"Fr Francis Mayr, our beloved founder!" (St Joseph's mission, Mzimpofu)

As I mentioned in one of the posts last week, a picture remembering Fr Francis Mayr was unveiled during the celebration at St Joseph's.

Fr Mayr belongs to the first group of Catholic missionaries that arrived in Swaziland. He was a diocesan priest who joined the Servants of Mary as part of the group.

Few months' after their arrival in Swaziland and settling at Mbabane (January 1914), a new mission began at Mzimpofu (May 1914) with Fr Mayr.

In October that year, after visiting the missionaries at Mbabane he was killed on his way back to Mzimpofu (first image on the left).

The one who killed him was caught, repented and was baptised (image in the centre).

He was condemned to death and was hanged (image on the right). 

* * *
From a leaflet we were given at the celebration:

"Once lived in this passing world a man with unique caliber
great zeal, enthusiasm for the work and service in this land

From lands unknown beyond the ocean in Austria, Mayr came
only in the name of the gospel to this South corner of Africa
to convert and spread a new way of life and change many lives

He established a mission, Mzimpofu was its name
and the very first mission school, dedicated to St Joseph
the husband of Our Holy Virgin Mary

As a disabled man, he became the first teacher
he taught English and Zulu
In both languages he was a master

* * *
On March 6, 1865, Franz Mayr was born in the mountainous Austrian Tyrol. Mayr suffered from a disorder of the spine characterized by progressive deformities resulting in a shortening of height, stiff chest wall and restricted lung capacity.