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Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in the southern part of the African continent. It borders South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. It was colonized by the British and was formerly known as Southern Rhodesia. Northern Rhodesia was the country which is now Zambia. The country made a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) in 1965. The Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979 finally recognized the country as independent.

St. Patrick's Missionaries in Zimbabwe

Members of St Patrick’s Missionary Society arrived in Zimbabwe in January 1989. The first members to work there were Frs Joe O’Conor, Moel McHenry, Fintan Byrne and Michael Morris. They took up appointments in the Diocese of Mutare. This area had been evangelized by Jesuits and later by Irish Carmelites.

It had been formerly known as Umthali and had come to world attention during the Rhodesian War when the Irish Carmelite bishop, Donal Lamont, supported the freedom struggle. His stand earned him deportation in 1978. When the war ended in victory and independence for the indigenous Africans, Bishop Lamont was welcomed back as a hero.


St Patrick's Missionaries had experienced the dynamism of the Church in Kenya and Nigeria after independence, and this made work in Zimbabwe an attractive proposition. They took on a town and a rural parish, with two priests working in each.

Frs Joe O’Conor, Kyran Murphy and John Kearns in 1997.

Michael Fogarty, as a student in 1997, with a parish Sister.

Fr Ollie McHugh visits the parish outstations with altar server Vincent.

Fr Michael Bennett receives the offertory gifts.

Fr Ollie McHugh celebrating adult Baptism.

Fr Fintan Byrne in his parish.

A parish church.

Fr Ollie McHugh presenting certificates to parishioners after a pastoral course.

Fr Ollie McHugh with his parish council in 2013.

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