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Inside Tanzania’s Growing Vocations to the Priesthood

Bishops in Tanzania with some seminarians of the Nazareth Major Seminary.

The Number of young men choosing Priesthood in Tanzania is reportedly on the rise, Church leaders in the East African countries have observed while opening a Seminary that will be a home to hundreds of seminarians drawn from across the country.

Nazareth Major Seminary, which was opened by Catholic Bishops in Tanzania last December has already received over 100 Major Seminarians keen to embark on their journey of formation to the Priesthood, according to a report.

Located in Tanzania’s Kahama Diocese in the North-west of Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, the new Major Seminary is expected to make up for the lack of places in the other inter-diocesan seminaries, which are completely full, a Church official has said. 

In a Friday, January 8 Vatican News report, Fr. Leonard Maliva, Vice President of the Apostolic Union of the Clergy of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) says that the flourishing of vocations has been encouraged by the growth in the number of indigenous priests and bishops, as well as the declining number of missionaries from other countries.

“A few years ago, the Parishes were few but very large by extension, and the faithful, especially in the villages, saw the Priests once a month,” Fr. Maliva says January 8 report.

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He continues, “Now that the Priests are more numerous and more present, the children can have before their eyes the concrete example of their vocation. Evangelization has come closer to the people.”

Additionally, locals are coming out in large numbers to fill the spaces once occupied by missionaries from other countries whose numbers have declined.

This means, Fr. Maliva explains, “that the boys, having under the eyes of African Priests, have understood that even for them that path is possible. Previously it was thought that it was a path reserved for whites who came from outside”.

Notably, very young boys, many in secondary school are also expressing their interest to join the Priesthood, according to the January 8 Vatican News report. 

“Adult vocations are almost non-existent even if recently they are flourishing among university students and young graduates. A tangible sign of a Church that is ever more alive and in complete evolution,” the report indicates.

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Fr. Maliva has disclosed that that the seminary, designed to accept 500 Major Seminarians for formation will be national.

“Each Diocese will send at least four Seminarians to study here,” he says, and adds, “The structure was named after the Family of Nazareth precisely with the aim of making everyone feel as if they were at home, even if they come from other parts of Tanzania.”

Nazareth Major Seminary, which has been designed to offer both Philosophy and Theology formation will be under the leadership of Monsignor Pius Rutechura, assisted by various Priests to be appointed by the Conference of Bishops, TEC.

The new Seminary has already received 106 first-year students in Philosophy. It is estimated that after three years, the Seminary will have 480 Major Seminarians.

Those enrolled for Philosophy are expected to continue with their theological studies after completing the Philosophy courses.

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For the first three years, Monsignor Rutechura who previously headed the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) as Vice Chancellor, has reportedly asked members of TEC to support the expansion of the Seminary’s infrastructure.

Nazareth Major Seminary is in need of benches for the chapel, breviaries, piano, microphones and other infrastructure.

There is also a need to establish an administrative office and classrooms; to build a convent for Sisters who will provide services at the Major Seminary; and to erect a fence around the Seminary.