" Grant that I may never again seek any pleasure other than that of pleasing You, of visiting You often, of speaking with You... "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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Zimbabwe and Fr Denis McBride...

Fr Denis McBride, after a visit to Zimbabwe made this reflection which was published on his website, denismcbride.com - thank you Fr Denis for sharing!

They are a formidable group of men, the Redemptorists in Zimbabwe, and I had the privilege of offering a retreat to all the professed of the Region. They were warm, welcoming and really good company. We have 7 priests, 5 brothers, 2 deacons, 6 professed students, 2 novices, 4 unprofessed students, and 6 postulants – making 32 in all, the average age being around thirty.

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They are a young vibrant group, bringing enormous talent and commitment to their varied work. They are led by Fr William Guri, CSsR, the Regional superior, Bro Benjamin Posvo, CSsR, the rector of the formation community, and Fr Raymond Mupandasekwa, CSsR, in overall charge of formation. These three, together with Fr Ronnie McAinsh, CSsR, our provincial, were the pioneers of today’s Region, although the Redemptorists from the London Province have served there for some fifty years.

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Formation: Alphonsus House, Tafara The houses of formation are set in a large compound in Tafara, on the outskirts of the capital city, Harare. Fr Raymond is assisted by Fr Joseph Musendami, CSsR, who is in charge of the six postulants. The original chapel was burnt down and is now replaced by a new building, which is simple and elegant, decorated by stunning paintings by the Jesuit artist, Fr Tony Berridge, who has now sadly died. You can catch something of the chapel’s beauty from the pictures, and see some of the formation community smiling bravely!

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Parishes The Redemptorists looks after two flourishing parishes in Tafara and Mabvuku, townships on the outskirts of Zimbabwe. The parishes are divided up into small Christian communities, with their own section leaders, who would liaise with the parish priests about the pastoral needs of their sections. The sections would meet regularly and have their own Masses. Lay participation is high, and the singing and the drums and the movement at Mass are wonderful to witness.

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We also run St Gerard’s parish in Borrowdale and St Augustine’s in Hatcliffe, with Nazareth House as an outstation. St Gerard’s is probably the most influential parish in Harare, attended by many government ministers and their families – so the content of the homilies are particularly noted by men with ear-pieces rather than earrings.

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The Mavambo Trust

The name Mavambo means Genesis, standing for a new start. Brother Benjamin CSsR is the director of the Mavambo Trust, originally founded to educate children 8-11 who have missed out on school, usually because they have no birth certificate and who cannot, therefore, register at government schools, or because they are too poor to pay the fees. The kids are often single or double orphans because of the HIV/AIDS crisis and are raised by their grandparents. About 70% of them are accepted into the regular schools after only one year with the Trust, which is a measure of the quality of the teaching. Bro Benji has the help of two sisters, Kathi and Mike; Danny is his assistant director; Lamech is in charge of social services and outreach, and there are over a hundred volunteers. The trust also feeds over 300 children a day during the school terms. If anyone reading this would like to make a donation, please e-mail Bro Benji – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Caritas Harare

Brother Francis Marimbe CSsR is the development coordinator for Caritas Harare, the social development arm of the archdiocese of Harare. 83% of the population live on less than $2 a day, so there are many pressing needs to meet. Caritas in emergency relief with regular projects in vulnerable group feeding, including hospitals and prisons and schools; developing skills for unemployed young people; HIV support; gender issues; water and sanitation; seed and fertiliser support; reaching out to squatter communities. Br Francis is supported by a committed staff of over thirty people, including experts in conservation farming techniques, nursing, and social workers.

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The name means “the time the elephant goes to wash”, signalling a new dawn, a fresh beginning. Two Redemptorist brothers work in this project, Tendai and Tendayi, which includes child protection, child counselling, HIV awareness, and unemployment issues. 85% of the people are in “informal employment”, since the opportunities for full-time employment is very low. With HIV still a destructive issue in family life, the two brothers devote themselves to promoting HIV awareness, which they do not only in public places like churches but also in beer halls.

Redemptorist Book Shop We used to run the bookshop at the Cathedral, but the bishops’ conference wanted the space, so we had to find an alternative place. Fr Mark Chandavengerwa, C.Ss.R. runs the bookshop with two lay assistants and he can be seen in the photograph with Br David Nyammuronda, C.Ss.R. who very patiently took me on a walk around Harare. Br David will be starting soon at the Mavambo Trust, probably to teach the children there.

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The Redemptorist Region has an impressive variety of works carried out by an impressive group of men, I thank them for their warm hospitality and good humour, and wish them every success in all their living and study and work.

Fr. Denis McBride C.Ss.R.