Rosminian Sisters came to work in Tanga Diocese as the replacement of the Precious Blood Sisters who were working in Tanga. Precious Blood Sisters saw that they could not help further; their commitments in Kenya were too great, and their Congregation was beginning to feel the unfortunate interruptions of the war years. In 1953 five Rosminian Sisters came to Tanga. They were led by Mother M. Vianney, the English Provincial, who came to see them, settled in to their new assignment. She was then to return to England. With her came Sr. M. Fabian from Wexford, Sr. M. Scholastica from Tipperary, Sr. M. Dolores from Cardiff and Sr. M. Teresa, also from Tipperary. The Precious Blood Sisters handed over to them the expanding school of St. Anthony’s, Sr. M. Fabian taking the reins which she only reluctantly let go in 1968. In time Africans, Goans, Asians and some Europeans would share the benches and the breaks in what was to become the most prestigious primary and middle school in Tanga town.
The mixture of cultures, religious and ethnic backgrounds was never aproblem. Mother Mary just became another of the ‘deities’ to whom Hindu and Bohora and Sikhs and African Muslims and Christians turned for help at exam time. And why not? Many Asian shops contained a little shrine in the corner, with sometimes more than one figurine or picture. Before this they fervently and quite publicly prayed several times a day. As for Muslims, they inherited from the Prophet a special respect for Mary (Mariamu).
Mary sometimes turned up in unexpected places. There was the barber-shop nearest the cathedral, for instance. The barber’s son had, with the Sisters’ help, graduated in accountancy and became a respected teacher in St. Joseph’s Commercial School. Many of us were clients of this barber shop because of its proximity to the mission. Invariably the hair-cutting was interrupted at some point and the Virgin Mary’s picture was retrieved from the cash-desk drawer. Then there followed a little lecture on all the Sisters had done for his family, how Mother Mary had helped them all, and , after a demonstrative kiss, Mother Mary was returned to the secrecy of the cash desk. It all seemed a bit pathetic in our eyes; a little childish perhaps. But there was no questioning the sincerity of the devotion and the genuineness of the gratitude; his son, with Mary’s help, had broken out of caste bonds. So indeed had Mary, risen above the human caste in that great moment of her ‘Fiat’.
In 1976 some of the Rosminian Sisters moved from St. Anthony’s school to the commercial school across town at Mabawa. President Nyerere himself came to perform the official opening, signifying his wholehearted support for this new venture, so vital to a country trying to come to grips with serious gaps in the area of administration. (History) The sisters would have dearly loved to open a secondary school in Tanga. The bishop’s instinctive reaction and then, grounded in obedience and buoyed up by Nyerere’s encouraging words, they proceeded to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the task of easing his and the nation’s needs. The ageless Sr. Petronilla, in Tanga since 1962, was the first Principal and is still the last to leave the school each day. Sister Scholastica, when she eventually moved from the Primary School, provided the humour, which kept problems in perspective. She was destined to move, smilingly, via the cancer exit for an eternity of joy. Sr. Monica of the priestly Hindu cast kept the channels open to all casts and colours. But the respect she won was fro her teaching gifts, not her caste. India reclaimed Sr. Monica a few years ago. The diminutive Goan, Sr. Marie Stella, was a giant when it came to teaching and discipline. Others to come and go at the beck of superiors, some more than once were Sr. Colette, Sr. Joan, Sr. Andrew, and Sr. Anna Patricia.
To-day’s pupils have Sr. Pet’s shoulder to cry on, the very professional Sr. Andrew to guide them and the benefit of Sr. Assumpta’s life time of teaching to enrich them. They have had, for several years now, the assistance of African Sisters of C.O.L.U. who provide the instinctive knowledge and understanding of their own people, which any number of years in Africa cannot supply. Their presence is, as well, the guarantee of continuity. Recently also have sponsored two young Irishmen to the staff of St. Joseph’s. Dedication with variations could be the school motto!
Since 1990s the congregation has tried to establish it mother house in Muheza District Tanga. By this establishment they have been able to have a good number of African girls who aspire to be member of Rosminian Sisters.