By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Mary Help of Christians Shrine is taking shape in Gweru Diocese, this time behind Muonde hospital after the first proposal to have it at Marirangwe near Shashe river flopped with authorities citing security challenges due to the former place’s remoteness as it lies in the bush.
The fears raised by the diocese included the distance that people had to walk from Driefontein Mission to the former proposed cite of the shrine which lies about 7km into the woods. Other arguments are that the place is infested with wild animals and that it would be practically impossible for people to come individually to pray as they could be targeted by robbers and brigands. This, according to some, would make the place inaccessible to the sick and old people who would want to be part of pilgrims to the holy place. These and other challenges forced the diocese of Gweru to dump the former cite founded in 2001 and officially opened in 2007 for the one behind Muonde hospital which is closer and accessible.
The Vicar General for Gweru Diocese, Fr. Augustine Chirikadzi confirmed the shrine was moved from Marirangwe near Shashe river where it started for security and other reasons to do with distance and space.
“The place where the shrine was originally located is not safe at all and it’s a long distance from the mission to the site for people walk and offer prayers there. Also there is not enough space to accommodate many people and the place is not secure for people to come for prayers as individuals,” said Fr. Chirikadzi.
Progress is underway in developing the new cite with the Apostolic Administrator for Gweru, Bishop Michael Bhasera having inaugurated the shrine by planting a tree. Other developments so far include construction of ablution blocks, drilling of a borehole courtesy of Fr. Alphonse Mapfumo, the diocese’s former Vicar General and general clearing of the place. Driefontein Mission youth gathered stones to be used in the construction of the grotto while Catholic schools have donated building material such as cement and door frames.
The committee spearheading the construction of the shrine comprises of Mr. Mutiro (Chairperson), Mrs. Lucia Zijena (Treasurer), Mrs. Makurira (Secretary), Mr. Paji and Mr. Kachisa (Logistics), Mr. Dhege, Mr. Tsoka and Fr. Mabhudhu (Fundraising), Mr. Meki and Fr. Matingwina who are in charge of project administration. Also included in the Diocesan Lay Apostolate Promoter, Fr. Bernard Digweyi, Frs. Alfonce Mapfumo and Augustine Chirikadzi as advisor and overseer respectively. The team was working hard to develop the shrine so that people can utilise it for prayer sessions.