Rev. Fr Achilles Mayanja Ssali's 25-year sacerdotal ministry oozes remarkable spiritual and material accomplishments, which have made him one of the highly influential Catholic clerics, locally and internationally.
KAMPALA - When the Catholic Missionaries of the Society of White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) arrived here in 1879, they introduced an interesting evangelistic strategy, which enabled them to produce marvelous spiritual and material results.
Further to preaching the Good News of the heavenly kingdom of Jesus, Fr Lourdel Mapeera, Bro Delmas Amans, and their contemporaries also treated the sick, educated children and equipped the natives with life skills, which enabled them to be productive and self-reliant. They also lavished charity to the poor and disadvantaged people.
Rev. Fr Achilles Mayanja Ssali, 54, the reigning parish-priest of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Kansanga, has a deep assimilation of the White Fathers' pastoral approach of integral development, which interestingly, has characterized the mission of the Catholic Church, since its inception by Jesus Christ, over two thousand years ago.
His 25-year sacerdotal ministry oozes remarkable spiritual and material accomplishments, which have made him one of the highly influential Catholic clerics, locally and internationally.
Call to Priesthood
Mayanja started his call to the Catholic sacerdotal ministry when he was still a little boy. He attributes his vocation to the strong religious influence of his parents and the family's proximity to the parish church.
"My parents, the late Bernadette Nalunkuuma and Charles Lwanga were committed Christians and exemplary parents. They nurtured us into a religious culture of prayer; we would pray in the morning and the evening. We would also attend with them daily mass. I later became an altar boy. Because of my closeness to the priests at Nkokonjeru, I developed the desire to become a priest. The good character and charity of Sr Bernard Mary and other Little sisters of St Francis also inspired me to join the seminary."
Mayanja, the eighth in line of 12 children (six boys and six girls) started his priestly training at Nyenga Minor Seminary (1981-87). He later studied Philosophy at Katigondo National Major Seminary, subsequent to which he joined St Mary's National Major Seminary, Ggaba, for his theological studies. He was subsequently ordained a priest at Lubaga Cathedral on July 16, 1994.
Mayanja was subsequently appointed as a curate of Lubaga Cathedral Parish. He worked under Msgr John Waynand Katende (whom he calls his mentor) for three years, after which he was appointed as the parish priest of Nabbingo Catholic parish (1997-2003).
In 2003, he went to the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (Nairobi), where he did his Master's Degree in Pastoral Theology. Upon return (2005), he was made the founding parish-priest of Wakiso. A year later (2005), Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga named him as the Parish-priest of Rubaga Cathedral. He reigned as the arch-priest of Rubaga Cathedral until 2012, when he was appointed as the parish-priest of Kansanga.
During the 25 years of his ministry, Fr Mayanja has exhibited himself as a hardworking minister of the Catholic Church, with the zeal to promote the integral development of Christians and the church's self-sustenance.
His commitment to integral development is clearly projected by the many projects that he has ably accomplished during his successive appointments. At Kansanga, he built a multi-million storied building for the church's affiliate Kindergarten, further to completing the church's multi-purpose building, which houses the offices of the parish. He also renovated the church's affiliate primary school (St Kizito) and constructed the parish's spacious park-yard. He also built the church's beautiful adoration chapel and renovated/beautified the Grotto of Mary.
At Lubaga, Mayanja made a significant contribution towards the construction of the Cathedral's parish hall. He also purchased the Cathedral's screens and improved the parish's play-ground among several other things.
Mayanja also established a number of income-generating projects for the Catholic parish of Nabbingo, the most prominent of which is the commercial building, which houses several rental shops. He also bought modern pews and improved on the beauty of the Church. Mayanja also renovated and refurbished the parish's health centre.
Mayanja also built a health centre and, a primary school at his home village at Katente-Katwe, Nkokonjeru, in Mukono district.
But probably most importantly, Mayanja, in his capacity as the Director of Divine Mercy, worked hard and secured the first-class relic of St Faustina Kowalska, which is being kept in Lubaga Cathedral.
Pope Francis honours Mayanja
The holistic sacerdotal ministry of Fr Achilles Mayanja Ssali attracted the attention of Pope Francis, who imparted his apostolic blessing on him, on the occasion of his 25th priestly anniversary at Pope Paul Memorial Hotel, Lubaga, on October 12. The pontifical blessing was handed over to Mayanja by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
Archbishop Lwanga spoke highly Mayanja describing him as a hard-working priest, who has made a big contribution to the development of the Church and the country.
Other people also appreciated Mayanja's evangelistic approach of integral development, to which they attributed the success of his ministry.
The massive thanksgiving function attracted thousands of Christians and people of goodwill from the various parishes that Mayanja worked in or helped to create. They include Rubaga Cathedral, Nabbingo, Wakiso, Kyengera, Kkonge-Lukuli, Mutundwe and Nkokonjeru (where he hails). A number of guests from Europe and the US also graced the function.
Christians gave Fr. Mayanja numerous gifts, including an all-expenses-paid trip to the Divine Mercy Shrine in Poland, courtesy of the Good Samaritan department of Kampala Archdiocese.