Our History

Village-child-e1437060850770 Mater Dei Africa was formed as a result of reflection by its founder, Fr. Mansuetus Setonga, while pursuing his Ph.D. in Economic Development at the University of Iowa in the U.S.A.

Prior to his doctoral studies, Fr. Setonga worked as the General Secretary/Chancellor and Director of Development for the Diocese of Same. During this time, he felt called by God to eradicate poverty and support the people around him.  During his fifteen years in that position, he implemented and managed hundreds of innovative poverty alleviation programs to assist the many and diverse people of Northeastern Tanzania, including women and men, Pare and Maasai, Catholic, Muslim, and traditional religions.

After completing his studies in the U.S., Fr. Setonga returned to Tanzania and incorporated Mater Dei Africa in early 2014 as a charitable organization.

Also in 2014, friends and supporters of Fr. Setonga in the U.S. created the non-profit organization Mater Dei to support and partner with Mater Dei Africa.  We continue to work closely with them to communicate development priorities and coordinate program assistance and logistics.

On January 1, 2015, Mater Dei Africa was officially inaugurated by the Right Reverend Rogarth Kimaryo, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Same.

Mater Dei Africa is the outcome of the founder’s call which is based on John 2:1-11 (wedding at Cana). It was an embarrassment for the married couple in Cana when the wedding party ran out of wine. Mary interceded with Jesus saying, “They have no wine”, a symbol of God’s blessing and a symbol of the joy that God promises. Mary’s persevering intercession encourages those who at times face difficulties in life to hope beyond hope, always trusting in the Lord’s goodness. Mary invites us to pray and work for people who are facing problems and she will intercede with her Son on behalf of mankind in the reality of their wants and needs. Further, when the wine ran out the wedding, the people did not go to the host, through Mary they went to Jesus. The miracle at Cana shows Jesus is the only one who gives the wine that brings happiness. By virtue of our baptism, Jesus has given us His spirit that enables us to wipe away all fears and instill trust, hope, and joy to our brothers and sisters.

Mater Dei Africa is a charitable organization which unites us as one community. At the wedding in Cana, Mary demonstrates her role as an intercessor. This organization takes its inspiration from Mary to address the poverty of our sisters and brothers and bring them to the relative prosperity of a better standard of living.

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