On the morning of September 22, droves of parishioners could not hold their joy as they thronged St Charles Lwanga Catholic Parish Ntinda to celebrate their fifth anniversary since the church’s elevation to a parish.
The choir animated the Holy Mass with songs of praise as Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga presided over the Holy Mass. A midst ululations Fr Edward Muwanga, the parish priest, Fr Martin Masiisa and Fr Julius Bwowe with the altar servers led the procession.
In his homily the Archbishop thanked the parishioners for their efforts and support towards the flourishing of the parish.
“I encourage the parishioners to continue with the unity and love for each other as this will help them accomplish more, he said.
Fulfilment of duty
After mass, his grace invited parishioners for a luncheon that was arranged at the church parking yard. It is here that some church members expressed their views and lessons of the young parish.
The Rev Fr Muwanga, the first parish priest of St Charles Lwanga, says his calling to serve Ntinda parish is being fulfilled step by step.
“I used to commute from Naguru Catholic Parish to Ntinda every Sunday to preside over mass. I have seen the Parish grow to what it is today. If it were a child, at the moment we are in Primary One,” he says.
By 2009, Fr Muwanga says, Ntinda had a simple church with a sitting capacity of about 400 people. However, this did not stop parishioners from dreaming big and in 2012, the construction of the new church started.Two years later it was elevated to parish.
“I have come to learn that development comes through sacrifice. The parishioners sacrificed a lot. Also unity eases processes, you must all speak the same language and move together. As a spiritual leader I know almost my parishioners at an individual basis and while addressing them, I talk as a member of the family,” he explains. On Wednesdays he visits the sick in his community.
A home to the foreigners
Fiona Chege became a parishioner at St Charles Lwanga Catholic Parish in 2006 when her family moved to Ntinda. She says on her first day at church the parishioners were warm. The outstanding incident was when her daughter fainted during Holy Mass and everyone seemed concerned.
“Church members kept asking about her even weeks after the incident,” Chege recalls. This has enhanced her faith from only attending Holy Mass to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every Thursday.
“It is a diverse community that makes one feel at home and most of the activities are done in English which saves me from language barrier.”
Rose Kihika, chairperson parish community co- operative became a part of St. Charles Lwanga in 2010. Before joining St Charles Lwanga, Kihika was a parishioner of Christ the King, Kampala. However, one Sunday she was late for Mass at Christ the King and decided to attend prayers at St Charles Lwanga and has since never looked back.
“The homily caught my attention and after Mass, the congregation had a catch-up moment which I had never experienced before. At my former church, people would come pray and leave without that much interaction,” Kihika reveals. Whenever she is at church, Kihika feels a sense of belonging. Working together and through the different community activities the church has today grown stronger and bigger.
Other than the spiritual food, Eng William Bakawa, chairman laity, says the parishoners started a community co-operative that would benefit them.
“If we are growing spiritually that means we also need to grow financially. We have been saving for year and now the co-operative is ready to give out loans. This will not only benefit the church parishioners only, but even other members of this community,” Bakawa says.
Other then the church finance, Bakawa says as chairman laity, his life has reformed.
“I have served in this position for two years, but I learnt that being humble can help you conquer all. Listen and motivate whoever approaches you with an idea. Give everyone audience and thereafter advise accordingly.”
Fr Muwanga believes the parishioners use talent, wealth and time to uplift the Kingdom of God.
St Charles Lwanga Catholic Church, Ntinda, Kampala is a parish in the Archdiocese of Kampala. It was named after and consecrated to St Charles Lwanga, the leader and one of the 22 Catholic Martyrs of Uganda. Charles Lwanga was martyred on the orders of King Mwanga of Buganda for his faith. He met his death by being roasted in a slow burning fire on June 3, 1886 at Namugongo. The parish is situated along the way on which the Martyrs, (all tied up with ropes) were made to walk to a fiery martyrdom at Namugongo which is about five miles from the Church.
The sub-parish was established in the 1980s at the request of the few Christians then residing in Ntinda . The Christians bought a piece of land and put up a small church building which has continued to serve as place of worship. The Catholic community in Ntinda has however now more than quadrupled.