“To be a missionary from the bottom of my heart” these words of Bishop Melchior de Marion Bresillac, the founder of the Society of African Missions, are grace given to me. After my priestly ordination in Bangui, the Central African Republic, I was appointed to Tanzania for my first mission. The beautiful country of very friendly people and adorable nature, Tanzania is known across the world for the splendid Mount Kilimanjaro and the great Serengeti National Park.
After a few months at the language school of (Kiswahili) the national language of Tanzania, I was appointed in the northern part of the country, into a town called Arusha with more or less a population of 1.694.000 million people, as an assistant parish priest at Saint James Catholic Church in Moshono in collaboration with Fr. Josephat Nzioka, SMA from the diocese of Machakos in Kenya.
Moshono parish is a busy mission with the main Church and four Mass centers. There are four religious Sisters communities (Augustinian missionary’s sisters, the Oblate of Assumption Sisters, Carmelites Missionary Sisters, the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, and New Evangelization Sisters). The parish has forty-six (46) small Christian communities. There are also various active groups and movements in the parish. Our mission in Moshono is an urban pastoral set up. However, it is purely primary evangelization at the Mass Centers. We have daily masses in the parish every day at 6:30 in the morning, and in one of the sisters’ community by rotation. On Sundays, we usually have three masses in the main parish, and one mass in each of the four Mass Centers that are 20 to 50 kilometers away and with bad road conditions. The Catholic faith is very strong and well-rooted in Tanzania, and in my opinion, the archdiocese of Arusha is one of the well-organized dioceses in terms of the pastoral plan, and administration in Tanzania.
In Moshono, I am the chaplain of the Youth group called Viwawa in Kiswahili. Viwawa means Catholic Tanzanian Youth. I love to work with the youth because, I am convinced that the future of Africa depends on the formation of young people, their spiritual, intellectual, physical, and moral formation is key for tomorrow’s success. Though they are many, the youth are divided by social classes, their various education levels, and the quality of their professions. I endeavor in getting them together, to love each other as friends, brought together by the Gospel of Christ. To live together as sons and daughters of one father; 2 Corinthians 6:18 “I will be a Father to them, and they will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Early this year, we organized elections for leaders who would help and encourage their brothers and sisters in serving the Church. In collaboration with the leaders, we designed a full-year plan of activities for the youth. Some of the activities include.
– A leaders’ meeting once a month aimed at the evaluation of the youth plan of activities.
– A weekly gathering on Saturdays for Bible study.
– A Seminar or formation on different topics every first Sunday of the month.
– A day of recollection every Sunday of the month.
– A day of sports, dances, and competitions every second Sunday of the month.
– Days of act of mercy and charity days especially during the Lenten season.
– A thanksgiving mass and a general meeting of all the parish youth every three months.
If we dream of a successful future of Africa, we must empower and help the youth embrace responsible leadership. And this can be done by training them on how to work hard, how to pray, how to share, and how to listen to others. The Church is a community of believers, a place where we care for each other as did the first Christian community, in the Acts of the Apostles 2:40-47, a place where leaders are servants of others, a place where Faith, Hope, and Charity are developed, a place where love and forgiveness are lived. Therefore, if the youths in our Church are endowed with this basic formation, then Africa is granted a bright future, a future of honest leaders, sincere politicians, devoted citizens, and true Christians.
In Moshono, by selling bulletins, and washing parishioners’ cars, we teach the youth how to work hard and to be self-sustainable. By doing acts of mercy and charity, we teach them to share and care for the needy. By various games and sports competitions, we teach them team spirit, collaboration, and love for one another and through recollection and mass, we teach them to pray.
Youth ministry, though challenging, is for me a joyful experience and I am grateful to God for the grace given to me, to be a missionary from the bottom of my heart, and I continue to pray for the youths of Moshono and around the whole world. So that they may be one, as the father and I are one. By this, I remember the prayer of Jesus for his disciple in the Gospel of John, 17:21“Father, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me”
Lion Auxence, SMA