Roman Catholic Church, Harehills Road, Leeds, LS8 5HR.

St. Thomas More Parish, Itaka, Tanzania

In July 1998 St. Augustine's twinned with St. Thomas More Parish, Itaka, which is in the Diocese of Mbeya in Tanzania, East Africa. Itaka is a village almost 920km. drive west from the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, which is on the east coast.

Fr. Michael J. Kelly

The Parish Priest of St. Thomas More's is Fr. Michael Joseph Kelly. He was born and grew up in Leeds and on leaving St. Michael's College, Leeds followed a calling to the religous life and subsequently was ordained a priest with the "White Fathers". He also qualified as an achitect, a skill that he has put to good use in Tanzania. During the latter part of the 20th century, when there were enough Tanzanian priests to manage the parishes, the "White Fathers" left and Fr. Michael was given permission to become a Diocesan Priest in the Mbeya Diocese. In 1991, his bishop sent him to Itaka to start a parish there.

At that time Itaka was a very small remote village on a hill and Fr. Michael was given a hill opposite the village on the other side of the river, where he subsequently built a Church, a Parish House, a Kindergarten, a Home Crafts school, a primary school and a Secondary and Vocational Training School. The Vocational Training part of the school remains unfinished due to lack of funding. The Homecrafts School has now been converted and used as an intermediate class to prepare the students and help them improve their english before moving up to the secondary level of education.

Entrance to St. Thomas More Church, Itaka

The entrance t St Thomas More Church in Itaka

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary inside St. Thomas More Church

The entrance to St Thomas More Primary School in Itaka

Primary School yard

The inner courtyard of the Primary School

A classroom in the Primary School

One of the classrooms in the Primary School

Ariel view of the Primary School 2000

Ariel View of St Thomas More Primary School, Itaka.

Below are some of Theresa's photos she took on her visit to the Primary School in July 2007

The Secondary School in July 2007


The Parish Tanzania Group Committee

Members who have previously visited our twinned parish in Itaka, Tanzania keep the parishioners informed of developments and organise fund raising events.

The Beginning
When St. Augustine's initially twinned with St. Thomas More Parish in Itaka ,the then curate plus three parishioners went to Tanzania to visit our new sister parish. One of those parishoners was Maggie McDaid and in her own words this is how events unfolded.....

The Visit
Our first visit to Itaka, Tanzania was a very emotionally moving experience and by the time we arrived back at St Augustine's, we had already promised Fr Michael in Itaka that we would raise £20,000 to enable him to complete his new primary school in time from the millenium! It just rolled off the tongue and we set ourselves a target of two years to accomplish our promise. Well - all things seemed possible!

Fortunately with the encouragement of our own Father Michael with an appeal from the altar steps, the parish responded and our campaign began in earnest.

The campaign to raise funds for Itaka immediately enhanced the social life and activities in the parish. Parishioners responded by committing themselves to direct monthly debits and by holding anniversary, birthday and special events, where their friends donated money to our fund as gifts. There was even a parish pantomine!

Lent and Advent Stall

A stall is put up at the back of church during each Lent and Advent. We receive donations in the form of unwanted presents, unopened gifts and various other household and personal items. They never fail to keep our stall ticking over. This also lends to those people who have skills in card making and flower pot power (Christmas wreaths, garlands and other decorations). Without these people our achievements would have been greatly reduced.

Tanzania Stall at the back of Church.

Back To Itaka
In the summer of 2000, two more parishioners, Maureen Leahy and Margaret Reynolds made a follow up visit to see the completed new primary school and again St. Augustine's pledged and raised a further £20,000. This money paid for all the furniture in St. Thomas More Primary School.

In the Summer of 2007 Theresa Sheehan and her son Kevin made a visit to see the new Secondary School.

Exceeding Expectations
By the summer of 2007 the parish had raised a total of £110,000

New Ideas
New ideas for fundraising are always welcome, as well as unwanted gifts and coin jars - we are always ready to count or collect if too heavy.

To Submit any thoughts or ideas, call Maggie on 0113 269 1508 or contact Father Michael or Theresa Sheehan at St Augustine's Presbytery.