Congregatio Jesu Zim

Our History

Mary Ward’s vision was brought to Zimbabwe by Mother Edelburga from Mainz, Germany. The following story is of the beginning and growth of the mission work of the Congregatio Jesu in Zimbabwe.  Our thanks go first of all to the Almighty God who in his goodness called us to be servants of the Gospel. Our thanks also go to the Reverend Mother General M. Edelburga Solzbacher of Mainz. With her personal initiative, negotiations and sacrifices she sowed the seeds of the CJ Charism in Africa.

How the mission work came about!

The summons of our dear Lord and Master Jesus Christ:

Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News is addressed to Christians of all times. Mother Edelburga said one day to the novices that no  Apostolic Institute could live up to its task if it did not take part in mission work in the of the Kingdom of God. The desire to take an active part in the Mission apostolate was alive among the members of the Institute. The extreme suffering of World War II, 1939 – 1945, brought about the final far reaching decision. In early 1944 air raids and consequent suffering were all around. Some of the houses of the Institute had been hit already. Mother Edelburga and the sisters prayed hard that at least the motherhouse would be saved. On the 13th May 1944 she made the vow that the Institute would take on a mission station if their prayer was heard. And heard it was. On the 27th 1945, that very dark day in the history of Mainz, the whole town was on fire, a most terrible inferno. The roof of the wing of one of the houses caught fire. It seemed impossible to bring the fire under control. Then, nobody knows exactly how, the flames died down – the motherhouse was saved.

Our History and Profile

As soon as the Institute had recovered somehow from the horrors of the war and the years of that followed Mother Edelburga Solzbacher thought of fulfilling the vow. This was not just a duty for her, it was the desire of her heart. She would have loved to go herself to the missions. She started negotiating with the Bethlehem Fathers in Immensee, Switzerland about a possible foundation. Monsignore Alois Haene, S.M.B. was at the time in charge of the Vicariate of Fort Victoria, staying at Gokomere Mission. On Easter day 1950 Mother Edelburga informed the community of the new adventure. The sisters who felt called to the new apostolate were asked to submit their names. On Trinity Sunday the first six sisters received their mandate for the Missions.

They were:

Sr. M. Engelberta Wolf, Superior, teacher

Sr. M. Agnes Preismann, Kindergarden teacher

Sr. M. Theresia Fischer, nurse

Sr. Albertine Netzer, cook

Sr. M. Bonifatia Vogel, Domestic Science teacher

Sr. M. Stephana Vogel, student

The novices were very sad when they were told that their beloved Novice Mistress M. Adelgunde Schneider would lead the first group to Africa. In July Sr. M. Theresia, Sr. M. Bonifatia and Sr. M. Stephana went for a month to Würzburg  to attend a cours in tropical medicine. The last months in Germany passed quickly. Sr. M. Theresia went for some time to the mother-baby department of Hildegard Hospital to prepare herself for the future work, Sr. M. Albertine and Sr. M. Stephana finished the Missio Canonica. It was a pity that Sr. M. Agnes had to be told that she was not strong enough for a sub tropical country.

Early in 1951 the sewing of our white habits started. Some alternations had to be made to suit the hotter climate. The day of departure drew nearer. In February all the sisters made a retreat which closed on the 25th February, a Sunday. During holy Mass Sr. M. Stephana made her first profession and Sr. M. Bonifatia Vogel renewed her vows for three years.  Also the other Missionaries renewed publicly their vows. His Grace Bishop Albert Stohr of Mainz conducted the simple service. In the afternoon was the solemn missioning of the sisters during which Mother General gave each one the mission crucifix. A memorable day came to an end – another unforgettable day started. In the morning of the 26th Feb.1951, the sisters went to chapel with the community to recite the liturgical prayer for a safe journey and to receive a last blessing. As the political situation was unsafe Mother General wanted the sisters to leave the country soon. God’s help was at hand. An American gentleman offered to pay the sisters air tickets. On 4th March 1951 the sisters arrived in Fort Victoria. They started missionary work at Serima and Zaka.