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Zimbabwe

Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, is the second mission area entrusted to the Bethlehem Mission Society which was founded in 1921. In October 1938, the first Bethlehem missionaries arrived in the country. Since then a total of 130 members (72 priests and 58 brothers) have been engaged there. The area taken over from the Apostolic Vicariate of Salisbury became the Apostolic Prefecture of Fort Victoria from which the diocese of Gwelo (now Gweru) was founded in 1955. A part of the diocese was then separated in 1999 to become the Diocese of Masvingo.

The SMB members have substantially contributed to the spiritual and material building up of these two local churches. They have created vibrant and strongly witnessing communities, opened schools and training centres and taught there, built and run the Mambo Press, and provided material and social development.

Today in 2015 there are still 13 members (10 priests, 3 brothers) in Zimbabwe. The missionary task that they all understand as a lifelong commitment is lived as their missionary presence in old age. They look upon themselves as part of the local church and are pleased at its successes and sympathetic at its disappointments. Some of the priests are serving as spiritual guides to schools or religious communities or continue their priestly ministry as hospital chaplain and temporary staff. Eleven members live in a regional house and gather for the Eucharist, prayer and community gatherings. Medical care is available for them there when needed.