Brief History

Brief History

Roman Catholic Church Namibia ( is the Official Website of the Roman Catholic Church in Namibia. It provides information, via links, on all of the dioceses, parishes, schools, and hospitals in the country of Namibia. 

Brief Historical Summary of the Roman Catholic Church in Namibia: The Prefecture of Pella bought Heirachabis in 1895 and occupied it in 1898. This marked the beginning of the Mission in the South. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate officially started on 8 December 1896. They were allowed to minister among the Europeans and Africans, not ministered to by a Protestant Mission. The first expansion was at Klein Windhoek, and at Swakopmund being the gateway to the German Protectorate. 

The Tawana invited the Mission to help them after they had arrived from the Cape. Aminuis and Epukiro were founded. After 1905 the Mission was allowed to open stations among the Herero and Damara. Doebra, Gobabis, Usakos, Omaruru, and Okombahe missions were the result. 

Seven expeditions were undertaken to reach the Kavango area. After many failures the first mission became a reality at Nyangana in 1910. Just before the war the expansion reached Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Kokasib. In the South missions were opened at Warmbad, Gabis, Keetmanshoop, Luederitz and Gibeon. 

World War I scattered the African population of the towns which disturbed the missionary work. The South African Administration allowed most missionaries to stay. After the Peace Conference Southwest Africa became a Mandate of South Africa. (taken away from Germany and given to Britain.

In 1924, permission was granted to enter Owambo area. The first station was opened in Uukwambi, later followed by Ombalantu and Okatana. In 1926 the Prefecture of Lower Cimbebasia was elevated to the Vicariate of Windhoek, while the Prefecture of Great Namaqualand became the Vicariate of Keetmanshoop in 1930.

World War II left the missionary activities undisturbed. In 1943 Magistrate Trollop in Caprivi invited the Catholic Mission in 1943 to come and open educational and health facilities. The South expanded into Stampriet, Witkrans, Aroab, Mariental.

The election victory in 1948 in South Africa of the Afrikaner Parties with the resulting apartheid legislation negatively affected the missions in Southwest Africa.

After 1965 the influence of Vatican II became noticeable, while the pressure of The United Nations Organisation moved the territory of Southwest Africa towards independence. While initially the Catholic Church had been very cautious, in the 1970’s and 1980’s she took a very definite stand in favour of human rights. She also became a full member of the CCN.

After independence the relations between the Church and the new Namibian State became very cordial. On 22 May 1994 Rome established the national hierarchy and a new Vicariate in Rundu. *Note that before independence in 1990, Namibia was known as Southwest Africa.

Summary: “From Mission to Local Church” by Beris; Pub. R.C. Church, Windhoek 1996; ISBN 99916-735-3-9

Also see:   Wikipedia articles and information on Namibia

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