White Fathers mark 150 years

White Fathers mark 150 years

By Nelson Kiva in NEW VISION (December 9, 2019)

The leading Ugandan Newspaper “NEW VISION” covered both the great celebration in Namugongo and the pilgrimage which preceded the feast.

Here is an article from Nelson Kiva, of NEW VISION, which appeared in the edition of the Newspaper on Monday 9th December.

Hundreds of missionaries from different parts of the world yesterday thronged Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo to mark 150 years of African evangelisation. This was in honour of the Uganda Martyrs.

The first Catholic missionaries to come to Uganda belonged to the White Fathers. They were Fr Simeon Lourdel popularly known as Mapeera and Brother Delmas Amans (Amansi), who taught religion to the 22 Uganda Catholic Martyrs.

The Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) and the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (White Sisters) are held in high esteem across Africa, for not only helping in evangelisation, but also their support for the education and health sectors.

The White Fathers and White Sisters missionary movements originated in 1869 when Cardinal Charles of Lavigerie, the Archbishop of Algiers in North Africa, called young men and women to form the two societies. The missionaries hailed from France and England.

The superior general of the White Fathers, Fr Stanley Lubungo, said the Uganda Martyrs are key, since they obeyed the word of God. “They did not forsake God and this makes them a blessing and a key pillar of faith,” he said. “They lit the candle and it is us to carry it forward by furthering the gospel,” he added.

Sr Carmen Sammut, the superior general of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, said: “We thank God for the Uganda Martyrs and for the joy many men and women and children who on this continent have given their lives to Christ and for others.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Luigi Bianco, the chief celebrant of the Mass to thank God for the 150-year milestone, said the Church in Uganda had special reason for deep gratitude, because the two missionary institutes were the pioneers in bringing the good news to the country.

“Indeed, it is a moment to thank God for many missionaries, fathers, brothers and sisters, who dedicated their lives to the proclamation of the gospel in Africa and other continents and at the service of the human promotion of the people,” he said.

“The anniversary offers a good example and inspiration that nobody is excluded from the Church Mission,” he added.

“Even Pope Francis invites the Church to rediscover its fruitfulness in the joy of mission and to be witnesses of the love of God for everyone.
The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, said: “When I consider the abundant fruits of the missionaries, I am prompted to ponder a number of questions. For instance, Where would we be if you were not founded? How would Africa be without your missionary activities and commitments? How would Uganda be without the miracle of the Uganda Martyrs?” He said the Uganda Martyrs were the first fruits of the evangelism work in Uganda.

The head of the Catholic laity of Uganda, Gervase Ndyanabo, said the laity should think about the sacrifices the missionaries made, including putting their lives on the line for the sake of evangelisation.

“We, therefore, join the rest in praising God for them. We shall forever be grateful to God for the true joy we were given through them,” he said.

President Yoweri Museveni, who was represented by finance minister Matia Kasaija, told religious leaders that the solution to the evils of corruption and senseless killings, was in joint efforts to deal with the growing trends of immorality in the country.

The Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, in his message paid homage to the missionaries, saying Uganda and Africa were proud of them for producing the first African bishop in the modern times.

Bishop Joseph Nakabale Kiwanuka, was consecrated in 1939. The Kabaka, who was represented by Prince David Golooba, said this anchored the Catholic Church in Uganda.

BETWEEN THE LINES

President Yoweri Museveni reminded the Church that its role to fight immorality was immense, saying: “Evils such as corruption and senseless killings are an indication of bad perception, lack of honesty and immorality in our people.”

Read online the coverage of the same NEW VISION newspaper on the “pilgrimage on the footsteps of our predecessors”.

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