July 2012: SAN DAMIANO MISSION
This month we provide you with some history on our mission in Tanzania.
In 1998, Father Thomas Tibainuguka, Bukoba Diocese (Tanzania), was visiting Springfield and met with our Community Leadership, Sister Anne Carlino, and Stefanie Koester (who was a visiting student from Germany). He heard of the American Province’s interest of establishing Project Africa, and upon his return to Tanzania, he shared the Sisters’ interest with Bishop Nestor Timanywa. In February 1999, Sister Bernadine Gutowski, Provincial Superior, Sister Maryann Berard, missionary in Haiti, and Sister Anne visited the Bishop and almost every parish in the Bukoba Diocese. When they reached Kemondo, they were drawn to the church with the rustic San Damiano crucifix above the altar. The Sisters were reminded of St. Francis’ experience before the San Damiano Cross in which he was called to “go and repair my church.”
Making a difference
On July 28, 1999, Bishop Nestor welcomed Sister Anne and Stefanie to Kemondo, and one year later, the San Damiano Mission Kemondo was blessed and dedicated. Since that time, many projects were initiated and implemented including: healthcare services, education, spring water and public water taps, farming, teaching English, teaching adults to read and write, a latrine and playground for the community center, solar light for the church and rectory area, and refurbishing of the classrooms. Upon realizing that malaria is a bigger killer than AIDS, assistance and education was provided for people to obtain mosquito netting.
The mission has been blessed with support from the American Province and the international congregation of the Hospital Sisters. Presently, Sister Anne serves with Sisters Neera, Preethi, and Deepa (all from the Indian Region of the Hospital Sisters). The ministries of the Sisters include: providing health care and education, empowering the HIV/AIDS patients through education, healthcare, and income generating programs, and motivating the youth through seminars, health check-ups, and English classes. The Sisters are also active with events and programs of the Bukoba Diocese.
According to Sister Anne, “The primary purpose of San Damiano Mission Community as followers of St. Francis is not so much a work to be done as it is a life to be lived. This way of life is lived out as active contemplatives within the spirituality of our Franciscan charism as we live, work, and experience mutual conversion with the people.”
“Our life’s daily journey is centered on living and being in the midst of the people, sharing and witnessing the spirit of the Holy Gospel with the brotherhood and sisterhood of God’s universal family,” Sister Anne explained. “Our hope for the future rests in the growth and expansion of our African Mission for the life of our International Congregation, the Church, and the world,” she concluded.
(Cutline: Sisters Deepa, Neera, Anne, and Preethi)