“Ora et labora” A life of prayer and poultry farming guides African Monk

This story is one in a series from Frances Chisholm highlighting stories of lives impacted by World Poultry Foundation programs and workshops both in the U.S. and abroad. We encourage you to learn more about Ms. Chisholm and our poultry projects in South Africa.



In a life of prayer and work (“ora et labora”), Brother Philiasi, a member of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, cares for a growing flock of broilers at the Marianhill Monastery in South Africa.  The KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute, a World Poultry Foundation partner, donates its occasional overstock to the nearby Monastery, which led KZN PI General Manager Janet Lee to meet Brother Philiasi and observe his passion for the birds. The Monastery, founded by Trappist monks in 1882, currently has just over 1000 broilers in Brother Philiasi’s care.

Fast-forward to last month when Brother Philiasi took part in a KZN PI poultry production course funded by WPF. “I loved deepening my knowledge and learning the foundation of broiler production.  The course challenged the way I do things.”  Brother Philiasi learned about layers, biosecurity at the micro level, “and even about networking with other farmers and others in the same field.”  Communication during the course was very much “two-way traffic and an eye opener even for the extension agents.”  He would like to keep learning, “it’s my passion.”

Inspired by the KZN PI course, Brother Philiasi now aims to increase the Monastery’s broiler production.  He also hopes to expand into layers, eventually hire and train two or three workers, and teach people in the surrounding community to become smallholders or even form cooperatives and become larger producers.  Right now, the community contributes funds for feed and the purchase of more chicks. The Monastery has good infrastructure for poultry farming at the current scale, says Brother Philiasi, “but it needs renovation.”

Born in Zimbabwe to a Zambian father and Malawian mother, Brother Philiasi became a novice at Mariannhill Monastery in 2003. Currently he is assisted by Monastery novices in the poultry project and hopes that they too will develop an interest in poultry production. He says his work with poultry and the relationship with KZN PI has been a blessing not only for him – “it has opened my eyes,” but for the surrounding community, too.

Glowing from his recent training, Brother Philiasi says that as a missionary he’ll take his knowledge of poultry farming with him wherever he goes.



Ms. Frances Chisholm
Friend & Supporter of the WPF
Learn More About Frances

Related posts