What you need to know:
Jubilee. The Rev Fr Anthony Kakumba, Kitovu Cathedral administrator is celebrating 25 years of priesthood on December 3. Fr Kakumba talks to Michael J Ssali about his priesthood journey
Kitovu Cathedral is the chief church of Masaka Diocese and it is where Bishop Severus Jjumba sits to oversee the activities of the diocese. This stretches across the civic districts of Masaka, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi ,Sembabule, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Rakai and Kalangala.
Rev Fr Anthony Kakumba, 56, is the current administrator of Kitovu Cathedral and, much as he takes care of the church on behalf of the bishop, he and a handful of priests under him are responsible for offering spiritual guidance to the faithful in the communities of Kitovu Parish.
This position which Fr Kakumba has held since 2017 and other leadership roles in different parts of Masaka Diocese have made him popular in the city and beyond. This could account for the reason many are looking forward to December 3, 2022 when he will be celebrating 25 years of priesthood in Buyoga Village, Kisekka Sub-County, Lwengo District.
“As a little boy attending Kyanukuzi Primary School, a few kilometres from home, I used to admire the late Msgr Joseph Kizza who regularly drove his car from Makondo Parish to our school to celebrate Holy Mass,” says Fr Kakumba, adding, “He was so kind to the children. Sometimes he visited my parents and asked about my elder brother, Fr John Baptist Sseruwu, who was then attending Apostles of Jesus Minor Seminary, Bukinda in Kabale. It was mainly due to Msgr Kizza’s influence that I chose to become a priest.”
Born on September 14, 1966 to Joseph Mwanje and Teresa Namaganda, Fr Kakumba had three brothers and eight sisters. Like his elder brother, he attended Apostles of Jesus Minor Seminary Bukinda where he completed his A-Level in 1988.
A year later, he joined Katigondo Major Seminary in Masaka where he obtained a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1991. Between 1992 and 1993, he did pastoral work at Lwamaggwa Parish in Masaka Diocese.
He, then proceeded to St Mary’s National Seminary, Ggaba where he pursued a Bachelor of Theology and shortly afterwards, ordained priest with five others (Athanasius Kasekende, Joseph Musisi, Stephen Ssegawa, Achilles Kiwanuka, and Charles Kibirige) by Bishop Adrian Ddungu (RIP) at Villa Maria in Masaka Diocese on August 2, 1997.
After his ordination, Fr Kakumba served for one year at Buyamba Parish where he was in charge of schools before he was appointed parish priest of Katimba Catholic Parish in Sembabule District.
“This came as a big surprise to me. It was an enormous challenge because I was going to be in charge of a well-established parish, superintending over senior priests yet I was only 32 years old, with just one-year priestly experience.”
There, he was made administrator of the parish started by White Missionaries. Key among his responsibilities was sustaining – resource and funds wise— the impressive buildings including the church structure. The parish had some 58 acres of land with coffee and banana plantations, plus a cattle farm.
“We had the livestock manure to keep our coffee and banana plantations productive,” says Fr Kakumba.
He also disclosed that priests on his team provided invaluable guidance and support. “It was teamwork,” he emphasises.
In 2004, he was transferred to Villa Maria Parish, which had held its centenary celebrations in 1992. It was the first administrative centre of Masaka Diocese and it has the oldest buildings in the diocese.
Many of them, including the Cathedral were built with unfired clay bricks, but they are still sturdy. The church is referred to as a cathedral because until 1935, it was the chief church of the diocese headed by Bishop Henri Streicher (RIP). One of Fr Kakumba’s main tasks in the eight years of his service at Villa Maria was to refurbish the old buildings including the once grass-thatched cathedral. He also planted coffee and bananas to boost the parish income.
In 2015, he was transferred to Kayanukuzi Parish, his home area.
“This for me was a return to my birthplace, and I went with a lot of passion, happy that I was going to serve and to preach to my people,” he says.
His father, Joseph Mwanje had already passed on. His mother, Teresa was quite old and sickly, but he always made sure that she was driven to Kyanukuzi Parish Church for Holy Mass.
At Kyanukuzi, he is remembered for completing the construction of the priests’ residence and working hard to set up the six-acre coffee and banana plantations. He also built rentals to generate income for the parish. The clergyman believes that the priests should set up exemplary projects such as crop gardens or farms on the church land for the faithful to emulate so that they in turn work towards fighting poverty.
Although Kakumba’s father work at Kalisizo Hospital in Kyotera District, he grew coffee to supplement his salary. During his school holidays, Kakumba helped his parents with work on the coffee and banana plantations. It is then that he discovered the benefits of growing coffee.
“My parents exposed me to some farming skills, but our training at Bukinda Seminary and at Katigondo Seminary involved a lot of physical work on the farm. There was vast land and many farming activities,” he recounts.
All is not rosy on this priesthood journey.
“As a priest, I am expected to take care of the spiritual welfare of the people in my pastoral area. This requires quick transport to traverse all the villages and homes to carry out my priestly duties, saying mass and administering sacraments,” says Fr Kakumba.
“Yet I have to take care of many other matters including construction and maintenance of buildings despite scarcity of resources.”
Staying the course
“I am a happy priest because I have tried to follow the advice of Msgr Gerald Kalumba, the parish priest of Christ the King Church in Kampala. When he was still our Rector at Ggaba Seminary he told us that we should always stick to the work that is particular to priesthood.