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Friday, 23 July 2021 07:40

Tanzanian Carmelite Community Continues Growing

For several years, the General Commissariat of “Santa Maria La Bruna”, located in the incomparable city of Naples, Italy, worked to establish the Order in the United Republic of Tanzania in Africa’s Great Lakes region in East Africa. For several years, young men from Tanzania studied in Naples, living in the Carmine Maggiore.

Finally in 2009, the first Carmelite community of Tanzania was inaugurated on October 1st. The community was made up of two brothers in perpetual vows, one already ordained priest, and three brothers of temporary vows.

Today, there are eight brothers. Six of these men have professed solemn vows and have been ordained priests. The other two men are in formation, having professed temporary vows. In addition, the community has two students who are candidates for the novitiate. African Carmel has two novitiates: one for those who speak French and the other is in Zimbabwe for those who speak English. This month the students will begin their novitiate year at Kriste Mambo in Rusape, Zimbabwe. They have all completed their studies in philosophy, and one has completed a year of theology. But the house will not be empty. Another three aspirants will arrive to start their studies in philosophy in October 2021.

Construction of the Church
Currently, the main activity the community is focused on is the building of a church in Bunju where the Carmelites have a parish. The new church will accommodate around 2200 people.

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Sacrament of Matrimony
Every year the Carmelites in Tanzania celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel by administering the sacrament of marriage. This year 63 couples celebrated the sacrament on the feast day.

Experience of Living with the Poor and the Muslims
The territory where our house is situated in ecumenical in that it is an area with people professing various religions. Therefore, any of the outreach efforts of the Carmelites, helping the poor by providing them with essential supplies such as food, for example, will mean we are also serving our Muslim brothers and sisters. “People appreciate our services and praise our Virgin Mary and are grateful for our presence. We pray that Our Lady of the Mount Camel may continue to protect us with her mantle,” says Victor Biramata, a member of the founding community.

Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, then archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, offered the Carmelites the not yet existing parish of Bunju. His hope was that that it would someday become a Marian center for the diocese. The General Commissariat set about building a priory for the new community which was dedicated a week after the Carmelites return to their native country. The parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel was created on August 25, 2012, by the Cardinal. This ceremony took place during the ordination of Carmelite John Dominic Somola.

It was a long-awaited step. The mission in Tanzania was actually being planned for as early as 1988. All in God’s time! And God has wonderfully blessed the work of the Carmelites and the people of Bunju.

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