Fr. Temba Leopold, C.S.C.
Finding a Life Full of Meaning
I was born in November 1976 in Moshi, Tanzania, the tenth of ten siblings. Both of my parents are staunch and conservative Catholics. I owe my faith and love for the Catholic Church to my 85-year-old father who instilled in me the habit of attending daily Mass since my childhood.
I appreciate the efforts of my parents to nurture in me the seed of my vocation to religious life. After completing my primary education, I did my ordinary level of secondary education at Maua Seminary in Moshi under the Franciscan Capuchin Friars after which I proceeded to another minor Seminary in Dodoma for my advanced level of my secondary education as an aspirant of Precious Blood Fathers.
Although not trained as a teacher, I taught in a girls’ secondary school in Moshi from 1999 to July 2000. During this time, I had a big challenge in deciding whether to join the University of Dare es Salaam to study Civil Law or to go back to the seminary for formation to priesthood.
While teaching at the secondary school in 1999, I started to communicate with the Vocations Director of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Br. Alan Harrod, C.S.C. I applied both to the Congregation of Holy Cross and to the Dominicans. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of either of the communities. I had come across both communities in a booklet of different religious congregations in East Africa. I picked two and applied.
Fortunately, both Holy Cross and the Dominicans accepted my applications. So, I was again facing a dilemma to choose between the two. Because of the name “Holy Cross”, I decided to join the Congregation’s Candidate Program in Jinja in July 2000.
The Candidate Program was really my introduction to the Congregation of Holy Cross. The more I learned about the Congregation and the ministries done by Holy Cross religious, the more I felt the desire to become a religious priest in Holy Cross.
I completed Candidate Program and entered the Novitiate in 2003. I pronounced my First Vows on June 26, 2004. I continued my formation in Holy Cross while doing theological studies in Nairobi, Kenya. I made my Final Vows on August 15, 2008, and was ordained priest on August 2, 2009, in Nairobi.
I love the way we do formation in Holy Cross. Our formation programs are designed to make our priests and brothers assertive, generous, loving, and confident. My time in formation deepened in me the love of God and convinced me how I am called to serve Him as a priest. It empowered me to know my gifts and appreciate them. It also helped me to accept my weaknesses, talk about them, and grow from them.
My ministry in my first years as a finally professed religious has been as the Director of Vocations for Holy Cross in the District of East Africa. I took up this office in February 2009, and then in January 2012 my District Superior asked me to serve as his assistant in addition to working in the Vocations Office.
I had never thought of becoming the Vocations Director. I consider myself blessed to work with young people, sharing the story of my call to religious life in Holy Cross, and listening to how God is working in their lives.
I also never thought of sharing my life with people from different backgrounds, cultures, countries, and continents. Holy Cross exposed me to that as well. I find my life meaningful in Holy Cross. The Congregation has assisted and still assists me to know my gifts and talents and how I can use them productively to serve God and His people.
I came to Holy Cross because of the Congregation’s name. I chose to stay because I felt God’s presence in Holy Cross. I don’t regret the choice I made, because in the Congregation of Holy Cross, I have found my home.
Fr. Temba Leopold, C.S.C., is the Assistant Superior of the District of East Africa (Kampala, Uganda).