Utale I Parish
ST. PETER THE APOSTLE CATHOLIC PARISH -UTALE
Utale I Parish is located south of Balaka District. The Parish has a population of close to 45 thousand Catholics who hail from 16 out-churches that make up the parish.
Utale I Parish was established in 1908 by Monfort fathers from Mzama and Nguludi Mission Stations. The first missionary priests knew Utale I on their first journey to Mzama. They met Mr. Boardman of Utale who working in African Lakes Company at Liwonde. Mr. Boardman proposed to these missionaries to open a mission at Utale I and is reported in their diary of Mzama on 18th July, 1901. He further dedicated himself to build a church at Phimbi after Utale I is established. Mr Boardman is the first among others to receive missionaries to establish a mission at Utale I. He also sent workers to assist the moulding of bricks for the building of a mission house at Mzama.
In 1908, missionaries arrived at Utale I, Khwalala village. At first village headman was not comfortable with these white people. He thought that one day his leadership will be taken over by them.
Village headman Khwalala gave part of his land in an area which was very difficult to stay. There were plenty of dams created along Rivirivi River. There were also lions, leopards, snakes and other dangerous animals. These animals were coming to drink water in the same area. The missionaries failed to develop the area. Still, they did not lose hope.
Gradually, village headman Khwalala began to understand the missionaries and their mission: to proclaim the word of God. He then, decided to give them another land close to Rivirivi River.
At the end of 1907, preparations to open a mission started. People around were happy with them because of their simplicity and compassion regardless of religion or tribe.
Frs. Auneau and G. Swelsen together with Brother Cleophas from Mzama and Nguludi were sent to open a mission at Utale. On 30th April, 1908 they arrived at Utale accompanied by Bishop Prezeau.
The work to build a rectory began. Women and children dedicated themselves to moulding bricks and construction of the house. On 2nd May, 1908 Bishop Prezeau was elected Apostolic Vicar if Shire Vicariate.
Over the years, the Utale I parish gave birth to Mpiri Parish in South-East of Machinga district and eventually the parish was split into two, forming another parish across Rivirivi River which kept swelling during the rainy season and of cause changes its course every year and hence is very wide.