150th Jubilee - Pilgrimage
Day One - Kisubi
When Mapeera and Amans left Kaweta (Bugonga) on foot heading for the capital, Lubaga, their first night was spent at Kisubi (19 February 1879).
Oral tradition says that the following morning, when they removed their tent to continue their journey to Lubaga, they forgot one of the pegs which later grew into a big tree, now named Mapeera Tree. This tree is now in the compound of Mapeera Senior Secondary School.
The whole hill of Kisubi was given to the missionaries by Kabaka Muteesa I in 1880. This gift was later confirmed by Muteesa’s successor Kabaka Mwanga.
Kisubi Parish (Our Lady Queen of Virgins)
It was founded in 1895. The construction work of the present parish church started in 1911 and completed in 1913. This church, besides being built as a parish church, was also built as a ‘pilotchurch’ for the future Lubaga Cathedral.
NB: The White Sisters opened their first community in Kisubi in 1905 (see below).
Pilgrimage to “Mapeera Tree”
This pilgrimage started in the 1980s and since three years, there is an annual pilgrimage on 19′” February, the date on which Fr. Simeon Lourdel Mapeera and Bro. Amans spent a night at this place on their way to Kampala.
Mapeera Seminary (1981-1985)
The Missionaries of Africa started their first seminary (phase) in Uganda here at the parish. It was named ‘Mapeera Seminary’. Before that, their candidates were studying at Katigondo Major Seminary in Masaka.
The Parish team was also among the staff of Mapeera Seminary. While the first group had enough rooms within the presbytery, those who followed were accommodated in containers transformed into rooms. The seminarians participated in the parish pastoral activities. This experience lasted up to 1985 when it the seminary was transferred to Kalangala (Tanzania) in 1985.
A number of M.Afr. and Msola are buried in the parish cemetery. Among them, there are two M.Afr. Fr. Demers Jean-Paul (+60yrs) and Fr. Perreault Gerard (+55yrs), who were shot dead at the airport during Idi Amin’s coup d’Etat on the 25th January, 1971.
Kisubi Hill: Symbol of Church’s Integral Evangelisation Mission
Since the foundation of Kisubi parish, many other church institutions have been established on this hill. These institutions include: religious houses, schools and health care centres. This variety of institutions point to the integral nature of the church’s evangelising mission. This mission is not only limited to the soul, but also the body and mind.
Some of the past and present institutions on Kisubi Hill
- Kisubi Hospital founded by the Msola in 1905. Before, the White Fathers had transformed part of the buildings that belonged to the seminary which had been transferred to Buddu, into a LAZARET (of St. Antoine), a centre to look after people with “sleeping sickness”. This lasted until 1908.
- St. Joseph Technical School, started in 1911 by M.Afr. It is the first technical school in Uganda.
- The Printing Press started by the M.Afr., handed over to the Sisters of St. Peter Claver in 1957. The sisters named it “Marianum Press”.
- St. Mary’s College started at Lubaga in 1906, was transferred to Kisubi in 1924. The M.Afr. handed it over to the Brothers of Christian Instruction 1927.
- St. Theresa Girls’ Primary School, started by MSOLA 1926.
- Mother House of the Sisters of The Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix (Gogonya Sisters), since 1948; and their Generalate in the old regional house of the Msola near to the parish church. Their Novitiate is near their Mother House. These Sisters were founded by Mgr Henri Streicher and Mgr Joseph Cabana.
- Kisubi Minor Seminary started in 1952 where a number of M.Afr. taught. The minor seminary which had been started at Lubaga in 1895, was later transferred to Kisubi where it remained up to December 1903 when it was transferred to Bukalasa (Masaka). The construction of the new seminary started in 1949, during the episcopate of Mgr Joseph Cabana (M.Afr).
- Provincial House and Novitiate of The Brothers of Christian Instruction. Note: These Brothers were invited to come to Uganda by the M.Afr., to run the colleges founded by the latter, for example, St. Mary’s Kisubi and St. Henry’s Kitovu (Masaka). Mgr. John Forbes, the first Canadian White Father, by then co-adjutor of Msgr. Henri Streicher, was key in getting these Brothers.
- Mother House of the Brothers of St. Amans located next to St. Joseph Technical School. These Brothers, were founded in 1984 by the late Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga, inspired by the M.Afr. Brothers whose predecessor in this country was Bro. Amans Delmas.
- Generalate of The Good Samaritan Sisters located next to the Marianum Printing Press.
MISSIONARY SISTERS OF OUR LADY OF AFRICA AT KISUBI
Kisubi was the third Ugandan foundation of the Missionary Sisters of our Lady of Africa. As early as 1903, the white Fathers had set up a health Care unit at Kisubi affected by sleeping sickness.
Soon the number of “Mmongoota” (sleeping sickness) patients was rapidly increasing and a dispensary was needed. Bishop Henry Streicher, the then Apostolic Vicar of the Uganda Vicariate, decided to send a team of sisters to Kisubi to combat the plague.
ln December 1905, first five Sisters: Mother St. Honorat, Paula, Anna, Rodolphe d’Aquaviva and Jean Nepomucene arrived from Lubaga. In January 1906, after a day of recollection, the work of starting a health care unit was immediately embarked on and with the assistance of local people; a few huts were built in which patients with sleeping sickness were nursed. Sr. Paula and Sr. Anna took care of the “sleepers”, Sr. Jean Nepomucene took over the children and the sacristy, while Sr. Rodolphe d’Aquaviva was in charge of the house.
Although the Sisters had wanted this foundation mainly to care for the “sleepers” they also undertook works of charity, like everywhere else: dispensary work and the education of the nearby children.
The sisters recognised the value of education and religion. In 1908, they penetrated into the local community and encouraged the girls to come and be taught some skills and religious values. In 1915, they opened up a Girls’ school at Kisubi. A few parents allowed their daughters to go to the sisters for instruction. Much emphasis was put on the teaching of catechism and this way they put a great influence on the children’s education in regard to Christianity.
Most significant, in the history of the school, was 1922 when parents felt that their sons were left out in the education system and requested that at least the small boys be taught the church rituals. In 1931 the boys were formally enrolled in the school under St. John’s Kindergarten and that is when boys came to be within a Girls’ school.
In January 1970, the headship of the primary school was handed over to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix (Gogonya Sisters) and in February 1988 the management of Kisubi hospital was effectively passed on to the sisters of the same Institute.
PRAYER AT KISUBI
“Go and teach them….”
In the footsteps of Christ the Teacher
Biblical Text: Mt. 28: 16-20
“… I beg you to send me experts in various fields of education and skills to train my people in those lines you have in your country. Please send me trustworthy persons who will not betray my country and who will not lead my people to bad behaviour. But only those who will give good examples and proper education that can lead us to good administration of my country. Send me some teachers of religion so that I may understand God. ” (Kabaka Muteesa I, 1875)
King Muteesa requested for “teachers of skills and religion”. Kisubi hills is one of those places where visibly those who responded to this invitation, among them the sons and daughters of Lavigerie, implemented that wish and their successors are continuing to do the same. Today, Kisubi is one of the big centre of education and learning in technical skills, religious-spiritual studies and secular studies. The presence of the “Brothers of Christian Instruction” (Kisubi Brothers) and St. Mary’s College on this hill, is another reminder for us how much the Missionaries of Africa treasured formal education. Because of their expertise in this field, the White Fathers invited these Brothers to come in Uganda help them in this noble work. St. Mary’s College was the first college founded by the White Fathers.
We praise and thank God for the Church’s tremendous contribution to the education system of our country.
Our thoughts of gratitude also go to all the past and present men and women involved in this noble work of educating the children of our respective countries. May God grant them the spirit of Christ the Teacher, so as to make these children true “disciples of Christ”.
“We swear that the Blessed Virgin Mary will be our guide and teacher so that we can understand through her and with her in order to fulfil the work of her Son Jesus Christ….” (Pioneer Missionaries, 1879)
We too, like those pioneer missionaries, entrust this noble work and all those involved in it to Mother Mary to be their guide and teacher…
Our Father, a decade of Hail Mary’s, Glory be to the Father