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“I have never felt this small”, Bishop-Elect in Zimbabwe Says following Appointment

Msgr. Raphael Macebo Mabuza Ncube, the new Bishop of Zimbabwe’s Hwange Diocese. Credit: Zimbabwe Catholic Church News

The appointment of Msgr. Raphael Macebo Mabuza Ncube as the new Bishop of Zimbabwe’s Hwange Diocese is a humbling experience for the Bishop-elect who has pledged to give his all in his service to the people of God who will be under his pastoral care.

Reacting to the news of his Monday, July 5 appointment alongside others in Papal appointments in Zimbabwe and Botswana, Msgr. Ncube told Catholic Church News Zimbabwe that he had never felt so small in his life.

“I was dumbfounded and I could not immediately respond when the news hit my ears. However, the Papal Nuncio was very helpful in dispelling the confusion that had overshadowed me,” the Bishop-elect says in the Tuesday, July 6 report.

He adds, “Everything seemed to have come to a standstill. I have never felt this small before but this task has shown me how small I am.”

Msgr. Ncube admitted that he never expected ascending to the position of Bishop in his life, adding that he had always enjoyed pastoral work and working with the youth and Seminarians in his Priestly ministry.

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He told the Catholic Church media entity in Zimbabwe that he was met with disbelief when he was asked to take up the demanding responsibility.

In the July 6 Catholic media report, Msgr. Ncube said he stands to be guided by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and those who belong to the Church of Hwange on how he will carry out his mission.

The Bishop-elect further said that the vision of the Zimbabwean Diocese should be collectively shaped and owned by all since he is not meant to work alone.

“The vision will not come from me but from the people of Hwange, priests, religious and the laity,” he said, and added, “I am not meant to work alone because it’s about teamwork and the vision belongs to all who make up the church of Hwange. At the moment I can ask for their prayers and I entrust myself into their hands.”

The 48-year-old Zimbabwean Cleric who was ordained a Priest for the Archdiocese of Bulawayo in February 2001 said that Priesthood has always been his joy and that he never regretted any moment even though he encountered some challenges.

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“I have never regretted being a Priest but this does not mean that I never met with challenges. What it means is that none of those challenges have made me doubt my Priesthood. The experience of challenges has been outweighed by my love for my vocation,” he said, and added, “It looks as though I was ordained yesterday. I find it difficult to be used to Priesthood because it is always a new experience and renews you every day.”

“Young people renew and energize me every day with their vigor and enthusiasm to experiment and start new things,” he said.

The Bishop-elect said he is ready to embrace the spirit of the Bishops’ Conference whom he expects to lead and show him the way in governing God’s people. He encouraged people to uphold their faith especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I pray and encourage fellow Christians to uphold their faith in this trying moment of COVID-19. I am not coming with answers but I am coming with prayers. I cannot do anything on my own but together we go far,” said Msgr. Ncube.

Until the appointment of Msgr. Ncube, the Catholic Diocese of Hwange has been under the leadership of 79-year-old Bishop José Alberto Serrano Antón whose retirement the Holy Father has accepted.

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The Zimbabwean Cleric who is expected to become the sixth Bishop of Hwange Diocese has previously served as Rector of St. Bernard's Minor Seminary in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo, Parish Priest and Parish Vicar, among other responsibilities.

The Bishop-elect has been serving as the Spiritual Director of the National Seminary of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More of Chishawasha in Zimbabwe.

In the July 5 Papal appointment, Bishop Franklyn Atese Nubuasah of Botswana’s Gaborone Diocese was also elevated to “Archbishop ad personam”, a rank, which the Holy Father confers on some Bishops who are not Local Ordinaries of Archdioceses.

The Holy Father also appointed Kenyan-born Msgr. Anthony Pascal Rebello the new Bishop for Francistown in Botswana, an Episcopal See that has been vacant since June 2019, when Bishop Nubuasah was transferred to the Diocese of Gaborone.