Our Lady of Peace

OUR LADY OF PEACE PARISH

It is difficult to tell when it is exactly that the Church started in the town of Victoria Falls. The oldest (first) document we found is dated 8th August 1964 and this is a letter written by Fr. Alfred O.F.M. Cap from Livingstone, to our Bishop Ignatius Prieto asking him to send a Catechist to live among the people then.

In the letter, it is said that the population at the time was about 2 000, “of whom about 150 where Catholics, and of these, half of them were children under the age of 14 years”.

He mentioned in that letter that he found about 18 different languages, with the most spoken ones being Lozi, Shona, Bemba, Nyanja, Luchani, Ndebele…maybe he didn’t know about the local people as I can’t imagine that there were no Nambyas at that time, although there is a high chance that they were identified as Ndebele.

But the Church was present here much earlier than now.  Using some Newspaper articles, it seems that between 1950 and 1959, Victoria Falls started as an out-centre for Livingstone until Sacred Heart Mission was opened in 1962 and then it was served either by Sacred Heart or Livingstone.

By 1967 the Victoria Falls Town Council authorities approached the then Bp. Ignatius Prieto making an offer of some grounds on condition to build the Church, which he accepted.

By the middle of 1967, the construction of the Priest’s house and the Church was started and by March 1968, the first residential Priest, Fr. Angel Arnaldes arrived.

The Baptismal book shows that the first two persons were baptized by Fr. Joseph Lewis Ruis on 07 March 1968.

The first marriage recorded in the book is dated 07 April 1968.

In the book of deaths, the first recorded death was Patric Phiri who died on 16 May 1968

There were 23 confirmations in the same year.

It seems most of the people who lived here in those days are no longer in Victoria Falls.

A letter of appointment for Fr. Thomas del Barrio to be Parish Priest in Victoria Falls was written by Bp. Ignatius Prieto, dated 21st March 1975 and his appointment was effective 01 April the same year. Fr. Thomas served both Our Lady of Peace and St. Kizito Parishes since then till he retired in February 2008 (33 good years).

The problem we have since picked with this Parish is that it was more of a shifting population. Before going to other points, herewith some statistics:

  • In 1989, the population of Victoria Falls is an estimated 15, 000 while the Church statistics including the out-centre (Chisuma, Monde, Jambwe, Lupinyu, Monde) was 1162.
  • The Catholics of Victoria Falls would be over 700 and there was a thought that if and when others desired to show up and start practicing, we would have to start having 2 masses on Sundays so as to accommodate everyone.

In 1999, the extension of the Church of Our Lady of Peace on the west wing was executed.

A note written by one of the long serving Catechists, Johannes Munsaka, gave the brief history on The Creation of Victoria Falls Parish (I believe it is the Our Lady of Peace Parish) as follows:

“Local names used for this place were – Syungwe / Mosi oa Tunya / Chinotimba / Victoria Falls

Pre-evangelization process was for the migrating Rhodesia Railway cottage community working in Victoria Falls Hotel.

 Provisional Vicariate – Livingstone, Zambia

  • Bishop was Timothy Phelem O’shla, a Capuchin Father
  • Priests were Fr. Salvator, Fr. Arthuiz, Fr. Alfred/ Fr. Hugh/ Fr. Bernard/ Fr. Maloochy and Fr. Albert
  • Chapel – Victoria Falls Hotel only for the low density white community
  • Community Centre – Chinotimba Clinic veranda for the Railway society
  • Social Welfare – centre was located at the now Chinotimba Beerhall

 

Catechists

  • Jowane Walusika Sikufele, born in 1927 at Mkhuni Village in Zambia. Was working at the Victoria Falls Hotel and was a part time Catechist.
    • Catechumenate (zinc shelter) was being held in these premises under tree and he then remained in Zambia after he was retrenched from work.

 

  • 1957    Gertrude Tanya (husband was Sylvester) house number 1332, joined the apostolate work of motivation and catechesis under the trees, including Sunday Service, with the main language being Lozi.

1965       Johannes M. Munsaka who started working as an untrained Catechist from 1962 to 1963 at Sacred Heart Mission under Sr. Matirian Torego for one year and was recommended for Catechetical training by Fr. Philipi Long. This training took place 1963 to December 1964”

Mr. Munsaka served as a Catechist his whole life until his death in Victoria Falls a few years ago. May the good Lord grant him eternal rest.

 

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