Cleric in Zimbabwe Becomes Religious Brother After 57 Years of Priestly Ministry

Fr. Frank Wirz who transitioned from being an active Priest to a monk after 57 years of ministerial Priestly service in Zimbabwe.
Credit: Website Catholic Church News Zimbabwe.

It is a longing fulfilled for Fr. Frank Wirz, an 85-year old Catholic Cleric ministering in Zimbabwe who transitioned from being an active Priest to a monk after 57 years of ministerial Priestly service.

In a report published by the Catholic Church News Zimbabwe, Fr. Frank who is a member of Bethlehem Mission Society (SMB) said that after transitioning to the Religious Brotherhood, he felt “much happier and fulfilled.”

“His (Fr. Frank’s) new way of life is a manifestation of a deeper commitment to missionary work. He said his transformation also gives joy to his SMB community to which he remains a member,” Br. Alphonce Kugwa says in Monday, October 19 report.

In the report, Br. Alphonce highlights the sentiments of Fr. Frank (now a Religious Brother) who, adorned in a monastic habit, feels more comfortable in his new community at The Manger, the association’s residents in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare where he helps with community chores and spiritual renewal of the members of the community.

The Religious Brother was, until last month, a Catholic Priest years after having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders in 1963 in Switzerland and having been commissioned to Zimbabwe ten years later.

“When he came to Zimbabwe in 1973, he served at different missions including Silveira where he spent seven years and St. Antony’s Zaka where he stayed for 15 years,” Br. Alphonce reported in the Catholic Church News Zimbabwe October 19 publication, adding that the Cleric contributed to the wellbeing of the local Church through spiritual and infrastructural development.

On turning 65 years in 2000, Br. Xavier accompanied the Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth in the small-scale farming area of Musengezi under Zimbabwe’s Chinhoyi Diocese.

It was while working with the newly formed Sisters and Brothers of Jesus of Nazareth (SBJN), where Fr. Br. Xavier was the Chaplain that he reportedly developed “another vocation within his Priestly vocation.”

The leadership of the Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth said that the name “Sisters and Brothers of Jesus of Nazareth” was adopted because of the requests received from men who wanted to join the Religious Order.

The Superior of the SBJN, Sr. Lydia Fabian said that when the group introduced the male association in 2015, Br. Xavier had not made up his mind and was just a chaplain helping the Sisters in different ways.

“In 2017, he expressed his interest in joining the monastery as a monk. We feel we have made a great impact on him such that he developed the desire to be one of us,” Sr. Fabian has been quoted as saying, adding that Fr. Frank had made his final vows of poverty, obedience, chastity and stability on 8 September 2020, taking the name Br. Xavier.

In the October 19 report, Br. Xavier is quoted as saying that he is happy in his vocation and that he has received immense support, including that from his Superior.

“My SMB Superior expressed joy at the new development and congratulated me for taking up the initiative,” the Religious Brother said, and added, “Now, we have a contemplative monk in the service of the SMB who is also a full member of the SBJN. He has no problem with my new status as an SBJN member because this is more to do with my spiritual belief.”

Br. Xavier further said that he has done his part in the active Priesthood and has no attachments anymore but wishes to continue the missionary work in a deeper and contemplative way.

He goes on to invite men who feel called to monastic life to join the SBJN and share in his experience of a close relationship with God.

“This life helps one to create a deeper relationship with God and my wish is that more people, especially men, come to experience this so that they know God better. Monastic life gives you ample time to discover the meaning of life,” Br. Xavier has been quoted as saying.

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