Father Francis Nnaku, the newly installed President of the Rotary Club of Masaka for 2014/2015 is the Dean of Studies at Katigondo Major Seminary in Masaka Diocese. He and a team of other priests prepare the seminarians for a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, after which they join Ggaba Major Seminary and later are ordained priests.
“For me to be a Rotarian is another aspect of priesthood,” he said in an interview a few days after his installation. “Rotary is about service, which also priesthood is about. Rotary is about helping to improve people’s livelihoods and voluntary service to the community and these are the values I cherished when I chose to become a priest.”
Past Rotarian President, John Ssekajja, described him as a very prudent and well educated man who is expected to contribute enormously to the development of the Rotary Club of Masaka.
“He has twice been our vice president and we actually wanted him to take the leadership of the club last year, but because he periodically goes to Europe for a month or two, he had to be away at the time we would have installed him. He requested us to let him go but this time he has accepted, though he will still be going to Germany next month anyway for a working holiday.”
On his priestly journey
Born 53 years ago in Soroti Hospital, Father Nnaku made 25 years of priesthood on July 8, (he was ordained that day in 1989) and he recalls with great ease the day.
“It was such a great day in my life you cannot expect me to have forgotten it,” he said with a smile exhibiting the satisfaction of a man that took up a vocation he truly valued. His father, a Muganda from Kayunga, was a teacher in Soroti District and so Nnaku had his primary education in the various schools where his father worked before joining Nagongera Minor Seminary for his O level and Teso College for the Advanced Level where he studied Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics.
“There was no A level at Nagongera so I had to go to Teso College. But since I wanted to become a priest I later went to Katigondo Major Seminary where I got a Diploma in Philosophy before proceeding to Ggaba Major Seminary where I got my first degree in Theology and finally became ordained. Ggaba Seminary, he explained, has an affiliation with the Pontifical University Urbaniana in Rome.
He briefly taught at Madera Minor Seminary before he was assigned to teach philosophy at Katigondo Major Seminary in 1990 where he taught for two years and then got transferred to Alokolum Major Seminary, Gulu, in 1992. That same year he was offered a scholarship to go to the Pontifical University Urbaniana in Rome where he got his Masters Degree and a PhD in Philosophy.
Besides English language, Father Nnaku speaks Italian and German as well as a number of East African vernaculars. He also served as a member of Makerere University Council and Senate representing all Catholic seminaries in Uganda affiliated to the university.
“He is a very sociable and resourceful man who will link our club to several Rotary Clubs not only here in Uganda but also overseas,” said Rotarian Past President Muwonge Lubega. “He is the type of Catholic priest that you easily discuss anything with. He is such a well-educated and widely read person.”
Dr Kirumira Mukasa, also former Rotary President said, “The installation of President Nnaku provides us with a unique opportunity to raise public awareness of Rotary and its humanitarian mission.”
Aspirations as a rotarian
“There are some ongoing projects such as the provision of clean water and sanitation to the communities of Bukomansimbi and Kamuzinda, in which we have partnered with the Rotary Club of Palmouth in the UK. My work plan as President of this club will be to conclude these projects and also to seek new partnerships with whom we shall embark upon other projects to help our people live better lives. I want to make our club relevant through projects that are bigger, better and bolder.”
When did he join Rotary?
Asked how he joined rotary, Father Nnaku replied, “Many of my family members are Rotarians. My brother Joseph Nsubuga Kajayi who lives in Kayunga was the Rotary President there came to Masaka to attend the Inter-city Conference in 2008. It is one of the many Rotary activities and he encouraged me to attend the function too. But when I got there I was surprised to find so many good and friendly people who immediately asked me to join them and that’s how I joined Rotary.”
Father Nnaku is widely-travelled. He has been to the UK, France, Germany, Israel, Bosnia, Italy, Austria, Ghana, Tanzania, and Rwanda.