History of St. Peregrine’s Mission

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1927 – 2013

The geographic view of the Mission

The St. Peregrine’s Mission is situated North of Swaziland under the Hhohho Region with Bulandzeni as its main station and, Herefords, Ndzingeni, Nyakatfo and Nkambeni as  its sub-stations.

The arrival of the first missionaries at Bulandzeni

The St. Peregrine’s Mission was founded by the Servants of Mary, Servite’s Order, in 1927.  The first Servite Friars settled at Bulandzeni on the 13th of November 1927 with the scope of beginning a new Catholic Church Mission there.  The first Friars to settle there were Fr. Agostino Fagiolo (Italian) and Bro. Giulio Potveer (from Belgium) who arrived in that place with great hope in their hearts to start a mission dedicated to St. Peregrine of Laziosi.

 

The idea to go to the North of the country came with the, by then, Apostolic Prefect (the first in Swaziland) Mgr. Pellegrino P. Belezze “Mawinji” (1923-1933), a Servite himself also.  On Wednesday the 9th of November 1927, the Apostolic Prefect, residing at St. Joseph’s Mission, summoned Fr. Agostino Fagiolo and Bro. Giulio Potveer, who were also residing at St. Joseph’s Mission, to have a discussion with them.  After that lengthy discussion, Mgr. P. Belezze gave the two Friars a letter of obedience to go to the North of Swaziland to begin a Catholic Mission.  The following day, Thursday the 10th of November 1927, the two Friars, Fr. A. Fagiolo and Bro. G. Potveer, received a blessing from the Apostolic Prefect and they begun their journey going towards Mliba.  Arriving at kaDvokolwako on Friday the 11th of November 1927, the two Friars had great difficulties crossing the great Umbuluzi river with their horses and cart but, with the help of local villagers they finally managed to cross the river and continue with their journey.  Glad to have overcome one great obstacle on their way towards the North, little did they know that they will encounter another one similar to the first.  Arriving at Bhalekane and following tracks towards the North, they found the river iNkomazi and measuring the greatness of the river by their minds, it was proven to them impossible to cross the river.  They were then helped by a local business man Mr. B. N. Holland, who had a store at Bhalekane, who brought ten bulls to help pull the cart across the river, the bulls only to be stuck at the middle of the river but finally they managed to pull across.  The friars rested across the river for night was falling ending the day dated Saturday, 12 November 1927.  On Sunday morning, the 13th of November 1927, they begun their journey once more.  They arrived at a place called Bulandzeni at around 09:00 A.M.  They moved around looking for the best place to settle and of course in search also for the source of life, water.  They found the best spot (where the mission is today), bought the land from Mr. Leone Franklin for twenty five shillings. For the first few days they used their tents for shelter and, with the help of the locals, after a few days, they managed to build stick and mud huts which they used for some time. In those days, they also payed homage to the local Chief, Makhosikhosi, brother to King Sobhuza on the 17th of November 1927.

Beginning of the Friars’ missionary activities

The Servite’s missionary activity started among those who came to help the Friars’ construct the huts. Spreading, Fr. Agostino Fagiolo is remembered by the locals by his everyday activity of visiting ‘kraals’ or homesteads.  It is said that when he entered a kraal, he used to start by saying “in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.  Thus, the Swazis used to call him “Ngegama lika Yise (loosely translated, in the name of the Father).  Fr. Fagiolo would teach catechism even in shebeen areas wrote one of the sisters.

The chronicle book of Fr. Fagiolo states that on their first Christmas there, 25 December 1927, on their 10:00 A.M. Mass, they had about 14 community members present.  Holy communion was distributed to 4 that day. A baby and an old woman were baptised also.

The Mantellite, Sisters of Pistoia’s arrival     

In 1936 the 2nd of November, some sisters, Mantellite Sisters of Pistoia, arrived at St. Peregrine’s Mission to help in missionary work.  They were Sr. Gerarda and Sr. Vittoria.  They found Fr. Agostino Fagiolo and Bro. Gioacchino (Bro. Giulio had died few years before due to Malaria and buried at St. Joseph’s Mission).  Already, when the sisters arrived, there was a school, the priest being a part time teacher there and the sisters helped in teaching other subjects in the small school thus the St. Peregrine Primary School dates back from the year the first missionaries arrived at Bulandzeni in 1927.  After sometime, the sisters reinforced with Sr. Maurizia, Sr. Roberta, and Sr. Sebastiana.

 

Fr. Fagiolo was transferred from St. Peregrine’s Mission on the 29th of December 1943, Fr. Giuseppe Bello being the new priest in-charge arriving with Bro. Elia Dal Magro on the same day.

Few years later, the Mantellate Sisters were substituted by the local Mahlabane Servite Sister.

Growth of the Mission

St. Peregrine extended its missionary and apostolic activities by opening a house at Tshaneni, building new classrooms at the school and building a church at Bulandzeni.  For many years the mission did not only serve the people of Bulandzeni but also Havelock Mine, Ohlangothini, Ensangwini, Pigg’s Peak (where the Mantellite sisters had a clinic), Enkambeni, Tshaneni, Mhlume, Tabankulu and Lomahasha.

Fr. T. Biondi ushering St. Peregrine’s Mission to the 21st century

After 27 years of Fr. Giuseppe Bello’s stay at St. Peregrine’s Mission, in 1970 Fr. Terenzio Biondi was posted to St. Peregrine coming from Good Sheperd Mission, Siteki, where he had spent 18 years as the priest in-charge from the year he arrived in Swaziland in January 1948.  Fr. Biondi foresaw, among other developments; the primary school which trebled its previous size with a boys and girls hostel; a milling and a pre-school ventured to provide income for the local women; and a construction of a multi-purpose hall.  At the age of 82, Fr. Biondi, elderly and sickly, left St. Peregrine’s Mission (actually Swaziland) in 2003 after 33 years at St. Peregrine’s Mission which was more or less like his home.

Fr. Aaron Zunge Ginindza took after Fr. Biondi serving both St. Joseph’s and St. Peregrine’s Mission.  His apostolate was mostly catechetical and forming small Christian communities.  However, his service at St. Peregrine was short lived.  Fr. Maurice O’Gorman continued after him from 2004 based at Regina Mundi, Pigg’s Peak himself.  The St. Peregrine’s Mission was under a day to day care of the Catechist Mr Tfwala from St. Joseph’s Mission. Fr. Maurice O’Gorman took good care of the mission’s only school, the St. Peregrine’s Primary School.  Evidence of that is the newly constructed home economics block aided by his oversees friends.  He was well known for helping needy pupils with their school fees, doing charity to the poor mostly the elderly and visiting the sick.  He was called to eternal rest in 2011.

Seeing the need of having a priest running the mission, Bishop Ncamiso Ndlovu assigned the local, Diocesan Priest, Fr. Mandlenkhosi Makama, in 2011, to be in-charge of St. Peregrine Mission.  He was, however, looking after not only St. Peregrine but also Regina Mundi Mission and based at Pigg’s Peak.  He kept the flames of faith burning especially with his ability to deliver the word of God.

Bishop Ndlovu relieved Fr. Makama of the heavy load by assigning Fr. Sandile Mswane to St. Peregrine’s Mission to be the priest in-charge from 23rd of July 2012 up to date.

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