Spiritual innovation sustains St. Agnes Parish in the face of COVID-19

By Josiah Chiwakira

Church activities are slowly gathering momentum at St. Agnes parish in Chitungwiza.

The church doors remain open at St. Agnes parish church in Zengeza Chitungwiza and parishioners continue to come for prayers in singles, pairs or groups of threes observing the covid 19 restrictions.

This was confirmed by elder, pioneer and educator Mr. Muganhiri of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ guild at the parish. “The church executive under the leadership of Fr. James Nyagadi, the priest at the parish, meets every week to organize the church activities that best suit the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said elder Muganhiri. The executive committee delegates duties to groups selected from the guilds to perform the various activities which include maintaining church grounds, watering the flowers, sweeping the church auditorium as well as the edifice grounds added elder Muganhiri.

Meanwhile, Fr. Nyagadi, the priest in Charge at St. Agnes in conjunction with the executive committee organizes the weekly church service which is then circulated to groups in the guilds on whatsapp. The WhatsApp messages are circulated in audio and video format to enable members with access to the WhatsApp facility to attend the virtual mass service. The method is very effective for families who have internet connection or smart phones. “Every guild has a group which receives information on developments at the parish which it in turn circulates to other sections then to the general membership of the parish,” said elder Muganhiri. 

The COVID-19 restrictions have negatively impacted on the livelihoods of many people in various communities. Zengeza residents are also bearing these negative effects. Many parishioners whose bread winners have been affected complain of food shortages because they lost their jobs mostly in the informal sector.

“The stay at home and travel restrictions have made it impossible for people to move around and mobilize resources to feed their families. Sitting at home is counterproductive and becomes a source of problems within families as prices of food commodities, electricity as well as rent continue to rise,” he added.

However, the parish has a register of vulnerable members who need support when donations are available.

“St. Vincent de Paul is a welfare organization which has been supporting some of our vulnerable and deserving church members, the organization sometimes provides food, clothes and medication when available,” he revealed.

As for the general welfare of the priest, contributions continue to be made every week through the guilds.

“Our priest continues to receive the usual support in terms of stipend for fuel, airtime and groceries,” he added.  

Mr. Muganhiri is among pioneer members of St. Agnes together with his wife Amai Muganhiri a well-known member and a choir supervisor in the Catholic Church fraternity. The development of St. Agnes parish started way back in 1976 and construction started in 1979. Prior to this development, the community used to attend church services at St. Louis Catholic Church in St. Mary’s Chitungwiza.

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