Echoes from the Plenary Council – 17th November 2019

Echoes from the Plenary Council - 17th November 2019

On Sunday, November 17, the Plenary Council split into two groups to celebrate Mass at Nabulagala Parish, where the Superior General, Father Stanley Lubungo, was the main celebrant and at the Sharing Youth Centre, where the Assistant General, Francis Barnes, was the main celebrant. 

Did you say Nabulagala?

Today, the Parish of Nabulagala is a historical and spiritual landmark in Uganda. However, Nabulagala has long remained a small outstation. A look back at history with a text by Manu Quertemont (Familles-Mission 2 / 2011) 

February 17, 1879: Arrival in Entebbe of the first Fathers

Upon their arrival in Entebbe on February 17, 1879, Father Lourdel and Brother Amans boarded the mainland on the KIGUNGU Peninsula. On the way to RUBAGA, they spent the night at the place called KISUBI. When King MUTESA heard of their arrival, he had them driven to KITEBI, which is 5 kilometres from Rubaga. The missionaries spent 15 days in this area waiting for news of their fate. The travellers were shaking with fever and had little to eat.

Finally they were called to the court of the KABAKA (King) where Father Lourdel informed MUTESA that he and four other companions had been sent to establish a Catholic mission in Uganda. MUTESA agreed to the arrival of missionaries in his country and even promised to send canoes to look for the rest of the group.

May 7, 1879: Installation in NABULAGALA

After this first hearing, Father Lourdel and his companion returned to their cottage in KITEBI where they remained under good guard. Finally the KABAKA gave them a better place in NABULAGALA-RUBYA. Lourdel and Amans settled in this part of the country on May 7, 1879.

The 24 canoes provided by the king were then able to pick up the rest of the group that had remained in KAKEYE (Tanzania). Brother Amans accompanied this flotilla sailing southwards from the lake.

On June 17, 1879, Fathers Livinhac, Girault and Barbot landed at ENTEBBE in their turn. A few days later, all the missionaries were finally reunited.

June 25,1879: First Mass at NABULAGALA

With them, they brought the precious chapel suitcase and their portable altar. Thus, in the year of grace 1879, on June 25, the five White Fathers celebrated their first Mass in Uganda, in the hamlet of NABULAGALA-RUBYA, the first Catholic mission in this country.

Father Lourdel was soon known as “MAPEERA”, a nickname from the French word “Mon Père”. While the priests in the group devoted themselves more especially to the religious instruction of their visitors, Brother Amans took care of all the material matters of the new mission. In turn he was a builder, bursar cook, gardener, mechanic, carpenter and a dedicated nurse.

May 12, 1890: Death of MAPERA

MAPEERA died in RUBAGA of illness and exhaustion on May 12, 1890; he was only 36 years old. His funeral was held the following day early, according to usage. His mortal remains were buried twenty metres from the large chapel begun by him….

1974 – 1975: Return of the “Ancestors in the faith”.

For the Christians of Uganda, it was appropriate that these five “ancestors in the faith” should all be buried together on Ugandan soil.

In 1974, at the initiative of Cardinal Emmanuel Nsubuga, the remains of Father Barbot and Brother Amans buried respectively in Zanzibar and Bagamoyo (Tanzania) were repatriated to Uganda, followed in 1975 by those of Bishop Livinhac who were then buried in Algiers Cathedral. Unfortunately, the bones of Father Girault, buried at Maison Carrée near Algiers, could not be formally identified.

June 24, 2007: Inauguration of the MAPEERA-NABULAGALA parish

Since the heroic times of the martyrs of Uganda, the village of NABULAGALA, despite its memorial chapel, had remained only a humble branch of a parish.

In February 2006 His Eminence Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala decided that it was time for this part of the country to become a parish in its own right. He entrusted this task to the descendants of MAPEERA, the White Fathers.

On June 24, 2007, mission accomplished, it was the solemn inauguration of the new parish called MAPEERA-NABULAGALA. Bishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga blessed the new church and installed a local child, Father Richard Nnyombi WF as the first Parish Priest.

Together with the current Kabaka, Ronald Mutebi II, thousands of faithful, a multitude of nuns, took part in the solemn Mass presided over by 3 bishops and 40 priests.

March 6, 2011: Transfer of the remains of the first missionaries to NABULAGALA.

On that day, with indescribable joy, the remains of the first missionaries were brought to the Memorial Chapel, which had been given a new look for the occasion.

A huge crowd came to this historic event.

Now the “ancestors in faith” of the Ugandan people were back to their starting point and they were going to stay there forever in this memorial chapel prepared for them for so long.

At the end of this moving ceremony, Father Richard Nnyombi, pastor of NABULAGALA, reiterated before the entire assembly the determination of Ugandan Catholics to see the cause, so dear to their hearts, of the beatification of MAPEERA Lourdel and Brother Amans succeed.

Mass at Mapeera Nabulagala, presided over by Superior General Stanley Lubungo.

Mass in Sharing, presided over by the Assistant General Francis Barnes.

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