Father Deogratias Shimil’imana, a native of the Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara, Tanzania, arrived in Davenport last month to begin studying for a bachelor’s degree in finance at St. Ambrose University.
Known as Fr. Deo Shimi, he was appointed by Bishop Severine Niwemugizi to attend school in the Davenport Diocese. St. Ambrose offered the 34-year-old priest a full scholarship, and the diocese provides housing, food, transportation and books, said Msgr. John Hyland, diocesan vicar general.
Fr. Shimi is living at St. Vincent Center, headquarters for the Diocese of Davenport. After earning his degree, he may apply to a master’s degree program or return to Tanzania to work in whatever field Bishop Niwemugizi assigns him to, the student said.
Ordained a priest July 11, 2010, Fr. Shimi taught geography and biology at a high school seminary in Tanzania for two years before leaving for the United States. Friendly Iowans have helped him make the adjustment from his rural Tanzanian home to comparatively urban Davenport, he said.
Father Erasto Naakule, a fellow priest of the Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara, also is studying at St. Ambrose. He arrived at St. Vincent Center in 2009.
The Davenport Diocese has been working with St. Ambrose to host Tanzanian priests for about 10 years, Msgr. Hyland said. Two priests are hosted at a time.