Our History (Expanded)
At the request of the late Bishop of the Diocese of Morogoro, Rt. Rev. AdrainMkoba, Vatican approached the OCD Generalate in Rome, and on their advice the Discalced Carmelite missionaries as a joint venture of the Indian provinces reached Tanzania with the patronage of then Superior General V. Rev. Fr. Philip Sainz De Baranda, under the able leadership of Fr. Walter Lobo in September 1983. The pioneers were Frs. Walter Lobo from KG Province, Cletus Nadiaparambil from Manjumel Province, Francis from Malabar Province and Br. Francis from Tamilnadu Province. After learning the local language, Swahili and local culture, they officially moved to the Parish of Mikumi on 16th of July, 1984. But then this joint venture did not last long due to various factors, like malaria and other health issues that were unavoidable, Frs. Cletus, Francis and Br. Francis were replaced by Frs. Bernard Thattaparambil from Malabar Province and Felix Moras from KG Province. In the year 1992, May 8th, the Tanzanian mission was fully handed over to the Karnataka- Goa Province. Then Provincial, Rev. Fr. Gregory D’Souza took the initiative to empower the missionaries already working in Tanzania by sending the first batch of four scholastics (theology students) to our neighbouring country Kenya where Carmelites missionaries from America are working to pursue their theological studies and a couple of priests to the mission. This particular step proved to be most beneficial to the growth of the mission.
The first missionary presence of the Carmelites was the parish of Mikumi in the diocese of Morogoro, around 120 km’s away from Morogoro town. Because of the hard work of our pioneers, our fathers were dearly known as the “Mikumi Fathers”. The Carmelites were instrumental in building a health Centre, a carpentry school for boys and a tailoring school for the girls in Mikumi. From Mikumi we moved to Kihonda, Morogoro in 1989 to put up a foundation which today serves as the Regional Vicar’s Residence. In 1990 we opened a vocation home to recruit local vocations for the priesthood. While in Mikumi, we were serving the outstation in Malolo village, around 100 km’s from Mikumi, where a Church, mission house and a dispensary cum convent were built. Malolo outstation was subsequently raised to a parish dedicated to Infant Jesus in 1991. Because of the insufficiency of members in the mission Mikumi Parish was handed over to the diocese of Morogoro in 1994. While handing over Mikumi parish to the diocese, the new parish of Malolo was retained as Home Parish which also has 5 outstations on the mountains. Malolo being a semi desert and surrounded by the mountains lacks electricity, communication facility and a comfortable life style. But here our fathers have done marvels to spread the fragrance of Christian values amidst Muslim and diverse religious believers. In Kihonda along with providing pastoral and spiritual care to the local faithful, our fathers were involved in teaching at St. Peter’s Seminary and in social works like providing secretarial courses, basic English knowledge, carpentry school for the people.
After we were joined by more missionaries, in 1994 we moved to the diocese of Mbeya around 800 km’s away from Morogoro, at the invitation of the late Bishop James D. Sangu. In the early stages we rendered our services in a few remote village parishes like Irambo and Igoma. We were involved in pastoral and spiritual ministries, social activities like building houses for the poor, constructing bridges and providing clean water in the villages. We were later entrusted with the parish of Uyole in1997. This parish had 14 outstations in distant villages. Around four km’s away from the parish, a Novitiate house was built in 2000 where three batches of novices made their first profession, now the house has been made a Spirituality Center. We also have a Social Centre that provides tailoring classes to empower women and school dropout girls.
In March, 2000, at the request of the Archbishop Cardinal Polycarp Pengo of the Archdiocese of Dar Es Salaam, the Carmelites took up a newly erected Parish in Mbezi Luis and late Fr. Richard Castelino was appointed the first parish priest and superior of the new community. This is a fast growing parish which has four official and five non-official outstations. In the process of progress one of the outstation of Mbezi Luis parish was declared as parish of St. Therese by his the Archbishop Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar Es Salaam on 5th of November 2007, and was entrusted to the Carmelites. Now the old parish has 5 outstations and the new parish has 3 outstations. It is around 220 kms to Morogoro, our Regional and Regional House. At the same time, a plot of land was acquired in Kola, Morogoro, near the Salvatorian Seminary, a close distance from our Regional House, the construction of a study house was begun in February 2001 which now is the formation house of the scholastics.
The General Definitory raised the mission to the status of the Regional Vicariate of Tanzania on 20th March 2002. The missionaries entered the Archdiocese of Songea, around 900 kms away from Morogoro, at the request of Archbishop Norbert Mtega in 2004. They were given a parish in Mpandagindo which has 3 outstations in the distant villages. Here the fathers began the tailoring classes for the women and girls, tuition classes, and helping the children for schooling. This place too has no electricity, no communication facility and no comfortable lifestyle. There is a convent that runs a dispensary belonging to the diocese.
The tiny seed has grown and borne fruits. Today Carmelite Vicariate of Tanzania is an adult, vibrating its missionary zeal and fragrance everywhere. There are all together 27 priests in the Vicariate among them seven are outside the mission pursuing higher studies and in ministries to support the mission. We have 11 professed scholastics which make the strength of the Vicariate 38. Besides we have 3 novices and 6 postulants. The young Vicariate has lots of plans for its development and future progress. God has blessed the Vicariate in the past 30 yrs, through different ways and through different people, he has taken care of the mission.