It was a celebration to mark the Masaka diocesan day, but also one to mark 75 years since the creation of Masaka diocese the first Catholic diocese to be established in Uganda.
Christians braved the Sunday morning downpour at Kitovu sports arena, to pray and reflect on the works of the diocese’s pioneer bishops Henri Streitcher, Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka and Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu. Streitcher and Ddungu are buried inside Villa Maria cathedral in Masaka, while Kiwanuka who later became Archbishop of Kampala – the first African – was buried inside Lubaga cathedral.
What is worrying to the sitting bishop, John Baptist Kaggwa, is the low level of development and the falling adherence to the church’s doctrines among his flock.
“As a pioneer diocese in Uganda, we must be the pacesetters Masaka has to be the role model for other dioceses in terms of faith and development,” Kaggwa said.
“It is a big challenge that new dioceses are moving ahead of us,” the prelate added before he announced a ban on parishes embarking on own projects that are not synchronized with the diocesan development plan.
“We want Masaka to become a self-reliant diocese, and to achieve this, all parishes must move in unity. Embark on projects that have been approved by the diocese we don’t expect anyone to start projects that are independent of the diocese,” Kaggwa said.
To re-entrench Catholicism in the diocese, Bishop Kaggwa announced the re-introduction of catechism classes that had died with the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE). Besides the religious studies, basic literacy was one of the core intentions of catechism classes. Many Catholic children whose parents could not afford school fees found solace in catechism classes whose relevance was lost in 1997 at the introduction of UPE.
Many church-founded schools enrolled under the “free-for-all” government education programme, but the church was to later raise issues about the programme, because it was not giving space for religious instruction to the young learners.
“Despite the presence of UPE, we are re-introducing catechism studies in our schools, and the curriculum is to have four basic areas of study, that is, basic writing, reading, maths and religious studies,” Kaggwa announced.
He also announced new roles for the laity leadership, among which is to ensure that the more than 80 per cent Catholics in the diocese living in cohabitation, get wedded in church.
Through the Bishop’s annual appeals fund (BAFU), the diocese got Shs 87m richer, a Shs 17m improvement from last year’s Shs 70.8m collections. The fund is part of the initiatives to make the diocese less dependent on foreign donations.
The dwindling numbers of Catholics in the West have forced the church to adopt new means of survival. For instance, when funding for seminaries about a decade ago, the Uganda Catholic Secretariat adopted a cost-sharing system for students under priestly formation studies at all the major national seminaries.
“There are many seminarians without support and when they get into the major seminary such at Katigondo or Ggaba, their parents have to pay part of the costs and the diocese tops up for them. In Masaka, we decided that the parishes contribute to this cause,” Fr Peter Paul Ssemakula, the diocesan treasurer, told The Observer.
To raise the funds for this cause, Masaka diocese’s 53 parishes have been ranked in three categories: urban parishes, semi-rural parishes and ruralnew parishes. Each of the urban parishes is required to raise Shs 300,000, the semi-rural Shs 200,000 and those in the not-well-to-do class Shs 100,000.
This year, 18 parishes failed to meet their obligation and are likely to be reprimanded.
Source : The Observer