Fr Francis Rodrigues, Raknno
Mangalore, Nov 14: The first batch of two priests from the diocese of Mangalore left Mangalore on Wednesday November 14 to African missions of Same diocese in Tanzania. Fr Alwyn D’Souza former national Catholic youth director of India and Fr Ronald Pinto who was serving as the assistant pastor of Madanthyar parish till now are in the pioneer batch of two.
The diocese of Mangalore had decided to take up a mission in the diocese of Same in Tanzania as a memorial of post-centenary silver jubilee of the inception of the diocese of Mangalore.
‘As per the mission call of the popes in accordance with the Apostolic Letter ‘Fidei Donum’ to show readiness to share the gift of faith, the diocese had decided to take up missionary work in the diocese of Same through the discernment of the Spirit. As there is scarcity of priests in the African missions the Bishop of Same had invited us to his diocese’ said Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore.
‘This is the call of Jesus Christ. The call is heard in the hearts of these two young priests and they have voluntarily decided and responded to the special call. The apostles of Christ went to unknown people, into unknown places and even without knowing the languages of the places of their mission. It is Christ who led them and inspired them and they went with full of zeal for Christ’ said the Bishop.
‘St Francis Xavier came to India with faith and to share the faith. He came with a cross in his hand. I am sending these priests with blessed crosses in their hands’ he added and handed over the blessed crosses to two priests.
‘This is a great day in the history of the diocese of Mangalore and in my own life. The missionary vision is a jubilee project of Mangalore diocese and the bishop. In this project this is a little step of ours’ said Fr Alwyn D’Souza.
The Bishop of Mangalore celebrated a special Mass on the occasion with many priests and relatives of the missionary priests in Our Lady of Dolours Chapel of Bishop’s House. Msgr Denis Prabhu, the Vicar General of the diocese of Mangalore and Fr Vincent Monteiro who was a member of the mission study team were present on the occasion.
After the Mass the Bishop launched the website www.mangaloreafricamission.org. The website was designed and would be maintained by Vincent Mascarenhas as to give regular information on the development in Mangalore-African missions.
Bishop of Mangalore honoured the members of the pioneer mission team and their parents. Two more priests from Mangalore will be going into African missions in the month of May 2013.
Dr Rogatus Kimaryo, CSSp, the present prelate of the diocese of Same had requested some time back to see the possibilities of the diocese of Mangalore taking up missions in Same. In April this year Bishop Rogatus had visited Mangalore and discussed the possible avenues with regard to Mangalore-African missions
On June 27 this year a team of five priests from Mangalore together with Bishop of Mangalore had visited Same missions for ten days as to study the possible avenues.
‘This is a historical step that a diocese from India goes into the African Missions. So far only the religious have taken up missions in Africa’ opined Ursuline Franciscan Sister Susheela Sequeira UFS, the Assistant General of the Mangalore based Congregation that celebrated its post centenary silver jubilee of its inception recently.
According to her, UFS sisters have taken up mission work in Same as well as three other dioceses of Tanzania from 2004 onwards. They have one region, 7 convents, 3 formation houses and one spirituality centre in Tanzania. Thirty UFS sisters work in the pastoral, educational, social development and medical spheres. Now they have local vocations as well.
According to Father Vincent Furtado OFM Cap, the Provincial of Karnataka Capuchin Province, 11 Capuchin priests of his province have taken up missions in the four dioceses of Uganda. Now they have local Capuchin vocations from Africa.
According to Father Archibald Gonsalves, the Provincial of Karnataka Carmelite Province (OCD), his province has taken up rural mission, direct evangelization, missionary parishes, school ministry and social developmental ministry for the last 30 years in Tanzania and South Africa. At present 27 priests from his province work in Tanzania and 5 priests work in South Africa.
The diocese of Same spread out on two geographical districts across the north-eastern Tanzania has a population of 3,26,000 people out of which 30,000 are Catholics. Across the diocese there are 66 diocesan priests, 7 religious priests, 94 religious sisters, 55 catechists and 6 deacons.