Irish Carmelites in Zimbabwe
After the Second World War an urgent call for missionaries was made by Pope Pius XII. He was moved by the deprivations of the recent conflict. The Irish Carmelites responded when Fr Carmel O’Shea, Provincial, began negotiations with the English Jesuit Vicar Apostolic in Zimbabwe. Fr O’Shea in turn sent out a call for volunteers. As a result of a very positive response, three Carmelites, Fathers Raymond Lamont, Anselm Corbett and Luke Flynn set sail for Africa in a troopship, since most of the passenger-carrying ships were wrecks at the bottom of the sea. When the three Carmelites reached what was then called Rhodesia (today's Zimbabwe) they took charge of the oldest mission station, Triashill. New missions were opened and in June 1957 Father Lamont was consecrated Bishop of the present-day Diocese of Mutare. The Carmelites remained in that country all through the War of Independence. Bishop Lamont was a key figure in the struggle towards equality and democracy. Eventually he was tried by the White Government and sentenced to penal servitude but this was later changed to deportation. Later he was present at the celebrations for Zimbabwean Independence.
Expansion in Zimbabwe led to houses being established in another diocese – Harare. The Carmelite ambition is to build up the local church providing it with Zimbabwean clergy, Carmelite and Parochial. Over the next few decades there will still be an urgent need for more vocations from Ireland to supplement these native apostolates until there are sufficient African staff in all areas. There is a thriving sisterhood engaged in teaching, nursing and pastoral work. In all our missions we work in full collaboration with the laity, which includes not only native Zimbabweans but also people who come for a term of work from Europe and the United States.
Today there are over twenty Irish Carmelites working in various mission stations in Zimbabwe. Several African Zimbabweans have entered the Carmelite Novitiate House at Kriste Mambo (Christ the King), in the Inyanga Mountains. Students in Zimbabwe live and study in the Carmelite Student House in Harare.
Carmelite Houses in Zimbabwe:
- The Carmelite Priory, Mutare
- St Joseph's Mission, Sakubva
- St Kilian's Mission, Makoni
- St Simon Stock Parish, Rusape
- Triashill Mission, Rusape
- Kriste Mambo Community & High School, Rusape
- St Joseph's Priory, Harare
- St Agnes' Parish, Zenegeza
- Student Formation Community, Chisipite
The Carmelites in Zimbabwe have their own website: www.carmeliteszim.com
- Celts among the Shona - a collection of articles written by Irish Carmelites about their early experiences in Zimbabwe (1946-1966).
His Holiness, Pope John Paul II being greeted by Fr D. Clarke, O.Carm., upon his Holiness' arrival in Zimbabwe.