Mission at Kiberge, Diocese of Ifakara, Tanzania
At Kiberege where around 105 years ago, the first missionaries arrived and initiated the evangelization of the area is our new mission in the diocese of Ifakara, Tanzania. But strong communities of other religions there chased the first missionaries away. During the course of a century, though little by little the number of Catholic migrants from other areas have increased, even to today Kiberge remains without even a prayer hut. As it is the mother church of the diocese, it is of high spiritual importance for the local church and a holy place for the believers. It is centrally located on a road of very great national importance (in future, at present there is only a mud road going through the headquarters of both Ifakara and Mahenge diocese) going to the Southern end of the State and to the neighboring country, Zambia. It is nearly 29 kilometers away from our first mission, Msolwa, and our second mission, Milola, is around 50 kilometers still ahead.
An attempt was made to celebrate the centenary of the arrival of the first missionaries, but with little success, due to the political conditions prevailing then. However to mark the centenary of the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries, the diocese has erected a crucifix on the hillock. The village has around 3000 Catholics and apparently a slightly higher number of Muslims.
After his first visit to India, Bishop Salutaris Libena, Bishop of Ifakara, recalling the special history, requested the Missionaries of Compassion to open a new mission at Kiberege and to establish a shrine of our Blessed mother, especially with the view to strengthen the faith and Christian life of the people and to foster missionary spirit. Since the middle of August, our missionaries have been working for the realization of the project. However, unlike a century ago, ours was a very silent welcome, marked with a certain amount of dispraise and perhaps a bit of occult threat.