On Saturday, March 20, some Old boys of Bishop Angelo Negri Primary and College schools in Gulu came together to pay tribute to their former head teacher, Sr Veronica Landonio.
They were joined by sisters from the congregation of Comboni Missionary sisters led by their Provincial Superior, Sr Luigina.
Sr Veronica, who was a member of the St Daniel Comboni Missionary Sisters, passed away from Milan, Italy on Saturday, March 13.
She served in Africa for a long time, starting from Sudan (now South Sudan) and finally Uganda, where she served for the longest period before returning to Italy in April 2017. She succumbed to the deadly Covid-19 on March 13, at 97 years of age.
Sr Veronica served as the first head teacher of Bishop Angelo Negri Primary School in Gulu district. The school was founded by Bishop Cipriano Kihangire, the bishop of Gulu in collaboration with the Rev Fr John Scalabrini who was his Vicar General. The school became well known for its academic excellence during a very difficult period of turmoil from the Amin era to the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency.
Sr Veronica was head teacher from 1975 until 1990. She is remembered for being a disciplinarian, a good music and mathematics teacher, being meticulous in her work and vision.
Bishop Kihangire appointed Sr Veronica to head the school and Lord Andrew Adimola as chairman of the school management committee (1975-1998).
After serving at Bishop Angelo Negri Primary School, Sr Veronica was asked by the Provincial of the Comboni Missionary Sisters in Uganda to go and serve at St Mary’s College Aboke in Oyam District. Subsequent head-teachers at Bishop Angelo Negri Primary School included; the Rev sisters Aurelia Poma(1991-1992) and Guillian (1993-1994).
From December 17 to date, the administration and management of the school was entrusted to the care of St Martin de Porres Brothers Congregation and Rev Bro Santo Okema became the first African head teacher of the school.
During the requiem and thanksgiving Mass at the Namugongo Basilica on March 20, Sr Veronica was lauded by Lawrence Semakula for her humility, kindness, hard work and care for her pupils at a time of insecurity.
Semakula is one of the pioneer pupils in the school. He talked about the height of insecurity when Tanzanians, alongside Ugandans in exile, fought Amin.
This made it difficult for some pupils to go back home for holidays because some parts of the country were cut off. The Rev Sr Veronica ensured the pupils who were held up at school were provided for and taken care of well.
The Provincial Superior of St Daniel Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Rev Sr Luigina described her fallen colleague as jolly. She always smiled and wanted everybody to be happy. She loved people very much.
She was happy to find solutions to challenges and did not want anyone to be frustrated in life. She imparted Christian values in her pupils which can be seen in the leadership they exhibit. Sr Veronica was gifted with great memory even in her old age. When she returned to Italy in April 2017, she always asked about the people at home [Africa].
The old boys of Bishop Angelo Negri schools were pleasantly surprised to see Senior Presidential Adviser (Special Duties), Chris Rwakasisi among them in the congregation.
Rwakasisi said Sr Veronica was a missionary who had unconditional love which he witnessed practically. Sr Veronica visited him for nine years of the 24 years he was imprisoned at Luzira Maximum Prison on death row.
Such was her unconditional love and kindness. He said he would have loved to travel to Italy for her funeral but it is impossible because of the pandemic. “This requiem Mass in her memory gives us an opportunity to pray for the repose of her soul. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” Rwakasisi concluded.
The main celebrant of the requiem Mass, the Rev Fr Silvanus Mushabe of Fort Portal, thanked Sr Veronica for being a visionary, loving and kind to people in her missionary work. He prayed for God’s mercy and repose of Sr Veronica’s soul.
Did you know?
The school has remained true to its mission; “Education for academic success, Christian and moral formation for good citizens of Uganda” and the motto “Wisdom and Knowledge”. because it has produced some influential leaders and technocrats in Uganda.
Notable Old Boys from Bishop Angelo Negri School in Gulu
The accountant general at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Lawrence Semakula, the deputy secretary general, National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party, Richard Todwong, the first secretary at the Embassy of Uganda in Rome/ Former Chief of Protocol, State House, Victor Acellam, Aruu County MP Odonga Otto, MP-Elect Nwoya county Tony Awany, youth representative, Northern Region Oscar Omony, senior communications officer, National NGO bureau and former Director Emmaus Foundation) Patrick Onen Ezaga, dermatologist Dr Edward Ogwang and Patrick Lucas Lucaci DDS, MD(US).
Also, Sam Cris Ayo, former device services manager Huawei -Uganda) and Tempra Omona, a renowned musician.