The Uganda Foundation was created by the Superior General on October 2, 2008 after suppressing the East African Province, the Kenya District and the Ethiopia International Group. The new circumscriptions created are: Tanzania Province, Kenya Foundation, Uganda Foundation and Ethiopia Foundation. These new realities will work together as Union of Circumscriptions of Eastern Africa (UCEAF). Each circumscription is autonomous in finance, administration, vocation work, initial reception of candidates, admission to vows and ordination but have a common program of initial formation. The new superior of the Uganda Foundation is Fr. Joseph Mary Kiganda. The Foundation has 24 members.
The mission of the Uganda Foundation is indeed not different from the mission of the Congregation. “The evangelization of the “poor” is our purpose” (Spiritan Rule of Life 4). Everywhere we are called to serve, we shall make sure that we identify the needy and poor and be of service to them. In particular, we shall strengthen our involvement with the deaf children, people living with HIV/AIDS, the sick and school drop outs (especially girls). These people are crying for justice and our task is to listen to their cry.
Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a portion of the south of the country including the capital Kampala. The first Catholic missionaries to arrive in Uganda were Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), Fr. Loudel and Br. Amans. They arrived in Uganda on Feb 17, 1879. On their way to Uganda, they were assisted by the Holy Spirit Missionaries at Bagamoyo where a caravan was prepared for them to move to the interior.
The first evangelization was centered around the royal court of the Buganda kingdom and the first converts were the young pages who worked at the king’s palace. king Muteesa I of Buganda who had enthusiastically welcomed the missionaries later turned against them. The missionaries were forced to go out of the country to Mwanza in northern Tanzania in 1882. At the death of king Muteesa I in 1884, they returned to Uganda, thinking that the young king, Mwanga would be favorable to them. The missionaries were amazed on their return to find a flourishing Christian community. The catechumens had carried on the missionary work. King Mwanga never lived to his expectations. He soon began to persecute the Christians and many of them were burnt to death on June 3, 1886. This day is commemorated in Uganda as a national holiday. In 1890, religious wars broke out in Uganda between the Christians and the Muslims. The Muslims were defeated but in 1892 the Protestants fought against the Catholics. The Protestants with the help of the British defeated the Catholics. Many people died in these wars. As the British took firm control of Uganda, they negotiated a settlement with the Catholics but excluded the Catholics from the political running of the country. Nevertheless, the Catholic church grew rapidly as it became the common man’s religion and became the largest denomination in the country.
According to the 2002 National Census, Christians of all denominations made up 85.1% of Uganda's population of 26.4 million. The Catholic Church has the largest number of adherents (41.9%), followed by the Anglican Church of Uganda (35.9%). The second most preferred religion of Uganda is Islam, with Muslims representing 12.1% of the population.
Ugandan Spiritan Pioneers
The first Spiritan to work in Uganda was Fr. Bonifasi Remo from the USA East Province who worked in Karamoja Diocese between 1970 and 1978. In 1977, two Ugandans namely Henry Ssemanda and Paulinus Kyeza joined the East African Formation Program at Usa River. The following year they joined Kibosho Senior Seminary but left after philosophy. Other Ugandans who joined the Spiritan Formation Program between 1979 and 1981 but never went beyond Usa River were: Mutebi John, Raymond Tamale Ssentongo R.I.P. (became a Benedictine), Ssennyomo Francis R.I.P. (later became a member of the Apostles of Jesus) and Emmanuel Mukaaya. In 1980, Gerard Nnamunga and Muddu Andrew joined Spiritan Formation Program at Usa River Seminary and were professed in the Congregation in 1984. Meanwhile, Aloysius Ndema after doing one year of philosophy with the Apostles of Jesus joined the Spiritan formation program in 1981 at Kibosho Seminary whilst Festo Adrabo who had completed philosophy with the Apostles of Jesus joined Spiritan House, Nairobi for theology. Ndema and Adrabo were the first Ugandans to be professed in the Congregation in 1983 at Magamba. Festo Adrabo was the first Ugandan Spiritan to be ordained a priest at Mulago in 1986.
The Holy Spirit missionaries were given Mulago Parish in Kampala Archdiocese in 1982. Fr. George Crocenzi was appointed parish priest. He was assisted by deacon John Mwenga. Fr. Crocenzi R.I.P. is still remembered for his hard work. He was the Chaplain of Mulago Hospital as well as the Parish Priest of Mulago Parish. After the departure of deacon Mwenga, Fr. Des O’Sullivan assisted him briefly. Later Fr. Anthony Darragh was assigned to Mulago. He is most remembered for developing Kamwokya Sub-Parish into a parish. When Festo Adrabo was ordained a priest in 1986, his first appointment was Mulago Parish where he worked for seven years and replaced Fr. Crocenzi as parish priest in 1988. It was during his time that the presbytery was built. Fr. Festo was replaced by Fr. Felix Kauta R.I.P. as parish priest in 1993. The following year, Spiritans were entrusted with the pastoral care of Naddangira parish where Fr. Peter Suttle was appointed parish priest assisted by Fr. Nestor Ngolle. After working there for one year, the Spiritans moved out of Naddangira and Frs. Suttle and Ngolle took over the pastoral care of Mulago parish in 1995 as parish priest and assistant parish priest respectively. In their ministry at Naddangira, they built there a dispensary. Fr. Nestor Ngolle took over as the parish priest when Fr. Peter left Uganda. He was replaced by Fr. Shio Joseph in 1998. Fr. Shio built St. Joseph Mulago Community Centre. Mpererwe sub parish which was part of Jjinja Karoli Parish was added to Mulago Parish. He was replaced by Fr. Gerard Nnamunga is 2002 who saw the expansion of Mulago School for the Deaf to a boarding school. Fr. Bukenya Dennis took over from Fr. Nnamunga in 2006. Fr. Martin Andama is now the parish priest as of January 2010.
Most of the pastoral activity, is sacramental ministry. The Spiritans at Mulago have concentrated on the building and strengthening of Small Christian Communities, inter-religious dialogue and the youth apostolate. The parish has a Vocational Training Centre which provides practical skills in tailoring, handcraft, computer science and catering to mainly school drop out girls. There is also a lot of pastoral activity directed towards people living with HIV/AIDS. The parish has a deaf school, Mulago School for the Deaf which is a primary school.
Mulago Chaplaincy was part and parcel of Mulago parish pastoral ministry until the early 1990s when this ministry was entrusted to a diocesan priest. This ministry was given back to the Spiritans in 1998 who worked as a team from Mulago parish. In particular, Fr. Harry Tullemans did ministry there for two years before he handed over to Fr. Festo Adrabo in 1999. Fr. Festo was replaced by Fr. Charles Walimbwa as chaplain in 2006. Fr. Martin Andama replaced Walimbwa in 2007. In January 2010, Fr. Peter Mulyanga was appointed the Chaplain of the Hospital.
St. Joseph, Bukwa
The Spiritans accepted the invitation by the Archbishop of Tororo, James Odong to do pastoral ministry at Bukwa Parish in 2003. Bukwa is in a very remote place on the slopes of Mt. Elgon bordering Kenya in eastern Uganda. Transportation to Bukwa is very difficult especially during the rainy season. The mission was established by the Mill Hill Missionaries in 1956 who provided it with the basic structures of a mission parish: a church, presbytery, primary school and a health center. Fr. Kerebba Nicholas, a Ugandan and Vincent Makokha a Kenyan did pastoral ministry in this parish as parish priest and assistant parish priest respectively and saw the development of St. Joseph Girls Secondary school before the Spiritans pulled out of the parish in July 2006.