Catholic Charity Rallying for Support of Priest’s Mission in Zimbabwe’s Isolated Villages

Credit: ACN

Chitsungo Mission of the Catholic Diocese of Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe is the poorest in the Diocese, the Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), has said, adding that Priests are finding it difficult to provide pastoral care to needy populations in far-flung villages served by the Catholic mission.

According to the charity foundation, Fr. Walter Chenyika who has been traversing about 60 villages served by Chitsungo Mission is now unable to reach parishioners, some living more than 140 kilometers away, and is in urgent need of a “life-saving” car.

In an October 14 report, ACN notes that the Catholic Mission is far away and that the roads are “almost always impassable”, and adds, “You don't get there by GPS, but by the touch of calloused hands that hold the steering wheel and avoid the pitfalls of the roads.”

“The Chitsungo Mission, which is made up of about 60 villages, boasts the status of being the poorest in the Diocese of Chinhoyi. It is the poorest, it is very far away and now it is isolated, waiting for Father Walter to get a new car. Without it, there is no way to get there,” ACN says.

The charity foundation that supports the Church in areas of hardship notes that Fr. Walter’s car has already been worn out on the long round trips in the Mission, sometimes on risky roads.


“There were thousands of kilometers traveled, dozens of repairs in the workshop, often almost impossible operations that rescued a car that had long ago ceased to exist. It was being maintained almost artificially, parts were invented, solutions were forged, but nothing could prevent the final gasp. Without a car, Father Walter also lost his mission,” the charity foundation narrates, and posits, “How does he reach his parishioners who live sometimes more than 140 kilometers away?”

Bishop Raymond Tapiwa Mupandasekwa of Chinhoyi who has visited the villages served by Chitsungo Mission in Northern Zimbabwe has attested to the challenges that Fr. Chinyika grapples with every day in his pastoral work.

In his visit to Chitsungo Mission, Bishop Mupandasekwa decided to spend some time with the poorest people in one of these villages, ACN reports, adding, “He chose one of the most isolated, Kanyemba. For five days and five nights the Bishop lived like a villager, slept in a tent, shared the food, the conversations, the worries.”

The Pontifical charity foundation reports that populations in Northern Zimbabwe are tribal, and that many still live off hunting and what they gather in the forests.

The situation in this part of Zimbabwe, according to the charity foundation, is all very simple, but that the general problems of the country can also be felt there, “as it has become poorer with inflation that exceeds 800 percent and is pushing families into misery.”

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In the ACN report, Bishop Mupandasekwa has underscored the need of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe’s impoverished villages.

The member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists – CSsR) is quoted as saying, “People need to be accompanied by a Priest who can administer the sacraments to them, help them grow in their faith, and at the same time guide them towards a gradual improvement in their living conditions.”

It is the Zimbabwean Bishop who has asked for help from the ACN foundation so that Fr. Walter can continue to hit the road, saying, “Without a car, pastoral work is impossible.”

“It is just a car for a priest, but, in fact, it is much more than that,” ACN notes, adding that the car that the Catholic Priest owned has always come in handy whenever villagers urgently wanted to move around.

“Fr. Walter’s car has taken and brought people who needed to go to town, taken sick people to the doctor, transported men, women, and even animals,” the Catholic charity foundation narrates.


The car, the ACN report indicates, “has even taken the place of the ambulances that don't even dare to go through the bad roads that lead to the villages of the Chitsungo Mission.”

“Fr. Walter's car has already saved lives, and he wants to continue to be a kind of guardian angel for his people. To do this, he needs a new car,” the charity foundation says, adding in an appeal for funds, “Shall we help him?”

This story was first published by ACI Africa on 18 October 2022.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.