Monday, May 21, 2012

Franciscan Uganda

Last Wednesday, May 16, Will, Jamie and I all departed from the Juba airport: Will to Nairobi then on to the US, Jamie and I (after a cancelled flight and an all-day wait) to Entebbe (Kampala), Uganda.

We were warmly welcomed by the Polish Conventual Franciscans who staff the recently formed St. Francis of Assisi Church, located a few miles north of Kampala on the main road. The friars have been there for three years and recently moved into their newly finished residence. One of the classrooms on the ground floor of the still-under-construction school serves as the temporary parish church. They hope to begin construction on a proper church in the near future, after the school is finished.

A quarry with a shallow pond and water lilies on the hill behind the parish.

The friary (orange roof, left) and school (red roof, center) from above.

The school, still under construction.

The temporary parish church on the ground floor of the school.
A good part of the outreach we’ve been doing in the Kampala area has been in conjunction with a Franciscan prison ministry team. We’ve been joining them in visiting a different section of the prison system each day. So far we’ve hit remand and Murchison Bay; later this week we’ll visit maximum, condemned and women’s. The visits  include praise and worship, led by Jamie, a talk about Easter and the Holy Spirit, sometimes Mass and finally praying with and over the inmates. The prisoners have been amazingly open and responsive, and the sessions have been exceptionally blessed. Unfortunately, because of prison regulations, we haven’t been able to take any photos of these activities.

Jamie teaching a song at an outdoor Mass for small Christian community.

Fr. Herald preaching while the catechist translates into Luganda.

Fr. Wojtek receives a chicken as part of the offertory.
One evening we also had the opportunity of celebrating Mass for the owners and employees of Delight Uganda (producer of Cheers juices) in Kampala on the site of their production facility. This is a company that has gone out of its way to provide jobs for those in need of employment, as well as having invested economically in South Sudan. Again, the enthusiastic response was overwhelming.

Fr. Simon and altar servers at Sunday Mass.
This past weekend we were very happy to plug into activities with the friars at St. Francis Parish, joining Fr. Wojtek for a small Christian community Mass in one of the outlying areas of the parish, and concelebrating and preaching with Fr. Simon at the two Sunday Masses at the school.

The Sunday collection, including potatoes, matoke (green plantains) and two chickens. 

On Sunday afternoon it was a special joy to catch up with Agnes Kiyimba, and meet her daughter Mary Nicolette. I married Dennis and Agnes in Kampala in December 2010, and their daughter Mary was born last November. I worked closely with Dennis in South Sudan while I was stationed there, and we just saw him in Torit last week. Their daughter is a beautiful, peaceful, joyful baby who has the special blessing of having two faith-filled, committed Catholics for parents.

Mary Nicolette (Nelia) Kiyimba.

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