Irish Missionary Reflects on African Ministry

For 43 years, Palottine Father Dan Noud has lived with 15-foot snakes, deadly ants, killer bees and the constant fear of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Tanzania, East Africa. The Irish-born priest was sent to Africa as a missionary three months after his ordination in 1963.
Father Noud recently spoke to parishioners from St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Great Falls during his visit to the United States.
"I saw the huts and the land, and I knew I belonged there," he said, recalling his first flight into Tanzania. Africa is now his home.
The people he works with live on 50 cents per day. There is no running water, so they walk 10 miles with a bucket on their head to get water. They don't shower often, but "we all smell the same, so no one cares," Father Noud said.
There are many people suffering from malaria and AIDS, said Father Noud, adding that malaria is more common.
A priest's job is to be a "lover of people," said Father Noud, adding that this has been his goal as he served in Africa. He has worked in several different mission locales in Tanzania, including a leper colony in Mbugwe.
Father Noud is a jack of all trades. He joins in with the physical work needed to build churches, helps with first aid at the medical dispensary, manages schools and visits people in their huts. He often travels great distances over rugged roads to celebrate Mass at different outstations (chapels) in the region.
In 1971, he founded the Nangwa Mission. When it began, he was the only priest in the area. Now, there are eight parishes and nine priests ministering to the people. The Nangwa Vocational Training Center teaches carpentry, building, mechanics, electrical installation and preventative medicine. The center enrolls more than 400 students each year.
Currently, Father Noud is working on a new mission in Mogitu, Tanzania. Along with a mission church, medical dispensary and mission house, he hopes to build another vocational training center with dormitories. The training centers are vital to the people becoming self-sufficient.
"I went to teach in Africa, but I've been taught so much from the Africans," he said. The people have a deep respect for family, good manners and great faith. "People in Africa have great respect of the Eucharist."
The African people don't like to rush. Sunday Masses often last for three hours. They have processions and sing many songs. It's not like in Ireland where Father Noud observed that after Mass it feels like the Olympics as everyone rushes out of the parking lot.
Both the local governor and president of Tanzania have visited Father Noud's missions. The Irish priest also met Blessed Mother Teresa when he was on sabbatical in India.
At age 70, there is no sign of Father Noud slowing down or retiring to Ireland. Early in his mission work, he lost one of his fingers when it was accidentally pierced with a poisonous arrow.
"I want to be buried in Africa with my finger," he said, with a wide smile on his face.
Every Catholic is a missionary, said Father Noud, adding that not all missionaries are sent to Africa. It is important to be missionaries at home as well, he said.
Father Noud's mission is in need of funds to continue to build. For more information or to donate, contact the Toil Foundation at 703/759-2856 or Angela E. Pometto can be reached at

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