By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Pope Francis has on 5 July 2021 appointed Monsignor Raphael Macebo Mabuza Ncube as the new Bishop of Hwange Diocese. The Bishop elect succeeds Bishop Jose’ Alberto Serrano Antion S.M.I who as has been at the helm of the coal diocese since 5 December 2006.
In a statement released by the Nunciature in Harare on 5 July 2021, Bishop Serrano becomes the Apostolic Administrator until such a time when the new Bishop takes over.
“The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Hwange presented by the Right Rev. Bishop Jose’ Alberto Serrano Antion, S.M.I and has appointed Rev. Fr. Raphael Macebo Mabuza Ncube, until now Formator at the National Major Seminary in Chishawasha, the new Bishop of Hwange.
At the same time, Pope Francis has appointed The Right Rev. Bishop Alberto Jose’ Serrano Antion, S.M.I Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Hwange, until the taking of possession of the new Bishop,” read the statement.
In an interview with the Catholic Church news, the Bishop Elect 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. He said the vision of the 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. I am not meant to work alone because it’s about team work 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,” said Monsignor Ncube.
Msgr Ncube said he never expected ascending to the high office of bishopric in his life as he enjoyed pastoral work and working with the youth and seminarians. He admitted that he was confronted with shock and disbelief when he was asked to take up the demanding responsibility.
“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. 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,” he said.
Msgr Ncube stated that priesthood has ever been his joy and that he never regretted any moment even though he encountered some challenges. The challenges he met in his life actually vindicated his vocation than weigh him down.
He said: “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. 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.”
Msgr Ncube has found joy in working with the youth especially those who come to the seminary as young boys and leave as mature men when they are ordained as priests. Seeing young people’s dreams being fulfilled fills him with joy.
“Young people renew and energise me every day with their vigour and enthusiasm to experiment and start new things,” he reiterated.
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 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.
Msgr Ncube was born Raphael Macebo Mabuza Ncube on 4 October 1973 in a family of eight boys and three girls in Nkayi. His father is Vincent George Mabuza Ncube and his mother is the late Winfreda Lister Dube. The family is originally from Brunaperg in Plumtree. Msgr Ncube went to Mathetshaneni Primary School and did his secondary education at Nkayi High School.
After completing his secondary school in 1992, Raphael started his priestly journey in 1993 when he entered the minor seminary at Mazowe and then moved to Chimanimani to start his philosophical studies. In 1995, he, together with others, moved to Chishawasha to continue with philosophy until 1996 before starting his theological studies in 1997. He was ordained a deacon on 9 July 2000 at Holy Spirit Parish in Nkulumane. On 3 February 2001 he was ordained to priesthood at St. Pius parish in Njube also in Bulawayo.
As a priest, Msgr Ncube was first assigned to be assistant priest of Embakwe Mission before he was appointed to take charge of the parish later in the same year. During the same year, he also became the Spritual Director for the youth and the Minor Seminary in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo. In 2003 he was appointed to be the Rector of the Minor Seminary in Bulawayo while doubling as the parish priest of St. Adolf. Towards the end of 2005, Fr. Raphael was assigned to lead St. Bernads before he went to study Spiritual Theology at Teresianum in Rome in 2008 where he obtained a Licentiate.
Msgr Ncube holds a Doctorate in Spiritual Theology and has been the Spiritual Director for seminarians at St. Augustine and Chishawasha Major Seminaries respectively. He is currently lecturing at Chishawasha Seminary in Harare.