Fr Mudduse: Liturgical teacher with strong cultural connection

The late Rev Fr Lawrence Yawe Mudduse. Photo | File

What you need to know:

  • Even during the single celebration of Mass in his new parish, Mudduse left parishioners mesmerised. They conveyed their admiration for his superb preaching to the parish priest, Fr John Chrysostom Kyazze.

Each of the 52 days Rev Fr Lawrence Yawe Mudduse spent at Lwebisiriza Catholic Parish in Kiyinda-Mityana Catholic Diocese represented a year off the 52 he had lived on earth before God took his life last Sunday.

Embodying the belief that the quality and intensity of commitment matter more than the longevity of toil, Fr Mudduse’s multifaceted persona encompassed service, a strong cultural connection and research. He wasn’t just a priest, he was a great liturgical teacher, leaving behind a legacy that transcends his roles within the clergy.

“His commitment extended beyond the pulpit,” Elvis Kintu Nsonyi said in a tribute, adding, “He was a well-known researcher, skilled writer, and analyst.”

Fellow clerics and churchgoers who attended Masses led by Fr Mudduse affirmed one thing—he was an exceptional preacher and his homilies were extraordinary. The distinctive quality of his sermons, characterised by a rich tapestry of proverbs, idioms, and adages endeared him to congregations.

Fr Stephen Lusiba, his diocesan colleague, highlighted Mudduse’s remarkable ability to package sermons in a manner that made them comprehendible to everyone. He accomplished this by infusing humour and using relatable examples.

The intricate details embedded in his homilies allowed him to appreciate the opportunities accorded to him to preach at various events such as thanksgivings, anniversaries, and weddings. He carried out all these duties with humility.

Even during the single celebration of Mass in his new parish, Mudduse left parishioners mesmerised. They conveyed their admiration for his superb preaching to the parish priest, Fr John Chrysostom Kyazze.

As a testament to his impactful teaching, some of his students at St Paul’s National Major Seminary-Kinyamasika, where he lectured on Liturgy invited him to preach at their priesthood ordination thanksgiving Masses.

Ex-seminarian Henry Bugembe shared that Fr Mudduse played a crucial role as his spiritual director, even beyond his time at the seminary. Little wonder, Fr Mudduse officiated at Bugembe’s marriage—a day before the former’s death.

Faith and heritage hold profound significance in our earthly existence, and Fr Mudduse possessed a rare gift for comprehending these crucial aspects of human life. His remarkable ability to interpret scriptures in the context of cultural norms and traditions set him apart, demonstrating that any contradictions could be limited and harmonised.

Buganda Kattikiro (prime minister) Charles Peter Mayiga, speaking during Mudduse’s funeral, praised the unique gift bestowed upon him by God, emphasising his openness in discussing cultural matters. Mayiga fondly recalled instances when Mudduse, while lecturing at St Paul’s Seminary Kinyamasika in Fort Portal, brought Baganda students to pay courtesy visits to the Buganda Kingdom headquarters in Bulange, Mengo.

In 2017, Mudduse was invited as the keynote speaker at the annual clan heads (Bataka) seminar in Lubiri Mengo. His presentation on inheritance and wealth in the Buganda heritage left a lasting impression, earning praise from almost everyone. Subsequently, he became a regular facilitator at these annual seminars.

Translating his profound thoughts into written form, Fr Mudduse authored books and articles disseminated on various platforms, including Quora. One notable literary contribution was the book titled The Strength of Meekness: Life, Leadership, and Ministry of Cardinal Wamala. In this book, he expressed his interest in preserving the cardinal’s history, elucidating on the cardinal’s gifts in leadership, clerical duties, and, above all, his identity as a Muganda man.

According to Mayiga, last year, Mudduse completed a book on the traditional Buganda funeral rites (Okwabya Olumbe). Unfortunately, the book, for which Mayiga provided the foreword, had not been launched at the time of Mudduse’s passing. Additionally, he was in the process of writing another book, The Memoirs of Dr PK Ssemogerere, following the latter’s demise.

In August 2019, a sudden and unexpected turn unfolded in Fr Mudduse’s life, thrusting him into the public eye. Alongside six others, he faced charges related to the alleged role they played in the tragic demise of landlord Kamada Mulinde Kimbugwe. The incident stemmed from a land dispute in Mudduse’s home village of Minaana in Mityana Municipality.

Mudduse, accused of financially supporting the assailants responsible for Kimbugwe’s death, found himself remanded to Luzira prison. After spending 18 days behind bars, he was eventually granted bail. The subsequent legal proceedings resulted in his acquittal.

Deceased priest, Rev Fr Lawrence Yawe Mudduse (inset). He died following an accident involving his car and a taxi on November 26, 2023.

This perplexing saga sharply contrasts with the established image of the priest. Previously known for his staunch advocacy against land grabbers and his efforts to preserve ancestral grounds, Mudduse had been at the forefront of the battle in Mityana. His activism involved resisting attempts by land grabbers to evict three villages and desecrate ancestral burial grounds.

Fr Mudduse’s final days were marked by joviality and camaraderie, evident in his interactions just a day before his death. He celebrated Mass at Kitovu Cathedral in Masaka and engaged in banter with friends. His penchant for humour, reflected in his emoji-laden WhatsApp responses to playful exchanges.

The clergyman died from injuries he got in an accident while returning from Mityana, where he had participated in his Diocesan Day celebrations. On his way back to his parish, Lwebisiriza, his Suzuki car collided with a Toyota Hiace. The collision occurred as the taxi driver attempted to avoid a boda boda rider. Fr Mudduse later succumbed to severe bleeding while en route to Nsambya Hospital in Kampala, where he was being transferred for further medical management.

“A few weeks ago, he approached me and requested permission to take his holidays in the United States, a request I granted. He was making preparations to relocate there after Christmas. Although he desired a vacation in the US, he will now experience it in heaven,” Bishop Zziwa said during the funeral prayers.

Fr Mudduse was laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon at the Kiyinda-Mityana Diocesan cemetery. He is survived by his mother and siblings.

Fact file

Fr Lawrence Mudduse, born on February 4, 1971, in Minana Village,  Mityana, was the eighth of the late Matia Sebutemba and Maria Nannono’s nine children. He received his baptism in Mityana Parish on March 28, 1971.

His attended St Noah Primary School Kisule from 1976 to 1979, and in Primary Three, he moved to St Noah Primary School Kiyinda where he studied until 1982. Subsequently, he attended Nswanjere Junior Seminary from 1983 to 1985, where he completed his Primary Leaving Examinations. In 1986, he joined Secret Heart Seminary Mubende, completing his entire secondary education there.

In 1992, he was admitted to Katigondo Major Seminary for a diploma in Philosophy and later earned a degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. In 1996, he joined Ggaba National Seminary, obtaining a diploma in Theology and later acquired another degree in Theology from Pontifical Urban University in Rome in 2000.

He was ordained as a deacon on July 17, 1999, by the late Bishop Joseph Mukwaya of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese. On July 15, 2000, Bishop Mukwaya ordained him as a priest.

From 2000 to 2001, he began his official service as the assistant parish priest in Mubende Parish before embarking on further studies at the University of St Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, United States. There, he earned a Master’s Degree in Liturgy. Continuing his academic pursuits, he moved to Lewis University in the United States where he obtained a Master’s degree in Journalism and Communication.

Returning to Uganda in 2006, he served in the communications office of his diocese until 2007, after which he was assigned to lecture at St Paul’s Seminary Kinyamasika. His tenure there lasted until 2019, when he was transferred to Buyambi Parish, serving as the assistant parish priest. In a recent move on October 5, he was relocated to Lwebisiriza Parish, where he served for only 52 days until his death.