Southern African Province 1883

Abbot Franz Pfanner of Mariannhill, with five Holy Cross Sisters, left Southampton for South Africa on 9 June 1883. They arrived in Durban on 12 July 1883. Ministry for the Sisters of the Holy Cross was to be found further inland.  After a long and exhausting journey by ox-wagon they arrived in Umtata (Mthatha) at Midnight, 24 July 1883. Here, the Sisters of the Holy Cross moved into three huts which became their first Convent. This was the humble beginning of the missionary activity of the Sisters of the Holy Cross on the African Continent. The call of Abraham sums up the journey of the pioneer Sisters to Southern Africa:

"Leave your country, your people and your

father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis, 12:1). 

The Southern African Province was erected in 1930. Until then, Southern African Province was administered directly from Menzingen, Switzerland. Our Province consists of four countries; South Africa, Ireland, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The Sisters on mission are drawn from at least seven nationalities and different ethnic, language and cultural groups in Southern Africa, Europe and Mauritius. Our common language in communities is English. 

Urged by the Word of God and challenged by our internationality and diversity, we sow hope wherever we are sent. We are committed to a life of ongoing transformation of the heart, broadening our spheres of concern and growing deeper in our understanding for humanity and the whole of creation.

The General Chapter Message of 2019 calls us to be:

“Rooted in Christ…to be a Transforming Presence”

in our endeavour to build the Kingdom of God here on earth. Through daily intimate encounters with Jesus as an individual and as community through prayer and sacraments, we are enabled to give credible witness to the transforming presence of God among us by our life of simplicity in a world infused by cultural, social, economic, political and religious conflicts. St Paul writes:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2).
Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, who is at the centre of our lives, makes this life possible. This is the foundation of our hope.

The Southern African Province, owns seven schools and one frail-care centre. Assigned to nineteen Holy Cross communities in four different countries, we specialise in education concentrating on the holistic formation of the person. We engage in initial and on-going formation, health, education, administration, catechetical and socio-pastoral work on Diocesan and parish levels in collaboration with NGOs and other male and female religious Congregations.

We care for the politically and socio-economically disadvantaged people on the peripheries of society. In Father Theodosius’ words:

“I will send my Sisters there, where they are badly needed and most ardently expected— namely, to the poor, to those hungry for education, the sick, the orphans and the neglected”.

Below pictured is Sr Alice Matyatini and Patient & Sr Sophie Phiri with Co-Worker - Holy Cross Clinic Botshabelo

We therefore, pay special attention to women and youth who are vulnerable by initiating income generating projects guided by the principle of subsidiarity. At our Holy Cross Farm in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, we have opened a Vocational Training Centre for the youth, where we empower them with skills to make choices to improve their standards of living and to open up opportunities for a livelihood.

This is one way of responding to the call, to be

“Immersed in human reality and to be a transforming presence in our context”,

thereby translating the vision of our Founders into reality.

We also have a number of young Sisters engaged in pastoral work while others are in professional training for various ministries. Novices, Postulants and Candidates are in Victory Park, Johannesburg, South Africa, Mongu (Zambia), Renco Mine and Mukaro (Zimbabwe).

Soon after First Profession, the newly professed Sisters are assigned to Communities where they have the opportunity to put into practice what they learn during the years of formation. Community living becomes an important aspect in developing skills for varied ministries. Thus, young Sisters learn to integrate their spirituality with community life and apostolic service. Although, half of the Province consists of the elderly Sisters, the Sisters like to stay in ministry for as long as their health permits. The elderly and retired Sisters support the more active members  by their supportive prayers and contact. 

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