Kampala. Retired Kabale Diocese Bishop Barnabas Halem ’Imana is dead. Bishop Halem ’Imana, known for spearheading the spread of the Catholic faith in Ankole sub-region and championing the fight against the HIV/Aids scourge in its early days in the country, died on Sunday. He was 87.
Fr Luisian Twinamatsiko, the secretary to the Bishop of Kabale Diocese, told Daily Monitor yesterday that Halem’Imana was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes in 2008 and has been in and out of the country for treatment.
“His death could have been as a result of this,” he said.
According to the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Halem ’Imana was appointed the first native residential bishop for Kabale Diocese after his consecration by Pope Paul VI on August 1, 1969.
He was consecrated alongside bishops Albert Edward Baharagate, Sarapio Bwemi Magambo and John Baptist Kabubi.
Dr David Kihumuro Apuuli, the former director general at Uganda Aids Commission (UAC), who worked with the deceased, described him as a humble and brilliant gentleman who always gave the right advice.
“He understood everything well. He was a God-fearing man and someone with an enviable character,” Dr Kihumuro said.
Bishop Halem ’Imana served as UAC chairman from 1998 to 2011.
Fr Bruno Byomuhangi, the pastoral coordinator for Kabale Diocese, praised the bishop’s virtues.
“He was a person who liked development. He was very good at self-sustaining projects that would support the diocese without being dependent on donors,” he said. Kabale District chairman Patrick Keihwa described Halem’ Imana as a unifying figure in Kigezi “who stood by the church during the time of troubles.”
The bishop is credited for establishing a number of commercial buildings for the diocese, including the one housing Centenary Bank in Kabale, Kabale Diocese Motel in Kabale Town and Travellers Hotel in Kisoro District.
There will be a requiem mass at Rubaga Cathedral today at 10am in his honour. His body will then be taken to Kabale and he will be laid to rest at Kabale Cathedral tomorrow.
THE BISHOP’S CAREER
Halem’Imana was born in Rurangara, Busanza, Kisoro District, in 1929. He studied his first four years of primary education at Mutorere before joining Kitabi Seminary in Bushenyi District in 1943. He went to Katigondo Major Seminary in 1950 and was ordained priest on December 7, 1958. He then went to Rome to pursue a PhD in Canon Law and upon his return in 1966, served at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat. He then became the secretary general of the Uganda Episcopal Conference.
On August 1, 1969, he was ordained first residential bishop of Kabale Diocese.He retired on July 15, 1994.