In accordance with the decision of the General Chapter of 1969, Mother M. Gertrud, Superior General, tried to establish a mission station. Having no experience in this area, the Congregation contacted the Salvatorian Order, which was active in Africa. As a result, in September 1971, the Missionary Bishop Father Arnold Cotey from Tanzania visited the Generalate. He was accompanied by the Mission Procurator of the Salvatorians and an Assistant General of that Order. It was agreed that the sisters of Mary Immaculate could come to Kilimarondo to a Salvatorian mission station belonging to Bishop Cotey’s Diocese of Nachingwea. Kilimarondo was south of the equator. The place was surrounded on three sides by not very high mountains. Compared to other areas of the country, it had the advantage that sufficient drinking water was available. The mission station consisted of a church, two mission houses, farm buildings, a boarding school and a catechist’s house. It had also owned a school and hospital, but these had recently been taken over by the state.
Opinion about the sisters was divided in the Nachingwea Diocese. Some priests said they weren’t needed.
Opening in Kilimarondo
The first two sisters arrived in Tanzania in December 1972. They spent Christmas with a community of sisters in Dar es Salaam and began work in Kilimarondo on December 28, 1972, where the parish was overseen by an African priest. On February 18, 1973, a third sister followed. One of the missionaries had prepared for the mission at the Catholic University in Lublin with language courses in English and Swahili and other courses. The other two sisters did the language course in Tanzania.
The sisters lived in a massive one-story building that was part of the Salvatorian Mission. Such a house was unusual locally, as the population lived in mud huts. Each sister had her own room upstairs; a fourth room served as a guest room. The house had electric lights, running water and sewerage. The sisters slept under mosquito nets, which were also supposed to keep out any crawling vermin.
Areas of work
The sisters also worked in Africa in the classic areas of work for the congregation. A sister taught religion and handicrafts in the school and gave sewing lessons to the women. Another sister looked after the outpatients, the sacristy and the church laundry. The third sister taught women home economics and mentored the African workers. During the 1970s, a kindergarten was set up on the ward. Some distance from the station a house was built in the bush to serve as a sewing school for the women who lived near it.
Bishop Arnold Cotey was very pleased with the sisters of Mary. There were plans to take over another station at a Salvatorian work site. However, there were too few sisters in Africa. In 1978 there were only two sisters in Kilimarondo.
The cast was too small. Because the situation was equally unfavorable in the second branch in Nanjota, which opened in 1976, the interim chapter in Rome in 1978 spoke out in favor of ending the missionary work. However, only a general chapter could make the necessary decision. However, the next general chapter in 1981 decided to continue the mission in Tanzania despite the personnel difficulties. In the mid-1980s there were three sisters in Kilimarondo again.
In the 1980s more and more young African women showed interest in the Congregation. Bishop Pengo also advocated an African novitiate. In 1984, the intermediate chapter first decided to set up a longer postulate in Kilimarondo, since local priests worked here, which was helpful for the local young girls.
Since then, looking after the candidates has become an important task for the Kilimarondo branch. In 1988 there were already 20 candidates here. A new house was completed that year for them to live in. They were partly self-sufficient by growing corn and rice.
However, Kilimarondo was unsuitable as a location for the novitiate, being more than 100 kilometers from the nearest major town of Nachingwea; the road was extremely bad even by African standards and impassable in the rainy season. Therefore, the novitiate was opened in 1990 in the second site Nanjota.
On December 31, 1991, the Kilimarondo branch was closed. The Superior General placed the house that had been built for the candidacy at the bishop’s disposal.
Aldona Plazek 28.12.1972 –
Consulate Wilma 05.03.1976 –
Innocencia Luks 06/01/1986 – 1991
(Johannes Mertens, “Geschichte der Kongregation der Marienschwestern von der Unbefleckten Empfängnis“, t. 2, s. 622-624).