CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF TANGA

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History

 

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

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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.

 

1.PHASE ONE: 16TH CENTURY - 1947
THE EARLY YEARS OF EVANGELIZATION IN TANGA

2. PHASE TWO: 1948 - 1958
PREFECTURE OF TANGA: ROSMINIAN FATHERS IN EARLY YEARS

4. PHASE FOUR: 1970 - PRESENT
NATIVE LEADERSHIP: BISHOPS KOMBA, MKUDE, & BANZI