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Congregation of Mariannhill Missionaries

congregation of mariannhill missionaries, congregation of mariannhill missionaries 2017
The Congregation of Mariannhill Missionaries Latin: Congregatio Missionariorum de Mariannhill, lit 'Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill', abbreviated as CMM, also known as the Mariannhillers,[2] are a religious congregation of the Catholic Church founded by Dom Franz Pfanner They were originally a monastery of Trappist monks founded in 1882 by Pfanner, but were later branched off as a separate congregation by decree of the Holy See The name of the congregation comes from Mariannhill, a suburb near Pinetown in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, where the congregation originated


In 1882, Pfanner, then prior of Mariastern Abbey, founded a Trappist monastery in Mariannhill at the invitation of Bishop Jolivet, OMI It grew rapidly, and by 1885 it was raised to the status of an abbey, with Pfanner elected as its first abbot[3] It engaged significantly in missionary work, establishing a number of mission stations where priests and brothers taught the natives to read and trained them in trades and skills such as farming[4] In 1892, Pfanner retired, and was succeeded by two abbots: Dom Amandus Schoelzig who died in 1900; then Abbot Gerard Wolpert who died in 1904[3]

In 1904, the abbot of Gethsemani Abbey, Edmond Obrecht, was appointed by the Holy See as administrator of Mariannhill He studied the compatibility between monastic life and missionary work, submitting his report after three years of study[3] Following his report, the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda directed Bishop William Miller, OMI, the vicar-apostolic of Transvaal, to facilitate the independence of the Mariannhill monks A general chapter of Mariannhill monks in 1908 under Bishop Miller recommended that the monks be formed into a missionary society loosely-associated with the Trappists[4]

However, in 1909, the Holy See decreed that the monks of Mariannhill would be completely separate from the Trappist Order, forming the Congregation of the Mariannhill Missionaries[3][5] Their new constitutions were approved in 1914, subsequently followed by the first general chapter in 1920, when Adalbero Fleischer was elected as first superior general As their religious habit, they adopted a black cassock, paired with a red cincture for priests, black cincture for other clerics, and black belt for brothers[4]

After separation, the Mariannhill Missionaries continued to work in South Africa, but also established presences in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the United States, England, Canada and Spain[4]

The members of the congregation are exempt from the jurisdiction of the ordinary of the diocese and take perpetual vows[3]

From its foundation until 1 January 1910, nearly 20,000 persons, mostly adults, were baptized in the 55 churches and chapels scattered throughout the 26 missions and stations[3]

During the Holocaust, Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig, a priest of the congregation, was arrested for preaching against the Third Reich and persecution of Jews He later died on 2 March 1945 in the Dachau concentration camp, where he was known as the "Angel of Dachau" He was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, recognised by Pope Francis as a martyr in January 2020, and beatified on 24 September 2016 His feast day is 2 March[6]

On 10 March 2019, George Kageche Mukua, a priest of the congregation, died as one of the passengers onboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302[7]


  1. ^ Annuario Pontificio Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2017mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflink
  2. ^ Balling, Adalbert Ludwig 30 October 2015 The Apostle of South Africa Engelsdorfer Verlag p 52 ISBN 9781481785488
  3. ^ a b c d e f  Obrecht, Edmond 1913 "Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill" In Herbermann, Charles ed Catholic Encyclopedia New York: Robert Appleton Company Retrieved 2 June 2019
  4. ^ a b c d "Mariannhill Missionaries, Congregation Of" New Catholic Encyclopedia The Gale Group Inc 2003 Retrieved 3 June 2019
  5. ^ Denny-Dimitriou, Julia 23 November 2010 "How one monk changed the South African landscape" OSV Newsweekly Retrieved 26 June 2016
  6. ^ "This priest, martyred in a concentration camp, is now a blessed" Catholic News Agency 26 September 2016 Retrieved 23 April 2020
  7. ^ "Catholic missionaries, aid workers among victims of Ethiopian plane crash" Catholic News Agency 11 March 2019 Retrieved 23 April 2020

External links

  • Official website
  • Official web site South Africa
  • Order of Mariannhill in French
  • Official web site United States
  • Christian History Institute

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