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“Being Bishop is a mission, not an honor”: Tanzanian Archbishop to Newly Ordained Bishops

Bishop Henry Mchamungu (left) and Bishop Stephano Musomba (right). Courtesy Photo

The Episcopal ministry is a call to a mission of witnessing the Gospel, and not a call to status, two newly ordained Bishops in Tanzania have been told.

In his homily during the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Henry Mchamungu and Bishop Stephano Musomba who were appointed as Auxiliary Bishops in Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam   Archdiocese on July 7, Archbishop Jude Thaddeaus Ruwa'ichi underscored the need for Bishops to imitate Jesus Christ who “devoted himself to his people.”

“Being a Bishop is a mission, not an honor and it is not a title,” Archbishop Ruwa'ichi said during the Tuesday, September 21 Eucharistic celebration.

The mission begins with “laying on of hands” and continues with “testimony of life” the Tanzanian Archbishop said. 

“In the second reading, we see Paul and his student Timothy. Paul urges Timothy to kindle the power, the spirit and the grace bestowed upon him by the laying on of hands,” the Tanzanian Archbishop said in reference to St. Paul’s letter to Timothy.

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He continued, “Paul urges Timothy to kindle it by the testimony of life, to kindle it by preaching, to kindle it by proclaiming, living and witnessing the good news.”

The message of St. Paul to Timothy, Archbishop Ruwa'ichi said, “applies to these two who will be ordained Bishops.” 

He encouraged the two new Bishops to continue following Christ as their example saying, “Jesus devoted himself to his people. He gives of himself for the salvation and prosperity of his people. He knows his people and cares about them. He is ready to die for them. He knows them and is ready to give hope to his sheep or his people.”

“Our vocations are the fruit of God's love and mercy. The same is true of our two nominees who will be ordained Bishops; they were not called out because of their merits; they were not called because of their talents; they have been called by Christ to the love and mercy of Christ and have been appointed to serve His true plan,” the member of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM Capuchin) said during the September 21 event.

The Tanzanian Archbishop called upon the people of God to pray for the new Auxiliary Bishops “to remain firm” even in the face of challenges in their episcopal ministry. 

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“They need your prayers so that they will stand firm at the right time and at the wrong time. Let them stand firm in joy and trouble. Be determined to proclaim Christ our Lord and Saviour,” he said.  

Bishop Mchamungu, 56, was ordained a Priest for the Archdiocese of Dar-es-Salaam in June 1994. 

The Bishop who has been assigned the titular see of Tanaramusa holds a Licentiate and Doctorate in Canon Law from the Kenya-based Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) and the Katholische Privat-Universität Linz in Austria respectively. 

As a Priest, Bishop Mchamungu served in various positions including Secretary of the Legal Commission of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), President of the Inter-diocesan Tribunal and a Formator at St. Charles Lwanga Major Seminary in Segerea in Tanzania.

Meanwhile, 51-year-old Bishop Musomba who was ordained alongside Bishop Mchamungu has been a Priest since July 2003.

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The member of the Order of Saint Augustine (OSA) who has been assigned the titular see of Perdices has previously served as a Parish Priest, Formator and Secretary of the Tanzanian delegation of the Augustinians. 

In his message during the September 21 event, Bishop Mchamungu reached out to members of TEC asking for guidance saying, “The Bishops have experience in this mission as shepherds in the Church. They have welcomed us to their rank by laying hands on us. I ask them to help us as Bishops so that we can work well with them. We are ready to partner with them in this ministry.”

He added, “We ask our leader, the Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, to welcome us in our infancy,” Bishop Mchamungu further said, and added, “We promise to cooperate with him as Auxiliary Bishops.”

He called upon the Clergy serving in Dar-es-Salaam Archdiocese to foster collaborate saying, “I ask for your cooperation. The Bishop's work will be easier if Priests cooperate.”

The newly ordained Bishop also reached out to the people of God, seeking for spiritual solidarity “so that we may live up to the oath.”

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“Pray for me so that I may be faithful to the Church and to the Holy Father, so that I may fulfill the responsibilities as a Bishop and also so that I may maintain the unity of the Church and the property of the Church,” Bishop Mchamungu said. 

On his part, Bishop Musomba also sought for spiritual solidarity from the people of God.

“You have encouraged us and now we are going to work. And when we go to work, it is not a job of politics, it is a work of service. For that reason, we ask for your prayers,” Bishop Musomba said. 

He added, “Praying is not just about kneeling, but also living in a way that will give us the strength and ability to do this apostolic work.”