Letter from Fr. Vincent in Uganda

Dear Parishioners,
For the past two months Father Vincent (from our twin parish Holy Trinity in Uganda) and I have been pen pals, emailing each other and sharing news about our respective parishes. I asked permission from him to share with St. Mary’s some of his writings, and he said, “Yes.” This is an excerpt from one of his correspondences. He talks about sub-parishes, which he and one other priest visit.
Felicia Massari

About the Sub-Parishes I visit: My parish is very big and people don't have easy means of transport as there is in the States. When I was in the States, I saw that many people have cars and can drive to go where they want, so in a similar way, they can move easily from their homes to the Church to pray. But here it’s different, with no easy means of transport. If I count within the whole of my parish only two people have a car; two cars in the whole parish and even these are very old cars! Even though I need one myself for my ministry, I don't have one. So with this problem of transport, people cannot reach the main church. Here parishes are divided into different sub-parishes, and a sub-parish is headed by a catechist. In those sub-parishes we build a village church where people gather on Sunday to have a service, or Mass when a priest goes there. The priests try to do whatever is possible to bring services, as often as possible to the people. If they cannot come to the church, we try to reach them.

Holy Trinity parish is divided into 13 Sub-parishes, but so distant from the parish and from one another. Always at the beginning of the month (first Friday), we make a pastoral program to be sure that we get to all the parishes to celebrate Mass, celebrate other sacraments, visit the sick, elderly etc. And, we are only two priests here!

So we do a lot of traveling, very long distances, to do our ministry and it’s challenging because the people are poor and cannot support our services, I always believe in God's providence. Please, always pray for us.

It’s now dry season and there is a lot of dust on the roads, much too much. As I am using a small motorcycle for my transportation, so much dust disturbs its flow and makes it cough. I will send some pictures for you to see our dirt roads taken the last time I went to one sub-parish which is 20 kms. away from the parish main church. These are small structures and in some places we pray under the trees. Since the parish is big we go on different days to be able to visit all the sub-parishes in the month. Many people come to pray, for example 300, 400, 500 ....... depending on the area where you go, some sub-parishes have a bigger population than others.

I am happy sharing with you,
I wish you God's choicest blessings and love.
Waiting to hear from you,

Fr. Vincent Mukiibi

Twinning

BIOGRAPHY Father Vincent DePaul Mukiibi is pastor of Holy Trinity Parish Ziroobwe in the Diocese of Kasana-Luweero, Uganda. This was his first visit to the United States.

Father Vincent was ordained in 2009 and has been a pastor at Ziroobwe since October 2012. He is the youngest Parish Priest (Pastor) in the diocese. He is also Diocesan Director of Youth and Director for Vocations for the Diocese of Kasana-Luweero.

Mary Goss, Director of Yamba Uganda, has worked to facilitate the twinning with Saint Mary’s and Holy Trinity with Msgr. Ken and Father Vincent.

HOPE...OKUSUUBIRA
By Mary Goss
Yamba Uganda
Uganda paints such a contrasting picture, one of tremendous beauty and one of tremendous poverty. The average income is less than one dollar a day. The reality of life in Kasana-Luweero is very desperate. If you have nothing, hope vanishes into thin air. Lack of hope destroys your heart and soul. let us reflect on the many positive changes that are happening. They can be summed up in one word - HOPE – Okusuubira.

Okusuubira: in the development of friendships and many relationships. Strong bonds are being established by the sharing of pen pal letters. Love is growing between children and their sponsors.

Okusuubira: in the form of education. Many orphan and vulnerable children are being sponsored through the partnership. These poor children now enjoy the opportunity to have uniforms, schoolbooks, and school supplies. They are receiving the priceless gift of an education. Young men and women are being supported in religious vocations. The education of the children in Uganda is the key to ending the cycle of poverty that exists.

Okusuubira: in the form of clean water. Many water tanks and boreholes are now providing villages and schools with access to water. People no longer have to walk 3 to 4 hours every day to get water for cooking, cleaning, drinking and washing.

Okusuubira: in the form of “Wekembe” which is a Lugandan word that means, “we do it ourselves”. Wekembe micro-financing projects give dignity to women. These projects enable women to form village banks. Through the banks, the women are empowered in their villages and homes to earn money for education, nutrition and health care. Womens’ village banks promote both economic growth and dignity. In a culture where women are considered to be inferior to men, this is an extraordinary opportunity for them to become self-dependent. These women set an example for other women and their daughters.

Okusuubira: in the form of health and medical care. The past year has brought much change to the Bishop Asili Clinic and the 11 clinics in the bush. Insecticide treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria were distributed to pregnant mothers and young children thus saving many lives. With funds donated from Yamba Uganda, medical supplies were purchased to start HIV/AIDS testing for children, for the first time ever. In one month, 4,000 children were tested. Antiretroviral drugs, which were never available, are now being dispensed.

Okusuubira: .in the form of nutrition. Gardens are being planted in schools, villages and the clinics. These gardens provide one meal a day for the farmers and their families. This is critical to saving the lives of so many children who suffer from malnutrition. Pig and chicken projects are being started in some Ugandan parishes, extending out to the rural poor. These are opportunities to generate income to improve their standard of living. These small animal projects equip youth and adults with skills to create jobs and to improve their diets.

Okusuubira: in the form of shelter and transportation. Classrooms and eating shelters are being built. Bicycles and motorcycles are being provided to those who provide help to the sick and dying in the isolated villages.

Okusuubira: in the form of help for the prisoners. Blankets are being given to the prisoners, responding to the call to “clothe the naked”. A water tank is being constructed in Butuntumula Prison, responding to the call to “give drink to the thirsty”.

As I prepare to visit Kasana-Luweero this August, I am grateful for all the good things that are happening with Yamba Uganda. I am aware that this is just a start. The needs and opportunities to continue helping are great. Teaching basic hygiene, using a bar of soap and clean water can prevent 40% of the diseases that kill children in Africa. The war in Kenya has caused havoc with the economy. The rising food prices are increasing the threat of famine in Uganda.

During my next visit, I look forward to seeing the patches of green laid out on the red earth; naked children tending goats and cows; and Mamas bent, with legs straight and knees locked, pulling weeds, harvesting vegetables, washing clothes in round, bright blue plastic containers. I long to see the beautiful smiling faces of the children that haunt me; I constantly feel the tug of Uganda’s children upon my heart. Although we live worlds apart, we are so alike. We have much to learn from each other. The poor in Luweero have a lot to teach us. Their values, not their material things, dominate their lives; family, faith, sharing, caring, conversation, and appreciation of small blessings. As Jesus embraced the poor and then said to us “Come follow me”, I am asking you to help us to continue to embrace the poor in Kasana-Luweero.

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