By Br. Kenneth Temba C.Ss.R
Multitudes of people from all walks of life thronged Chatikobo Business Center to witness the historic occasion of the opening of St. Francis of Assisi church building by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, the Apostolic Administrator of Masvingo Diocese. The construction of the church was completed in 2022 after 18 years of hard work, dedication and commitment by the parishioners.
The Official opening was graced by Very Reverend Father Samson Mutsvanga the Vicar of Masvingo Diocese, Fr. Willbrode Godzongi the Dean of Gutu Deanary, the Priest in Charge of Mutero Mission, Fr. Tawanda Chitumba, Frs. Tapiwa Chivorese, Knowledge Mutingwende, Courage Pesanayi, the SJI sisters Led by Sr. Annacolleta Mutema and Maryward Sisters led by Sr. Tendai Chirume who also come from the same Area. Chief Maburuse and his team could not miss the occasion that drew people from the surrounding parishes.
The event began with the blessing of the new Church and crucifix by Archbishop Ndlovu followed by the celebration of mass. The Parish Chairperson Mr. Tirivanhu Mutingwende welcomed everyone to the day and Br. Kenneth Temba C.Ss.R gave a brief summary of how St. Francis of Assisi Chatikobo came into existence. Br. Temba highlighted that Mbuya Veronica Tanyanyiwa was the person who brought Catholicism into the area from Mukaro Mission through marriage in 1965. Hence, the First Mass in the area was celebrated by the late Fr. Joseph Hugg SMB, a Swiz missionary. That was the beginning of catholic faith in Chatikobo area which has a swelling number of Catholics today.
Br. Temba also said, St. Francis of Assisi also grew out of the influence of Mutero Mission which continued to supply priests to minister and preach the Gospel of conversion in the area. He acknowledged the work that was done by Fr. Paul Pengy SMB, Fr. Cortesy SMB, Fr. Zanetti SMB, Fr. Hugo SMB and many Local Priests who also worked at Mutero Mission.
The construction of St. Francis of Assisi church was made possible by the Kurebwatira/ Muza family, who donated the land on which the church is built when the parish had failed to secure a place to erect the synagogue. The reality of the church’s construction was also a result of the Australian based Zimbabwe Catholic Community who donated the roof, UK Catholic Community, Canada – Mhuri Sande Catholic Community, France and USA based Catholics who supported local efforts in ensuring the building of the church.
Fr. Tawanda Chitumba played a key role in the project working hand in hand with Br. Kenneth Temba C.Ss.R and Mrs. Theresa Masengu nee (Beta).
In his homily, Archbishop Ndlovu encouraged the Chatikobo community to be charitable and to welcome new members who seek the face of God. He challenged the community to live a holy life that inspires others to follow Jesus.
The day ended with the blessing of the Grotto dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which was built by Mrs. Tsitsi Makovah in Memory of her Late Husband Mr. John Makovah who died in 2013.