Thanking God for 25 years of Mbikko Parish.
November 5th was a day to remember in the lives of the Christians of St. Karoli Lwanga Mbikko Parish in Lugazi Diocese Uganda. The Christian community, Mill Hill Missionaries and the local church gathered to thank God for the gift faith and growing together as Mbikko family. This was under the theme “Inspired by the Uganda Martyrs to be strong in faith”. It was such a colourful celebration graced by the presence of Fr. Michael Corcoran, our Mill Hill General Superior, and the Vicar General of Lugazi Diocese, Msgr Richard Kayondo, with eleven Mill Hill Missionary priests present and about seventeen local clergy who joined us in the celebration.
These celebrations were preceded by different activities including a pilgrimage to the birthplace of St. Charles Lwanga and a Jubilee marathon and a day of recollection. We also had a Jubilee project which included putting a permanent structure under the tree where it all started (where the subparish began) for our outdoor masses/activities. And we erected a statue of St. Charles Lwanga in the parish compound.
During the celebrations, we had 150 infants baptized and the wedding of 5 couples. This was also a moment to thank God for our forebears, our ancestors in faith who walked the same ground we walk today and laid the foundation of faith in our community. With inspiration from our own Uganda Martyrs and our Patron Charles Lwanga, we paid tribute to the early Christians of the parish, the leaders and catechists.
As a parish we are still full of gratitude to the founding fathers especially the former parish priests who worked to establish Mbikko. We remember with gratitude Fr. Bone with whom it all began, Fr. Wiedemair who constructed the church, the presbytery and most structures in the parish compound as well as a good number of churches in the subparishes. We are grateful to Fr. Wijnand Huijs and his love for music which made Mbikko a very ‘musical parish’. Gratitude to Fr. Stan Bondoko and Fr. Otto Bambokela who introduced the Small Christian Community way of being Church which we still promote as a model of Church for the parish. We are indebted to all priests and Mill Hill associates who have stayed or worked in Mbikko for their different contributions in the life of the parish.
25 years is not a long time but a marker showing that we are growing and we can see the fruits of the Good News, hence the invitation to continue to be good news to our communities. Mbikko parish is the only remaining parish run by Mill Hill Missionaries in the whole of the Eastern and Central regions of Uganda.
I remember Bishop Emeritus Mathias Ssekamanya telling me the importance of Mill Hill being in Mbikko; a reminder to the local Church of where they have come from and the call for them to also be missionary. So we too as Mill Hill Missionaries celebrate years of loving service and growing together in faith as Church, each playing his own part in the process. With gratitude to God, we look forward to a better and more loving Church where everyone, rich or poor, Catholic or not, feels at home in the love of God and neighbor.
Fr Joseph King Afumaboh mhm