The consecrated men and women of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania celebrated World Day for Consecrated Life on February 2nd in Msimbazi Centre Church(Tanzania). The event highlighted the roles of consecrated individuals in the evangelization of Tanzania over the last 150 years.
Mass was led by Cardinal Polycarp Pengo of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam and included consecrated individuals working in Dar es Salaam. Following the mass, there was some brief entertainment preceding a luncheon.
In his homily, Cardinal Pengo thanked the consecrated priests who enthusiastically preach and proclaim the Good News, baptize people, and provide many other services in His Archdiocese.
“You, the Consecrated Religious in the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam, are doing great and are the reason for the flourish of Christian communities and churches in Dar es Salaam. Without consecrated religious priests, the few Diocesan priest could not afford to provide services to fill the great demand in society. God bless your missionary activities as we approach the celebration of 150 years of faith and evangelization in Tanzania.”
Attendees of the celebration also shared successes and challenges to evangelization.
There are many achievements Tanzanian ministers have to share:
- growth of faith
- expansion of parishes
- increase in the number of religious, vocational individuals
- increase of small Christian communities
- development of social services including education and healthcare
- Fighting For a Better Future
Despite a plethora of difficulties faced by the religious, the quality of education flourishes all over Tanzania. Religious people recognized the dreams of future generations and began to establish schools and social work centres as well as found orphanages where neglected and abandoned children can find peace and hope. These consecrated individuals promote peace and justice in their readiness for effective service and irreplaceable prophetic mission to grow the church in Tanzania.
Strengthening Faith in Communities
Majority of the communities where the religious serve recognize the presence of God. The religious play a very big role in evangelization by providing catechetical teaching and giving hope to marginalized people in society.
They bring inspiration where they settle.
“Where there is nuns there is always happiness and hope.”
In Tanzania, particularly Dar es Salaam, the number of children who are baptized, in addition to non-believers who want to convert to Christianity, increases daily. Similarly, the number of vocational people increases everyday. This is a result of the religious men and women who have devoted themselves to the evangelization of Tanzania.
The parishes in Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam has expanded to 109 as a result of the swell of Christianity.
150 Years of Evangelization in Tanzania
This year is exceptional because we are celebrating 150 years of Christian faith in Tanzania since the first missionaries, the Holy Spirit Fathers, came through Bagamoyo to Tanzania.
These missionaries encountered many obstacles including tropical diseases like malaria and typhoid that took some of their lives. They continued through their struggles, however, focusing on eliminating spiritual darkness, strengthening the growth of faith, establishing local churches, and mobilizing peace and justice efforts among African societies.
Despite the numerous challenges they faced, the evangelical Gospel spread all over East Africa.
Missionaries, especially the Holy Spirit Fathers, paved the way for evangelization in the coastal part of Tanzania, which was formally dominated by Arabic culture. They succeeded in initiating schools and health centres where people served without segregation, religious bias, or cultural discrimination.
This spirit provided hope and allowed people to continue to witness the love of Christ because of the generosity of the missionaries. Cardinal Pengo called for the religious present to continue to serve with this spirit and be witnesses to the evangelization of Tanzania.
“You are the descendants and witnesses of the first missionaries who came to evangelize in Africa, particularly in Tanzania through Bagamoyo 150 years ago. Continue proselytization with the word of God, baptize people, help the oppressed, fight against the spiritual, physical and moral illiteracy of the marginalized; God will bless and reward your accountability.”
The consecrated religious men and women are prophetic signs and are instrumental in creating an integrated, liberated, and evangelized Tanzania. Tanzania will continuously acknowledge the marvellous work done by missionaries and keep praying for their joint mission.