Hoima. On Monday, the Papal Nuncio to Uganda announced that Pope Francis had appointed Fr Vicent Kirabo as the new bishop of Hoima Diocese.
“Let us join in fervent prayer for the Bishop-elect Kirabo, that he will be guided and strengthened by the wisdom and courage of the Holy Spirit to discharge with fidelity and enjoy his new mission,” Archbishop Michael Blume proclaimed.
The announcement, which came barely a day after the Pope concluded his three-day apostolic visit to Uganda, was received with excitement among Christians in Bunyoro sub-region and beyond, even when his date of consecration is yet to be communicated.
The date will be announced by the Uganda Episcopal Conference in consultation with the Vatican, Fr John Mary Busobozi, the Hoima Diocesan director of communications, said.
Fr Busobozi told the Daily Monitor on Monday that Fr Kirabo’s name was forwarded to Rome by his predecessor before he passed on in February 2014. It’s the norm in the Catholic Church for each sitting bishop to submit three names of his potential successors every year.
It is from the submitted names that the Vatican assesses and evaluates the most suitable candidate.
The diocese has been without a substantive bishop for more than 5 years, since Bishop Deogratias Muganwa Byabazaire became frail and passed on.
The 71-year-old succumbed to diabetes and high blood pressure on February 8, 2014, a day after returning to Uganda from India where he had been undergoing treatment.
Due to persistent health challenges Bishop Byabazaire had, on November 13, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed the auxiliary Bishop of Mbarara Diocese Lambert Bainomugisha as the apostolic administrator of Hoima. He has been performing duties of the bishop for close to six years.
“The appointment is welcome. We have had a long wait,” Hoima Town mayor Grace Mary Mugasa said.
“We congratulate Fr Kirabo upon this appointment. We happen to come from the same parish and village,” Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom’s finance and planning minister Grace Koojo says.
Robert Senteza, who was a seminarian in 1992 when Fr Kirabo was Rector at St John Bosco’s Minor Seminary, describes Bishop Kirabo as humble, smart, principled in his acts, knowledgeable and a good time manager.
“I pray he fosters unity of purpose, spiritual growth and economic development in the diocese and mother church,” Mr Senteza, a senior clinical officer, said.
“I know him as a hardworking man and since he knew much about bishop Baharagate, I expect him to uplift the diocese the way it was moving during that time,” Mr Simon Tumusiime, a former seminarian, says.
Tumusiime, a clinician, says during Dr Baharagate’s tenure as bishop, the construction department of the diocese was booming and infrastructure in parishes was improved.
Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire, who is a former seminarian, said Fr Kirabo was a dedicated priest. “In my six years as a seminarian, I had never seen him without a Roman clerical collar. He loved his vocation and identity as a priest,” Mr Tinkasiimire said.
Bishop Vicent Kirabo is the first born of the late Isaac Tinkamanyire and Maria Tereza Kabonesa. The late Tinkamanyire was a catechist at Kahunde parish. His family has produced three priests. His brother Fr Abooki Ndiraba is the parish priest of Bwikara parish, in Kibaale Diocese. His other brother Fr Deogratias Mayanja is currently in Ireland for further studies. “We were born in a humble family that relied on subsistence farming,” Fr Ndiraba says. He described his elder brother as a humble person, who likes singing and playing basketball.
Bishop Kirabo biography
September 9,1979. Fr Kirabo was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Hoima.
1979 -1988. He was posted to St John Bosco Minor Seminary, Hoima where served as a teacher.
1985 -1988. He was appointed director of the Diocesan Commission for Vocations.
1990. He was transferred to Muhorro Parish as Vicar and the same year, he attained a Master degree in Education from the University of Portland, USA.
1991-1992. He was appointed Rector of St John Bosco Minor Seminary, Hoima.
1992 – 1997. He was appointed Diocesan financial administrator.
1998 – 2003. He was Parish Priest of Buseesa Parish.
2007 – 2008. He was transferred to Katulikire Parish as parish priest.
2008 – 2012. He became professor and financial administrator of Uganda Martyrs’ National Major Seminary, Alokolum.
2012. Lecturer St Mary’s National Major Seminary, Ggaba a position he holds to date.
Reactionss to Fr Kirabo’s appointment
“He should unite the people while taking into account the ethnic mixture of Bunyoro sub-region, the oil discovery, political divisionism. I request him to also work with Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom to promote culture.” Bernard Barugahara Atwooki, Buliisa District community development officer
“What a blessing. There is no organisation that can progress without clear leadership. I pledge my total support to Bishop Kirabo whom I have always known as a cool and level headed priest.”
Jackson Wabyoona Rugambwa, Hoima FDC chairman
“I am confident that with his wealth of experience in leadership and management, he will form a formidable team of the clergy and laity to enhance holistic growth of the diocese.”
Robert Senteza Kibirige, health worker
SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR