Many Bishops of Tanzania had asked the General Curia for a Franciscan fraternity and five volunteers were assigned to that country: Br. Paschal Gallagher, Br. Cornelius Smith, Br. Brian Lowdes, Br. Valerio Berloffa and Br. Ulrich Gellert. In Rome they had been advised to go to the diocese of Moshi, to carry out evangelisation activity with the Maasai. After prolonged reflection, the five Friars decided to go instead to the diocese of Rulenge, where the Bishop was supporting an experience of “integrated community” and he sent them to Katoke. Priests, religious, Sisters and laity lived together and put everything in common, following the example of the movement which was in Germany.
The new Church in Mwanza-Butimba
Meanwhile, the situation was becoming evermore difficult for Br. Brian and Br. Valerio. On the 8th September 1984 they left Katoke and went to Bukoba, where the Poor Clares and Franciscan Tertiaries were. Their presence had been “ad experimentum” for one year. They were joined, first of all, by Brian and then later by Br. Cornelius and they set up in Kasherero, where they began multiple activities. In the meeting of the Vicariate of September 1985, the members of the Council wanted all the Friars in Tanzania to come together in Kigoma for the good of all, but the Friars of Bukoba thought that it would be good to continue in Bukoba also and so the decision was postponed to the Chapter of the following year. At the time of the Chapter there were only three Friars, Br. Valerio and Br. Cornelius in Bukoba, and Br. Roy Corrigan in Kigoma, two cities which were very far from each other.The experiment of the Bishop was a failure and the misunderstandings and the difficulty of living a regular religious life caused Br. Cornelius and Br. Paschal to leave three months later and to go to Kigoma on lake Tanganika. Here the Friars began to build a new house, bigger even that foreseen, in order to be capable of receiving Postulants. The two Friars, Louis Taishi and Joseph Sato, who had worked there in 1985, soon left the place in order to go to Kenya.
Our parish is located along the shores of lake Victoria in Mwanza. It is just beautiful!
The postulancy for the whole Province is in Mwanza- Tanzania. This is the newly built
Postulancy in Ilemela Tanzania. It is actually under construction.
In 1986 there were five Friars, all in Bukoba, where the house was adapted and extended for the needs of the fraternity. Their apostolate was that of assistance to the sick in the hospital, help in the parish, assistance to the Poor Clares and accompaniment of very many young Franciscans on the part of Br. Valerio.
After the Chapter of 1989, the first Postulancy of Tanzania was opened in Kemondo, a very poor place on lake Victoria, beside an out-station and still within the diocese of Bukoba. The house was opened with Br. Giacomo Bini, who came from Rwanda, and Br. Christopher Rickman, who came from Uganda. In 1992 Br. Giacomo was elected Minister Provincial and after a few years it was preferred to close the house in Kemondo and to move the Postulants to another diocese, Mwanza, on the other side of lake Victoria, at the invitation of the local Bishop. The parish and House of Postulants is there.