The impact of the great apostle Abbot Francis Pfanner has been such that the Church of South Africa, but also the country, is indebted to him. It now enjoys a precious heritage that needs to be acknowledged and kept alive. It must indeed remain a constant inspiration in our time. This, in the first place, for his sons and daughters, the Missionnaries of Mariannhill (CMM) and of the Precious Blood (CPS), but by far not only for them, also for the present Church.
Abbot Francis Pfanner, an Austrian Trappist monk who left his Europe to do mission work in this part of the world, established his monastery, called Mariannhill, in 1882 near what is today Pinetown. Rapidly it became very successful. So much so that it grew to become the centre of a great network of mission stations spread over a vast area.
He spent the evening of his life at Emaus, a mission he established himself in 1894. There he died as a holy figure on 24 May 1909. Hence the name of this centre: Emaus Heritage Centre.
The Emaus Heritage Centre is situated at Emaus mission, at 17 kms from the town of Umzimkhulu. It was created in 2007 by the CMM and the CPS congregations in order to:
- Protect the historical site of Abbot Francis Pfanner’s seclusion, retirement and death, for both the CMM and CPS congregations, but also the Church of South Africa and the whole Kwazulu/Natal and country.
- Keep alive the spirit of this great missionary and of this special place of solitude;
- Make of Emaus a spiritual home for all the sons and daughters of Abbot Francis Pfanner and their friends and to foster their spiritual and apostolic renewal and give them inspiration.
- Disclose the great heritage received from Abbot Francis Pfanner and his missionary community.
- Make Abbot Francis Pfanner better known and promote his person and work.
- Promote the continuation of Abbot Francis Pfanner’s great missionary work of evangelization and foster vocations to the consecrated and missionary life.
- Serve the local Church and society in general, in particular the local community of Emaus and those of the dioceses of Umzimkhulu and Mariannhill, this, in line with the orientations of the Church.