The Augustinians in 2002 celebrated their 25th anniversary of ministry in Tanzania.
The first Augustinian assignment there began on 3rd November 1977 with the arrival of two Augustinians from the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus - the "Philippines Province".
(This province is based in Spain. It was originally established there in 1575 to send Spanish members of the Order to the missions in Asia, including the Philippines).
These priests took charge of the Parish of Mahanje, Tanzania.
As well as continuing to serve there, Augustinians now have two additional Augustinian communities at Morogoro and Dar es Salaam.
Mahanje is situated in the south of Tanzania. It is 135 kilometres from Songea, the main city of the region, and about 900 kilometres from Dar es Salaam, the national capital.
Mahanje is in a mountainous zone, with areas between 800 and 1,400 metres in altitude. Its tropical climate has only two seasons a year: six months of rain and six months of drought.
The Parish of Mahanje was assigned to the Augustinians on 3rd November 1977.
It covers an area that extends for forty kilometres, and includes three other dependent areas: Madaba, Nkongotema and Rutukira. The area contains 15,000 people, of whom 10,000 are Catholic.
Stephano Msomba O.S.A. was ordained to the priesthood in Mahanje on 24th July 2003. He studied theology at the Salvatorian Institute at Morogoro, Tanzania. He has been assigned to the Muvurunza parish in Dar es Salaam.
The population is broadly distributed in small village communities that survive almost exclusively on subsistence farming (i.e., the people have to survive on whatever they can grow.)
Schooling is not generally available in the area, with a few primary schools but no secondary school.
Since 1978 Augustinian Missionary Sisters have given invaluable assistance at Mahanje by conducting a large medical dispensary, which is owned by the local Archdiocese of Songea.
The dispensary each year assists 35,000 outpatients, mainly women and children.
(Continued on the next page.)