By Quegas Mutale in Hwange
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hwange, Raphael Ncube, re-consecrated the Marian Shrine at St Mary’s Mission on 27 May 2023 in an event that was preceded by a vigil of confessions, rosary procession around the shrine, adoration, song and dance that culminated in a deliverance session where the bishop and priests prayed for everuyone through laying of hands. The shrine was officially opened in the year 2000 by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, the then Bishop of Hwange, but had to be re-consecrated this time after some developments at the place which include sprucing of the Shrine of Our Lady, construction of the chapel and priest’s house, retreat centre, erection of a new cross, bookshop, warehouse and the construction of the Youth Centre.
All dioceses in the world have been asked to go to their Marian Shrines for a special Synod prayer on 31 May 2023. However, due to the diocese’s Mariya Unchena and the coincidence of this request, Hwange Diocese decided to use their gathering for 26-27 May for this special request.
People from across the diocese of Hwange gathered at the Marian shrine on the evening of 26 May 2023 to witness the official opening and blessing of new developments as well as to offer prayers through mother Mary.
Fr. Jabulani Nyoni, the Vicar General of Hwange Diocese said that construction of new structures at the shrine necessitated the official opening and its re-consecration.
“This year we have shifted from the usual pilgrimage to enable the official opening of this place and to appreciate the hard work that was done,” Fr. Nyoni said
The developments at the shrine were made possible by the commitment of local Catholics who pulled their resources together in collaboration with diocese.
On the night of 26 May 2023, the bishop officially opened and blessed the sanctuary. He also reconsecrated the alter at the shrine. During mass on 27 May 2023, the bishop presided over the official opening and blessing of the grotto, youth centre, retreat centre, the cross and the priest’s house.
The bishop said the youth centre was established to develop the youth intellectually, physically and to empower them to fight drug and substance abuse.
Fr. Nyoni called on the community of Hwange to continue working together so as to complete the outstanding developments at the shrine.
The bishop expressed gratitude to the people and organisations such as Caritas that partnered with the diocese in making the dream of the diocese a reality through the establishment of the new structures. He appreciated the role played by local traditional leaders who assisted in locating the boundary of the place and Hwange Rural District Council for legal and expert advice.
The development of the shrine has been a long-time dream for the Diocese of Hwange according to Bishop Ncube who said the 2013 synod discussed the development of the shrine which has now been transformed to accommodate many other activities at the place.
“I simply implemented what my predecessors, the late Bishop Ignacio Prieto Vega, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu and Bishop Emeritus Alberto Jose Serrano started. We are re-consecrating this alter which was dedicated in 2000 due to the new developments that the diocese has done here. We have officially opening this place to start using it although there is still a lot of work going on”, the bishop said.
In his homily, the bishop stressed the significance of Mary in the Catholic Church as the mother of God who always play an intercessory role for all Christians.
Bishop Ncube stated: “Mary is not God. We honour her as the mother of God in the same way God honoured her first, and this is biblical” as read in Luke Chapter 1.
The bishop encouraged all people to pray through Mary and to make use of the shrine to advance their spiritual life. He also urged them to maintain a culture of peace before, during and after elections imploring people to uphold respect for human life by shunning conflict and violence.