When the Vatican announced his name as the bishop who would take charge of Masaka diocese at the retirement of Bishop Adriane Kivumbi Ddungu (RIP), the then Rev Fr John Baptist Kaggwa chose June 24, the day of his patron saint, for his consecration.
Kaggwa entered Masaka on June 24, 1995, in a motorcade led by youthful priests and Catholic faithful who led him from Lweera, where Kampala archdiocese borders Masaka diocese, to Kitovu cathedral for his consecration as a coadjutor bishop. Kaggwa was to work under Bishop Ddungu until 1998 when the Vatican finally retired the latter after leading the diocese for 36 years.
Coming in as the diocese’s third African bishop after the late Archbishop Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka and Ddungu, Kaggwa looked at the task ahead as a tough one, but considered the challenges as part of his priestly calling. These memories were still fresh on June 28 as he marked his 19th anniversary as Bishop of Masaka at the newly-constructed Kitovu Sports Arena.
At the celebration, Kaggwa gave an accountability of his time at the helm of the diocese where Catholicism took refuge during the religious wars of the 1880s in Buganda. Among the achievements he is proud of is taking the services of the church nearer to the faithful through creation of new parishes some of which like Mannya parish, carved out of Ssanje parish in Rakai district that was already transforming lives through agriculture.
But amidst the pomp and fanfare, Kaggwa reported that the major challenge facing the church is the increase in cases of polygamy and cohabitation.
“We all appreciate that the family, joined together in matrimony is the foundation of the church, because it is through that holy union that we get the clergy and the religious,” he said to an attentive congregation.
“The future of the church is threatened now that many of you in this diocese prefer cohabitation to holy matrimony, and the married ones are also turning polygamous against the teachings of the church,” Kaggwa added.
MPs Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municpality) Freda Kase Mubanda (Masaka Woman) and Mathias Kasamba (Kakuuto), among others, contributed more than Shs 3m towards the printing of the diocesan map that outlines the boundaries of Masaka diocese.
Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa was born on March 23, 1943 at Bulenga near Kampala. He attended Lubaga Boys primary school. He started his priestly formation at Kisubi Minor Seminary, later joining Katigondo Major Seminary in Masaka before moving on to Urban University Rome for his Philosophical and Theological studies.
He was ordained priest in Rome, on December 12, 1971 at the age of 28. Soon after, he completed his doctorate studies, graduating with a PhD in Canon Law (the law of the Catholic church)and returned to Uganda in the 1980s to become the first Rector of Ggaba National Major Seminary.
On December 19, 1994, he was appointed the coadjutor Bishop of Masaka, and waited for six months until the day of his patron saint John the Baptist, to be consecrated. He succeeded Bishop Ddungu on January 10,1998.
Source : The Observer