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Preserved for bishop’s throne

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th September 2005 03:00 AM

On October 1, Fr. Lambert Bainomugisha will be consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Mbarara Archdiocese at Nyamitanga Cathedral, becoming the first auxiliary bishop in the history of the archdiocese.

On October 1, Fr. Lambert Bainomugisha will be consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Mbarara Archdiocese at Nyamitanga Cathedral, becoming the first auxiliary bishop in the history of the archdiocese.

By Raymond Baguma

On October 1, Fr. Lambert Bainomugisha will be consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Mbarara Archdiocese at Nyamitanga Cathedral, becoming the first auxiliary bishop in the history of the archdiocese.

But those who have interacted with the bishop-elect from his childhood days, remember him as a boy, who survived infancy when illness claimed the lives of his siblings, leaving him alone.

While growing up, his home village lacked a priest and Sunday sermons were rarely conducted to provide spiritual nourishment to residents. As a result, the then 14-day-old Bainomugisha was baptised by his catechist dad.

Today, his elderly parents, Joseph Mugyenyi, 70, and Matilda Kaahwa, 70, live in Omukatojo village in Isingiro district, 63 kilometres outside Mbarara town. Residents in this village may soon run out of superlatives to allude to their son.

“Ooh! Father Bainomugisha! I have heard he has been appointed bishop and we pray for him,” said Kelesensio Lukaya, a resident of the area.

Omukatojo landscape, lying on the leeward side, is stony, sun-scorched and hilly. If rain were alcohol, then Omukatojo receives the dregs.

I found Bainomugisha’s father working in the family’s 20-acre banana plantation, while his wife was supervising labourers.

Kaahwa did not talk much although her beaming face revealed her unspoken words. She urged me to stay for lunch before I could depart. Mugyenyi remarked, “I am thankful to God because my mission is fulfiled. I was a lay leader, who preached about God to others. Now my son will take over from me.”

According to the Canon Law, an auxiliary bishop is appointed at the request of a diocesan bishop. At times, in more serious circumstances, even of a personal nature, a diocesan bishop may be given an auxiliary with special faculties. However, an auxiliary does not have a right of succession. An auxiliary is a helper. The archdiocese’s social communications secretary, Sr. Germina Keneema said it is based on the above that Archbishop Paul Bakyenga had to get a bishop to help.

Mbarara arch-diocese covers 10,980 kilometres, with a population of 2,205,862 out of whom 856,168 are Catholics, 131 priests and 282 religious.

Bainomugisha was born on July 12, 1961. He attended Buhungiro Church School from 1970-1971, then Kyabahesi Church School from 1972-1974 and Kiyenje Primary School (1975-1977). He later joined Kitabi Minor Seminary, Bushenyi in 1978. Between 1984-1987, he studied philosophy and theology at the National Major Seminaries of Katigondo and later, Ggaba from 1988-1991.

Bainomugisha was ordained priest on July 13, 1991 in Nyamitanga cathedral, Mbarara. After his ordination, he worked in Rubindi parish as curate until 1994. He has been serving as chancellor of the arch-diocese until his appointment. “Our faith was nurtured by lay people.

We never celebrated mass everyday in the village. We had nobody to look up to. My first exposure to the outside world was when I joined Kitabi seminary. “Our missionaries did everything possible to raise us.

The parish priest of Buhungiro, a French white father, Fr. Servel, was a big inspiration,” the bishop-elect said. His colleague priests describe him as a self-effacing person, preferring to remain away from the limelight.

They also cite his love for pastoral work and dislike for written sermons. He is fluent in English, Runyankore-Rukiga, French, Latin, Luganda and Kinyarwanda. He has a knack to recall past events with exactness to the extent that he still recalls the delicious fish he ate from a Chinese restaurant in Rome in 1998. He later enrolled at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, Canada from 1994-2000, where he obtained a doctorate in Canon law.

“During his childhood, he loved playing with his friends and loved being the priest during those role plays. He would wear fresh banana leaves on his head like a bishop’s mitre and would then administer the Eucharist,” said Mugyenyi of his son. On Saturday July 2, 2005, news of appointment found Bainomugisha in church. “I was in the middle of holy mass in St. Patrick’s Basilica in Canada when the news was relayed to me.

I was overwhelmed.” The timing may not have been better because he was only 10 days to his 45th birthday, and this presented itsefl as a timely birthday gift. His parents led the entourage to welcome him at the airport on his arrival from Canada. “The news of our son’s appointment as auxiliary bishop was brought to us by Father Erineo Karenzi, the Buhungiro parish priest. I had spent the day on my farm in Mbaare and when I got home at around 8:00pm, I received the news,” said the elderly Mugyenyi.

Bainomugisha’s sibling, Celestin Mugizi, said his elder brother would return home at the end of the school term with a variety of gifts including that of the best pupil, cleanest and well-behaved. Msgr. John Barugahare, the parish priest of Uganda Martyrs church, said, “He is serious in his vocation with the ability of making friends with the young and old.” “Since S1, we were together until our ordination. He is gentle and not capricious, quiet and intent on doing right,” said Fr. Ben Njunwoha, the headmaster of St. Joseph’s Vocational school in Mbarara.

Fr. Bonaventure Turyomumazima, a former classmate of the bishop-elect in Canada, said, “In Ottawa, I did not know I was moving with a soon-to-be important person. I am privileged.

“News often comes from far away. But it is more surprising when someone you move with is named bishop.

“The church stands to benefit from his appointment. When I look at the profile of his friends, he crosses borders from Catholics to other faiths.”

Preserved for bishop’s throne

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