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Bible in one hand, gun in the other

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th December 2011 01:44 PM

I was born in Konge-Lukuli, Makindye Division, in 1921 to the late Kandida Nabulya Kaggwa and John Baptist Kaggwa Katongole. I am the third of nine children. My father was a clerk in the Buganda treasury.

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I was born in Konge-Lukuli, Makindye Division, in 1921 to the late Kandida Nabulya Kaggwa and John Baptist Kaggwa Katongole. I am the third of nine children. My father was a clerk in the Buganda treasury.

I was born in Konge-Lukuli, Makindye Division, in 1921 to the late Kandida Nabulya Kaggwa and John Baptist Kaggwa Katongole. I am the third of nine children. My father was a clerk in the Buganda treasury.

As a boy, I used to admire Catholic priests as they rode their motorbikes in their cassocks. They were kind, helping the needy people they came across. Their goodness inspired me to become a priest. So, after my primary at Gayaza and St. Peter’s, Nsambya, I told my father about my intention to become a priest. He gave me the green light. He had been to a seminary and understood my desire.
 
I joined Nnyenga Minor Seminary, where I studied from 1937 to 43. I then advanced to Ggaba National Major Seminary in 1943 and was ordained a sub-deacon in 1950. Bishop Vincent Billington ordained me a priest in 1951.
I worked at Nnyenga, Namugongo, Malongwe, Nkokonjeru, Buvuma and Nsambya parishes. I also worked as the Kampala archdiocesan education secretary, as chaplain of central prisons.
 
The highlight of my calling was as the Catholic chaplain of the Uganda Army, between 1971 and 1979. I first underwent a year-long military training in Jinja. After graduating as a commissioned officer and captain, I was deployed to Bondo Barracks in Arua.
 
Some people find it incredible for a priest to handle a gun, but one needs to understand the role of an army chaplain. 
What I did in the barracks was no different from what I did in the parish. Soldiers are not different from other human beings; they have similar spiritual, moral and material needs. 
 
I never had serious problems with the soldiers. In fact, I found them to be easy people. They respected me and also obeyed my teaching. Perhaps the only problem I observed was that some of them were adamant in their errant ways. 
There were those who highly respected the chaplaincy, even above their commanders. Sometimes, indisciplined soldiers were afraid to be referred to the chaplain. If a chaplain failed to handle a soldier, he would be dismissed from the army or would never be promoted.
 
In the barracks, we did everything together; worked, ate, socialised and relaxed together. 
Even though I was issued a uniform and a gun, I never participated in combat, and would accompany the soldiers to the battlefield to encourage and boost their morale. An example is in 1978 in Mutukula, when I visited several army units, countrywide, during operations. 
 
I also rubbed shoulders with President Idd Amin. 
When I left the army, I worked at Naddangira parish, before being posted to Mulajje, where I still serve to date.
As a priest, I face a number of challenges. For example, Catholic priests lead a celibate life, yet like any other human being, you will get the feelings, but you have to prevail by the grace of God.
I celebrate 60 years in the priesthood today.
 
As told to  Mathias Mazinga
 
 

Bible in one hand, gun in the other

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