Tanzania: Precious Blood Sisters mark 110 years of missionary service

 There was jubilation as songs, dances and ululations filled the air when the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood and the parishioners of Gare converged at St. Peter's Catholic Church to celebrate 110 years of missionary service in Tanzania at the Usambara Mountains. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Anthony Banzi of Tanga Diocese. Among the visitors present were priests and religious from different places and congregations, with Father Robert Kaiza of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, a congregation founded by Abbot Francis Pfanner along with the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. Bishop Anthony Banzi lit the jubilee candle, assisted by Sister Stella Marie. The candle marked 110 years of service in Tanzania since the first sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in 1898. It symbolized the light of Christ which the missionary sisters brought the people. Young girls from the area were invited to join the congregation so as to take the light of Christ to all corners of the world. The day also marked the golden jubilee of religious life of Sr Eileen Murrells, the final profession of Sr Lillian Mndolwa and the first profession of Sr Cecy Katheu. Gare Parish is a beautiful little paradise with magnificent grounds and farmland cradled in the Usambara Mountains. Everyone here was proud of the steps made since the missionaries came to Tanzania. But none can guess the hardship, toil and suffering that the pioneers endured in the beginning when most of the missionaries died due to the hostile climate and various diseases. As the Gospel of John states, "Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies it produces much fruit (12:24). Missionary work in Gare has borne much fruit. In all these struggles the missionaries did not give up but continued to be with the people of Gare for the glory of God. Many people have come to know of the Lord Jesus Christ and followed him by putting their trust in God as a result of the work of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. By the grace of God, they have been able to open other communities in Eastern Africa: in Tanzania, Kenya and Sudan. May the good Lord continue to bless the work and service of these missionary Sisters. The mission was started by the Trappist monks and in 1898 they were joined by the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. Source: Christine Masivo, for CISA

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