Abbot Dionys Lindenmaier, OSB
Ndanda Abbey, Tanzania
THE STORY OF THE BENEDICTINE UNION OF TANZANIA
1. The Beginning
It all began with a letter from Sr Pia Protmann, OSB, dated 10th August, 2005. The letter read:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ and St Benedict,
Greetings from Peramiho! Abbot Lambert Doerr invited us to Peramiho for the Benedictine Workshop conducted by Fr Mark Butlin, OSB, (Ampleforth), that was held 25-31st July, 2005. At the end of the workshop all the superiors or their representatives met for a short session in order to look ahead at our common journey as the Benedictine family in Tanzania. I quote from the minutes of this meeting;
‘The members agreed together that they would like to have something similar to what Fr Mark called ‘the AMA’, the Angolan Monastic Alliance. The superiors agreed unanimously to form their own Tanzanian Benedictine Union. We agreed to look for a name for the Union in Kiswaheli. The name proposed was wa Uwabeta, meaning Umoja wabenediktini wa Tanzania. It was not confirmed as a name, but each one was given as homework to think about it. After this meeting an (executive) committee met. They planned the agenda for the coming meeting in December.’
2. The First Step: the name and new leaders
Workshop and Meeting 6-8th December, 2005, in Peramiho. During this meeting, on the 7th December, we took another name, based on the organization in South Africa called BECOSA, Benedictine Communities of Southern Africa. From them we got also our Statutes. Then we discussed again, and felt that this union would be of great importance for us in Tanzania. Therefore we all agreed and decided to create this union. We are 10 Benedictine Communities in Tanzania: Ndanda Abbey, Peramiho Abbey, Hanga Abbey, Mvima Abbey, Convent of Chipole, Convent of Ndanda and Wakaladolensi Sisters of Mafinga. We then elected our first leaders. Afterwards we decided on our name. From now on we are called BUT (Benedictine Union of Tanzania). Therefore the birthday of BUT is 7th December, 2005.
We asked all the members to pray for this union during Mass and Vespers.
By a letter dated 9th December, 2005, we also informed Archbishop Norbert Mtega about BUT, our Benedictine Union in Tanzania.
3. Further Steps: completion of the statutes of BUT
At our meetings in November 2006 and 2007 we discussed our statutes, using the statutes of BECOSA as an example. At the end of the 2007 meeting we asked Sr Redemista from Chipole, a Canonist, to re-write the statutes and send a copy to each of our communities. In 2008, for various reasons, there was no meeting, but the statutes were discussed in our communities. In 2009 we met at Ndanda, and by November 2010 we finally agreed on the statutes of BUT. It took time to reach this point, for not every member was an expert, and we had long discussions. We are grateful that we finally reached this point on 13th November, 2010.
We would like to express our thanks to AIM for all their support, and especially for sending our beloved Fr Mark to our workshops and meetings. He has been the initiator and companion of our Benedictine Union of Tanzania.