A water project and the construction of a new formation home for young friars are critical needs of our missionaries in this East African nation
by Gary Adornato
Nestled at the foot of the Pare Mountains in the northern part of the East African nation of Tanzania, the town of Mwanga is the home of the Custody of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, administered by the Conventual Franciscan Friars. The Custody includes five communities which carry out various apostolate activities such as running parishes and schools, as well as the publication and formation of candidates for religious life.
Similar to the friars serving in more than 60 countries across the globe, the Friars in Tanzania follow in the footsteps of our order’s founder, St. Francis of Assisi, to minister to the poor and make a difference in their lives. To that end the Friars are undertaking two ambitious projects in Tanzania – the construction of a water pumping station to provide much needed drinking water for the students of the St. Anthony of Padua Nursery School and the building of the Morogoro Formation House, to serve dozens of friars currently pursuing a Franciscan vocation.
The St. Anthony school is part of the Divine Mercy Parish on the site of the Divine Mercy Shrine. The parish was founded in 1986 by the Holy Ghost Missionaries and serves more than 2,500 Catholics. It was originally an outstation of neighboring Chanjale Parish. The friars arrived in 1998 and oversaw the construction of the shrine.
“The challenge we face is pure drinking water, for the kids at the nursery school and primary government school which is located at the entrance to the friary plot, as well as many people who live next to the friary,” said Fr. Darek Szymborski, OFM Conv, the Custody’s Custos. “We have done the professional technical research to look for pure water and it is possible to get it but we have to drill about 240 meters down.”
The nursery school currently educates 85 children. The water project would also serve a nearby hospital run by the Grail Sisters.
Mwanga, which is one of seven districts of the Kilimanjaro Region in Tanzania, has a semi-arid climate. Rainfall averages just 500 mm a year, making rain-fed agriculture practically impossible.
“We are thanking God for the gift of vocations,” said Fr. Darek in referencing the proposed formation home. “In the Custody of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe there are 59 friars in various stages of formation. The formation program we do in common with our Franciscan jurisdictions in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.”
Currently in Tanzania the friars only have a one year novitiate in the city of Arusha and a second year postulancy in Morogoro. The novitiate is overflowing with more than 50 residents, providing no room for new students.
“It is our dream to extend the existing structure by adding a new wing with 35 rooms,” said Fr. Darek.
As he always does, God will provide the resources to help the Friars achieve these goals to continue their critically important ministries. One of the important resources God provides are the benefactors of the Franciscan Mission Association. The FMA contributes to the funding of projects like the ones underway in Tanzania all the time. Further, the FMA supports these ministries by hosting their friars when visiting the U.S. and assisting with their formation and education costs. And, the support of our benefactors makes this all possible.
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No gift is too small and we urge you consider visiting our FMA donation page, by clicking here, and making a contribution to these efforts.
God bless you for your support and God bless the friars for their sacrifice all over the world.
Pictured above: Students at the St. Anthony of Padua Nursery School in Tanzania will benefit from the water produced by a drilling project being undertaken by the Friars from the Custody of St. Maximillian Maria Kolbe.