Tanzanian Cardinal Emphasizes Joy, Gratitude, Prayer as National Major Seminary Prepares Centenary Celebrations

Protase Cardinal Rugambwa during the graduation of 40 Major Seminarians at St. Paul’s Senior Seminary of Theology, Kipalapala, in Tanzania’s Catholic Archdiocese of Tabora. Credit: ACI Africa

The celebrations of 100 years since St. Paul’s Senior Seminary of Theology, Kipalapala, in Tanzania’s Catholic Archdiocese of Tabora should be realized in joy, thankfulness, and in a spirit of prayer, the Local Ordinary of the Tanzanian Metropolitan See has said.

The launching of the Centenary Jubilee of St. Paul's Kipalapala Senior Seminary (1925-2025) on 23 January 2024. Credit: ACI Africa

Protase Cardinal Rugambwa made the appeal Thursday, June 6 at the Catholic Institution of Theology, where he presided over the graduation of 40 Major Seminarians, who had completed their four-year studies in Theology and formation to Holy Orders.

Credit: ACI Africa

“We are living within the celebrations of 100 years since this Seminary was established in 1925,” Cardinal Rugambwa said in his speech, and referring to the January 23 event added that preparations for the culmination of the Centenary Jubilee event in 2025 were already launched.


While Catholic media entities may have a variety of topics setting their agenda, the centenary celebrations of the establishment of St. Paul’s Kipalapala Senior Seminary should not be overlooked, he said.

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The Tanzanian Cardinal since November 2023 went on to highlight some three key points he said he had gathered from stage performances of the Seminarians in their farewell messages to colleagues completing their Seminary formation a little earlier.

“Among the many messages in the drama and poems, I noted the emphasis on the spirit of prayer,” he said, and emphasized, “Prayer is a priority; before all else, we accompany those graduating from here with prayers.”

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The Cardinal also recalled the appeal that the 40 Seminarians completing their Seminary formation practice the values gained during their years in the Seminary, imploring that “they be our very good ambassadors”, initially as Deacons and later as Priests.

The need for the 40 Seminarians to pay keen attention to ongoing formation is essential, he further said, adding that the end of their Seminary formation marks the beginning of another journey of service to the people of God.

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“Let us remain thankful to God for the many graces He has granted us and continue to praise Him,” Cardinal Rugambwa said in his speech.

Earlier, in his homily, the Local Ordinary of Tabora drew inspiration from the Readings of the day to explain the need for joy, gratitude, and prayer as the 40 Seminarians graduate and the Seminary lives through its Centenary Jubilee to conclude next year. 


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The ten lepers experienced joy after Jesus Christ healed them, but only one returned to the healer to give thanks, the native of Tanzania’s Catholic Diocese of Bukoba, who was ordained a Priest for the country’s Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara in September 1990 said referring to Luke 17:11-19.

The ten lepers experienced joy after they realized they had been healed, but only one of them made the decision to return to the Lord and express his gratitude, he said, adding that Jesus acknowledged with appreciation the faith of the leper, who then received salvation in addition to the physical healing.

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“Let our gratitude be accompanied by a joyful heart as well as a spirit of prayer and supplication,” Cardinal Rugambwa further said, adding that the source of joy and gratitude for the day has been realized because of the sacrifice of the 40 Seminarians, who responded to the call of God to be at His service. 

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Thanksgiving needs to be guided not by externals of the law, but rather by internal promptings, he said, and advocating for a proactive attitude in life, added, “We don’t have to be told; let us have a self drive; let’s be driven by love and God’s wisdom.”

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“Let’s accomplish all through the guidance of God’s grace and wisdom that St. Paul explains in his letter to the Colossians,” he said, referring to the Second Reading (Colossians 3:1-17) in which St. Paul asks the Colossians to rid themselves of their old selves that was characterized by evil practices, and instead put on their new selves, and be a thankful people.

“It would be a cause for concern and disappointment if those completing their formation here would abandon the values gained from this institution and went on to follow strange practices that are inconsistent with what the formators and the various people they encountered during their Seminary years taught them,” he said.

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“We want to thank God for His graces upon our Seminarians completing their Priestly studies for responding to God’s call,” the Cardinal reiterated, adding that the joy of the day is justified by the fact that positive change has taken place in the life of each of the Seminarians.

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In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of their graduation, two of the 40 finalists described June 6 as a culmination of a long journey and expressed gratitude to God and companions along the way.

The graduation of the fourth year Seminarians, “who came here in 2020 and today in 2024, are graduating” marks “a day of gratitude,” Seminarian Wilbroad Wagi of Tanzania’s Catholic Diocese of Mahenge said.

Seminarian Wilbroad Wagi (left) and Seminarian David Wiranga (right). Credit: ACI Africa

Seminarian Wilbroad added that it was a day of “gratitude to God for what he has done for us; we are here to thank Him and thank our formatters and all who have contributed to this journey.”

Seminarian Wilbroad Wagi. Credit: ACI Africa

David Wiranga , a Seminarian from the Catholic Diocese of Musoma described the graduation event as “incredibly wonderful”, being a culmination of the journey they started in 2016 as Seminarians.

Seminarian David Wiranga. Credit: ACI Africa

Making an end of a very long journey and so we are preparing ourselves for the diaconate and priesthood for those early orders. So today is the day of giving thanks to God and to all who have assisted us in our formation.

Seminarian David Wiranga. Credit: ACI Africa

The two Seminarians said they found the homily of Cardinal Rugambwa “very relevant” and appropriate and that their hearts were full of gratitude.

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They called upon the people of God to continue supporting Seminarians in Africa through spiritual solidarity and in ways that that can enrich their self-giving to God’s service.

“Quality is better than quantity; so, our supporters and the whole Church should strive, especially here in Africa and all around the world, to make sure that the vocations are fed and are nurtured so that we can have good pastors for the church,” Seminarian David told ACI Africa. 

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He called upon those in Africa, who have received the calling to serve God as Clergy and/or Religious to be available to minister in other parts of the world that need Priestly and missionary services.

Asked about memories of the years of Seminary life, Seminarian Wilbroad recalled the departure of colleagues, saying, “We were 44 when we came here. But today ultimately, we are 40. So, four of us have been shown another way but we are grateful that God has assisted us to this day.”

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The departure of colleagues from the Seminary was always met with “mixed feelings”, Seminarian David told ACI Africa, adding that on one hand, there was sorrow, and on the other hand, “we can say it's a plan of God”, who called them to “represent Him in a special way in other places.”

In his homily, Cardinal Rugambwa thanked the formators, other Seminarians, and all those who have journeyed with the 40 graduating Seminarians “in one way or another” to confirm their divine calling, including “others who seem hidden but do a lot.”

Protase Cardinal Rugambwa and Rector, Fr. Herman Kachema. Credit: ACI Africa

The Cardinal, who took possession of his titular see, Santa Maria in Montesanto, on February 18, went on to highlight the virtue of patience and the practice of forgiveness as important in the life of the 40 Seminarians, adding that during their four years of formation at St. Paul’s Major Seminary, they should have learned even much more, bringing into their lives positive change.

Still drawing inspiration from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, he emphasized the need for the 40 Seminarians to put on love as an essential bond, and implored, “May we be guided by the spirit of wisdom, the wisdom of God Himself.”

“Let’s pray for these, our brothers (the 40 Seminarians), that God’s Word of wisdom may dwell with them for eternity, guiding their lifestyle into the future after leaving this Major Seminary,” he implored.

The Cardinal further implored, “May we all, living under the influence of love, be guided by the same Word of wisdom, who is God Himself, enabling us to get through challenging situations, including reaching out to others in teaching and practising forgiveness.”

In his speech during the June 6 graduation event, the Rector of St. Paul’s Kipalapala Major Seminary thanked various stakeholders of the Catholic institution that he said has Seminarians from at least 30 Dioceses of the East African nation and two Religious Congregations.

Fr. Herman Kachema, Rector St. Paul’s Senior Seminary of Theology, Kipalapala, in Tanzania’s Catholic Archdiocese of Tabora. Credit: ACI Africa

While the Seminary prepares to celebration 100 years of existence, the current Seminarian population of some 311 Seminarians is the highest, a situation he said comes with infrastructural challenges that need to be addressed.

The 311 Seminarians are being served by 14 Priests as formators, he further said, adding that while the number of Seminarians has doubled over the years, that of formators has only increased by just about 20 percent.

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On his part, Ezekiel Boyo, the Seminarian leader at St. Paul’s Kipalapala Seminary also thanked various stakeholders, who facilitated the success of the 40 Seminarians, highlighting the mixed feelings that he said characterized the day: happy for contributing potential ministers to the Church; and sad that they must adjust to the absence of their 40 colleagues.

Leader of Seminarians at St. Paul's Kipalapala National Senior Seminary of Theology, Ezekiel Boyo. Credit: ACI Africa

The 40 Seminarians, who graduated on June 6 are set to return to their respective Dioceses on June 28, where they are to follow a planned schedule that would culminate in their ordination, first as Deacons and later as Priests.

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