July 27, 2016
“Very well, my children, make this known to all my people.” Mary at La Salette.
These few lines are being sent to you the day after our return to Rome from Tanzania, where Adilson and I have lived unforgettable moments, which certainly are very historical, with the opening of a La Salette Community in Rutete, in the Diocese of Bukoba, Tanzania, in conjunction with the commemoration of the 170th anniversary of the Apparition and the celebration of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.
The road of discernment, which lasted a few years, involving the Diocese of Bukoba, the General Council, the Council of the Congregation and the whole Congregation, happily culminated on the 15th of July 2016 with the arrival of our three confreres in Tanzanian soil in order to begin the first La Salette presence in that country.
On Sunday, 17th of July, Fr. Adilson Schio, M. S. Vicar with General, Fr. Rosanno Soriano, M. S. Provinvial Superior of the Philippines and myself with the three Missionaries: Fr. Manuel dela Cruz, M. S. (Philippines) Fr. Dileesh Poriamvelil, M.S. (India) and Fr. Aldrin Cenizal, M. S. (Philippines), accompanied by Bishop Desiderius Rwoma, the Ordinary of the Diocese of Bukoba, and Bishop Methodius Kilaini, Auxiliary Bishop, were welcomed by a dozen of Diocesan Priests and around three thousand enthusiastic and festive faithful, who, escaping the scorching sun, sheltered themselves under temporary tents put up by volunteers for the occasion, around and in front of the covered outdoor altar constructed for the occasion.
During the Mass, which lasted around 4 and a half hours, 197 children were baptized by our missionaries; and 12 couples celebrated their wedding. At the end of the celebration, the Bishop blessed and enthroned the Statue of Our Lady of La Salette, and introduced the missionaries to the faithful, thus marking official the beginning of La Salette presence in this wonderful country of Tanzania. Before this, at the homily the Bishop officially announced that the new Parish will be under the patronage of Our Lady of La Salette. This decision tells all and describes the climate of warm and enthusiastic and sincere welcome (Karibu in Kiswahili) to our three Missionaries and the profound gratitude to and appreciation of our Congregation by the Diocese of Bukoba.
After lunch the festivities continued until around 6:30 with songs and dances typical of the region, and the giving of many gifts to our Missionaries among which were 7 small goats, a dozen chicken, some rabbits and a gas stove. They also offered different vestments and other sacred materials for the liturgical celebrations.
The residence which will house our confreres, constructed by the parishioners, is modest but adequate and with very welcoming atmosphere. It has electricity, but lacks running water for the moment. Each of the priests has a private room with bath and an adjacent study. There are common rooms: small parlor, a dining room, both are well ventilated, and a small kitchen, and a still empty supply room.
Foreseeing the initial difficulty of learning the language, a diocesan priest has been assigned by the Bishop to be with our confreres for a few months to help them learn the language and the culture of the people, at least until they have acquired a basic knowledge of Kiswahili. We have been very impressed and are grateful to Fr. Eric for his willingness to share his time and talents with our missionaries during this period.
In the name of the entire Congregation I would like to express my gratitude, first of all, to the three Confreres who have made themselves available to begin this new Mission, a totally new missionary experience in Tanzania. Of course our sincere gratitude goes to their Provinces of origin, Philippines and India, for having responded to the call of the General to establish this new presence of the Congregation in the Diocese of Bukoba.
As I have pointed out to them: Fr. Manuel, Fr. Dileesh, and Fr. Aldrin are not in Tanzania on their own account, but in the name of the Congregation in response to the request of the local church.
Our stay in Bukoba also gave us the opportunity to finalize and sign a contract between the Diocese of Bukoba and the Congregation that stipulates the length conditions of our presence in that local church.
I entrust the beginning and the development and growth of this new mission to the Virgin of La Salette, our patron and advocate, that she may sustain and bless this missionary endeavor of the Congregation, in this 170th anniversary of her merciful Apparition on the Holy Mountain. I also wish that the prayer of each one of us, and that of thousands of La Salette Laity spread all over the world, accompany every step of this journey and every effort of our dear confreres in the land of Tanzania. They have the sacred task of announcing the Gospel of Jesus and of making known the message of reconciliation, hope and mercy of the Beautiful Lady.
Finally, I send you the e-mail addresses of our First Missionaries in Tanzania, for you to be able to send to them your greetings, as a sign of our fraternal solidarity:
Fr. Silvano Marisa, M. S.