Huge send-off for Catholic Bishop Muchabaiwa

Diocese of Mutare Bishop Paul Horan interacts with Acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga and his wife Colonel Miniyothabo Chiwenga during an interment mass for Bishop Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa at St Dominic’s High School grounds in Mutare yesterday. Bishop Muchabaiwa was laid to rest at Triashill Mission in Mutasa. — Picture: Tinai Nyadzayo

THE unsung hero who consecrated the National Heroes’ Acre and presided over the burial of liberation war icons Cdes Josiah Magama Tongogara and Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, the late Roman Catholic Church bishop for Mutare Diocese, Bishop Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa received a befitting send-off when thousands of people from across the country converged in Mutare and Triashill Mission in Mutasa to bid him farewell yesterday.

From as early as 6am, St Dominic’s High School in Mutare, where his interment mass was held, was a hive of activity and mourners from all walks of life converged to bid farewell to the first black bishop of Mutare Diocese.

Among the mourners was Acting President, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also a devoted Catholic; as well as his wife, Colonel Miniyothabo Baloyi-Chiwenga.

Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Advocate Misheck Mugadza; Zanu PF treasurer-general, Cde Patrick Chinamasa; legislators, Cdes Gertrude Mutandi and Stanley Sakupwanya; Zanu PF provincial chairman, Cde Tawanda Mukodza and Central Committee member, Cde Isau Mupfumi also graced the event.

The late Bishop Muchabaiwa served together with the late auxiliary bishop, Bishop Patrick Mutume.

Catholic bishops from across Zimbabwe, among them Archbishop of Harare Archdiocese, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu; Bishop Paul Horan (Mutare Diocese); Bishop Raymond Mupandasekwa (Masvingo); Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro (Gweru); Bishop Rachel Ncube (Hwange); Bishop Eusebius Nyathi (Gokwe) and Pope Francis’ representative in Zimbabwe, Father Marciano Philippe Fabion were also present.

Archbishop Ndlovu led the mass, while Father Henry Wasosa’s sermon touched many hearts.

When Bishop Muchabaiwa was ordained as bishop in 1982, Mutare Diocese had five Diocesan priests, but through his hard work and dedication to duty, his 34-year-old tenure of office saw the diocese producing more than 100 priests.

Dr Chiwenga first interacted with the late bishop on August 24, 1968 when he served his ordination mass at Mt St Mary’s Hwedza Mission.

Acting President Chiwenga said the late Bishop Muchabaiwa was a people-centred person who spearheaded a number of development projects in the education, health and food security sectors.

He said the late Bishop Muchabaiwa made history by consecrating the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare as well as presiding over the burial of the late national heroes, Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara and Jason Ziyapapa Moyo.

Cdes Tongogara and Moyo were the first national heroes to be interred at the national shrine.

“In 1982, the late President of Zimbabwe (Cde Robert Mugabe) requested Archbishop Chakaipa (Patrick) to preside over the blessings of the National Heroes’ Acre and the reburial of the first two national heroes at that shrine.

“Archbishop Chakaipa was, however, called on short notice to Rome by the late Pope John Paul 11, now St John Paul 11. Due to the unforeseen event, Archbishop Chakaipa delegated his then Vicar-General, Very Reverend Father Alexio Muchabaiwa, to officiate at this historical national event.

“The National Heroes’ Acre was blessed by this man lying in state before us today. As a nation, we shall always keep the mantra ‘Nyika inonamatirwa nevene vayo’, a legacy left by the late Bishop Muchabaiwa and others,” said Acting President Chiwenga.

He said the late Bishop Muchabaiwa worked closely with Government and used to remind those in the security sector and those serving in Government to always put the people of Zimbabwe first in everything.

He urged all Zimbabweans to seek peace, which is an enduring tenet for economic development, freedom of worship and nurturing of the inner soul and spirit.

“Be at peace, first and foremost with the Almighty God, yourself, your community and humanity at large. Fellow Christians, congregants, our hearts are restless till we see peace in all the countries that are experiencing wars, including Palestine, Israel, DRC and Mozambique,” said the Acting President.

He went on to urge the youths to shun drugs.

“May we always conscientise our young people to risk their lives with Jesus Christ, not in drugs and substance abuse. Stand firm in saying ‘No to drugs, No to mutoriro, No to guka and No to mbanje’.

“As a country, we will not develop with a delinquent generation of youths. We want God-fearing, disciplined and hardworking sons and daughters of the soil, with unity of purpose in modernising our country,” said Dr Chiwenga.

He pledged Government’s support in the church’s plans to name an institution after the late Bishop Muchabaiwa.

“I am informed that there are plans to name an institution in honour of the late Bishop Muchabaiwa for his dedication to the development of education in Zimbabwe.

“In that regard, let me assure you all that Government will always be ready to assist in whatever way possible when the Roman Catholic Church, especially here in Manicaland, feels that it needs to honour the legacy of the late Bishop Muchabaiwa.

“Government enjoys very cordial relations with the Roman Catholic Church, which has seen the country benefitting from its wide range of societal development which include health service delivery, education and most recently, food and nutrition security.

“There is a massive agricultural project which the Roman Catholic Church has embarked on in complimenting Government’s efforts to eradicate food insecurity in Zimbabwe. These are initiatives from the bishops and we applaud them for that,” said Acting President Chiwenga.



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