Fr Rosner was ‘baptised’ Abooki
By Matthias Mazinga
In its “Celebrating Life” section of Sunday, October 25, 2020, the first Ugandan daily newspaper “New Vision” published, under the pen of its journalist Matthias Mazinga, a tribute in honor of our confrere Father Gotthard Rosner, who passed away on September 2. Thanks to Otto Katto for sending us a copy.
Rev. Fr. Gotthard Rosner
From: May 5, 1941
To: September 2, 2020
The Very Rev. Fr. Gotthard Rosner Abooki, in Uganda in the 1970’s, was one of the confreres of the Catholic Missionary Society of White Fathers (alias Missionaries of Africa), who served the congregation and the Church in Africa with total love and dedication.
Subsequent to his priestly ordination in 1968, Rosner was posted to Mugalike Catholic parish in Hoima, where he worked as the assistant parish priest and later parish priest from 1969 to 1973. He later taught future priests at Alokulum National Major Seminary in Gulu (1977-79). Rosner subsequently served the congregation and the Church elsewhere in Africa, Europe and the US.
The time that Rosner spent in Uganda was evidently the most memorable of his life. He kept in touch with the local Christians at Mugalike and Gulu, even after being transferred from Uganda. Rosner is generally remembered as a pious missionary, who preached the gospel with admirable devotion. He reached out to the people wherever they were and preached to them the gospel of salvation. Rosner enabled people to know and experience the goodness of God by his words and examples.
Owing to his virtuous life and admirable sacerdotal qualities, the Christians of Mugalike gave Rosner (whose name they pronounced as Gotihati) traditional names such as Atalyeeba (the one that can never be forgotten), and Abooki, a popular pet name (empaako) of the Banyoro. The locals also named their children after Gotthard in appreciation of his sacerdotal ministry.
Josephine Kasaija Bigabwa, a parishioner of Mugalike (who is also the reigning vice-president of Hoima Diocese External Residents Association), is one of the Christians who remember Rosner with great admiration. “He was a down-to-earth priest, who mixed freely with the locals and also lived their culture. He learnt and spoke Runyoro even better than some Banyoro. He always spiced his homilies with interesting proverbs. His mesmeric homilies attracted people to the Church. His generosity was also enormous. He helped hundreds of needy children and vulnerable women. He supported children’s charitable homes. His commitment to children was so solid that children never wanted to go away from him after mass. The children also wanted to go with him whenever he would be moved to another mission station.”
Peter Bernard Kidega, a parishioner of Layibi Catholic Parish (Gulu), also admired Gotthard, referring to him as a “wonderful priest of sweet memories. He was a selfless and diplomatic priest. He served the Lord with all his heart. He was a real Missionary of Africa, who loved Ugandans and all Africans.”
One Christian, who lived at Lacor in the 1970’s, also spoke sweetly about Rosner. “Fr. Rosner paid my son’s school fees from Primary One to Senior Six. When our home was looted during the 1979 war, he brought us cups, plates and saucepans from Nairobi and helped us to rebuild our life.”
Bishop Vincent Kirabo of Hoima Diocese called Gotthard a dedicated servant of God. “I got an opportunity to interact with him when he was still here. He had that unique ability to maintain interest and keep in touch with the places and the people he met.”
Surprisingly, he gave enormous support towards the construction of Mugalike Health Centre III, long after he left the parish. He wrote letters to Christians, requesting to be given updates on the parish, Christians and church projects.
Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue around Kampala
Kampala is the centre of the key aspects of life of Uganda as a nation: political, economic, education, health, not to forget religion. Its population is the most religiously diversified compared to any other part of Uganda. Headquarters of the Catholic Church, the Church of Uganda, the Orthodox Church and Islam are all here. Most of the Pentecostal Churches have their main Churches here. The two national ecumenical and interreligious councils — Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) and Interreligious Council of Uganda (IRCU) have their headquarters here.
The population of Kampala is, therefore, naturally multi-faith and is destined to remain so in the future. Interreligious and ecumenical interactions and living are part and parcel of the life of the people in most of its parts, residential and non-residential alike. One can say that in Kampala, what unites people of different faiths is stronger than what would divide and oppose them to each other.
All political parties in this country have their headquarters located here in Kampala and seek to brand themselves with an inclusive religious mark both in their leadership and membership. In the same vein, Kampala being the seat of Buganda Kingdom, the ecumenicalinterreligious spirit is more pronounced in its population than elsewhere. The Kabaka is king for all irrespective of their religious affiliations and most of the activities initiated and promoted by the Kingdom are inclusive.
Inter-faith marriages are one of the pastoral challenges which | believe is more acute in Kampala than in any other part of the country. A number of couples, married in the church or not, live in this situation and there is a great need of an adapted ecumenical-interreligious catechesis and pastoral guidelines on this particular issue.
In Kampala, ecumenical and interreligious solidarity is most practiced in face of adversities and sufferings: poverty in the growing number of slums, crimes and injustices not to forget death which occurs more often in the city than in villages. One of those adversities occurred recently when one of the Protestant Churches in Kampala was broken down by people claiming to own the land on which it was built. The solidarity which was shown on that occasion from all people irrespective of their faiths was a loud prophetic voice which reminded us of the importance and key role of religion in our society.
On the official side of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, the interventions of the two national ecumenical and interreligious councils mentioned above are most effective in Kampala than elsewhere in the country. Their interventions, often on issues of justice and peace, for example, concerning violation of human rights, governance and democracy, etc., become the talk of the day around the city.
Finally, it has to be observed that although “what unites people of different faiths in Kampala is stronger than what would divide and oppose them to each other”, there is also fear — founded or unfounded — in some of the religious leaders and lay faithful of different faith-communities towards each other. It is also sad to note that there has been some relaxation in the recent past in some of the common ecumenical activities, for example, the annual week of prayer for Christian Unity. Could COVID-19 pandemic be a God-sent reminder of the necessity of strengthening our ecumenical and interreligious peaceful co-existence and collaboration? In fact, residents of Kampala have been more affected by the pandemic than those of other parts of the country.
Fr. Richard Nnyombi, M.Afr.
IT CONCERNS YOU TOO!
EAP Flashes nr 28 - October 2020
The small and invisible corona virus has made us aware that what goes on in the world concerns all of us. It has changed our lives and our world beyond what the superpowers could ever do. These past years we know more about China because of the Chinese products on the market and companies working in Africa. Nevertheless, I am one of those who will confess that what goes on in China is not my business. I have learnt the hard way that what goes on around the world concerns me too.
For several years our Society has given priority to Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation, Encounter and Dialogue (JPIC-ED) and it is presented as such in our official communications. We have appointed confreres to lead us in this area and trained several others to specialize in working for JPIC-ED. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to leave JPIC-ED to the experts. We appreciate its importance, talk about it to our people from time to time, but sometimes our attitudes show that it is not our business. Pope Francis notes: “The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new solidarity…. All ofus can cooperate as instruments of God for the involvements and talents (Laudato Si, #14). What the Pope says about the ecology is true for the other crises affecting our world – immigration of peoples, unemployment, poverty, racial discrimination, etc. The last Chapter 2016 challenges us to take JPIC-ED as part of our being as Missionaries of Africa. And Pope Francis at the occasion of the celebration of the 150″ jubilee of our foundation exhorted us saying, “May the Holy Spirit make you build bridges between people. Where the Lord has sent you, contribute to the growth of a culture of encounter; continue to be the servants of a dialogue that, while respecting differences, knows how to be enriched by the difference of other… Through the style and simplicity of your lifestyle, you also demonstrate the need to take care of our common home, the land. Finally, in the wake of Cardinal Lavigerie, be sowers of hope, fighting against all current forms of slavery. Always seek to be close to the small and the poor, to those who expect, at the periphery of our societies, to be recognized in their dignity, to be welcomed, protected, raised, accompanied, promoted and integrated.” This appeal is even more pertinent in Africa facing the challenge of covid-19 pandemic.
In this volume of Flashes, several confreres and collaborators share with us what they are doing in the area of JPIC-ED in our province. I take this opportunity to thank all those who are actively involved in the work of JPICED and to appeal to all confreres saying, it is your business too! Stay safe!
Aloysius Ssekamatte, M.Afr.
The Second Term confrères’ meeting was held in Nairobi from the 26th of May 2019 to the 16th of June 2019. The composition of the participants reflected the international and interracial nature of our Society. The animators were Olivier SOMA from Burkina Faso and Gilles EFIYO from DRC all based in Nairobi, Balozi Formation House.
And the participants were:
- Joseph CHIPIMO from Tanzania working in Tanzania,
- Patrice SAWADOGO from Burkina Faso working in Zambia,
- Anand RAJA from India working in India,
- George ATHIKALAM from India working in India,
- Norbert NKINGWA from Tanzania working in Zambia,
- Saju AKKARAPATTIALAL from India working in India,
- Anthony ALCKIAS from India working in Tanzania,
- Ghislain MBILIZI from DRC working in Togo,
- Peter EKUTT from Nigeria working in DRC,
- Erus KISHOR Tirkey from India working in Ghana,
- Jean Bosco NIBIGIRA from Burundi working in Mozambique,
- John SSEKWEYAMA from Uganda working in DRC,
- Bernard GACHURU from Kenya working in DRC,
- Edison AKATUHURIRA from Uganda working in Rwanda,
- Gilbert RUKUNDO from Rwanda working in Nigeria.
For many it was a great opportunity to see each other after many years of formation and mission. Roussel House, which was the venue of our meeting in Karen, Nairobi offered a perfect lieu of encounter, celebration and prayers. We were happy for the conducive atmosphere that we had for our session coupled with the hospitality and virtue of services rendered by the sisters of the Donum Dei Congregation working at the center.
Our stories as follows….
Our Session was divided into three parts namely:
- Individual sharing of personal experiences,
- inputs for personal growth and
- input for pastoral and mission growth.
The first week was dedicated to individual sharing of missionary experiences. We started it with a recollection which was meant to help us to get in contact with ourselves and how we have lived our missionary vocations after these few years of missionary oath. The spiritual exercise was later followed by individual sharing. Confreres shared with confidence and trust the various experiences lived in mission placements. From various sharing, it came out clearly that the Lord has been with each one of us in various challenges and moments of joy.
With regards to inputs related to personal growth we had a wonderful talk on community life especially on how we can make our community life more meaningful as a community of care, prayer and forgiveness. There was also an elaborate talk on spiritual growth with the emphasis on being in touch with God who is at the center of our vocation. We benefited also from inputs on Burn out/Self care, addictions, affective and sexual maturity. Their objectives were to help us to be in touch with inner self in view of a better self-care and matured expression of our emotions and feelings.
With regards to mission related topics, we had inputs on Encounter and Dialogue, Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, Christianity and witchcraft, and finances. We were pleased that some of the talks were exposed by some resource persons of our Society. Besides various inputs received, we had moments of recreation and outings together visiting our community of Olchore in the heart of the Masai village surrounded by nature, peace and harmony. The welcome was just so tasteful thanks to Martin ONYANGO who welcomed us in a so beautiful and peaceful “white house”. We enjoyed also the company of many confreres working in Nairobi thanks to the social evening and super offered by the Provincial team of EAP. Thank you to our confreres of South B Parish for the invitation to share our faith with the Christians during a Eucharistic celebration concelebrated by all the participants of the sessions.
Moments of peace and self renewal
Taking our time to revisit our missionary experiences for the past few years has been a blessing to us. The experiences of pastoral fulfillment and challenges shared in all amount of confidentiality, the different inputs received during this period of ongoing formation have been some useful tools for personal growth and self renewal. We share in the joy of others, but also in the various experiences of sufferings, hurts, disappointments and resistance. It has been a period of discovery, discovery of God’s unconditional love towards us, the joy of having each other in the community as a blessing but also the desire to take up new challenges in order to grow and to help each other to grow. This has really helped us to look at ourselves, to awaken in us the spirit, to recharge our batteries for mission. It has made us to grow in love, forgiveness and patience. In fact, we discover more and more that there is no best community, no best Province and not even the best religious Society. We all live with love but also experiences of challenges which should help us to ask for forgiveness and for the grace to go on the path of Love and Encounter. Each story was unique and left us with some sense of relief and renewal.
In fact, it has been a period of a long journey of liberation for many of us. Liberation from frustrations and hurts which can cancel the thirst for God and the need to encounter the other in community. Liberation from the fear which we carry within ourselves, often unresolved from the past. Liberation from daily illusions we have about community life and the way we want it to be. It was three weeks led by the spirit to share our “stories” of human, spiritual, community, pastoral and every other form of formation as Missionaries of Africa which has been constant means to help us stay on the path. We treasure this time as we depart from each other.
In a nutshell, the whole session was presented in such a unique way that we don’t only wish to have such regular ongoing formation opportunities as invitation from Rome but also as important and necessarily programs receiving priorities in our Provinces.
In a way, this ongoing formation finds its basic meaning in the need to continually nourish and revitalize the grace of our missionary vocations. It’s never enough; the glass is neither full nor empty. This is why we must constantly stir up our missionary vocations, find renewed meaning each day as M.Afr and renew untiringly our mission of proclaiming the Gospel.
Above all, it has been an experience of sharing, listening and learning from each other. Therefore, we would like to express our gratitude to the Society for giving us this wonderful opportunity for personal growth and of self repairs. Thank you Olivier Soma for your support and listening qualities. Thank you Gille Efiyo for your availability and support. We felt that both of you really accompanied us- THANK YOU! And to all of you with whom we shared our joy and pains of our Missionary life and experiences during these three weeks, may the FIRE keep burning as we try to be sowers of prophetic hope for our brothers and sisters to whom we are sent. And may God help us to flourish where we are planted. Peace!
2019 Ordinations in East Africa
The Provincial Superior of East Africa, Fr. Aloysius G. Ssekamatte, is pleased to announce the ordination to the priesthood of four confreres of the East Africa Province. Following on this page is a map with the four places where our confreres will be ordained. Then you will find, for each one, a short curriculum and a few pictures mainly taken from their Facebook accounts.
Recommendations to use this map : Click ONCE on each red circle to read the details. You will move the map by persistent left click and move in any direction. You will zoom in or out by clicking on + or – (bottom left) or by scrolling the mouse wheel. On selecting the top right square, you will see a full view and, zooming in, you will be able to see distinctively the churches where our confreres will be ordained. Enjoy.
Edwin Obare Oduor
Born in 1984 in Kenya, Edwin did his spiritual year in Kasama, his stage in DRC and is completing his theological studies in Nairobi where he pronounced his missionary oath on 23rd November 2018. He will be ordained at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Karen, Nairobi (Kenya) on 29th June 2019 by Bishop David Kamau.
Born in 1986 in Uganda, Alex did his spiritual year in Kasama, his stage in DRC and is completing his theological studies in Abidjan where he took his missionary oath on 8th December 2018. He will be ordained at Kiabi Parish, in the Archdiocese of Mbarara (Uganda) on 29th June 2019 by Archbishop Paul Bakyenga.
William Thomas Budotela
Born in 1984 in Tanzania, William did his spiritual year in Kasama, his stage in Ghana and is completing his theological studies in Nairobi where he took his missionary oath on 23rd November 2018. He will be ordained at Ilemela Parish, in the Archdiocese of Mwanza (Tanzania) on 2Oth July 2019 by Archbishop Renatus Nkwande.
Joshua Masive Musyoki
Here is a text that comes from Uganda, where the Vocation animators from both institutes of the Lavigerie Family have organised together some vocational activities in the context of the celebrations of our 150th anniversary.
We are very grateful to the Lord for the gift of our two institutes founded by Cardinal Lavigerie. In this line, we acknowledge the different activities that have been taking place in collaboration in the field of Missionary Vocation Animation and awareness to the youth.
Here in Uganda, from 11th to 17th January 2919, the vocation teams of MSOLA and M.Afr. organized a “come and see” session in the context of the 150 years of our foundation.
Eight aspirants of the M.Afr. and eight aspirants of the MSOLA participated together with the MSOLA pre-postulants.
On Sunday 13th January we made a pilgrimage to some important sites linked to our historical background in Uganda. We visited the Rubaga Cathedral, the hospital and the cemetery where the pioneer MSOLA were buried. We also went to Nabulagala where the pioneer M.Afr. were buried and to the Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine where King Mwanga sentenced to death the then future Uganda Martyrs. At all these sites , we stopped and got some historical explanations and prayed with gratitude for all the 150 years .
On Tuesday 15th January 2019, we all met at the MSOLA house in Bunamwaya for a common session. Sr. Harriet, who came all the way from Rwanda, together with Sr. Theopista Mbabazi animated the session. In the morning, Br. Francis gave an input on Cardinal Lavigerie in the context of 150 years of our foundation. This was followed by some group work and sharing.
We also marked the day with Holy Mass, for which Fr. Otto Katto was the main celebrant. It was nice to see how the young people aspiring to be missionaries were joyful at Mass and during the session. One would imagine how Cardinal Lavigerie must have been happy seeing the future Missionaries working together.
In the afternoon, there was an input presented by Srs. Harriet Kabaije and Theopista Mbabazi concerning our activities today in the context of 150 years especially our struggle against human trafficking. This was also followed by some very enriching group reflection sharing about our present activities in the struggle about human trafficking and slavery.
It was also striking to see how the aspirants were able to identify the current situations where they feel called and how they were connected to our mission today. These were some of the outstanding points that motivated the aspirants in M.Afr. and MSOLA: the legacy of our ancestors in faith , the high influx of refugees, not being materialistic, helping the needy, a desire to promote Justice and Peace, love and unity, the diminishing number of Missionaries in Europe and the inner force to commit to prayer. Indeed God speaks to the hearts of his people. And the question remains: Whom shall I send?
We were grateful to the MSOLA who received us so well. The aspirants were very happy to have lived this beautiful experience of good collaboration between MSOLA and M.Afr. We are planning another common session in May in the context of the 150years.