the Redemptorists who were already in South Africa, began to plan to come to Zimbabwe. This eventually became a reality in 1960 when Fr Gerald Hughes sent out Fr Phillip Foster and Fr Antony Pathe to Zimbabwe (Rhodisea). They arrived in August of 1959. The Redemptorists at the time where very much interested in coming to work in Harare precisely because they felt that through living and working in this place they would be very close to fulfilling the very reason why the Congregation was founded – service of the marginalised poor. When they were given the parish of St Gerard it was not always affluent, but a farming community. Therefore, they were not only serving the elite white community but also the marginalised black community that lived in the farms as farm labourers. At the time, there were very few schools available for the farm labourers children. Therefore, the Redemptorists were the first to put up makeshift schools for these children and to teach them formal education in the parish of St Gerard’s. This was eventually stopped by the Smith regime, the white government at that time putting an end the Redemptorist’s desire to spread the good news through the ministry of education.
Having earlier taken up the offer to serve The Parish of Tafara in 1967, Redemptorists later accepted to take charge of Mabvuku Parish in 1978 when the Jesuits withdrew from that parish. According to Fr George Webster, the parish priest before the Redemptorists took over Mabvuku Parish was a Jesuit called Fr Raymond Kapito. Fr Raymond Mupandasekwa writes that it is Fr Terry Neugent who became the new parish priest of Mabvuku in 1978. It seems that (in 19–) Fr. Patrick Cosgrove was appointed to take over as the parish priest of both Mabvuku (as well as Tafara) with Fr George Webster as his assistant.
[more to follow]