PHASE ONE: 16TH CENTURY – 1947
THE EARLY YEARS OF EVANGELIZATION IN TANGA
a). European Explorers and Missionaries
The work of evangelization in the African Continent started back in the 16th Century. It was during this time when the European nations started exploring the world with the goal of getting more colonies to expand the economies in their home countries. Early missionaries and explorers accompanied each other in many places. Though these two groups had different goals in their missions, a number of times they worked together in the given areas. Fundamental mission of Explorers was to prepare the groundwork for the colonial governments to come. They did the preliminary work for the colonial governments to establish themselves in the colonies. The primary work of the missionaries was to preach the Gospel to the indigenous. They responded to the call of Jesus Christ to his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit come on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Act.1:8. Though their goals were different, the missionaries and explorers and then colonizers worked very closely to each other. They were all from the same nationalities and backgrounds and they shared many things in common. This is why many social critics ended up saying missionaries and explorers did a foundation work for colonizers to establish themselves in Africa.
b). Arabs and Persians in East Africa
Prior to the establishment of colonial governments, the infrastructures were very primitive in the whole of the continent. The pre-colonial time as in the case of Tanzania left much hinterland unexplored with outsiders. The Arab and Persian traders who traded with the East Africa from the 8th Century had only impact in the coastal area and very few trading towns in the interior. The Arabs established themselves in the coastal towns like Tanga, Pangani, Bagamoyo and Kilwa. They also established themselves along the slave trade routes like the one which ran from Bagamoyo all the way to Ujiji (in Kigoma) via Morogoro and Tabora. Outside these trade towns, the indigenous were left by themselves in their own tribal governments.
The history of the Arab occupation and trade has the great impact to the social composition of the Diocese of Tanga. As many East African coastal settlements, Tanga was occupied by Arab families who moved from Middle East to trade and then settle in these areas. They brought in their culture and Moslem religion and Middle East culture. Indigenous people of coastal strip including Tanga, Pangani, and other small places are highly influenced with the long years of Arabic culture and religion. Arabs had no much interest in establishing major transportation infrastructure as it happened later with the European colonists. Their interest was trading. They used a lot of indigenous middlemen to facilitate that. The indegenous middlemen would go in remote places inland to bring that what they wanted. The settlement of Arabs in many of the coastal cities and fewer in the hinterland spread their culture and religion in those areas. That’s why the towns of Tanga and Pangani and many other smaller towns inland are densely populated with Moslems. About 90% of people who live in the city of Tanga and in Tanga Region in general are Moslem.
c). Portuguese and Goa Indians
The history tells that in 1597 some of Portuguese including a group of priests of St. Augustine Congregation came to Zanzibar. They didn’t stay longer in Zanzibar possibly because of heavily Islamic religion and the existence of slave trade. They rerouted themselves from Zanzibar to Tanga. These Portuguese came with a group of Goa Indians from India. The Goans were Catholics by faith and they decided to remain in Tanga. The Christian Goan community in Tanga is traced to be the first seed of Christianity in the area.
d). The Holy Ghost Fathers
Later in 1860, three Holy Ghost Fathers, six sisters and one doctor from Germany arrived in Zanzibar. Sultan Seyyid Majid welcomed them. After he came to know that their goal was not to have a political occupation but rather establish themselves in good religious works, he promised to protect them. This group started in the island a technical school and later a hospital. They used these two institutions as the ground for evangelization. As they helped people in secular education and health, they minimally taught the Christian faith. These missionaries freed a good number of slaves, taught Christianity, and baptized them. In 1866 Fr. Horner, one of the Holy Ghost Fathers went to Mzizima (Dar Es Salaam) looking for place where he could start another mission center in the mainland. That trip took him all the way to Tanga where he didn’t stay longer. He decided to leave Tanga for Bagamoyo where he stayed. In Bagamoyo, Fr. Horner started a special village for Christians and a house for the freed slaves. With his ministry in Bagamoyo, the place became the starting point of Christianity in the Mainland of Tanzania (Tanganyika in that time) and other part of Africa. The Holy Ghost Fathers settled in Bagamoyo and built up their center which has survived up to these days.
From Bagamoyo, one branch of the Holy Ghost Fathers travelled to Kilimanjaro where they were warmly welcomed by Chief Mangi Augusti of Kilema. This chief gave them a big potion of land to build their mission settlement. The Holy Ghost Fathers did a great work of evangelization in Kilimanjaro. By the end of 19th Century, they expanded themsleves from the Land of Mount Kilimanjaro to coastal land of Tanga in the east and all the way to Arusha, Mbulu, and Dodoma in the west. In the eastern side from Kilimanjaro, they evangelized in Kilomeni area and slowly they were able to reach and establish centers of evangelization in Tanga, Gare, Mlingano and Korogwe.
d). Vicariate of Kilimanjaro
In 1910 Propaganda Fide in Rome established a Vicariate of Kilimanjaro which included all areas of Mbulu, Same, Arusha, Dodoma and Tanga. In 1933 Pope Pius XII appointed Fr. Joseph Byrne, C.S.Sp (Holy Ghost fathers) to be the bishop of Kilimanjaro Vicariate.
f). The Trappist Monks in Tanga
In 1895 two Trappist monks from the Trappist Abbey in South Africa came to Tanga. When they arrived in Tanga, they went all the way to Lushoto where they requested from the district commissioner (DC) Sir Krestlin, a piece of land in which they could start their mission center. Sir Krestlin denied their request since he was the son of a Lutheran pastor. He denied the Catholics to be in Lushoto since the Lutherans had already established themselves in Usambara Mountains. He did not like to deal with the Catholics. The Trappist monks were very unhappy to be denied to establish themselves in Lushoto area. They finally returned to Tanga.
One and half year later, the Trappist monks returned to Lushoto and reapplied for the land in Lushoto area to build their mission center. At that time, their application was accepted. Fortunately there was a different district commissioner in Lushoto from the formerone Sir Krestlin. The monks were given 400 hectors in Irente area and other 160 hectors of forest in Gare area.
After getting these two pieces of land, they started building a mission in Gare. By 1904 they had completed building five houses. These buildings are still standing in Gare up to these days to testify their high quality technology in building construction.
The Trappist missionaries did not engage themselves in pastoral work of evangelization to the local people in the area. Their goal was to start the center of their religious congregation in the area. Their ministry of presence in the area attracted some few indigenous people to Christianity. It is said that many local people were more attracted not by their religious faith but by the material things they received from these missionaries. The stories go that many local people could be seen in church on Sundays when the monks gad slaughtered a cow or a pig with expectation of getting some meat after the holy mass celebration.
While some Trappist monks were in Gare, some of them established themselves in the land they got in Irente. Their presence in Irente and Gare dropped seeds of Catholicism in these twoareas. It is said that the first Catholics in the Usambara Mountains are those of Mhelo/Irente and Gare. These Catholics are the results of the Trappist monk missionaries presence in Usambara.
By 1906, the Trappist monks had not yet attained that what they had originally aimed to for their congregation. As the result, they were called back to South Africa. During their establishment in Gare, some Trappist monks died and were buried in Gare. Those who died and buried in Gare Mission were Fr. Leonard who died on September 26, 1897, Fr. Leander who died on May 14, 1900 and Fr. Emmanuel who died on December 18, 1900. When the Trappist monks left Usambara area in 1906, it was the end of the history of the Trappist in Tanga.
PHASE TWO: 1948 – 1958
PREFECTURE OF TANGA: ROSMINIAN FATHERS IN EARLY YEARS
a). From Kilimanjaro to Tanga
On April 18, 1950, the Propaganda Fidei created the Prefecture of Tanga. Rev. Fr. Eugen Arthurs, I. C. was named on June 9, 1950 to be the prefect of new Prefecture which had proceeded from the Vicariate of Kilimanjaro. The geographical boundaries of the new prefecture featured the political boundaries of Tanga Region. As a prefect, Fr. Eugen Arthurs had the full authority from the Vatican to lead this prefecture as a bishop (with no bishop ordination) in its preparation to be a full diocese down the road. By that time the prefecture of Tanga had only ten priests and three brothers. These priests were Jim Connolly, I.C., Ted Cronin, I.C., Walter Dick, I. C., Michael Egan, I.C., Benedict Forsyth, I.C., Francis Kennedy, I.C. Daniel McCaul, I.C., James Murphy, I.C., Arthur Rafferty, I. C. and Edmund Spillane, I.C. The brothers were Ned Oman, I. C., Jim Marriot, I.C, and Maurice Reen, I.C. who was later ordained a priest.
b). Some Difficulties with Work of Evangelization
i). Moslem Faith and Middle East Culture: These missionaries worked very hard in this region. The population mostly occupied the region had deep roots in Moslem religion and Middle Eastern culture. It was not easy for these missionaries to penetrate in many areas with deep Moslem religion. In some areas, they experienced hostile conditions. Despite this unfavorable condition, these early missionaries kept on going with the work of evangelization.
ii). Poor communication infrastructures: Another barrier to the work of early missionaries was lack of established communication infrastructure in the region. In many places, these early missionaries had to walk long distances to reach various places to evangelize. In other places they had to use horses or donkeys since there were no roads for cars. Many places were not easily reachable neither by cars nor by horses or donkeys but only by walking. In some cases they had to walk the whole day to administer the Sacrament of the Sick to a Catholic patient(s) in remote place(s). By the time they arrived to the patient’s home, a patient might have died and already been buried. The priest would end up bless the body or the grave.
iii). Indigenous Culture and languages: Another challenge these early missionaries faced was learning indigenous cultures and languages. In those days there was no single local language for all Tanzanians as is the case with Kiswahili in the post-independent Tanzania. Indigenous in pre-colonial, colonial, and pre-independent Tanzania lived in tribal communities which were very closed and enclosed. Each tribal community had its own territory, language. and culture which were completely different from another tribal community. The early missionaries had to be conversant in those local tribal languages and cultures in order to effectively evangelize. In Tanga Region there were more that ten tribal communities: The Digo tribe lived in the coastal areas. The Bondei tribe lived in Muheza area. The Sambaa tribe spread in the Usambara Mountains. The Pare and Mbugu tribes could be found, in parts of western Usambara. The Zigua tribe was mostly found in Handeni and in the lower territory of Korogwe District.
These missionaries had to learn all these specific cultures in order to build rapport with the local people. They also had to learn the Kiswahili and Arabic culture as well as the basics of the Moslem faith to be able understand and communicate to more than 90 percent of people throughout the region who had this influence. More than these these indigeneous tribes in Tanga Region, there were many other tribes who came into Tanga Region as migrant workers in sisal and tea plantations. These tribes came from the southern and western regions of Tanzania and since they lived in ghetos, they continued to maintain their native languages and cultures. These tribes were, The Nyarwanda from Rwanda, the Rundi from Burundi, the Ha from Kigoma, the Makonde from Mtwara and Mozambique, the Ngoni and the Matengo from Ruvuma and the Bena from Njombe.
iv). Shortage of Financial and Personnel resources: The small numbers of priests, lack of financial support, and difficult in communication with their homelands challenged these missionaries to establish new parishes. The early missionaries had to depend very much on the generosity of their home families and friends to support them financially to keep their work on motion.
e). The End of Tanga Prefecture
When early Rosminian Fathers arrived in Tanga in 1948 they inherited four parishes from the Holy Ghost Fathers. Those parishes were St. Anthony Parish in Tanga, Gare Parish in Lushoto, Mlingano Parish in Muheza, and Kilole Parish in Korogwe. By the time when Tanga was elevated from the prefecture into the diocese in 1958, the Rosminian missionaries had added six more parishes. Those parishes were Lushoto and Kwediboma created in 1950. Mazinde Ngua Parish was created in 1951. Potwe and Rangi parishes were created in 1953 and St. Theresa Parish in southern Tanga came in existence in 1959. Creation of the new parishes was only possible when the first ten Rosminian missionarieswere able to get some more new missionary priests joining them.
PHASE THREE: 1959 – 1969
DIOCESE OF TANGA: MOST REV. BISHOP EUGENE ARTHURS, I.C.
a). The Prefecture of Tanga becomes the Diocese of Tanga
The Vatican elevated the Prefecture of Tanga into the Diocesan status on February 24, 1958. Very Reverend Fr. Eugene Arthurs, I.C. who had been a prefect of the Prefecture of Tanga since its creation on April 18, 1950 was appointed the first bishop of the new Diocese of Tanga on May 7, 1958. His consecration was on August 24, 1958 in Ireland in the presence of three bishops. His principal consecrator was the Most Rev. Austin Quinn, the Bishop of Kilmore, Ireland and bishop consecrators were William John Cardinal Conway, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland and Eugene O’Doherty, the Bishop of Dromore, Ireland.
b). Bishop Eugen Arthurs, I.C: 1958 – 1969
After his consecration in Ireland as the first bishop of Tanga, bishop Arthurs returned to his diocese where he had worked with his brother priests since late 1940s. He knew his diocese very well and he knew its needs. Bishop Arthurs worked very hard as a pastor of souls guiding his flock in the diocese. He was a professional auto-mechanic from his upbringing. He brought that skill in the mission where he spent some of his time to repair cars of his brother priests and all his friends. He did this work with great devotion without thinking of his position as a bishop. Bishop Arthurs was a man of strong faith, intelligent, and peaceful. He was able to guide his people without quarrels.
c). Social and Political Restlessness:
i). Struggles for Independence: During his leadership as the bishop of Tanga, Tanganyika as a nation was politically transitioning from colonial rule (by the British) to independent Tanganyika (by Tanganyikans themselves). During this time Tanganyikans were petitioning to have their own independence from the British Protectorate rule. The relationship between the Tanganyikans and the western foreigners was not that peaceful. This relationship could be experienced in the diocese since all the missionaries (priests, brothers, and sisters) were White who had close ties with colonizers. Many Tanganyikan politicians and even ordinary people could not see much of the difference between the Christian missionaries and the colonists in the plantations or in the government machinery. In this political restlessness, a number of Tanganyikans distrusted the missionaries and saw them the same as colonizers.
ii). Divisions among the White Foreigners: Political restlessness in the mission world of Tanganyika can be traced not only between the colonized and colonizers as above, but also among the colonizers themselves. The relationship between Germans and British was not good at all. The misunderstanding between the two, which existed even before the World War II, continued after the war too. These misunderstandings had a negative effect in the work of missionaries. German missionaries had to leave their mission centers during and after the war. For example in 1945 one of the Rosminian Fathers, Michael Cottrell, I.C. was denied a working visa in Tanganyika because he had a photo of a Germany soldier. He was denied to work in the British colony. Another case is that of 1950 when Rev. Gleiss, a Lutheran pastor, quarreled with Fr. Stiegler, a Catholic priest. Fr. Stiegler wanted to build a school in an area which was forbidden by the village leader. Actually it was not the villagers who disliked the building of the school in their area but it was pastor Gleiss (a German) who did not want Fr. Stiegler (an English) to build the school in that village. But later the quarrel was over and the Pastor and his people shifted to Vuga area and left Fr. Stiegler to build the school.
iii). Bishop Arthurs and Independence: Bishop Arthurs was a very good leader to his people. Knowing all the politics of the time, he wanted to be the true pastor to his entire flock. He knew that his flock was a mixture of many nationalities and many ethnic groups. In 1959/60 the railway workers in Tanga had a strike which lasted for a long time. The strike was rallied by TANU, a prominent political party of the time seeking independence. Bishop Arthur knew that that strike was going to affect many workers’ life. He sympathized with workers and immediately he organized a fund raising campaign for the workers’ relief. He himself contributed 500.00 pounds and mobilized priests and all Christians to contribute to the campaign. Rev. Fr. Sean Madden, I.C. was appointed the in charge of this fund.
In April 27,1960 Bishop Arthurs wrote to all the faithful of the diocese (priests and lay people) about his stand on political issues. He alarmed the priests not to use the churches or church grounds as political platforms. He wrote, “In the church buildings or in the church grounds there should be no any political announcements or political meetings. Neither of them should be conducted.”
In all of his time as a bishop, Bishop Arthurs was a man of peace and was in a good terms with the government. In November 30, 1961 Bishop Arthurs ordered the church of Tanga to pray for the independence of Tanganyika at that time.
d). The Dawn of Tanganyikan Independence and Vatican Council II
Tanga Diocese was providentially being prepared for changes which took place in the whole of sixties both in the whole of the Catholic Church Worldwide as well as in the country. Tanganyika received her independence from the British rule on December 9, 1961. The Catholic Church experienced a three-year Vatican Counsel II which was inaugurated by Pope John XXII on October 11, 1962 and closed by Pope Paul VI on December 8, 1965. Both the Tanganyikan Independence and Vatican II Counsel had the great impact in the work of the missionaries in Tanga moving from pre-Independence and pre-Vatican II world into the a new direction. The church was forced to adopt new changes which came from the changing Church as well as the changing Tanganyika.
e). Catholic Education System
The Rosminian missionaries during this time did not only engage themselves in the parish ministry but also in school ministry. In almost every parish a Catholic grade school was erected. The missionaries realized that school settings are good grounds for evangelization among young generations. In a school, children are provided opportunity to grow up academically through learning secular subjects, but also and mostly they can be provided with their spiritual growth. The Catholic education system of the Diocese of Tanga was very strong and it had many good schools. There was one priest who was designated as Diocesan Education Secretary to oversee the operation of all these school and at one point the diocesan education office was in Kilole Parish. Each parish priest (whether priest in-charge or an assisting priest) was responsible to the daily operation of the parish school. Priests and nuns visited and taught in their parish schools and participated fully in the life of school activities both of teachers and students. Even today one can find good memories of Catholic School System of Tanga Diocese with such good Catholic schools like Kwediboma Middle School, Gare Boys Middle School, Kongei Girls Middle School, Mazinde-Ngua School, Kilole School, Mlingano School and Changa/Chumbageni School. With Tanzanian Nationalization Act of 1969, all these schools were nationalized and became public schools
f). More Workers in the Vineyard
Between 1957 and 1970 about 28 new Rosminian missionaries priests from Ireland, Italy, and England came to work in the Diocese of Tanga. They had to grow up with a transitioning Tanganyika as well as the transitioning church. With coming of new missionary priests in the diocese, Bishop Arthur was able to open some few new parishes. The new parishes proceeded from the existing parishes which had vast territories. From Gare Parish territory two other parishes were created Kwai Parish in 1965 and Nkongoi Parish in 1966. From Mlingano Parish territory, Muheza Parish was created in 1969. From St. Anthony Cathedral Parish territory, a new parish of Maramba was created and came into realization in 1970.
g). More Political Changes in Tanzania
There were many changes taking place in an independent Tanganyika which affected people’s way of thinking and doing things. Slowly by slowly many offices which were held by the White colonists had to be occupied by the indigenous Tanganyikans both in government and in business. In 1964 once Zanzibar underwent it Revolution to topple out Sultanate rule, Tanganyika and Zanzibar came into union which formulated the United Republic of Tanzania. In 1966 Kiswahili became the national language in Tanzania. With the church new policy of using vernacular languages instead of Latin led Kiswahili to be adopted as the language Catholic Church in Tanzania. All new missionaries from Europe who came to Tanga and other parts of Tanzania had to learn Kiswahili as their preparation for the missionary work. A good number of them learnt the Kiswahili language by immersion in the local parishes where the language was being used in the local schools institutions. In 1967 Tanzania adopted the socialistic policy which was known as Ujamaa. The Arusha Declaration of 1967 climaxed this adoption. With the Arusha Declaration, all Tanzanians received guidelines to take active responsibility in their political and economic life. With adoption of Ujamaa Policy, many Tanzanians had to leave their traditional villages into ujamaa villages where they were mobilized to live and work together in communal projects. The diocesan church had to respond to all these new changes.
h). Bishop Arthurs and Vocations
In his administration as the Bishop of Tanga, Bishop Arthurs was conscious of promoting priestly and religious vocations from indigenous people. He knew that one day the church of Tanga would need to be ministered by its own people.
i). Native Missionaries from the Diocese of Peramiho: Knowing that there were many Catholic population who came to Tanga from southern and western Tanzania as migrant workers in sisal and tea plantations, Bishop Arthurs requested the native missionary priests from the Diocese of Peramiho to come to Tanga and minister to fellow people from that region. A number of African priests from the Diocese of Peramiho such as Frs Eligius Kapinga, Bernard Ndunguru, and John Haule came to work in Tanga.
ii). Vocation of Native Sisters: Bishop Arthurs recruited priestly vocations and religious vocations from the diocese. He supported formation of indigenous sisters in Rangwi where he assigned full time priest chaplains to Rangwi Sisters Convent as well as integrating indigenous sisters from Rangwi as integral team members in the work of evangelization in diocesan parishes and schools.
iii). Priestly Vocation from Natives: Bishop Arthurs sent many indigenous people to the minor and major seminaries. Before his resignation, he was able to ordain three indigenous priests Rev. Frs Odillo Mtoi (1960), Vincent Ushaki (1968) and Gerald Chilambo (1969). Apart from these three native priests, there were a number of native seminarians both in the minor seminary and major seminaries in formation. Rev. Frs. Vitus Nkondola (1970), Ignas Safari (1972) and Martin Maganga (1972). Indigenous priests who were ordained in 1975 and 1976 started their early formation in the administration time of Bishop Arthurs.
iv). Lay Catechists in the Diocese: Knowing the importance of evangelization through the ministry of catechists throughout the diocese, Bishop Arthur championed to have the diocesan catechetical institute in the diocese to train catechists and their families who would work in diocesan parishes. He spotted the place connected to Kwai Parish where the institute was built. Kwai Catechetical Institute was built in early sixties. Though it didn’t last longer because of deficiency in its buildings, it happened to produce a good committed catechists who rendered their life in this ministry. Some of these catechists were Mr. Sebastian Maghambo who ministered in Lushoto Parish, Mr. Titus Shekibuah who ministered in Mhelo and later at Kwehangala outstation in Sakharani Parish, Mr. Edward Joseph Shemdoe who ministered in Mlingano Parish and later at Kwekitui outstation of Sakharani Parish and then Gare Parish, and Mr. Paul Chipaini who ministered at Kilole Parish. It was sad that the school had to close.
i). Last days of Bishop Arthurs’ Administration
i). Bishop’s Heart Attack: Bishop Arthurs’ health condition deteriorated in the late 1960s after he experienced a heart attack in late 1967. He was taken to a hospital in Mombasa, Kenya for treatment. In November 1967 Father General for Rosminians at that time Don Giovanni Gaddo visited the bishop in the hospital. During the Bishop’s Council meeting at Korogwe on November 29, 1967 Don Gaddo communicated the Bishop’s wish to resign as Bishop of Tanga because of the poor condition of his health.
ii). What then after the Attack: On the May 31, 1968 Cardinal Agaginian wrote to Fr. General Gaddo seeking his views on the appointment of an auxiliary bishop for the Tanga Diocese. In April 1968 the Pro-Nuncio had met with the bishop and some of his advisors in Korogwe in an effort to assess the situation.
iii). 100 Years of Catholic Faith in Tanzania: In July 1968 the whole Catholic Church of Tanzania celebrated the Centenary of the arrival of the first missionaries in Tanzania. The climax of this celebration was celebrated in Dar es Salaam with much jubilation. During that celebration, the Pope’s Delegate to Tanzania made it clear that expatriate missionaries would not henceforth be appointed bishops in the dioceses of Tanzania. This was to align with political development in the country to elevate local Tanzanians to the positions of leadership. The church administration aimed also to begin to begin elevating indigenous clergymen to positions of leadership in the church.
iv). Resignation of Bishop Arthurs: In August 1968 Bishop Eugene Arthurs submitted his letter of resignation to the Propaganda Fidei. His resignation request was accepted on December 15th 1969. This announcement brought grief in the whole diocese but it was a relief to Bishop Eugene. Bishop Eugene Arthurs ministered in the church of Tanga for 19 years (9 years as the Prefect and 10 years as the bishop. After he had handed the leadership to the new bishop of Tanga, Bishop Arthurs, the Bishop Emeritus of Tanga went back to Ireland where he lived until he died on February 23, 1978 at the age of 64 years old.
PHASE FOUR: 1970 – PRESENT
NATIVE LEADERSHIP: BISHOPS KOMBA, MKUDE, & BANZI
A: MOST REV. BISHOP MAURUS GERVAS KOMBA (1970 – 1988)
a). Election of Bishop Maurus
This is the first African bishop of Tanga. He was appointed a bishop of Tanga on December 15, 1969 at the very time when the resignation of Bishop Arthurs was announced. Bishop-elect Maurus Komba was ordained bishop of Tanga on March 15, 1970. His principal consecrator was His Eminence Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa, the Archbishop of Dar-Es-salaam and principal co-consecrators were Most Rev. Bishop Eugene Arthurs, I.C. the retired bishop of Tanga and Most Rev. Abbot Eberhard (Hermann) Spiess, O.S.B. the retired bishop of the Diocese of Peramiho (later Songea) in Ruvuma.
b). Who is This?
The announcement of Fr. Maurus Komba as the new bishop of the Diocese of Tanga was kind of a shock to many since he was totally unknown to the missionaries who were working in Tanga as well as to many indigenous of Tanga areas. Those who knew of the bishop elect were a number of people in Tanga whose origins were in Ruvuma Region. A number of these people migrated in Tanga to work in tea and sisal plantations and some of them had retired and settled in many parts of Tanga Region.
c). A Short History of Bishop Maurus
At the time of his election as the bishop of Tanga, Fr. Maurus Gervas Komba was a Vicar General of the new Diocese of Songea, the position he had worked both for Most Rev. Abbot Eberhard (Hermann) Spiess, O.S.B. as the bishop of the Diocese of Peramiho and then for a short time for Bishop James Komba, a new bishop of Songea Diocese. Originally, Fr. Maurus Komba was the native of Litembo Parish in Mbinga District. His ethnic community is Matengo which mostly occupy the mountainous areas of the District of Mbinga. He underwent his formal education in his home village of Litembo and then in Kigonsera Middle School before he joined Peramiho Major Seminary where he did his philosophical and theological studies. He was ordained a priest on July 15, 1954 for the Catholic Diocese of Peramiho. In his early years of priesthood he worked as an assisting priest and then as the priest in-charge in a number of parishes in Mbinga area parishes (Mbinga, Mbangamao and Mkumbi). He was later appointed a Vicar General for the Diocese of Peramiho which later transitioned to Songea Diocese.
When Fr. Maurus Komba was named a bishop of Tanga, he was a seasoned pastor of souls who worked very hard with many of his people who had long roots of Christianity. He was also an experienced diocesan administrator who worked with many German Benedictine monks and nuns as well as many fellow indigenous clergy and nuns in his home diocese of Peramiho/Songea.
e). Bishop Maurus with the Native Missionary Priests from Peramiho
A number of his fellow priests from his home diocese had preceded him as missionaries in Tanga by the requested of Bishop Arthurs to work among the Catholics whose roots were in Ruvuma Region. With this background, the newly appointed bishop was both unknown and known to some extent to the people of Tanga.
f). Early Days of Bishop Maurus Ministry in Tanga
As he arrives in Tanga, the bishop elect landed into a different social and religious landscapes from his home diocese. The population of Christians in Tanga was very small, the number of missionary priests and nuns as well as the number indigenous clergy and nuns was very small comparing to Peramiho. At the time of his ordination as the Bishop of Tanga, there were only three native diocesan priests in the diocese.
Bishop elect Maurus Komba arrived in the diocese in January 1970 to familiarize himself with the Diocese of Tanga. In the following month he visited every parish of the diocese and met and spoke to each and every priest and brother who worked in the diocese. During that time he met with many nuns and lay people of the diocese. This was a very positive move he made. It created a very good impression to all people with whom he met. The population (priests, brothers, nuns, and laity), which attended his ordination ceremony on March 15, 1970, came with much easiness since they had familiarized with him. To the great extent it was a challenge for the population of Tanga to have a first native bishop in the diocese. It was a new experience all together.
Bishop Maurus Komba proved to be the most charming, genial, simple, and a grateful person. He enjoyed working with everyone. He was kind and gracious. He had prepared himself to serve the people of his diocese with love and care. He made an effort to visit not only parishes but also in the outstations and he took time to talk, visit, and listen to people of all backgrounds.
g). The First Five Years of His Ministry in Tanga
During the first five years of his episcopate in the diocese, Bishop Maurus began to experience the dwindling of Rosminian missionary priests number in the diocese. Very few of them were coming in Tanga from their home country and those who were in the diocese were beginning to age as well as leaving. In his efforts to get more workers in the vineyard, he visited Ireland and United States to recruit for more missionary priests and brothers to come and work in Tanga but he never succeeded to get positive response.
From this experience, he decided to begin active recruitment of priestly and religious vocation within his own diocese. From the time he hit the ground in Tanga for ministry, he began recruiting for native seminarians. He expressed his great love and support for young seminarians who were joining junior seminary formation at St. Peter’s Junior Seminary in Morogoro. He knew them by names and he always met with them when they were back in the diocese for vacation.
h). Bishop Maurus bigins a Junior Seminary in Soni
In 1974 the Rosminian Fathers closed their St. Michael International School for boys in Soni and handed the buildings to the diocese. Bishop Maurus used St. Michael’s International School buildings to begin a diocesan junior seminary, which was officially registered as a secondary school in 1976. Prior to the beginning the junior seminary in Soni, the diocese was competing to have few admission placements at St. Peter’s inter-diocesan seminary in Morogoro. A number of young boys who would like to pursue their studies in the seminary could not do so. With having Soni Junior Seminary for the young boys of the diocese, many young boys from all over the diocese could receive seminary formation in the diocese. With the help of the native sisters and priests as well as the Rosminian and Benedictine missionaries in the diocese, the seminary was able to deepen its roots in the diocese. Before his retirement as the Bishop of Tanga in 1988, Bishop Maurus was able to ordain six young priests who did their initial formation at Soni Seminary. These were Rev. Frs. John F. Mahundi (1985), Severine P. Yagaza (1986), Charles Mhina (1987), Laurent S. Mapunda (1987), Joseph S. Mbenna (1987), and Leopold R. Nyandwi (1987). By the time he retired from his leadership, he had ordained the total of 26 native diocesan priests.
i). Vocation of Native Sisters
In his pastoral trips to the parishes of the diocese, Bishop Maurus kept on recruiting for the religious vocations. He positively supported nurturing sisters vocations for those who were to join the Congregation of Our Lady of Usambara (COLU).
j). Opening of New Parishes
During his 18 years of ministry in Tanga, Bishop Maurus experienced the opening of the ten new parishes in the diocese. Three factors which led the opening of these ten parishes were: the increase of Catholic population in the diocese, reducing the size of existing mega territory parishes and a blessing of more native priests who were ordained in the diocese. Pangani Parish was opened in 1973. It proceeded from St. Theresa Parish in Tanga. Hale Parish was opened in 1974. It proceeded from Potwe Parish territory. Handeni Parish was created in 1976 to reduce the territory which was served by Kwediboma Parish. In 1976 Magoma Parish was erected from Kilole Parish territory. In 1976 Sakharani Parish was started from Gare Parish territory. In the same year 1976 Malindi Parish was started from Rangwi Parish territory. In 1985 two parishes were created. Amani Parish was born from Muheza Parish territory and St. Peter-Saruji Parish outside Pongwe was created from St. Anthony Cathedral Parish. The last parish to be created in his reign was Mombo Parish, which was created in 1986, and it proceeded from Mazinde Parish.
k). The Last Days of Bishop Maurus’ leadership
Bishop Maurus’ health condition began to deteriorate in 1983 when he began receiving more medical help in his native home hospital in Litembo. With health struggles he continued to shepherd the diocese of Tanga with great love and zeal until the Vatican accepted his resignation on January 18, 1988. Later that year, Bishop Maurus returned back to Mbinga Diocese where he lived in retirement until he died on February 23, 1996 at the age of 73 years old. Bishop Maurus’ body has been buried at the main entrance of St. Aloyce Gonzaga Parish church in Mbinga, Tanzania.
B: MOST REV. BISHOP TELESPHORE MKUDE (1988 – 1993)
a). Election of Bishop Mkude
Bishop Telesphore Mkude was appointed the third bishop of Tanga (the second native bishop of Tanga) on January 18, 1988 after the resignation of Bishop Maurus Komba. The bishop elect Mkude was a priest of the Diocese of Morogoro. Until his appointment as the Bishop of Tanga, he was a Vicar General of the Diocese of Morogoro and also the spiritual director for Mgolole Sisters. The bishop elect was ordained the bishop of Tanga on April 26, 1988. His principal consecrator was His Emminance Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa, the Archbishop of Dar-Es-Salaam and the principal co-consecrators were Bishop Maurus G. Komba, the retired bishop of Tanga and Bishop Andrian Mkoba, the bishop of Morogoro Diocese.
b). The Early Years of Bishop Mkude
Bishop Mkude carried on the good works of his predecessors. From the very beginning of his ministry as the Bishop of Tanga, Bishop Mkude worked very hard to know his flock and serve it lovingly.
i). Pope John Paul II visit in Tanzania: Pope John Paul II visited Tanzania on September 1 – 5, 1990. This was the first time for the history of the church in Tanzania for the Holy Father to visit. Bishop Mkude included the Pope’s visit to Tanzania as a pastoral strategy to awakening faith in the diocese. He encouraged the people of the diocese to renew their own Christian life as the spiritual preparation to the visit of the Holy Father.
ii). Creation of the diocesan leadership structure: From the very beginning of his leadership, Bishop Mkude championed to creating structure in the administration of the diocese. He moved the Diocesan Chancery Office from the Bishop’s House in Raskazone Area to Chumbageni and immediately began to house most of diocesan level offices in one building. He campaigned throughout the diocese for erecting the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Chumbageni. Though this project started during his time, it was his predecessor who came to build it.
iii). Formation House: In 1991 Bishop Mkude started a Formation House at Gare for the spiritual formation year of our diocesan seminarians transitioning from high schools to major seminaries. He appointed Rev. Fr. John Kika Zuakuu as the Director of this program. This program was later moved from Gare to Shashui near Soni Junior Seminary
c). Vocations of Vineyard Workers
Bishop Mkude continued to support works of vocation throughout the diocese. He supported the wellbeing of Soni Seminary School in so many ways. He immediately appointed Rev. Fr. George Mhuza to be the rector of the seminary after he had graduated from the University of Dar-Es-Salaam. He championed to bring back a big portion of the seminary land which was appropriated by local villagers during the Arusha Declaration time. In that transaction, he had to authorize the payment of one million Tanzanian shillings to reimburse the villagers who had planted long-term plants in the plot.
Bishop Mkude continued to support the on-going formation of diocesan priests in the spiritual life as well as in their solidarity. He encouraged the diocesan priests to be active in UMAWATA.
d). Missionaries and Diocesan Sisters
In his time, Bishop Mkude continued to support the ministry of missionaries throughout the diocese. He nurtured their presence and their efforts to minister in the diocese. He fully supported the ministry of the COLU sisters in the vital ministry in the diocese. During his leadership, the COLU sister programs continued to expand within the diocese and beyond.
e). Establishment of New Parishes
During his time as the bishop of Tanga he experienced the opening of three new parishes Soni Parish which was created in 1989 from Gare Parish territory. St. Mathias Mulumba in Usagara/Sahare Tanga was created 1990 from the St. Anthony Cathedral Parish territory. The third parish was Manundu Parish in Korogwe which was created in 1991 from Kilole Parish territory.
Knowing the importance of health in the diocese, Bishop Mkude championed to start the Tumaini Hospital in the city of Tanga. This hospital has been a big blessing to the Tanga diocesan personnel who need high health care. It is also a famous hospital to all people of Tanga areas.
g). The End of Bishop Mkude’s Leadership
The reign of Bishop Telesphore Mkude ended on April 5, 1993 when he was appointed the bishop of his home diocese of Morogoro following the resignation of Bishop Adrian Mkoba on November 6, 1992.
During his five years as bishop of Tanga he presided at ordination to priesthood of ten diocesan priests.
C: TRANSITIONING (APRIL 10, 1993 – JUNE 10, 1994)
The Diocese of Tanga was under the Apostolic Diocesan Administration between the leaderships of Bishops Mkude and Bishop Banzi. The Very Rev. Fr. Casmir Magwiza was appointed for this position which lasted for 14 months. Fr. Magwiza did this ministry diligently in guiding the faithful of the diocese to live their faith during this transitioning time. He brought all the faithful of the diocese to welcome their new bishop and be able to work with him.
D: MOST REV. BISHOP ANTHONY BANZI (1994 – PRESENT)
a). Election of Rev. Fr. Anthony Banzi
Bishop Anthony Banzi was appointed Bishop of Tanga on June 10, 1994 and was ordained a bishop of Tanga on September 15, 1994. He is a priest of the Diocese of Morogoro and prior to his election as the bishop of Tanga he was the Rector and professor of philosophy at Kibosho Major Seminary in Moshi. His principal consecrator was His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, the Archbishop of Dar-Es-Salaam and principal co-consecrators were Archbishop Josephat Louis Lebulu who at that time was a bishop of the Diocese of Same (then Archbishop of Archdiocese of Arusha) and Bishop Telesphore Mkude, the bishop of Morogoro
b). Strong Leadership of Bishop Banzi
Bishop Banzi has provided the Diocese of Tanga with strong leadership as the diocese moved from the end of 20th Century and into the 21st Century. With great vigor he has supported pastoral activities throughout the diocese in many ways, forms and shapes.
c). Higher Education to the Diocesan Clergy
Bishop Banzi has championed in higher education of his diocesan priests. He has supported them in doing their high degree studies in international universities in various places in the world such as in Italy, Kenya, USA, Austria and Ireland. Because of this educational support, a number of Tanga Diocese priests are now ministering in all major seminaries in the country as well as at St. Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) both at the main campus in Mwanza and in its subsidiary colleges throughout the country.
d). Diocesan Pastoral Center
Bishop Banzi started the erection of the Diocesan Pastoral Center the project which was initiated by his predecessor Bishop Telesphore Mkude. The center now is housing a good number of diocesan offices including bishop’s office. The bishop also has supervised to the building of Pope John Paul II Center the project which continues to provide hospitality to visitors who come in the diocese. This building is so beautiful. It oversees the Indian Ocean. At the same time Bishop Banzi managed to build the new bishop’s house in Raskazone, which continues to provide great relief to the bishop who in hosting diocesan guests who visit the diocese. During his time, he was able to purchase the building next to his residence in Raskazone from Sisal Authority and turned it into a guesthouse for diocesan visitors.
e). Diocesan Pastoral Calendar
Pastorally, Bishop Banzi has been able to create a diocesan event calendar which continues to be compass of pastoral activities in the diocese.
f). The Ministry of the Diocesan Native Sisters
Bishop Banzi has been a champion in integrating the ministry of the COLU sisters in the pastoral life of the diocese. He has always been there to support the vocation work in the diocese and supported the ministry of the COLU sisters in the diocese.
g). Ministry of the Missionary Groups in Tanga
Bishop Banzi has continued to support the ministry of Rosminian Fathers in the diocese. The Rosminian priests and brothers are now mostly native. They are part of the Tanga Diocese identity and they are very integral part in the work of evangelization. They are now staffing six of our diocesan parishes (Gare, Lushoto, Mombo, Kwalukonge, Kwai,and St. Peter-Saruji). Bishop Banzi continues to support the ministry of the Benedictine Fathers in the Diocese who are now staffing two of our diocesan parishes in Mabughai and Soni.We continue to have the honor of the founding Congregation of Holy Ghost Fathers who have their Novitiate House in Magamba, Lushoto. At the same time Bishop Banzi has continued to support the ministry and the presence of the oldest missionaries in the diocese: The Precious Blood Sisters who operate various ministries in the Diocese mostly in Lushoto District. Bishop Banzi continues to support the vibrant ministry of Sister Karen, the Little Sister of St. Francis as she continues to minister to the Maasai population in Handeni Area.
New Religious communities have been invited to minister and establish themselves in Tanga Diocese. The bishop has invited the priests of Apostolic Life Community of Priests in the Opus Sancti Spiritus (ALCP/OSS) who are now staffing the parish in Kabuku. Bishop Banzi continues to support the diversity identity of the large church making the Diocese of Tanga both local and global. A number of new religious communities have come into Tanga and establish themselves as their home. We have Passionist Fathers and Brothers and IVREA Sisters in Zeneth area. We have Franciscan Capuchins in Mivumoni Pangani. We have Sisters of St.Gemma Galgani from Dodoma who are now opening their home at Chang’ombe Village in Segera/Hale area and Huruma ya Mungu Sisters are opening their subhouse in Mailikumi Korogwe. We have a community of sisters “Collegine Sisters of the Holy Family” who have a very vibrant ministry to the orphans and street children in Bombo Area in Tanga. Recently the new Missioanry Carmelite Sisters of St. Theresa of Child Jesus has started their presence in Lushoto.
h). Evangelization Through Technology
To respond to the needs of the evangelization, Bishop Banzi has been a proponent of the new technologies in evangelization. In his administration he has overseen the establishment of the Radio Huruma which is a powerful tool of evangelization throughout the diocese. At his great support, the diocese now is having its own website at www.dioceseoftanga.org which continues to connect the Diocese of Tanga to rest of the world. Bishop Banzi has appointed Rev. Fr. Richard Kimbwi to champion these efforts. Fr. Kimbwi has been sponsored to further his technological skills in Austria. It is the goal of the diocese to utilize up-to-moment technology to better evangelization of the Gospel in the diocese.
i). Ministry of Catechists in the Diocese
Bishop Banzi has continued to acknowledge the vital ministry of the lay catechists in the diocese from its distant past to our own days and in the future to come. He stresses clearly that the Church of Tanga and the church at large would have hard time to survive without the vital contribution of the ministry of catechists at all levels of the church operation. With this understanding, bishop Banzi has established a Diocesan Catechetical Department which oversees the formation of catechists in the diocese. This department is responsible to plan for the spiritual, intellectual, and social wellbeing of catechists in the diocese.
Bishop Banzi has pioneered to the establishment of the Diocesan Catechetical College in Mlingano Parish. Such a college was established in Kwai Parish back in the early 1960s during the leadership of Bishop Eugene Arthurs but it vanished shortly because of its poor buildings. This new College is going to officially open on March 2, 2013 with the solemn blessing by Bishop Banzi.
j). New Parishes in the Diocese
Since his administration in this diocese up to this year 2013, Bishop Banzi has elevated six outstations into full parish and three outstations into sub-parishes. These six parishes are: Tekwa Parish (2001) from Sakharani Parish, Kwalukonge Parish (2003) from Mombo Parish, Mkuzi Parish (2003) from Kwai Parish,Mabughai Parish (2010) from Lushoto Parish,Amboni Parish (2011) from St. Anthony Cathedral Parish, and Mtindiro Parish (2011) from Muheza Parish. The three sub-parishes are Misozwe from Mlingano Parish, Mkalamo from Pangani Parish and Donge from St. Mathias Mulumba Parish.
k). Ordination to Priesthood
Since 1994 to this year 2013 bishop Banzi has ordained 33 diocesan priests. It is this great blessing of workers in the vineyard which has allowed him to open new parishes, and new ministries. It is also the same blessing which has allowed him to send some of his priests for further studies and also be generous in supporting the ministry of the entire church of Tanzania in its nation-wide institutions both at SAUT and major seminaries.
l). The First Bishop from the Natives of Tanga
The Administration of Bishop Banzi in Tanga has witnessed the historical event for the diocese to have one of its diocesan priests being elevated to the ministry of the bishop. On Saturday February 16, 2013 the Vatican appointed Rev. Fr. Titus Joseph Mdoe to be the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Dar-Es-Salaam. The bishop-elect Titus Mdoe is the native of Gare Parish in Lushoto. He was ordained a priest of the diocese of Tanga on June 24, 1986. After his ordination he ministered as the assisting priests and then as the priest in-charge in several parishes of the Diocese. For a long time he held two vital diocesan offices for Vocations and for the Youths. Recently he graduated from St. Clara University in California, USA. When he returned back to the diocese from the USA he was sent to be a Bursar at Stella Maris University in Mtwara, Tanzania until his appointment to the ministry of the bishop.