Bugombwa Catholic Parish is located in Bundibugyo District, western Uganda, 73 Km from the Diocesan Headquarters in Fort Portal. It is located in Bwamba county of Bundibugyo district. This county has 30 Government Parishes and is a home of an estimated 30,000 families with a density of 300 people per sq. Km (Bundibugyo District Three year development plan [2000 – 2003]).
The population of Bwamba County is increasing at a rate of 3.4 % per year. The majority of people belong to three ethnic groups; the Bamba (74 %), Bakonjo (22.8 %), Batwa (0.01 %), and others (3.10 %). The 2002 national Census estimated the population of Bundibugyo at 13,782 in 2008, the Uganda Bureau of statistics estimated the population of the town at 18,500. (2002 and 2008 Estimated Populations of Ugandan Cities and Towns)
Bugombwa Parish was founded by the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) in 1946.
It was fully established as a Mission in 1957.
The birth of Catholic faith in Bundibugyo, (Bugombwa Parish), is traced back in the year 1919; Bwamba was still under the great Virika. The First Missionary White Father (Pere-G.Maria) arrived in Bundibugyo in 1919. He camped at Kamaindole and requested Njenga Kakulola (Mundibugyo) to offer land for a Church site. He was given some land, which accommodates the present Kamaindole Church. When he went back, he left behind a Catechist one, Albera Mbuga (Mutoro). He stayed at Kamaindole as a Catechist, and died there, his tomb is there too). Albera mobilized people and sent them to Virika for Catechesis instructions.
According to Mwamba Stephen (Elder, 84 years), Catholic religion had no problems with the local culture in Bundibugyo, especially where cultural values needed to be respected. The priests were very much respected and protected by the local leaders as much as they cooperated with the local people.
The indigenous Catechists were so instrumental in the evangelisation of the local communities. The following Catechists deserve mention: Michael Batwendiya (Mundijabi), Leo Nkisa (Musaru), Yohana Kighara (Musaru), Daniel Mpungo (Muburongu), Louis Akuma (Mugundiya), Emmanuel Tibakuwa’omuhi (Mundimwendi), Pimakomusibi (Mundibugyo), Erineriko Mughuruka (Mumate), Tomas Balikighamba (Munyamwera), Eliya Ntobiyo (no mention of clan), Tiborsio Mukubwa (Mugombwa). These served up to 1986, the time when the Missionaries withdrew from the area.
Several of the Bamba had their Catechesis in Virika (in Fort-portal), and would stay there for two years under Catechetical instruction (locally known as Mugigi)). According to Mr. Stephen Mwamba (born 18th August, 1927), he was baptised by Pere Zigori in Virika. (Oral interview, Friday 11thMarch, 2011). The Catechumanate was not only limited to religious instructions, but candidates were as well taught to read and write, as well as lessons in agriculture and politics.
In Bundibugyo, the land at Kamaindole was not enough for a School and for other infrastructure development; this made the White Fathers seek land elsewhere. Pere G.Maria went to Bugombwa, and one called Ndiberoho, (the father of Fabiano Muhindi, all dead now), offered land, big enough for institution development. With this, Bugombwa was chosen to be the Parish site and Church Headquarters. Pere Minara (Fr. Menard) would walk from Virika to come to Bugombwa for Pastoral work. He would stay for some days and go back to Virika. The same with Fr. Deweit and Fr. Balyebuga (a Munyabindi), note that at that time the entire western region was under Mbarara Diocese, and the Bishop then was +Elrineriko Ruchecheri (Bishop F.X Lacoursiere who was vicar apostolic of Rwenzori vicariate and put his seat at Mbarara)
Priests of permanent domicile in Bugombwa started with Fr. Raymond Campeau; while they were building Bundibugyo hospital, Fr. Campeau who was Parish Priest wanted to have Religious Sisters in the Hospital, so he went on the site and threw medals of St. Joseph in the foundations. (He had great devotion to St. Joseph) and so the Holy Cross Religious Sisters came (Sr. Mary Denardis, CSC. and Sr. Patricia,CSC.), these worked in Bundibugyo Hospital.
Fr. Raymond Campeau was succeeded by Fr. Roland Champagne; he did a tremendous work of creating many Church outstations; he actually built Kirumya Church and Busaru Namugongo, in permanent structures. He was succeeded by Fr. Piet Bongers as Parish Priest.
The first phase of black priests to serve in Bugombwa came in 1968, they included: Fr. Tibisimwe Silvanus (Byoya) who succeeded Fr. Piet Bongers as Parish priest, Fr. Emmanuel Wandera, Fr. Andereya Bahemuka, Fr. Magaddu and later Fr. Edward Baharagate (now Bishop Emeritus of Hoima Diocese), these stayed shortly. Fr. Sarapio Kamara succeeded Fr. Tibisimwe Silvanus (Byoya); he served until 1982, when Fr. Joseph Wamara became Parish Priest. Curates were Fr. Louis Byakuyamba and Fr.Assansio Buhaka Kamara.
In 1987, Fr. John Baptist Musana, was appointed Parish priest, but never stayed a year, he was replaced in 1989 by, (The first native priest to work in Bwamba/Bundibugyo as Parish priest); he served with Fr. John Tibakunirwa and Fr. Gregory Ataragaboine (Curates); meanwhile, Fr. Gregory Ataragaboine was also administering Semuliki High School Izahura (as Headmaster), these three priests, served with Benedict Kakwezi (who was then a Deacon). Fr. Tarsis Tibakunirwa Museesa left in 1991 and was replaced by Fr. Izidore Ndagiz’Imana as parish Priest, he was later joined by Fr. Benedict Kakwezi as curate (after being ordained in 1992). Fr. Izidore served until 1994. He was succeeded by Fr.Patrick Kamara who served from 1994 – July1997.After his departure, Fr. Benedict Kakwezi, was appointed Parish Priest; he served from July 1997 to April 2007. The following served as Curates, Fr. Moses Mutangirizi, (till 2000); Fr Anslem Mabiho, (till 2003); Fr. Adolf Mumanzi, (till 2003); Fr. Philip Ngonzi (till 2009); Fr. Patrick Tukwasibwe (till 2008); Fr. Patrick Kyomuhendo (to date). In 2007, Fr. Adolf Businge served as Parish Priest until December 2010. In January 2011, Fr. John Baptist Happy took over as acting Parish Priest and was replaced by Fr. John Paul Murangi in 2013 up to date.
The Seminarians, who worked in Bugombwa Parish, include: Paulinus Bagambaki (under Fr. Raymond Campeau and Fr. Champagne), Leopold Kaahwa (Under Fr. Tibisimwa Silvanus Byoya), Benedict Kakwezi (under Fr. Joseph Wamara), Charles Nyarwa (under Fr. Tarsis Museesa), Joseph Musana (under Fr. Patrick Kamara). Asiimwe Robert (under Fr. Benedict Kakwezi), Businge Robert (under Fr. Businge Adolf); these helped the priests in pastoral work, and in schools.
The Banyatereza Sisters used to serve in Bugombwa Parish. These left in 1997 due to ADF rebel insurgency and the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary came in 2011.
Estimated number of Christians (2014) = 60,000 People
Number of Sub-parishes = 6
Number of Church centers = 34
Baptisms during 2013
- Up to 1 year Old = 476
- From 1-7 years old =250
- Over 7 years old = 127
Total Baptisms as at 31 December 2013 since the erection of the Parish = 395,860 People
Collaborators in Pastoral ministry in Bugombwa Parish
1. Diocesan Priests:
– Fr. John Paul Murangi (Parish Priest)
– Fr. Patrick Kyomuhendo (Curate)
2. Religious Sisters (Evangelizing Sisters of Mary)
- Divina (Sister Superior Bugombwa Convent) & 3 others.