GULU. The Catholic Church is mourning the passing on of Mzee Peter Oryema, 86, the composer of several hymns and choir director at Gulu Archdiocese.
Oryema, who composed school anthems and trained choirmasters and members, succumbed to prostate cancer at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital on Saturday having battled the disease since 2016.
He is remembered for leading the choir in 1993 that sang before Pope John Paul II at Kaunda Grounds in Gulu District.
Because of his unique talent, in 2002, the deceased was selected to lead the choir that sang during the beautification of Jildo Irwa and Daud Okello in Rome.
The two martyrs were young catechists from Uganda at the beginning of the 20th century. They were killed in 1918 in East Acholi, Present-day Kitgum District.
Ms Bernadeta Oryema, the deceased’s wife, said the gap left by the husband will not be easy to fill.
“I am saddened by the death of my husband,” she said.
Ms Joyce Oryema, 54, said their father left a legacy of leadership, unity, transparency and accountability that he stood to advocate for.
“He taught us to stand together for development and in his emphasis, he said his children should prosper through education and in all our endeavours, we should be leaders who are accountable and transparent,” she said.
Ms Oryem said her father championed girl child education in 1957 and agriculture as a backbone of the family.
“He was a person who believed in equal opportunities for all and that is why he educated his girls even when the others were against it,” she added.
Msgr Mathew Odong of Gulu Archdiocese said Oryema will not only be missed by the church but also by the community.
“He played a very big role in the church and his achievements will always be remembered. He has left a mark beyond words,” he said.
Msgr Odong noted that the deceased composed the school anthem of Sacred Heart Lacor Seminary in Gulu.
Ms Claire Rose Akello, one of the choir members at Gulu Archdiocese, told Daily Monitor that Oryema’s skills of training will always be missed.
“He trained many of us in the choir and his skills of training are always exceptional,” she said.
She added that whoever was trained by Mzee Oryema would never go wrong in the choir.
Mr Fred Opira, a choir member and a guitarist at St Daniel Catholic Church in Lacor, said the deceased loved his work.
“One of his great songs is Kom-kiremo, literally meaning (he body and blood of Christ, is a very good song,” he said.
Mzee Oryema studied from Gulu Primary School, St Joseph Junior Secondary School and later joined Uganda College of Commerce, Nakawa where he obtained a Diploma in Accountancy. He was born in Custom corner-Aworanga, Layibi Division in Gulu Municipality. He worked as a secretary Bishop House Gulu Dioceses in 1954. He was senior Executive accountant at the Ministry of Works from 1974 to 1976. Mzee Oryema is survived by 13 children.