By, Samuel Kirimunda;
Gov’t contributes 160M to Mbarara Catholic Archdiocese construction project. The government has contributed 160 million Uganda shillings to renovate the Mbarara Catholic Archdiocese as well as constructing Archbishop’s house.
On behalf of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and in presence of Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Most Rev. Paul K. Bakyenga, investiture of Most Rev. Cambert Bainomugisha among other community and Church leaders, Prime minister Robinah Nabanjja handed over the money to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Mbarara Ecclesiastical province.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Mbarara covers the districts (parishes) of Mbarara, Ibanda, Kiruhura, Isingiro, Bushenyi, Sheema, Rubirizi, Mitoma, Buhweiju and, Rubirizi and Ntungamo.
Today we are launching the renovation of the Mbarara Catholic Archdiocese and the construction of the Archbishop’s house. The fund is intended to renovate the Catholic church and construct the Archbishop’s house in Mbarara, Prime Minister Nabanja said.
We live fulfilled lives when we serve the Lord. I accompanied Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabanja the prime minister of the Republic of Uganda to the Diocesan day with the faithful of the Mbarara Archdiocese. We believe the good Lord will help us achieve this project in the time soonest, Government Chief-whip Thomas Tayebwa said.
In the year 1900 Bishop Streicher, Vicar Apostolic of the Vicariate of North Nyanza, sent two White Father Missionaries (Missionaries of Africa) to South Western Uganda to explore the possibility of introducing Catholicism. These were Fr. Lebros and Bro. Hermann Kock.
The two approached Nkore, the present geographical area which is now Mbarara Archdiocese, through Kooki, in Masaka Diocese. Joseph Rutebemberwa, one of the pioneer catechists led them. A son of that catechist, Msgr. Thomas Bishanga, became the second priest of Mbarara, having been ordained in 1944.
On arrival of the missionaries, Kahaya II, the then King of Karo-Karungi gave Nyamitanga Hill to them to set up their quarters and chapel. This later became the seat and foundation of their mission and is presently the Diocesan Centre of Mbarara Archdiocese.
In 1909, Fr. Borrel opened Rugazi mission, now Rugazi Parish. In the same year, Fathers Letohic and Lefleur opened Rushoroza mission in Kabale, Kigezi. In October 1912, Fathers Bringuier, Nicolet, and Bro. Tobie Kizza, the first African Brother to join the White Fathers, opened the Ibanda mission. In 1919 Fr. Lefleur founded Kitabi mission.
The Rwenzori Vicariate
Rwenzori Vicariate was carved out of the Vicariate of Uganda on 28th March 1934. The new Ecclesiastical territory then covered the political districts of Western Uganda, i.e. Nkore, Kigezi, Toro, and Bunyoro.
On July 25, 1934, Fr. Francis-Xavier Lacoursiere of the White Fathers ordained the first Bishop of Rwenzori Vicariate. Nyamitanga in Mbarara became the seat of the Vicariate. The size of the Vicariate was 400 square miles with 13 missions.
On 25 March 1953, Rwenzori Vicariate assumed the status of a diocese. In 1956 F.X. Lacoursiere retired after 21 years as Diocesan Bishop. The Second Bishop of Mbarara Diocese was Jean Marie Ogez, ordained on 26 August 1957. Due to poor health, Bishop Ogez retired in October 1968.
The third ordinary and first indigenous African Bishop is John Baptist Kakubi. He was appointed on 5 July 1969 and ordained Bishop on 1 August 1969. He retired on 23 November 1991. The present Archbishop Paul K. Bakyenga is the fourth Bishop of Mbarara. He was appointed Bishop Coadjutor of Mbarara 1 April 1989, ordained Bishop on 24 June 1989, and became Bishop Ordinary of Mbarara on 23 November 1991. He was installed Archbishop of Mbarara on 11th July 1999. On 2 Jul 2005 the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Lambert Bainomugisha auxiliary bishop of Mbarara and was ordained bishop on 1 Oct 2005at Nyamitanga Cathedral in Mbarara.
On 30 January 1999, the Holy See elevated Mbarara to an Archdiocese and Metropolitan See of the Western Uganda Ecclesiastical Province, with Paul Bakyenga as its first Archbishop. The installation ceremony of Archbishop Paul K. Bakyenga took place on 11 July 1999. Mbarara Archdiocese shares borders with Fort Portal and Kasese Dioceses in the north, Bukoba Diocese Tanzania in the south, Masaka Diocese in the east, and Kabale Diocese in the west. The Archdiocese of Mbarara Covers the following districts; Mbarara, Ibanda, Kiruhura, Isingiro, Bushenyi, Shema, Rubirizi, Mitoma, Buhweiju, and Ntungamo.