Tanzanian priest is parochial vicar for Sts. Peter and Paul

Friday, Sep. 20, 2013
Tanzanian priest is parochial vicar for Sts. Peter and Paul + Enlarge
Father Alois Sasati Magige
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

WEST VALLEY CITY — Father Alois Sasati Magige is the new parochial vicar at Saints Peter and Paul Parish in West Valley City.

Born and raised in Tanzania, Fr. Magige attended Mass with his parents, and knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a priest.

"Because I was not even in school, [my mother] thought I was joking," said Fr. Magige.

That desire never left him. He finished elementary school, then attended a secular private school and from there applied to go to the seminary.

His mother was very supportive of his choice, but his father was opposed to the idea of him becoming a priest.

"He said to me, ‘Are you out of your mind? ... You are supposed to go to the university.’ But I went to the seminary even though my dad was not appreciative of that," said Fr. Magige.

His father’s disapproval bothered him, so one day, while the older man was preparing to attend Mass, Fr. Magige entered his room and asked why he went to Mass. When his father asked him why he wanted to know, Fr. Magige answered, "Because when you go to church you need a priest there and I want to become a priest, so I think you’d better not go to church today."

His father did go to church that day, but when he came back he told his son that he accepted his decision to become a priest.

Fr. Magige was ordained by the Right Rev. Bishop Justin Samba on July 2, 2005 in Musoma, in the Mara Region of Tanzania, at the Apostolic Life Community of Priests.

"To become a priest is not an individual decision; it is a vocation," Fr. Magige said.

For his first eight years as a priest he served as an associate pastor and chaplain at various parishes and a school in Tanzania.

His invitation to come to Utah came one day while he was walking to his parish in Tanzania. His bishop asked him if he would be willing to move to the United States, and Fr. Magige, a missionary priest, agreed to start his new journey on a different continent.

"I feel good to be able to teach the people, to be there for them when they have problems and to help them resolve them," said Fr. Magige, who arrived in Utah in February. He was assigned as parochial vicar of Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in Helper, and in August transferred to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish.

As a priest in Utah, Fr. Magige said he wants to walk with the community and the pastor, he said.

"I want to listen to them and understand them, and basically be there for everything they need," said Fr. Magige.

One of his parishioners is helping him adapt to life in the U.S.

"I am used to driving on the left, and here we drive on the right.... Claudia helped me with my driving, but at the beginning she used to tell me, ‘Father, you are going to kill me,’" he said, laughing.

"But these times are not easy. There are a lot of challenges. … People are moving with the world, which is fast. I want people to rely especially on the Bible, to use it as a tool to solve their problems," said Father Magige, adding that he is grateful to God and to the Holy Spirit for his priesthood. "It’s a great thing my vocation came from my heart."

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