Kabale Diocese on Sunday celebrated 100 years of Catholic faith in Kigezi region.
Thousands of Catholics from the districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri and Kanungu converged at Rushoroza Cathedral to celebrate the centenary and also mark 10 years of episcopal ordination of Bishop Callistus Rubaramira.
The celebrations were marked under the theme “Let us be renewed in faith”.
The celebrations to mark the century of catholic faith started on July 14th at the level of Catholic chapels or lower churches and they climaxed on Sunday at Rushoroza Cathedral.
Archbishop Michael August Blume, the Apostolic Nucio to Uganda represented the Pope at the celebrations.
In his homily at the celebrations, Bishop Rubaramira equated the coming of the Missionaries to Kigezi to the time when God sent Moses to the Israelites so that he could liberate them from bondage and suffering in Egypt.
The third Deputy Prime Minister Henry Muganwa, Kajura who represented President Yoweri Museveni, commended the church for supplementing government programs especially in extending social economic services.
Kajura said the church has played a very pivotal role in the education and health sectors and supporting the government in mobilizing communities in campaigns aimed at poverty eradication.
Kajura urged the church to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS. He revealed that the church has got a platform and should use it to instill morals and ensure positive change among the communities that they serve.
He handed over 20 million shillings as a donation from the President.
The seeds of the Catholic faith in the Kigezi region were planted in 1909 by John Ssebalijja, a Muganda chief who established his base in Mushunga, Nyarushanje Sub County in Rukungiri district before starting the first church in 1913. Ssebalijja shifted to Rushoroza in 1926 which now hosts the headquarters of Kabale Diocese.
In 1910 Bishop Streicher, who was then Apostolic Vicar of the Victoria –Nyanza Vicariate that extended from Bunyoro, Buganda, Ankole, Rwanda, Burundi and some parts of Congo, sent Yowana Kitagana who moved from Bunyaruruguru to Nyarushanje in Kigezi to join Ssebalijja.
Ssbbalijja later on started penetrating to other areas which included Kisoro and Rukiga. His work was made easier with the arrival of the White Fathers who helped in building the church at Rushoroza.
According to Monsignor Silverio Twinomugisha, the expansion of the church was later made possible with support from one of the local leaders in Kigezi, Paul Ngorogoza, who left his home in Rwanyana in Rubaya Sub County and shifted to Bukinda Sub Country. He donated the land in Rubaya for the construction of the church which is currently Rwanyana Parish.
Later, under the pastoral mission of the White Fathers, Rushoroza was transformed into a parish as well as Mutolere in Kisoro district, Rubanda, Kitanga, Makiro and Nyakibale in Kanungu and Rukungiri districts respectively.
In 1966 Kabale diocese was established and the centre was built at Rushoroza with Bishop Gerevasi Nkaranga from Bukoba Tanzania as its first Apostolic Administrator.
In 1969 the diocese got its first native bishop when Barnabas Halem’Imana was consecrated bishop at Rubaga Cathedral by Pope Paul VI who was visiting Uganda. Other bishops consecrated that day were John Baptist Kakubi of Mbarara, Serapio Magambo of Fort Portal and Bishop Edward Baharagate of Hoima.
Dr Robert Gay became bishop 1996 before being succeeded by Callistus Rubaramira in 2003.