Sunday, August 17, 2008

Report From Tanzania

Fr. Francis Wardega, in Tanzania this month, files this report:

Dispatch 2 From Station Mwanza in Tanzania

August 2008

Fr Francis Wardega


Your mission support is beginning to bear fruit again in East Africa on the southern shores of Lake Victoria.  People here in Mwanza, a part of the Anglican Diocese of Victoria Nyanza, were excited to start this mission.  The mission started with liturgy on Sunday Aug 10, at St Nicholas Cathedral, one block away from the lake.  The lake breeze made the temperature most comfortable.  I preached and assisted the bishop, the Rt Rev Boniface Kwangu, at the service.  The bishop asked me to distribute the Holy Eucharist to his people. One young woman was confirmed at the service.  This liturgy, one of three liturgies every Sunday, was the English service – the other two services are in Swahili..  It was very powerful to hear the Words of Institution, prayed by the bishop in his British accented, East African English.  “Thees ees my boudy, brrroken for you.”  Different and the same. Holy.


Our ministry is primarily a ministry of teaching.  The need here fits precisely what we do.  Here, there are many priests ordained over recent years with little or no ministry or priestly education.  Here, education is hard to get.  Bishop Boniface brought eleven priests together to receive the teaching that God has called us to give. 


Who are these men.  All but two are in their fifties.  The other two are in their sixties. All are ordained priests and are pastors of parishes in the diocese.  Two came from the island of Ukerewe in Lake Victoria.  Here in East Africa, they are addressed as “pastor.”  Their names sing an African song, grounded in Scripture, colored by British history.  Their names:  Japheth, Erasto,Stafford, Zephania, Julius, Boniface, Jesse, Solomon, Iohanna, Abednego, and Josiah.  Josiah has a bible school diploma and an M.Div from Cambridge in England.  Solomon will be beginning studies at a bible school in Uganda.  The rest have a 7thgrade education at best, some less.


They bring to the class many good qualities.  daily prayer life, ministry experience (some have been ordained for over ten years), a desire to learn, and an ability to work.  Good investment for your prayers and for your donated dollars.  These men will be here for two weeks.  These classes are a major step in their lives, and an answer to their prayer.


This week, they learned the basics of the faith – they learned new things.  Things like Jesus is both God and man.  Things like Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins.  Things like the liturgy that they do is a 20th century version of what the apostles did..  They are like sponges continually soaking up the waters of new life.  They also learned the meaning of what it is to be a priest – a calling from God, not a weekend job.  They learned that God calls them to higher standards – the highest possible by grace.  Their priesthood is being transformed. Their bishop, who sits in on many of the classes, is excited.  More is happening much quicker than he expected.


Thank you for your support.  God and you make this possible.  Please keep on supporting this mission.  Please sustain this good ministry.  It works!


Fr Francis Wardega  MSJ

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