Whenever he stood at the altar, he made an instant impression with his orotund voice that drew everyone’s attention. With or without a microphone he was audible enough.
“We are here to pray not to doze, those that are dozing should go back to their beds,” these were his remarks each time he witnessed someone from the congregation trying to doze. He might have sounded rude, but these kept everyone awake.
Those that attended his homilies remember that he did not shy away from telling those that sat badly to straighten up. Byangwa expected everyone from his congregation to actively participate in Mass.
His November homilies were aimed at calling the congregation to pray for their deceased relatives. ‘Go to your ancestor’s homes and pray for your departed relatives. From here I am also heading to my ancestor’s home to pray for my deceased family members,” these were some of his last remarks to the parishioners of St. Jude during the 9am Mass on November 17.
However, three days after his insightful homily Fr. Byangwa was rushed to Uganda–Iran Police Medical Center Naggulu.
According to Fr. Joseph Kaseeta the assistant parish priest at St. Jude on November 21, Fr. Byangwa presided over the 6:30 am Mass. During the course of the day, he attended to other activities and after lunch he went on to rest. However at around 5pm he complained of too much back pain.
Gilbert Akampa, a parishioner and an IT personnel at St. Jude, says: “At about 5:15 pm I heard a knock on the ICT office door. “Yes come in,” I replied. It was Fr. Peter Byangwa. The look on his face was unusual. Limping with his crutch I rushed to help him sit.”
“Please take me to the nearest health facility, I feel a terrible backache” Akampa recalls Byangwa’s request.
Admitted at Uganda –Iran Police Medical Centre, different medical tests were conducted among which was an X-ray. The following day he was transferred to Nsambya Hospital where CCT scan was carried out. From here it was discovered that aorta his was swollen. Unable to address his problem, on November 25 the doctors at Nsambya referred him to the heart institute.
Charles Kaggawa, a nephew of the late Fr Byangwa, notes that at Mulago Hospital they were asked to raise more than Shs60m for the operation. However, as they tried to raise the money Fr Byangwa breathed his last on November 28 at about 3am.
However, Kaggwa recollects that at the time they were looking out for money the late seemed at ease even when he was in pain. “No one can be healthy all the time, my time has come I am going to die, but that is not a big issue,” Fr Byangwa said in in a brittle voice before breathing his last.
Kaggwa says that night before his death, the late Fr Byangwa left his sickbed, knelt down and said a word of prayer. “He silently passed away in sleep.”
Passionate about his call
Speaking during his requiem mass, Fr. Kaseeta said Fr. Byangwa was joyous and outspoken. He was a humble, gentle person. “He was posted at Naggulu Parish to take a break from his pastoral work, but he did not rest. He continued to respond to his call of priesthood.”
He says what impressed people was that at his age, he still had the will to serve. He was fully engaged with the community and very much appreciated.
Sr. Bernadette Nakimera , a member of the congregation of Litter Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, a spiritual daughter of the late says she first met him in her Primary Five in 1997 at Katende Parish . Sharing her dream of becoming a nun, Byangwa offered to help her. “From the time I met father, he has been a parent to me. He provided all that I needed. However, his generosity did not stop with me. He saw many through school,” Sr Nakimera reveals.
She recollects that as a guardian, Fr Byangwa was open-minded and quite understanding. “Much as I wanted to become a nun, he always told me that in case I ever failed to fulfill my dream, his doors open to me. He ensured that he provide all that a girl-child needed. His intention of doing this was to ensure that I am not a victim of temptation.”
She says Fr Byangwa was always filled with God’s compassion and love. He just loved to keep looking around and seeing needs of other people and what he could do for them. He was a humble and generous priest who always had a heart for those in need.
He was born on October 3 1934 to the late Yowanna Kaggwa and Candida Bulya of Sanga Matugga, Wakiso District. Byangwa attended school at Nyenga Seminary, and Gaba Major Seminary. Later he was sent to Rome where he studied Theology for six years. He was ordained priest on December 23 1962 by Pope John XXIII in Rome. On returning to Uganda in 1993 his first posting was at Kamuli. Later in 1965, he was transferred to Naddangira up to 1970 and in 1972, he was assigned to teach at Nyenga Seminary. At Nyenga he taught Cyprian Kizito Lwanga (now archbishop)
In 1975, he became the parish priest of Nsambya Parish for three years, and in 1978 he went back to teach mathematics at Nyenga.
In 1979 Byangwa was appointed a parish priest of Bugonga-Entebbe and dean of Entebbe up to 1988. In 1989, he became a chaplain of Sisters of Nkokonjeru.
In 1990, he was transferred to organise Bbulo Parish, and in 1996 he became the parish priest of Katende Parish then in 1998 he was transferred to be a curate at Christ the King Church Kampala until 2015 when he retired at St Jude Catholic Parish Naggulu.
Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga hailed Fr Byangwa, saying he had served the Catholic Church well. He asked other priests to emulate Fr Byangwa’s exemplary life.
“Fr Byangwa found us at Nyenga Seminary where he was appointed and was our mathematics teacher,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fr. Joseph Kaseeta, the curate of Naggulu Parish, also praised him saying that he was a dedicated priest and they looked up to him. He was always a happy man who never got angry at anyone,” he said.
Born on October 3 1934 to the late Yowanna Kaggwa and Candida Bulya of Sanga Matugga, Wakiso district. Byangwa attended school at Nyenga seminary, and Gaba major seminary.
He was sent to Rome where he studied theology for six years. He was ordained priest on December 23 1962 by Pope John XXIII in Rome.
He served in Kamuli, taught at Nyenga Seminary at the time the archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga was a seminarian there.
He later became a parish priest at Nsambya Parish for three years, 1975 - 1978.
He would later serve in Bugonga-Entebbe, Nkokonjeru, Bbulo Parish, Katende Parish and later Christ the King Church Kampala.
At the time of his death, Byangwa had retired at Naggulu though had continued to serve whenever he was required.
He died at the Mulago Heart Institute where he had been transfered from Nsambya Hospital.