Hakuna Matata…Mission in Tanzania
Fr. Jude Ifezime, CSSp
In my mission in Tanzania, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the lay people and also with those in formation. Immediately after my arrival in Tanzania on the 23th of July 2009, I was sent to the Lutherian junior seminary at Morogoro to study Kiswahili language for three months. At the completion of the language course, I was posted to a parish in Morogoro known as Parokia ya Maria Mtakatifu (St. Mary’s Catholic Church). I was sent to assist an elderly confrere. It was a community of three confreres, including a confrere who was on retirement.
It was a parish with a lot of pastoral activities. We had two outstations and five religious communities within the parish. Usually, on Sundays, we had three masses at the parish center and three masses in the two outstations (Christ the King and Carol Luanga).Within the week, we also go to the sisters for daily masses. I was specially assigned to take care of the youths, the altar servers, Legion of Mary and animal husbandry (it was a Spiritan project). Thus, I had to attend to all these different functions. I was like a chaplain to these groups, and I also went to search for grass for our cows and goats.
These tasks were quite challenging, because all the groups always want you to be present during their meetings and functions, which last for several hours. This is because most Tanzanians will tell you that there is no hurry in Africa! Sometimes, when it is possible I do attend; at other times when it is not possible due to commitments in the parish, I excuse myself. These meetings and gatherings were quite important to me because they gave me the opportunity to practice my Kiswahili language.
Working with the Youth
In my work with the youths, I noticed that most of our parish youths were jobless and were willing to work, so I decided to teach them how to dress the altar. With the help of the parishioners, we were able to get more materials and money to support the project. Presently, they dress the altar every Saturday and are hired as “event planners” by people doing one type of celebration or the other. By so doing, a lot of money comes into the organization and many of the youths are becoming very good in the craft.
In the case of the altar boys, we formed a football team, just like I did with the youths. This attracted many youths to serve at the altar.
MISSION IN THE POSTULATE
I worked in the parish for nine months. Thereafter, I was posted to the Spiritan Postulate at Igoma, in the Diocese of Mbeya to accompany the postulant seminarians, our future Spiritans. This posting meant a movement from Morogoro Diocese in the coastal region to Mbeya Diocese in the Southern part of Tanzania.
My work at the postulancy started in earnest on the 4th of November 2010. Thus, I spent six months with the postulants before the end of their postulancy year. They were already three months into the postulancy year before I joined them. We had 7 students, and they are all at Njiro Seminary for their philosophical studies.
The new postulancy year started on the 11th of July 2011. We are privilegded to have a larger group. The new students are twelve in number. Hopefully in a few weeks from now, we will be going to the permanent site for the postulancy, where a lot of work is presently in progress. We are all looking forward to joining the bursar at Bagamoyo in a few weeks’ time.
Hakuna Matata…Mission Challenges
Looking at both ministries (parish and formation) that I have had the opportunity to be part of, I will say that each of them has its unique challenges. One of the greatest challenges I had at the beginning in the parish was my poor Kiswahili. But with time and the help of the confreres and parishioners, I was able to adapt faster and improve my knowledge of the language. Without the language, it is very difficult to function in Tanzania. However, I must confess that Tanzanians are very hospitable people, though not a ‘wealthy’ country.
Another major challenge I had was taking care of the animals, which was a major source of our income in the community. Driving far distance for forage (searching of grasses for the animals), and also doing my pastoral work was quite challenging at the beginning. But with time and a better command of Kiswahili, things became better and easier for me.
The formation house presents its own challenges. The first challenge is the problem of funding. Thus, we have to do a lot of farm work to supplement whatever the Province of Tanzania is able to give us.
Another challenge is sourcing for teaching materials with which to teach the postulants. This is because, at the moment, we do not really have a library; though we have started the process of putting a good functional library in place in the postulate.
In all, I will say that Tanzanians are very hospitable and welcoming. Culture-wise, we (Nigeria) share a lot of things in common. For instance, I had no problem with their food. The only difference is in the mode of preparation. However, in Tanzania, they do not eat snails, and they are very many around! That means a lot of meat for the foreigners who eat it! Indeed, nature has a unique way of balancing things up.
God has being faithful! Therefore, all is well. Hakuna matata!
Editor’s Note: Fr. Jude Ifezime CSSp is a member of the Foundation of Nigeria Southwest. Presently, he is a missionary in Tanzania. We wish him the best of God’s blessings in his ministry.
Fr. Jude can be contacted via his email firstname.lastname@example.org.