THE GROWTH OF KITAGWENDA PARISH
- In 1966 due to increasing number of Christians in Kitagwenda there was need for a parish to be cut from Ibanda Parish, there was not even one centre but only an outstation.
- A delegation was sent to see the Rt. Rev. Bishop McCauley, CSC to give us a Parish. He answered positively and requested Fr. Robert Hesse, CSC and his curate Fr. Augustine Muhindo (RIP) to start serving the Christians of Kitagwenda by traveling from Kahunge and going back or residing at churches in very poor conditions.
- Only Fr. Muhindo was allocated to serve Kitagwenda while Fr. Hesse stayed in Kahunge. There was dense and hard work due to very big numbers of pagans young and old. Due to lack of buildings, all the catechumens from Kitagwenda attended their catechism classes for two years (1966-1967 inclusive).
- At the end of 1967, Fr. Hesse was transferred from Kahunge to Kitagwenda where he found a small Church at the level of a centre (the only centre in the Parish.
- The church was too small with no seat nor ventilation, so there was urgent need for a Parish Church. The Bishop asked Fr. Hesse to work hard with his Christians and collect 25,000/= so that he would assist the parish with the same amount. Fr. Hesse led his team of dedicated Christians collecting money and or goods from every home, down and up churches, within one year we raised that money.
- Hesse faced many problems before putting up the Church and other buildings. The distant Christians from Ntara, Nyabani and Kanyamburara wanted the church to be in a central location so that each shared the same distance. They preferred Ntara or Nyakasenyi where was enough land. In addition, problem of water at Bunena contributed to their support. In order to convince them for financial contribution, he promised to give them a parish at Kicwamba after their population increased. And he surely did it.
- Another problem was the neighbours of Bunena who flared the church would expand and buy their land afterwards. The government intervened and allowed work to continue.
The Bishop, Rt. Rev. McCauley having received our contributions in 1967, sent us Brother Oliver and an engineer and a team of workers who started putting up the church. Within one year the church was finished and before we entered it he demanded another 25,000/= for a priests’ house and a nun’s house. We raised that money and after the church work continued, by end of 1968, we entered our new church, priest’s house, sister’s house and the catechumens’ houses.
- Hesse, CSC and his curate Cyril, CSC, embarked on vocations programme. He asked Christians to send their children to religious vocation. Furthermore, an American Deacon of Holy cross was ordained at Bunena for (Christians and their children) to learn and love vocation. Many parents started to allow their children to join religious and priesthood vocations. The first to be ordained from the Parish of Kitagwenda was the Fr. Basil Kahoza(RIP) in 1979, followed by Fr. Aquirinus Francis Kibira Araali now bishop of the Diocese of Kasese in 1984 and many more priests have been ordained from Kitagwenda Parish. There are also many young women who embraced the call to Religious life in various congregations. The first among the daughters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (Banyatereza) is Sr. Concepta Komupiira Ateenyi. She has been followed by many young women in her congregation. Many young men have also embraced Religious life in various congregation like Brothers of St. Joseph the Worker, Brothers of Christain Instruction and Banakaroli Brothers. The parish registers many young people embracing the vocation to married life. Many who are in illegal marriages are returning to Sacramental life and having their marriages blessed. The family is growing and promising.The Harvest is rich!
As the number of Christians increased, centres and churches were created, and more land was bought. Schools that is Kitagwenda High school, St. Joseph’s Technical school Kyarubingo and Bunena Girls’ SSS and Kicwamba Parish were started. A cattle farm was started, banana plantation and land at Kantozi.
Fr. Hesse and Bishop McCauley offered scholarships to Mr. Mathias Kateebarirwe, Mr. Charles Tinkamanyire, Mr. Tarsis Ntuyenabo and Mr. Patrick Baguma to study abroad in Britain.
ORDER OF PARISH PRIESTS:
- Robert Hesse, CSC
- Andrea Bahemuka (one year when Fr. Hesse was on leave)
- Leo Baryabuuza
- Cyprian Kasangaki
- Joseph Mary Wamara
- Irineo Mushuhukye
- Adolf Ludigo Mumanzi
- Benedict Mugisha
- Samuel Musiimenta
- Godfrey Bamuganyire (to date)
(By Mzei Baguma Patrick)