During this past year the diocese of Jinja celebrated the 50th anniversary of its existence. The Jubilee book published to mark the occasion underlines the key role played by the Mill Hill Missionaries in the evangelization of Busoga. Fr Wijnand Huijs mhm speaks of his experience. Fr Richard Kayaga writes about the Cultural Research Centre founded by Fr Piet Korse mhm.
HAPPY MEMORIES OF FR. WIJNAND HUIJS
Less than 3 years after the diocese of Jinja was created fifty one years ago, I was appointed to Uganda to join the first and newly appointed bishop of Jinja, Bishop Joseph Willigers, a fellow Milt Hill missionary who originated from the same diocese in the Netherlands as myself which made me feel very much at home, Before coming to Uganda I was studying theology in St, Joseph’s College of Mill Hill London. During my last year in 1968 I met a priest from Busoga Fr. Sylvester Mudago who was also studying in London, Having been appointed to Busoga, Jinja Diocese, I invited him to attend my ordination in The Netherlands which took place on 29th June 1968. This was the beginning of a long and deep relationship with the people of Busoga and the Diocese of Jinja.
I arrived in Uganda on 25th January 1969, warmly welcomed at Entebbe by Bishop Willigers who appointed me as curate to the Cathedral Parish,- Jinja.A few months later I was sent to Kyebando to assist Msgr. Tomas Kasadha the first Musoga priest and to learn Luganda rather than Lusoga since Luganda was the language used in the liturgy and religious instructions at that time. After 6 months i was appointed back to the Cathedral.
In 1971 Father Mudago, the second Musoga priest, after his return from London became my parish priest. And as such l became the first Mill Hill missionary in Busoga who served as a curate to a local indigenous priest. At my arrival in 1969 all parishes were headed by Mill Hill missionaries except Kyebando parish, I felt very happy to be part of the Diocese of Jinja serving and building up the local church.
There was a great spirit of collegiality and brotherhood among the Mill-Hill family, 35 in number, who used to visit each other regularly on Sunday afternoon, travelling long distances to be able to share company, a good meal and a drink, chatting and playing games, returning in the evening with renewed strength and enthusiasm to continue with our different ministries in the diocese. At the Bishop’s House, Bishop Willigers often created occasions where we could mix and share with the growing numbers of local priests and strengthen the bond between us.
The period of Amin’s regime was a challenging time for all of us. Some missionaries were forcec to leave, others narrowly escaped death, including Bishop Willigers and myself. Bishop Willigers inspired me very much by his courage and determination to stay whatever may come in solidarity with the people who were suffering. I felt that during this trying period our bond with the people was deepened and we felt very close to them,
Fr Sylvester Mudago, who would become my parish priest in Jinja, congratulating me on the day of my ordination in the Netherlands on 29th June 1968
Many years have passed since. In the meantime the local church has grown and the local clergy has taken on full responsibility. The dream of the Mill Hill missionaries to plant and build up the church in Busoga has taken very concrete form, In the meantime most of the Mill-Hill missionaries have either died or have retired. Recently during a moving ceremony led by
Bishop Charles Wamika, the second Bishop of Jinja, we remembered the first Bishop of Jinja, the late Bishop Willigers, Mill Hill missionary, together with all other Mill Hill missionaries, living and dead, who had served during the fifty years since the diocese as created. lt was moving to witness how the young seminarians of the local church of e Diocese of Jinja, teamed up with the young African Mill Hill seminarians from Congo, Kenya and Uganda, future successors of the Mill Hill Missionaries who worked in Jinja Diocese.
They formed a strong and united choir inspiring a big group of The Little Sisters of St Francis, founded by Mother Kevin to get up in order to join in a vigorous and lively dance led by Mother General, reminding us that Mother Kevin had come to Uganda at the invitation of the Mill Hill Missionaries in 1902 and that these same sisters had served and worked hand in hand with the Mill Hill missionaries for many years and are now continuing to work closely with the local Church.
During the same ceremony the Bishop presented a Certificate of Appreciation to a representative of the Mill Hill Society, recognizing and congratulating all the Mill Hill Missionaries who had served since the diocese was established 50 years ago and all the names were read out. Myself, Father Louis Kessels and 15 members of the young generation of Mill Hill Missionaries from Africa and Asia who had come to attend this celebration, are very grateful for this recognition.
Whilst writing this article, news reached us that Father Kees Groenewoud, aged 74, had died in the Netherlands, a Mill-Hill missionary who served this Diocese for many years as Youth Chaplain at Rubaga Student Centre and in the Youth Apostolate in Jinja town. May his soul rest in peace.
The Golden Jubilee is an occasion to look back with gratitude for all the blessings received and to look ahead with courage and determination to continue to consolidate what was initiated fifty years ago. It is an opportunity also to acknowledge weaknesses and mistakes and ask forgiveness from each other and strengthen the bond with one another. May St. Matia Mulumba, the patron saint of the Diocese of Jinja and St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Mill Hill society, intercede for us. Happy Feast and Congratulations!
Father Wijnand Huijs mhm
Rector of the Mill-Hill Formation House Jinja
CULTURAL RESEARCH TRE DIOESE OF JINJA
One of the fruits of the Synod
It happened that at the time of the Synod, Rev. Piet Korse mhm had just come to work in the Diocese and had spent about two years. He was a missionary whose zeal for African culture exceeded by far even that of the owners of the culture. On a number of occasions, he had approached Bishop Willigers on matters of liturgy and culture. However, like the old adage goes: Rome was not built in one day. Bishop Willigers had not hurried to respond to Fr Piet’s pastoral-cultural zeal. As luck would have it, now “the people of the Diocese, at the invitation Bishop had spoken.”
Recalling that one of his priests, was much interested in African Culture, Bishop proposed him to the Liturgical Commission for consideration in setting up a Cultural Centre. The Diocesan Liturgical Commission approved Fr. Piet Korse and identified John Patrick Kaluuba, a catechist in a parish to begin with.
According to the current head of the Centre, Fr. Piet Korse was the right person to have pioneered this cause. He was very instrumental in the establishment of the Cultural Research Centre – Diocese of Jinja, given his background to African culture in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he had worked for a long time. An ad hoc committee of four: Fr. Ssajabi, Fr. Piet Korse, Fr. Patrick Mubiru and Mr, Paul Bateeze, was set up: but actually it was of three since shortly after setting it up, Fr, Patrick Mubiru was sent for studies in Rome. The ad hoc committee did preliminary ground including recruiting staff in addition to the manager of the Centre, Fr. Piet who was already there.
Fundraising started with the help of the Jinja Diocesan Development Coordinating Organization (Jiddeco) by then headed by Paul Bateeze. While many donors were sent the concept project proposal, only few responded and some for once, It is onLy DKA – Austria that has footed the Centre’s bill 100% almost from its inception to date. Having secured some funding, the Centre was opened on 1st September 1997, meaning that this year, as the Diocese celebrates its golden Jubilee, Cultural Research Centre is 20 years old since its establishment.
A lot is owed to the pioneer staff who were: Fr. Piet Korse MHM as Manager, Mr John Patrick Kaluuba as first Field Assistant, Mr. Deo Balikoowa Waiswa second Field Assistant and Mrs. Jane Bameka who was the Secretary/typist.
Providentially, around the same time, Mr. John Lawrence Lawrence Cedrick D’Souza who works with Madhvani Group of Companies in London, donated his house and his mother’s house in Jinja at Nile Gardens Plot 5 and 38 respectively to the diocese of Jinja. This was the time when the Government of Uganda was returning the properties of the Departed Asians. D’Souza gave Bishop Joseph Willigers powers of attorney to claim the buildings from the Custodian Board, which he did. Cultural Research Centre became a beneficiary of this donation by being given the one at Plot 5, while Plot 38 was given as offices for the Jinja Diocesan Development and Coordinating Office (Jiddeco) which is now known as Caritas.
The buildings were in a sorry state; thanks to Porticus, a donor organization that funded the bill for renovating Plot 5, in order to house the Cultural Research Centre -Diocese of Jinja (CRC). Since January 1998 the Centre has enjoyed the quiet environment at Nile Gardens PLot 5, which has contributed to the accomplishments in these 20 years.
Cultural Research Centre’s vision is: “A harmonious people that is fully developed and deeply rooted in its cultural values and practices.” The mission statement reads: “To research, preserve and promote our God-given ancestral and life-giving cultural heritage; and to inculcate a deep sense of pride and belonging among the Basoga.”
The Centre believes in the following values: Reverence for the divine, sanctity of human life, reconciliation and mutual respect, Humaneness, Commitment and Punctuality.
The strategic goal for Cultural Research Centre, is to make it: “A Centre for learning and information exchange.”
Over the years, the Centre has grown and done a lot of documentation on Kisoga cuLture with close to 35 publications. Cultural sensitization seminars and workshops have been conducted for both Church personnel, in schools, institutions of higher learning and cultural institutions.
Among the published books we have:
Kisoga folk story books about ten of them Ensambo dh’Abasoga (a collection close to 3,000 proverbs, the wisdom and philosophy of our Basoga ancestors
Traditional Religion and Clans among the Basoga, Omuvangano and the English counterpart “Reconciliation among the Basoga”, Lusoga grammar (in 2000),
The Concept of Good luck and Bad Luck Among the Basoga
Lusoga- English, English Lusoga dictionary. Ebikoiko (Kisoga riddles)
Concept of Witchcraft, Divination and Healing among the Basoga
Celbrating the Sanctity of Human life Among the Basoga
Standardized Lusoga Orthography (Empandiika enkalamu ey’Olulimi Olusoga)
Evolution of Busoga’s Eleven Hereditary Chiefdoms and Kyabazingaship
Translation of Human rights: Universal Declarations of Human Rights, the Convention of Elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Children’s Act, the Land Act, among others.
Translated liturgical books, like the Holy Week,
A Lusoga Hymnal
Rituals :(emikolo mu Kughonga = okubatiza, okuziika, marriage etc unpublished though).
We are grateful to all who have supported the Centre, and so have been pivotal in the realization of the Centre’s achievement. His Lordship of happy memory Rt. Rev. Joseph Willigers, the present Bishop of Jinja – Rt. Rev. Charles M. Wamika, the Donor and Development partners particular: DKA – Austira, Van der Lee Foundation, DKA and Porticus among other who have given financial support, The Mill Hill Society have supported the Diocese in several areas mainly the personnel and who are responsible for the setting up of the Centre. May God abundantly reward and bless each one of you as we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Jinja.
See also: Piet Korse African Legends