Mission Life in Tanzania

Fr. Jim Donohue.

September 29 is the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. It was also the day that the priests in the Diocese of Musoma gather at the cathedral for Mass with the Bishop, Bishop Michael Msonganzila, who celebrated his Name’s Day (St. Michael).

Cathedral Church in Musoma

The Diocese of Musoma owes its first evangelization to the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) who came in 1897. The first catechumen from the area was baptized in 1911. Musoma was elevated to a diocese on July 5, 1957. Bishop Michael Msonganzila became the fourth bishop of Musoma on January 20, 2008.

According to the diocesan website, there are 300 religious sisters, 48 diocesan priests, 24 missionary priests, and 365 catechists serving in the Musoma Diocese. The diocese covers approximately 25,150 square kilometers (9,714 square miles) and is divided into 5 deaneries or regions: Musoma, Tarime, Butiama (where our two parishes reside), Serengeti (home to the national wildlife park), and Rorya. Of the total population of 1,400,000 people, approximately 300,000 are Roman Catholics. The diocese ministers in 1 hospital, 7 health centers, 5 dispensaries, 18 diocesan nursery and primary schools, a diocesan secondary school, a junior seminary, and 4 colleges for teacher training and vocational education. There are, of course, more services in education and health care that are sponsored by the religious communities in the diocese.

Unfortunately, I did not have my iPhone to take photos, and when I returned to the church, it was already locked. The Mass was great. I am getting used to long homilies. I did not “time” him, but I think Bishop Michael preached for about 45 minutes because the Mass finished after 1 ½ hours. After Mass, the financial report for EACH parish was read aloud. This took another 1 ½ hours! I have to admit that I was saddened that the financial report was the only “reporting” that took place. But it is clear that money is scarce, and it is needed desperately in this mission. There were some highlights. I met the bishop before Mass, and he complemented me on my pronunciation of the traditional African greeting. (After that I thought it would be better not to say anything else in Swahili!!!) Also, Fr. Yohana gave the report for our deanery of Butiama. Finally, I was sitting in a pew by myself when another priest sat beside me. I looked over to see that it was Fr. Philip! So, he did some translating for me.

When we returned home to Buhemba, we had a celebration for another Michael!

As you can see, we have the traditional food to celebrate all occasions: ice cream!

As you can see, we have the traditional food to celebrate all occasions: ice cream!

The next day, Gervas and I drove to visit our brothers in Butiama. Gervas had time to visit with his fellow seminarians, Francis and Jerome, while Philip and I spent some time together.

It just so happened that September 30 is the feast of St. Jerome, so we had another name’s day to celebrate for Jerome Jonas, who will be starting his second year of philosophy this fall. He is classmates with Cleophas Kajuna, Audax Maganya and Benedicto Kaonjela.

Gervas and I stopped on the drive to Butiama and purchased a small gift for Jerome: a pair of football (soccer) socks. Apparently, Jerome is a very good football player. He seemed very happy with the present.

You can also see how well I influenced Philip, who bought ice cream for the occasion…an even bigger size than I ever purchased!

Jerome with his new football socks!
Looking back, it has been a world-wind of a summer. I needed to move out of my office and out of the house that I had lived in for 25 years.

Francis was wondering if we would return the next week for October 4th when he would celebrate his name’s day on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Sorry, Francis!

More to come on www.resurrectionists.ca

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