Pope Francis Appoints Coadjutor Bishop of Mariannhill Diocese

Announced December 17, 2021, by the Vatican

Coadjutor Bishop of Mariannhill

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed Fr Neil Augustine Frank OMI, the Coadjutor Bishop of Mariannhill, South Africa, with special faculties.

Mgr. Neil Frank was the Provincial of the OMI Province of Southern Africa until his appointment by the Holy Father.

H.E. Mgr. Neil Augustine Frank, O.M.I., was born on August 21, 1966, in Pietermaritzburg, in the Archdiocese of Durban. He holds a Bachelor of Science (1988) and a Master of Science in Physics (1991) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). He completed his philosophical preparation in St. Joseph’s Scholasticate (1993-1995) and the theological one at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (1995-1998).

He made his perpetual vows as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate on January 4, 1998, and was ordained a priest on August 21, 1999.

He subsequently held the following positions and completed further studies: Parish Vicar and Pastor of various Parishes in the Archdiocese of Durban (1999-2004); studied in Pune, India, for the Master’s degree in Philosophy (2004-2006). Upon returning to South Africa he was pastor of two parishes, teacher, head of the Department of Philosophy (2006-2014), and President (2015-2018) at the St. Joseph’s Theological Institute (2015-2018). From 2018 until now he has been Provincial Superior of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in South Africa.

History of the Diocese

In 1882 Prior Franz Pfanner of the Reformed Cistercians (Trappists) intended establishing a Trappist Monastery and commencing the work of evangelization among the local Africans. In 1885 he became Abbot of the new foundation which he called Mariannhill. He resigned from office in 1893 and was succeeded by Abbots Amandus Scholzig who died in 1900 and Gerard Wolpert. Abbot Franz Pfanner died on May 24, 1909, and about the same time, Rome separated the Mariannhill Abbey from the Trappist Order. Mariannhill was constituted an independent Missionary Congregation with the official title: The Congregation of Missionaries of Mariannhill (CMM).

In 1921 the Mariannhill Vicariate (up to then part of the Natal Vicariate) was erected and comprised the southern part of Natal and all Transkeian territories. It was subdivided in 1930 and again in 1935. Those territories now form the Dioceses of Umtata and Kokstad and part of Queenstown. Divided again in 1954, the territory of the Diocese of Umzimkulu was detached.

Civil districts within the ecclesiastical boundaries of the Diocese of Mariannhill comprise Ixopo, Impendle, Richmond, Umzinto, Umbumbulu, parts of Port Shepstone, Camperdown and Pinetown, Polela and Underberg.