|Admin_History||Fr Charles Bert SJ was born 8 September 1869 in Oostkamp (Belgium) and was educated at the Apostolic School at Turnhout. He entered the noviciate at Tronchiennes (Belgium) on 21 March 1888 but went on to Manresa in August of that same year, since he was destined for the Zambesi Mission. |
After his noviceship, one year's Juniorate and three years of philosophy at St Mary's Hall he passed on to St Francis Xavier's Liverpool and taught there from 1893 to 1899. Fr Bert then did his three years of theology at Milltown Park, where he was ordained in 1902, and his year's Tertianship at Tronchiennes, before setting off for South Africa to take up his life's work there.
He was at Chishawasha in Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) from 1904-1909 and in charge of that centre from 1906-1909. Following this he was at Mzondo from 1909-1921.
After two years at Driefontein (South Africa) and a year at Chikuni in Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) he was appointed 'Visitor' of the Polish Houses in Northern Rhodesia. Having completed his 'Visitation' and sent in the official report, Fr Birch was confirmed as Regular Superior of the Mission with his headquarters at Kasisi. When by letters Apostolic of 14 July 1927 the Prefecture Apostolic of Broken Hill was formed, and one of the Polish Fathers already on the Mission was appointed Prefect Apostolic and Regular Superior. So in due course Fr Bert handed over the reigns of government to him and returned to Southern Rhodesia early in 1928.
Soon he was at Gwelo, where he planned and superintended the construction of a new school-chapel. Then, after a year's stay at Driefontein and lengthy medical treatment at Johannesburg, he went first to Empandeni and then for three years to Salisbury. At Salisbury he was appointed a Consultor of the Mission. He passed on to Dunbrody to negotiate the transfer of the property there in 1934 and in the following year returned to Europe for a short while, hoping for some alleviation of his increasing deafness by spending some months in England and Belgium.
Once again at his Mission in 1936 he worked at Monte Cassino, Musami and Chishawasha and, when well advanced in his seventies, took over the post of Chaplain at the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament at Borrowdale, Salisbury, whilst also acting as Moderator-General of the Apostleship of Prayer.
In late 1951 left the Convent for what, it was hoped, would be a short rest at Chishawasha. His health took a dip and did not respond well to treatment. He died 5 January 1952.