By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
While corona virus was brewing and simmering in China and the world was bracing for the worst in dealing with the pandemic, in Zimbabwe, Sr. Christopher Angell CJ, celebrated the gift of a long fulfilling life. It was on 17 December 2019 that the “Angell” attained 103 years having been born in England in 1916, a leap year,according to the Gregorian calendar.
“Mbuya Chris”, as she is popularly known by her community members, believes that it is the Lord that has brought her thus far.
“It is obedience in the Lord and of the superiors that gave me the impetus to soldier on in happiness as a religious woman. Service in the Lord’s vineyard and that of humankind gave me joy and obviously, a long life,” said Sr. Christopher.
She however said: “I have lived long enough and I wish to join the Lord in eternity.”
Sr. Christopher encouraged members of her Congregation and all sisters to follow the dictates of the Lord and to respect their superiors in obedience.
She started her missionary journey in 1935 when she entered the noviciate of the Mary Ward Sisters. She was Head Mistress for Mary Ward School in Cambridge, England for 30years. In 1972, Sr. Christopher embarked on an expedition to Zimbabwe where she worked as a teacher and formator of the young Zimbabwean Sisters of the Mary Ward Sisters. She taught at St. Ignatius College from 1973 where she doubled as the novice mistress until 1986 when she had to concentrate on religious formation. In 1994, she moved to Kwekwe to establish the noviciate at No. 39 Hospital Road. Some of her candidates include Srs. Hildgadis Chimhanda, Magna Maminimini, Salome Mateko and Monica Mujera.
Sr. Magna described the centurion nun as a straight forward and no-nonsense type of person who always stressed on punctuality. According to Sr. Magna, Sr. Christopher bears trust in the divine providence which is manifested through sacraments.
“I have learnt complete trust in God through my encounter with Sr. Christopher who has no time to waste as she is a fervent reader and prayer warrior,” Sr. Magna said.
Sr. Christopher still writes hundreds of letters and is a fervent reader
Although she looks physically frail, Sr. Christopher continues to write hundreds of letters that keep her connected with the outside world especially her friends, relatives and followers. Her hearing is still sharp that she can sing and follow prayers without any difficulty.
The Mary Ward Sisters built St. Antony’s Hospital in Zaka, Masvingo Province and the late Sr. Stephana Vogel ran a teachers’ training there. The Sisters also taught at Serima Mission School and produced such Christian leaders as Bishop Michael Bhasera, the late Bishop Xavier Munyongani and the Bishop Emeritus of Gweru Martin Munyanyi.
Currently, the congregation has 47 local members who were inspired by the life of such personalities as Sr. Christopher, the late Sr. Thoma von Dahl and Sr. Stephan Vogel. The Sisters also run Mary Ward Primary and Secondary schools in Kwekwe, a pre-school in Mbizo, an orphanage in Amaveni, St. Joseph’s clinic in Chishawasha while they are involved in many social and pastoral initiatives in the local Church.