|Admin_History||Peter Prestage was born in London on 27 February 1842. He was educated at Mount St Mary's College, at the College of the Society in Liège and at Stonyhurst College from 1853. He entered the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1860, joining the novitiate at Beaumont. |
After his noviceship, Prestage studied philosophy at the seminary at St Mary's Hall and between 1866 and 1873 was second prefect at Stonyhurst. He studied theology at St Beuno's and was ordained priest in September 1875. After a tertianship at Tronchiennes in France he was sent to South Africa in 1877.
Fr Prestage taught at St Aidans College in Grahamstown for five years. In 1882 he left the English Province to join the Zambesi Mission, which was then an independent mission. He was sent 'up country' to the territory which was to become Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He was based initially at Tati, an early trading post in Matabeleland. It was in this period that he first visited Lobengula. In 1884, Prestage moved to GuBuluwayo (Old Bulawayo). The early Zambesi Mission was not successful and in 1886 Fr Alfred Weld, Superior of the Mission, ordered the withdrawal of the Jesuits from Matabeleland. Fr Prestage had obtained permission from Lobengula to settle at Empandeni and, in 1887, he and Fr Andrew Hartman SJ returned to establish a mission school at Empandeni.
The Jesuits were forced to withdraw again from the territory in the late 1880s. Fr Prestage withdrew to Mafeking in South Africa where he was appointed chaplain to the police. In 1891, Fr Prestage was given permission to travel to Macloutsie with a group of Dominican sisters. From there the party proceeded to Salisbury (now Harare). Fr Prestage was involved in the establishment of the mission at Chishawasha and did eventually return to reopen the station at Empandeni.
In 1904 Fr Prestage discovered the original grave of Fr Augustus Law who had died at Umzila's Kraal in November 1880. Fr Law's remains were conveyed to Chishawasha for burial in the cemetery there. Fr Prestage spent the final two years of his life in Gwelo (Gweru). He died suddenly on 11 April 1907 after journeying to Fort Victoria (Masvingo). He was buried in the public cemetery at Masvingo.
A full obituary can be found in 'Letters & Notices' 29, pp. 211 - 214, and in the 'Zambesi Mission Record' starting at Volume 3, number 37 (July 1907), pp. 257-266 and continuing throughout the volume.