African priest accepts unique assignment


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Fr. Hatungimana

Father Denis Hatun­gimana of Tanzania looks forward to putting into practice his new Master of Organi­zational Leader­ship de­gree in a unique assignment for the Dio­cese of Daven­port that includes ministering to French-speaking Africans.

Bishop Thomas Zinkula has assigned Father Hatungimana as parochial vicar of Divine Mercy Parish, Burlington, and St. Mary Parish, Dodgeville, with assistance to St. Mary Parish, Iowa City, and Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish, Muscatine.

The priest graduated Dec. 18 from St. Ambrose University in Davenport where in four years he earned his bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree while living at diocesan headquarters (read his story in the Dec. 16 issue, https:// tinyurl. com/53wcz8s4).


Bishop Zinkula said of the assignment, “I am aware that in the past few years, there has been an influx of French-speaking African Catholics into the Iowa City and Muscatine areas. Father Denis himself speaks French, among other languages. And, with a brand new degree in organizational leadership, it seemed like a good idea for him to give some attention to this population. What are their numbers, demographics, needs and desires? Collaborating with the two pastors, Father Denis will use the knowledge he acquired at St. Ambrose University and the information he gleans in getting to know this group of Catholics to help us determine how the diocese can better serve them.”

Father Hatungimana’s assignment provides an opportunity to participate in Optional Practical Training, which applies to international students under F1 Visa status who pursue employment in areas related to their academic field of study. “Optional Practical Training (OPT) experiences are usually pursued by a student upon degree completion. Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT. For students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field, this authorization can be extended for an additional two years for a total of three years of work authorization,” he said.

“I feel so much humbled to get this opportunity to serve the people of God of these parishes and to apply my leadership skills in a real working environment,” Father Hatung­imana said. “As Jesus told his disciples, ‘whoever wants to be a leader among you, must be your servant’ (Mark 10:43). So, I take this assignment with a humble heart, that is, as an assignment of service and stewardship.”

He looks forward to applying the organizational leadership skills he learned during his studies. The coursework included leadership theory, conflict management, strategic planning, and communication in organizations, leading change, servant leadership and organizational behavior. Other leadership skills he learned focused on managing across cultures, leading with an open mind and heart, emotional intelligence, a brain-adaptive leadership approach, leading people during the pandemic, humble inquiry, and dialogical skills.

The knowledge he gained “fits well with what I am going to do in those parishes,” he said, and will help “meet the needs of the people that I will be serving during this Optional Practical Training period.”

Afterwards, he will return to the Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara in Tanzania to apply his education and experiences and to help foster “more of a global ministry.”

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3 thoughts on “African priest accepts unique assignment

  1. I’m very proud of him and thanks to God that he was one of my first fomator during my propadeutic year to Priestly Device. Go father D Go Father and be sure of our prayers

  2. I’m very proud of him and thanks to God that he was one of my first fomator during my propadeutic year to Priestly service. Go father D Go Father and be sure of our prayers

  3. I really appreciate his courageous spirit on forming future priest and spiritual guidance. This is deep rooted from his humbleness, moral authority and pastoral zeal.I am praying for him due to great responsible mission put before him in the near future!!☺️

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