Catching up with international fundraiser beneficiaries
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church supports construction of Tanzanian convent
By Sandra A. M. Steiner
The article “Local church lends an international hand,” published Dec. 26, 2014, on hubcitytimes.com, detailed “Cooking Up a Convent,” the first fundraising effort by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church for construction of a convent for the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa (SOLQA) in Mwanza, Tanzania.
A new family to St. John’s met Sister Sabina Kabuga in Portland, Oregon, where she was staying after completing her master’s degree in geography at SUNY-Binghamton, at Binghamton, New York, before returning to Tanzania.
When she visited Marshfield in July 2014, Kabuga won the hearts of St. John the Baptist Parish. She spoke of the great hardship that she and her colleague Sister Editruda Mbegu endured in their two-room hut as they forged a new presence for the SOLQA in the northern Tanzanian Diocese of Mwanza, where they each have a teaching load of 300-500 students at St. Augustine University. The sisters serve the poorest of the poor in rural Tanzania, also running a girls school and health care center and providing social services and pastoral care.
Donations flooded in, and $15,000 was raised by September 2014. The subsequent “Cooking up a Convent” cookbook sales, the Marshfield Parish Tractor Pull, numerous efforts by the St. John’s Parish Council of Catholic Women, and other fundraisers brought the total to $76,000, which was sent to the sisters by October 2015.
In spring 2015 the sisters named the structure the Divine Mercy Convent, and eventually — less than 18 months after Kabuga’s visit to Marshfield — more than $100,000 had been raised. The sisters remain trustworthy stewards of the funds, sending pictures and updates on progress with every donation.
St. John’s Parish is planning a trip to Tanzania to visit the sisters in July 2017 and to discuss where they next need the parish’s help.
Mbegu wrote this past October, “Tell people of St. John the Baptist Parish that (they) have joined our family of Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa.”
Kabuga wrote in March 2016, when the construction was almost finished, “I wish to express our heartfelt gratitude for your ongoing utmost support in financing our building Divine Mercy Convent. This assistance is for us a warm and bright ray of light, representing good and caring people who are attentive to the needs of others.”
The sisters were able to complete the main house this summer so that they could have the convent commissioned by Archbishop Thadeus Ruwaichi of the Diocese of Mwanza on Oct. 25, 2016. Four sisters live there now, and more will move in this month. An additional structure for visiting sisters and other guests is not complete as it lacks water and electrical systems, toilets, showers, doors, and furniture, all of which could be completed for an estimated $5,000.
To donate to this project, make a check out to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, and put “Divine Mercy Convent” in the memo line. St. John’s is located at 201 W. Blodgett St., Marshfield, WI 54449, or call St. John’s at 715-384-9565, ext. 2.