Bishop Edward Mapunda, Bishop of Singida, was the principal celebrant at Father Victor’s funeral, he was accompanied by Bishop Antony Lagwen, Bishop of Mbulu, by Fr John Onna, Provincial Delegate, his Pallottine confreres and many priests from the dioceses of Singida and Mbulu; the Pallottine Missionary Sisters were well represented along with Sisters from other congregations and a very large number of the faithful. Fr John Onna conducted the burial rite at the graveside in the Pallottine Community Cemetery in Gallapo. Matthew Sanka who was a relative of Fr Victor travelled home for his annual holiday and fortunately arrived in time to concelebrate the funeral Mass.
Bishop Mapunda based his homily on the chosen readings: from the Book of Wisdom, chapter 3, 1-9, Philippians 3, 20-21 and the Gospel reading from St John 14, 1-6. The following is a synopsis of the homily which Deacon George Kamina prepared.
Bishop Mapunda in his opening remarks quoted the Gospel reading which had been proclaimed from John 14, “do not let your hearts be troubled”, and called on all those who mourned the death of Fr Victor to fear nothing but to believe firmly in God who has a purpose for our beings and for our lives. He reminded us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and therefore nothing should trouble us if, in life, all that makes up our lives is in the hands of God. He called on all present to continue to trust in our Creator, the God who gave us the gift of Fr Victor Sanka.
He then quoted from the first Reading from chapter 3 of the Book of Wisdom and assured us that the soul of the late Fr Victor is in the hands of God. He urged all those who mourn him to leave his soul in God’s hands because “Those who trust in him shall understand truth because grace and mercy are with his holy ones and his care is with his elect (Wisdom 3,9)”.
He noted that Fr Victor was a man of few words but those few words spoke a lot to the people he met in life. He was a meek and humble servant of God and those who knew him were impressed by his love and by his compassionate character. Fr Victor loved his work and ministry as a priest very much and he ministered in different places and wherever he was appointed the faithful in that place appreciated his apostolic works. Bishop Mapunda recalled that it was Fr Victor who directed him to the Junior Seminary and brought him there to begin his formation journey and he is very grateful for that. He added that Fr Victor had the gift of taking many people to Christ. He urged all present to take and follow Victor’s example and lead others to Christ by touching their hearts with good works. Through his work Fr Victor led many young men to enter the seminary and they became servants of Christ in the Vineyard.
He thanked the family of Fr Victor for bringing up such a wonderful soul who was a light to the Society and to the Church at large. In conclusion he thanked the Pallottines for the apostolate which is being carried out in Tanzania and for the gift of Fr Victor Sanka to the Church of God.
Bishop Antony Lagwen of Mbulu Diocese shared some thoughts and reflections on the life and ministry of Fr Victor and stressed that he was a man of faith and was at all times a priest who was at peace and brought peace to others through contact with him.
Victor Sanka, SAC, was born on 3 March 1940 in Bashnet, Tanzania, he was the youngest of 4 children and his father, Cypriani, was the local Catechist. He was baptised in Tlawi and attended Primary School in Dareda. He felt a call to the consecrated life in his adolescent years and he wrote that it was “through the influence of the Pallottine missionaries”, and he was admitted and became a postulant. Early in 1959 Bishop Patrick Winters urged the Provincial, Fr John Bergin, to accept postulants from Tanganyika, and the recommendation was accepted and the first four candidates for the Brotherhood travelled to Ireland and they were admitted to the Novitiate at St Mary’s, Cabra on 6 October 1959 and received the Pallottine habit on 15 November. They were Stephen Samaja Daffi, John Marki, Victor Cypriani Sanka and Lucas Haynee.
Victor made his First Temporary Consecration on 15 November 1961 and was appointed to the Pallottine College in Thurles. He lived and worked as a Brother and gradually discerned his vocation to priesthood and his petition was accepted and he started formation at St Patrick’s College, Thurles. He had been joined by Basil Ikhula and Louis Sisti in 1962 and later by George Damball in 1966; a decision was taken that they continue their formation for priesthood in Tanzania and all four returned to Tanzania in the autumn of 1970 and studied at Kipalapala Seminary in Tabora.
Victor was ordained deacon on 8 July 1973 by Bishop Nicodemos Hhando at Dareda and he was ordained priest on 8 June 1974 by Bishop Hhando in an outdoor ceremony in Bashnet.
In the course of his 46 years of priestly ministry he served in a variety of appointments starting off as Assistant Priest in Gallapo Parish in July 1974. He went to Babati as Assistant Priest in 1977, and following that became Parish Priest in Gallapo. In May 1979 he was appointed to Makiungu Parish as Assistant Priest and in 1983 he became the Parish Priest there. He also had a stint at Dungunyi parish in 1982 for the duration of Fr Jimmy Kelly’s home visit to Ireland.
Victor also spent time in Nairobi and from 1991 to 1992 he offered his service at Dagoretti Parish. On his return to Tanzania he was appointed Assistant Priest in Ilongero Parish in April 1992. In 1997, he was Assistant Priest in Bashnet Parish and while there he was appointed in 2000 to assist Fr Apollinari in Madunga parish for the transition period. He continued to live and minister in Bashnet with Fr Edmond (Ned) Ryan until circa 2008 when he was named Assistant Priest in Gallapo and spent the final twelve years of his ministry there where he was known and loved.
Victor spoke English with a very distinct Cork accent and this developed during the years he spent in Cabra and Thurles. He formed life-long friendships and in particular with the families of the late Brothers Dan Shea in Dripsey and Dan Lynch in Farran. Victor loved the opportunity to visit Ireland, and he would refer to it as a ‘home visit’, and he visited when possible over the course of his life. He used one of his visits to undergo the 30-day Ignatian Exercises at the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality at Manresa, Dublin, in 1981 and during other visits he participated in the annual community retreats.
Fr Victor was predeceased by his brother Nestor and his sister Sr Opportuna, MMM, and is survived by his sister Gertruda, and by his niece Macrina and other family members. He is mourned by our Pallottine community and by the many loyal and faithful friends in Gallapo and in all the places he ministered.
May his good and faithful soul rest
Greetings to you all,
I received the sad news a short time ago of the unexpected death this evening of Victor Sanka. May he rest in peace. Victor had travelled to Bashnet to visit his family and spend a few days vacation there, he had a turn today, they brought him to the local hospital and he died at 21.45 August 22nd, Memorial of the Queenship of Mary. Please pray for the repose of his soul in the Masses of these days. When I receive details of his funeral arrangements I will send them out.
Good morning to you all,
The funeral arrangements for Victor Sanka have been finalised and confirmed in consultation with his family.
Concelebrated funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday 28th August in the Parish Church in Gallapo, where he ministered for the final years of his life, and he will be buried in the Community cemetery in Gallapo.
Please pray for Victor’s family who mourn his passing and for all those who were so kind and caring to him in Gallapo in recent years.
Also kindly remember our common responsibility to offer at least one Mass for the repose of the soul of our deceased confrere.
May he enjoy eternal life with the God of all life.