Pauline Sisters’ Apostolate in Zimbabwe Relevant to Needs of Local Church: Archbishop

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu with FSP pioneer members of the newly inaugurated Thecla Merlo Community in Harare, Zimbabwe. Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

The apostolate of the Pious Society of the Daughters of St. Paul (FSP) in Zimbabwe is relevant to the needs of the people of God in the Southern African nation, the Archbishop of the country’s Harare Archdiocese has said.

In his speech on the accession of the official opening of Thecla Merlo Community in Harare, the first FSP community in Zimbabwe, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu expressed gratitude to the Italian-founded Institute with the charism of “living Christ and communicating Him to the world in the field of social communication in the spirit of St. Paul and in the atmosphere of Mary, Queen of Apostles.”

Archbishop Ndlovu said during the Monday, August 21 event, "It has really been our wish that we kind of have people with such charism in our local church and to really help us grow in our faith."

Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

Making reference to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC), the Archbishop of Harare assured FSP members of the Catholic Bishops’ collaboration, and that their apostolate of evangelizing through the media “shall” be supported across the country.


"We are grateful and we shall do our level best to work with you and to make sure that you reach out with your charism to as many people as possible especially in the Small Christian Communities so that they can benefit from the missionary kind of charism that you have to promote the spread of the Gospel through social media,” he said.

Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

He added, “We need that especially in this modern world where communication is so important and you cannot now evangelize without thinking of social communication".

The Zimbabwean Archbishop who has been at the helm of Harare Archdiocese since August 2004 encouraged FSP members assigned at Thecla Merlo Community in the territory of the Holy Name Parish to engage the youth in their apostolate.

"I hope you are in this parish to be kind of be close to young people so that they can also come to know what you are all about,” Archbishop Ndlovu said, adding that it is from such engagement that the interests of the youth are identified. 

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Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

“When they really come to know your charism (and) mission, I don't think the Lord will disappoint you; with time you may succeed the fruits of that engagement," the 67-year-old Archbishop continued in his appeal that FSP members in Zimbabwe foster interactions with young people. 

The youth, he further said, "are also hungry for the word of God, for sometimes maybe they lack that platform where they can really come to listen to the importance of the word of God in their lives. They are always on social media for other reasons. I think you have to fill that space, which is really your charism and I am sure you will come up with something."

Some young people from Holy Name Parish of Harare Archdiocese. Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

In his homily during the event that was held at the Monastery of the Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth, Malbereign, in Harare Archdiocese, Archbishop Ndlovu encouraged FSP members assigned at Venerable Thecla Merlo in Harare, the community named after the “closest collaborator” of their founder, Blessed James Alberione, to embrace a life of communal prayer.


“In this house, you should pray together and share the daily experiences of your work; your joys and challenges,” the Zimbabwean Archbishop said, and explained, “A religious house should be a place where people encounter Christ. It is more than just a residence where people stay and sleep but where the Lord is present.”

Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

He continued in reference in his emphasis for communal living, “It should be a place where we confirm and affirm each other as religious people, that is, in your vocation as Daughters of St. Paul.”

“Make community life a joy for each other. Yes, each one of us is different. Our diversity should be a source of enrichment to our communities and not a cause of disharmony,” he further emphasized.

The Catholic Archbishop who is among three African Prelates that Pope Francis directly named as delegates to the October 4-29 Synod on Synodality in Rome further said that in community living, “we should complement each other with our diversity and affirm each other with our diversity.”

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Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

“I think if there is love and joy in your community then you don't have much to do by way of campaigning for vocations,” he said, and added, “Young people will be curious to come and see where you stay so as to experience the same kind of life you enjoy as religious. But if you portray the opposite, they will avoid this place and you. In other words, you become a beam of light guiding them to discern their vocation.”

The 67-year-old Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in May 1999 as Bishop of Zimbabwe’s Hwange Diocese went on to underscore the need to foster a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

“All our works of service to Christ or His people should flow from our relationship with Him. There is always a danger of us being too busy in the Lord’s vineyard that we forget the Lord of the vineyard. It is for us to take instructions from Him every day,” Archbishop Ndlovu said during the August 21 event.

He urged FSP members to take their new Thecla Merlo community as a place “where you retire at the end of each day to meet the Lord in prayer as individuals and as a community of Religious Nuns.”

Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

“It should be an encounter that gives you a reason for you being religious and a place that will inspire you to serve God’s people with the mind and heart of the Lord not yours. From this house the Lord commissions you every day to go and bear fruits, fruits that will last,” he said.

He went on to implore, “We pray that those who will live in this house will conform their way of life to what they promised as Religious.”

“We as Archdiocese of Harare are privileged to have you among us,” he said, and added, “I hope you will revive the culture of reading in us.”

Also speaking during the August 21 event, the Regional Superior of FSP communities in Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia thanked the leadership of the Archdiocese of Harare “for inviting us to establish our presence here in Zimbabwe, an invitation that we finally honor today as we start our new community and our Pauline mission.”

Sr. Rosemary Mueni Mwaiwa, Regional Superior of FSP communities in Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

Sr. Rosemary Mueni Mwaiwa sought the intercession of the Venerable Thecla Merlo, saying, “Being our co-foundress, she is watching us from above and we persistently prayed through her intercession to be able to open this community.”

“We hope and pray that the Sisters will promote and recruit new Zimbabwean vocations and enrich their small community with different cultural gifts and talents as they spread the gospel among the people of this country and the neighboring countries,” the Nairobi-based FSP Delegate Superior said.

Sr. Maria Kimani, Superior of Thecla Merlo Community in Harare, Zimbabwe. Credit: Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

On her part, the Superior General of FSP, Sr. Anna Caiazza, offered “warmest wishes” to the new FSP members at Thecla Merlo community, assuring them of “our grateful closeness and of our prayers.”

In her message read out on her behalf during the August 21 occasion, the Rome-based FSP Superior General made reference to date of the establishment of the Pauline Family on 20 August 1914. She said, “It is providential and significant that this event of ‘new life’ occurs on the day we celebrate the memory of the birth of the Pauline Family.”

Sr. Anna Caiazza, FSP Superior General. Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

“Everything is from God, everything leads us to the Magnificat: this expression, so dear to our Founder, expresses our feelings very well today,” Sr. Caiazza said.

She added, “I would like to express all our gratitude to you for accepting the Lord's call to bring the Good News to this land so often dreamed of as the promised land.” 

“Thank you for your witness and for your service. Thank you because - we are certain – that you will work with love, responsibility and competence, committing yourselves to evangelization, which, according to the thought of Blessed Alberione and to the highest magisterium of Pope Francis, ranges from the first announcement to catechesis, from theology to liturgy, from spirituality to formation... with the absolute priority of the Word of God, on which our apostolic vocation is founded,” she said.

Members of FSP General Council. Credit: Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

The FSP Superior General continued in her message that the Nairobi-based Delegate Superior read out, “Our Founder wanted us to continue the ministry of Jesus, who came into the world to bear witness to the Truth.”

“We hope, with all our hearts, that together, sharing ideas, gifts and energies, you may reach with renewed and bold creativity the lofty goals to which we are called and reach those existential peripheries ‘where the light of the Gospel is most needed,’ where hope is lacking, where the values of life, family, inclusive and supportive welcome, and creation are threatened,” she said.

Credit: Daughters of St. Paul (FSP)

Entrusting “the community's journey and the fruitfulness of its apostolic service to the powerful intercession of Fr. Alberione and Maestra Thecla,” Sr. Caiazza went on to implore, “May they obtain for us the abundance of the gifts of the Spirit and the joy that springs from getting up, setting out, and trusting in God’s Promise.”

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