KAGERA:DEPUTY Prime Minister Dr Dotto Biteko has appealed to Tanzanians to safeguard the prevailing peace and avoid being divided based on religious differences.
Equally, he commended the Catholic Church in Tanzania for supporting the government efforts in improving various services in the country including education, health, water and infrastructure development.
He made the remarks yesterday during the consecration of Bukoba Catholic Diocese Bishop Jovitus Mwijage, where he presided over as Chief Guest, representing President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan.
“The government highly commends the Catholic Church in Tanzania for supporting government efforts through various sectors including education, health, water and infrastructure development. Besides preaching faith, you have also moulded many Tanzanians to become good citizens. These efforts should be commended,” he said.
Dr Biteko, explained that he is also among fruits of the church since he received his university education at the Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT)…. adding… “I feel honoured to witness this occasion where the Bukoba Catholic Diocese has celebrated the ordination of Bishop Mwijage after a 50-year period had elapsed,” he said.
He said common challenges facing the nation will be conquered through close cooperation, justice, freedom, peace and brotherhood.
He commended Bishop Mwijage for his appointment while also commending Bishop Desiderius Rwoma and Auxiliary Bishop Methodius Kilaini, the Apostolic Administrator for Bukoba Diocese who have both retired, for his good work.
Vatican Ambassador to Tanzania Archbishop Angelo Accattino, on the other hand, hailed the reciprocal cooperation between the Tanzania government and the Catholic Church. He conveyed greetings on behalf of Pope Francis, wishing Bishop Jovitus Mwijage success in leading the diocese.
Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Ms Fatma Mwassa hailed the church for the efforts in providing social services to all people in various sectors including health, education and water. She congratulated Bishop Mwijage for his new appointment while also noting that Kagera regional authorities will continue providing the needed assistance to enable him to execute his duties.
“On behalf of the government I commend the Catholic Church for supporting government efforts in various sectors including health, education, water and social services. The contribution has greatly improved people’s lives,” she said.
She also appealed to all Tanzanians to maintain unity and work hard by doubling production of food and cash crops.
“The Catholic Church has, for quite a long time, been supporting government efforts in improving key sectors including health, education, water and social services. You have constructed Designated District Hospitals (DDH). Also, through your schools including Ntugamo Major Seminary, Rubya Seminary, Katoke Seminary, Rugambwa Girls and Hekima Girls’ secondary schools, many Tanzanians graduated and are now serving in various government institutions as doctors, judges, engineers and lawyers,” Ms Mwassa said.
Adding… “I extend my warm greeting to Bishop Mwijage for his appointment. For quite a long time, the regional authorities have been working closely with the church through Auxiliary Bishop Methodius Kilaini in the implementation of various people-oriented projects. We assure bishop Mwijage of continued cooperation,” he said.
TEC President Archbishop Gervase Nyaisonga, on his part, thanked Vatican that enabled all the 35 dioceses in Tanzania to have own bishops.
Cardinal Protase Rugambwa consecrated Fr Jovitus Francis Mwijage (57) as the new bishop for Bukoba Catholic Diocese, replacing Bishop Deziderius Rwoma who has retired.
Fr Mwijage was consecrated as bishop by Cardinal Rugambwa at the Kaitaba Stadium in a colourful event that attracted a big number of guests both from Tanzania and other countries.
Bishop Mwijage was born on December 2, 1966 in Missenyi District’s Ishozi Village. He was ordained as a priest on July 20, 1997, and served at several parishes, as well as a formation teacher at Rubya Seminary.
He obtained his PhD degree in 2012 at the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. Until his appointment, Fr Jovitus Mwijage was the National Executive Director of the Association of Diocesan Priests of Tanzania (UWAMATA) and a member of the Regional Council of Seminaries and the International Economic Committee of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
He has authored several books, including “400 Years of the Founding of the Congregation of the Propagation of Faith,” “The Catholic Evangelisation of Kagera (presently Dioceses of Bukoba, Rulenge –Ngara and Kayanga) in NorthWest Tanzania” and “Catholic Religion (Faith) Takes Root 1929 to 1951.”
The Bukoba Catholic Diocese was founded by the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) in 1882 and was erected as the Vicariate Apostolic of Kagera Inferiore on December 13, 1951.
It was elevated to the Diocese of Rutabo on March 25, 1953, with the late Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa being appointed the first African bishop to lead the diocese until December 19, 1968, when he was appointed Archbishop of Dar es Salaam,” he said.
Other bishops who have led the Bukoba diocese include the late Placidus Gervasius Nkalanga, O.S.B. (March 6, 1969 to November 26, 1973), the late Nestorius Timanywa (November 26, 1973 to January 15, 2013) and Desiderius M Rwoma (15 January 2013 to October 1, 2022).