Tanzania: Mass stipends for the priests of the diocese of Tunduru-Masasi

The diocese of Tunduru-Masasi lies in the far south Tanzania, on the border with Mozambique. 85% of the inhabitants in this area are Muslims, while only 11% – a little over 100,000 people – are Catholic Christians. The 19 parishes of the diocese cover a vast area in which the faithful live widely scattered, in numerous different villages.

The 34 priests and the bishop of the diocese work tirelessly to bring the sacraments to the faithful and care for them pastorally. The long distances and bad roads make their work so much harder, but in no way lessen their apostolic zeal. All their work of service is done for sheer love of God, since they receive no regular salary of any kind. Instead they rely upon the gifts of the Catholic faithful, who strive with all their hearts to support their priests, but are themselves very poor.

The offering made by the faithful represents a vital means of support for priests in many parts of the world – and not just for them personally, but for all the needs of their parishes.

This year things are more difficult than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has caused still greater poverty, and in addition only a few of the faithful now still come to church, for fear of infection, with the result that the collections are smaller than ever. During „normal“ times the people were at least able to support their priests with the food they had grown, but as if the virus were not bad enough, the harvest this year has been very poor, owing to exceptionally heavy rainfalls.

Bishop Filbert Felician Mhasi is very concerned for his priests, and so he has turned in confident trust to ACN, knowing that every year we pass on over a million Mass offerings to needy priests all over the world. Last year we were able to help 40,096 priests, who in return celebrated a total of 1,378,635 Holy Masses for the intentions of our benefactors. 38% of these were in Africa. The financial contribution made to the priest is a gesture of gratitude and support on the part of the individual Catholic for whose intentions he celebrates a particular Mass. It is in no sense to be seen as a „payment“, since the sacraments are sacred and cannot be paid for. Instead, it signifies a gesture of love that has a long tradition within the Church. But, in addition to this symbolic character, the financial offering made by the faithful represents a vital means of support for priests in many parts of the world – and not just for them personally, but for all the needs of their parishes.

We want to help Bishop Mhasi in the same way, and so we have promised Mass offerings for him and his 34 priests for a total value of 18,200 Euros – or 520 Euros per priest for an entire year. In return these priests will celebrate these Holy Masses for the intentions of the benefactors who have requested them.

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