By Pascal Kwesiga and Robert Atuhairwe
The Bishop of Hoima Catholic diocese, Deogratias Byabazaire Abwooli wrote a will in which he bequeathed text books-his only property, to Universities and seminaries, his brother Henry Muganwa Kajura has said.
“When he was writing his will, he looked around for property to will to someone…he realized he only had a box of text books and he willed them to Universities and Seminaries,” Kajura, who is the first deputy prime minister and minister of Public Service, said during a mass at his home in Kampala on Sunday. The Bishop, Kajura said acquired the books during the time he taught at various seminaries in Uganda.
Kajura sent mourners laughing when he explained that when one of their relatives sought assistance from him (Byabazaire), he said “I thought you have come to give part of your wealth to the poor,”
Kajura added “I think he (Byabazaire) knew that his relatives were rich enough to give to the poor. The only thing he decided to give us was to baptize all our children and wed them,”
He explained that by the time of his death, Byabazaire was paying school fees for 300 students in higher institutions of learning. “I know some of them are now going to come to me. I think we should join hands and see them through their studies,” Kajura who has paid school fees to many students including two who have become parish priests said.
The family, Kajura said missed Byabazaire profoundly because he spent most of his time discharging his priestly duties. “He spent his time visiting the sick in hospitals, schools and church. We did not want to fail him in his duties, we gave him time,” he added.
Kajura recalled an incident during the silver jubilee celebrations at Nyamigisa Church in Masindi when Christians collected millions of money for him (Byabazaire) a few years ago, but he gave it to the headmistress of Nyamigisa SS as soon as he received it. “People were disappointed. You can imagine people have collected money for you and you give it away in their presence,” he added.
The minister said although bishops are entitled to a one month leave in a year under canon law, his brother did not take leave since he was ordained bishop of Hoima catholic diocese in 1991. Kajura thanked the pope’s nuncio to Uganda, Archbishop Michael Blume, for the support and care his brother received from the church from the time he was taken ill six years ago.
“He (Byabazaire) was received by the pope’s nuncio in India where he was admitted there six months ago. The pope nuncios in countries where he was treated from have done their work,” he added.
Rev. Father Philip Balikudembe, who celebrated the mass, noted that Byabazaire’s zeal for education and pastoral work was extraordinary.
Yesterday, Byabazaire’s family held a meeting with the archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Lwanga, to agree on burial arrangements.
According to the burial programme issued by Hoima Catholic diocese pastoral coordinator, Rev. Father Robert Mugisa, there will be a requiem mass at Rubaga Catholic Church today (tomorrow) after which the body will be transferred to Bujumbura cathedral in Hoima later in the day.
He explained that several masses will be conducted from today (tomorrow) during which Christians will be allowed to view the body until Thursday when it will be buried around the cathedral. The church has cancelled earlier plans to bury the bishop inside the church.
"We want a 30 meters long grave that will accommodate 10 Bishops in a period of 100 years." said Rev. Fr. Robert Matovu, from the diocese’s construction department.
Byabazaire, 72, passed away on Saturday morning at Nsambya hospital, shortly after he had been returned from India where medics discharged him on Friday after showing significant improvement in his health. He succumbed to hydrocephalus (cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of the brain), a mild stroke and diabetes.