The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers began missionary work in Africa in 1946. Initially working in Tanganyika (now known as Tanzania), the work soon expanded into Kenya, as well. In the intervening years, missions were opened in Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique, Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Namibia. As of 2010, there are 36 Maryknoll priests and Brothers serving in Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
The early work of Maryknoll focused on primary evangelization, establishing parishes, building schools and clinics, and proclaiming the Word of God in places where it had never been heard. Maryknoll founded the dioceses of Shinyanga and Musoma in Tanzania and built many of the churches and rectories there. Nowadays, there is less need for construction work, but the pastoral needs of the faithful are ever increasing. The African people have enthusiastically embraced Christianity, and the Catholic Church is growing faster in Africa than on any other continent in the world. In response to this spiritual need, Maryknollers continue to serve as pastors, preachers, and sacramental agents in both rural and urban settings. Our mission work is enriched by collaborating with others who come to Africa in mission, including the Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and short-term volunteers.
Sadly, Africa is also the poorest continent, so Maryknollers are responding to the suffering of the poor in a variety of ways. Providing education and health services are two major endeavors, as well as improving access to clean water and offering famine relief in times of drought. The AIDS pandemic has affected everyone in Africa, and several Maryknollers play significant roles in leading the Church’s efforts in prevention and in giving assistance to the infected and their families. Ministry to youth, who comprise over half of the population, takes place in youth centers in cities, towns, and villages. Proclaiming the Good News to the poor is further advanced through the communication ministries of some Maryknoll Missioners who work in video, radio, print, and web media.
The Maryknoll priests and Brothers, who serve in Africa tend to be a happy family – because the joy of the African people with whom they live and work is remarkably infectious! Liturgies are exuberant with song and dance, and daily life is filled with laughing and friendly people. The Africans truly welcome Maryknollers with all their hearts and appreciate our presence among them. We witness the face of God in them, and hopefully they see a glimpse of God in us. The needs in Africa remain great and the thirst for the Gospel is strong. Missionaries are desperately needed and wanted. Join us – come and see!
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