Mashirika ya Watawa Wanaume na Wanawake

For your love is better than life, my lips will speak your praise, So I will b less you all my life, in our name I will lift up my hands. My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy.

(Psalm 62)

A panoramic Briefing on the Religious Congregations , Men and Women Religious who are part and parcel of the Family of God in Songea Archdiocese.
1. Missionary Benedictine Monks (Priests and Brothers) of the Congregation of St. Ottilien
This is the pioneer and founder Congregation of the catholic faith in our Archdiocese. They are the Benedictine Monks- Fathers and Brothers. It all started with the first two missionaries, Rev. Fr. Cassian Spiss OSB and Rev. Br. Laurent Brenner OSB. They are the first two heroes who came to the Village of Mbinga Mharule and after a short time, on 31st July 1898 moved over to and founded the first mission station on Peramiho Hill.
They started by constructing three wooden-mud and grass huts, they started learning swahili language and at the same time talking to the local people about Jesus Christ. It took them a year to get the first converts baptized. Since then, for many years up to the nineteen seventies, the Benedictine Missionaries have been the principal team of personnel for evangelization. To them we owe the foundation of almost all Parishes, The Major and Minor Seminaries,Religious Institutes and educational and health institutions and facilities. In 1928 Fr. Severin Hofbauer founded the preparatory seminary in Peramiho which later moved to Kigonsera as a minor seminary. Kigonsera later developed and gave rise to Peramiho Major Seminary, Likonde Junior Seminary, Hanga Minor Seminary and Kigonsera Secondary School .The most important Religious Institutes founded by them are the present Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of St. Agnes Chipole in 1938, and the African Benedictines Abbey of Hanga in 1957.
They also established many primary and middle schools in several Parishes. By 1967 there were 870 schools of which 126 were mission schools registered by the Government. At the Abbey in Peramiho they had established Peramiho Teachers College which later moved to Songea Teachers College, Peramiho Trade School with Workshops for tailoring, mechanics, electric installations, shoemaking, carpentry, masonry, and printing with bookbinding, a Nurses Training School and a Bookshop. Most important for the people was the establishment of the St. Joseph Hospital which is the most known in southern Tanzania up todate. They also established a leprosarium in Litisha and Morogoro villages a few kilometers west of Peramiho Abbey. Between 1898 and 1968 they had founded 51 Parishes of the then Diocese of Peramiho which in 1968 was divided into two Dioceses - Peramiho and Njombe. The following year the Diocese of Peramiho changed the name to Songea Diocese. These zealous missionaries continued to evangelize in the two Dioceses. In 1987 Songea Diocese was again divided into two by creating the new Diocese of Mbinga. The Fathers and Brothers were still forming the team of personnel in the three dioceses. By then there were 60 Fathers and 48 Brothers.
However, with time, vocations dwindled in their home country and many of the missionaries gradually advanced in age such that they had to withdraw from the Parishes and Institutions outside the Abbey of Peramiho limiting themselves to work in the institutions in and around Peramiho. By then the fall in vocations to this Congregation was compensated by the increase in the local vocations to the priesthood as well as to religious life. In 1943 Peramiho witnessed the first priestly ordinations of the first two indigineous priests: Fr. Gervas Ntara and Fr. Simon Kapinga. While the number of diocesan priests increased in all the three dioceses, the number of missionaries fell down. At present we have only one St. Ottilien Priest working as a Parish Priest, Rev. P. Benno Schneider OSB, but several others - Priests and Brothers are running and caring for our people in the various institutions in Peramiho, especially in the schools and in the hospital. As they concentrated in their life and work in the Abbey they have made one important advance in their apostolate: They started the formation of indigenous monks of St. Ottilien Congregation.
P. Benno Schneider OSB - Parish Priest of Msalaba Mkuu 2004
The fruits of their work are visible in the 11 young Brothers who have made their profession among whom one is a Priest. We have the following still active missionaries of St. Ottilien under the leadership of the present Abbot of Peramiho, Very Rev. Abbot Lambert Doer OSB:
+ Cassian Spiss OSB + Gallus Steiger OSB +Eberhard Spiess OSB Askofu Mkuu Yakobo Y. Komba
Founder Priest of Our Archdiocese and first Bishop of Dar Es Salaam First Abbot-Bishop of Our Archdiocese (1933-1952) Seccond Abbot-Bishop (1952-1969) Third Bishop of Songea
The St. Ottilien Priests are:
P. Lucius Marquardt OSB (1930), P. Y. Bosco Brunner OSB (1918), P. Gottlieb Wuerstle OSB (1926), P. Benno Schneider OSB (1925), Erich Lammering OSB (1925), P. Gottfried Rhein OSB (1931), P. Boniface Dinkel OSB (1935), P. Dieter Held OSB (1935), P. Basil Fetz OSB (1941), P. Edwin Lindner OSB (1943), P. Anastasius Reiser OSB (       ), P. Stephen Komba OSB (     ), P. Mligo OSB (    ).
The Brothers, still living among us, who have formed and built this Archdiocese are:
Br. Nonosus Bleicher OSB (1912), Br. Albert Haas OSB (1924), Br. Edgar Hein OSB (1925), Br. Kunibert Karg OSB (1930), Br. Sebastian Kainzbauer OSB (1934), Br. Meinrad Heinrich OSB (1934), Br. Polycarp Stich OSB (1934), Br. Engelbert Huth OSB (1934), Br. Dietmar Dietrich OSB (1935), Br. Ignaz Laumer OSB (1937), Br. Odo Harrer OSB (1938), Br. Dominicus Weis OSB (1942).
These Brothers are very much known in the Archdiocese for their long time services in the various workshops and departments in Peramiho Abbey which in one way or the other do support the life and various activities of the Church. Br. Nonosus Bleicher OSB is remembered for his nice work in establishing the Monastery of Hanga Abbey in its infant days. He is also known for managing the godown for flower and grain for all institutions in Peramiho. He is the oldest monk we have - our Grandfather. Brother Edgar OSB is very much known as the pillar of the Tailoring workshop for now 50 years. He has trained the best tailors in Southern Tanzania - men and women. Br. Albert Haas OSB is not only a carpenter, but a successful trainer of carpenters for furniture and for house woodwork constructions. Br. Kunibert Karg OSB has his name written on the walls of Manda Parish, Njombe Cathedral Church, Peramiho Hospital etc. He is a famous mason and planner for buildings. We are told that he started as a gardener and ended up as a mason. Bruder Sebastian Kainsbauer OSB is in the hearts of the faithful of the Parish of Msalaba Mkuu because he is the one who constructed that Church during the time of P. Suso OSB. He is now maintaining and caring for the water turbines in Likingo to ensure that energy and power are available for life in Peramiho and institutions. Our Brother Meinrad Heinrich OSB, also known as Pinzelzep is ever important for us for building and repairing our churches, for installing bells, for repairs of our various religious statutes, for repair and repainting of the inside of churches. He has a special sense and charism of color and beauty, aesthetics and symmetry. He is also known for playing harmonium and organ in the Church. The Procure of the Abbey, for almost 100 years has always been the resource point for our priests, religious and laity from almost all Parishes. There have been Brothers working very untiringly for the necessary provisions. In the finance section there is now the most known Brother Engelbert Huth OSB and for procuring materials and needs it is Brother Dietmar Dietrich OSB. Brother Polycarp Stich OSB, pupularly known as Bambo Gama is important to the Church of Tanzania as goldsmith for almost all church items, manager of the Printing Press in Peramiho, a musician as a violinist and singer in the choir, and Mngoni by adoption because of his talent of having learnt kingoni language of the natives here and for having the knowledge and feeling of the culture and history of the same local people. Brother Ignas Laumer OSB knows almost all planks, beams and rafters on the roofs of all our Churches and chapels and community houses. While Brother Albert is often in the school of the carpenters, Brother Ignas is often away in the various building sites to undertake the roofing and fitting of new buildings. And Brother Oddo Harrer OSB is everyday in the mechanical workshop to fix und unfix all screws, nuts of all the engines of our cars, motorbikes, generators, tractors, grinding mills, etc etc. He does a good job always. For the bookshop, Brother Dominic Weis OSB, is very much known. In Songea, Mbinga and Njombe Diocese he is also very much remembered because of his work of forming catechists for the church. Brother Herman Mayr OSB: from him we have learned animal husbandry and from him our people have bought cows, oxen, pigs as well as donkeys. He is the supplier as well as the trainer for animal farming.
And our Missionary Brothers who have been called back to their mother monasteries to take other tasks:
the famous Dr. Br. Ansgar Stufe OSB Directing Manager of Peramiho Hospital now chief Procurator in St. Ottilien, Br. Victor Kalberer OSB after long time service in the Mechanical Workshop is now Procurator in Uznach, Br. Arthur Grawehr OSB from whom we learnt how to produce sausages and hem is now in Uznach Procure. Together with these Fathers and Brothers from Germany there are now the young african Brothers who have joined this Congregation and are gradually taking over the work and service of these golden souls. There are now 11 perpetually professed Brothers and 15 with temporary vows. They bring the new and young blood in the Abbey. They have started to understudy their elder brothers so that they can gradually take over the various activities. In this way the work of the missionaries continues in the hands of their younger brothers.


2. Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing
The second important Religious Congregation is that of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing whose priory is in Peramiho. Both Congregations started their mission here in Tanzania and they are the pioneers. They brought our Faith here in the South of Tanzania, in particular here in Songea. The Prioress is Rev. Sr. M. Pia Portmann OSB. As it is with the Congregation of the Fathers and Brothers, the majority of the founder sisters are now in an advanced age. But the Congregation has had the fortune of getting local vocations. We have now 28 indigenous sisters and 22 founder sisters. This Institute of the Benedictine Missionary Sisters of Tutzing has been founded by the same person who founded the Missionaries of St. Ottilien, namely, the Reverend P. Amrhein OSB. They first came to Tanzania in 1888 in Pugu, Dar Es Salaam. In 1901 they came to Peramiho (28 Km west of Songea) and started working together with the missionary Father Cassian Spiss and Brother Laurent Brenner. They were fully involved in the catechetical work of preparing catechumens for the sacraments, in teaching religion and in the various social services for the poor as well as in schools and health services. Just now you will see them first in Peramiho St. Scholastica Priory, in Peramiho Hospital, in Morogoro Leprosarium, in Peramiho Girls School. They are intending to come to work in Mjimwema Parish in Songea in the near future.


3. The African Benedictines of Hanga
A local Congregation of men religious numbering about 126 monks who are professed. The Abbey is about 45 km north east of Songea. It was founded in 1957 by the late +Eberhard Spiess OSB the then Bishop and Abbot of Peramiho. It is a Community of Monks which has managed to do a lot of things on its own, thus bringing them to maturity. As Monks one admires how they are keen to a well ordered Liturgy. They are also experts in many handworks including carpentry, plumbering, tailoring, masonry, mechanical services etc. They have a Minor Seminary from Form One to Form Four, a public Secondary School for boys and girls, an excellent Kindergarten which is being promoted into an English medium Primary School. While the majority are religious Brothers, yet the number of clergy in the Congregation is increasing. The Monastery grew from a simple House, to a simple Priory, to a Conventual Priory, and in 1996 they got the first Abbot, Very Reverend Abbot Alcuin Nyirenda, and this year, on 14th January 2004 they had elections again and got their second Abbot in the person of Very Reverend Abbot Thadei Mhagama OSB. They have good vocations.