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Mapeera remains to be buried tomorrow

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th March 2011 03:00 AM

THE priest who started the Catholic church in Uganda, Fr. Simeon Lourdel, commonly known as Mapeera, will be buried tomorrow.

THE priest who started the Catholic church in Uganda, Fr. Simeon Lourdel, commonly known as Mapeera, will be buried tomorrow.

By Juliet Lukwago

THE priest who started the Catholic church in Uganda, Fr. Simeon Lourdel, commonly known as Mapeera, will be buried tomorrow.

His preserved body has been kept at Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala since 1890, when he died.

The Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, said Fr. Lourdel will be buried at Mapeera-Nabulagala Parish near Entebbe, where he first spent a night when he arrived in Uganda on February 17, 1879.

At the parish, a tree that Fr. Lourdel accidentally planted still stands todate.

e had carried a peg from Tanzania and used it to erect a tent. On the following day, he proceeded towards Kampala and left the peg, which sprouted into a tree.

Todate, the tamarind tree, unlike others of the same species, has never produced flowers or fruits, which has puzzled scientists and lay men alike.

According to the Parish Priest, Fr. Richard Nnyombi, this was their first mission from March 7, 1879.
Fr. Lourdel and Br. Amans had left Marseilles in France with the first caravan of White Fathers on April 22, 1878 and landed in Zanzibar on May 30.

From the south of Lake Victoria, they went northwards across the lake to explore the situation in Uganda. They landed on the Kigungu peninsula and spent their night at Kisubi.

When Kabaka Mutesa learned of their arrival, he ordered that they be taken to Kitebi, three miles from Rubaga.

They spent fifteen days there and the Kabaka called them again. At the palace, Fr. Lourdel informed Muteesa that they had been sent to establish a Catholic mission in Uganda.

Muteesa consented to the coming of the Catholic missionaries and promised to send canoes to fetch the rest of the group.

Later, Muteesa gave them a better place at Nabulagala-Lubya, where they established a mission and celebrated their first mass in Uganda.

Who was Mapeera?

Siméon Lourdel (Mapeera) was born at Dury, France, in the Pas de Calais, of a devoutly Christian peasant family. His parents, Charles-Albert and Esther-Honoré, had four other boys. All five attended the Junior seminary.

In 1870, Fr. Mapeera presented himself at the major seminary, after helping his father bring in the harvest. He was rejected.

Determined to prove that his priestly vocation was genuine, Siméon attended Saint Bertin College at Saint-Omer.

His performance was so good that he was accepted by the Arras Major Seminary in 1872.

During his philosophy studies, Father Charmetant, a Missionary of Africa, came to speak to the seminarians, and two classmates, Bridoux and Toulotte decided to become missionaries. Lourdel was struck by their decision.

His parents consented to this at the end of 1873 and his application to the Missionaries of Africa was accepted.

Fr. Mapeera arrived at the novitiate in Algiers in February 1874 and received the habit of the Society on March 25th.

He was one of a group of ardent young men, whose high ideals were nourished by the personality of the founder, Charles Lavigerie. Like them, he was ready for any suffering, the probability of a premature death and even the possibility of martyrdom.

On February 2, 1875 he took his missionary oath and commenced theological studies.

Lourdel was profoundly affected by the massacre of three fellow missionaries, Paulmier, Menoret and Bouchand, in the Sahara desert in 1876, and this event increased his fascination with martyrdom. On April 2, 1877, Lourdel was ordained priest at Algiers. He was then twenty-four years old.

Fr Simeon Lourdel was known to all as “Mapeera”, which is derived from the French phrase “Mon Pere”, my Father (priest).

Mapeera remains to be buried tomorrow

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