Bishop Charles Martin Wamika, is the first native Ugandan bishop assigned to the newly formed Diocese of Jinja in Uganda, Africa, where 75 priests serve the 700,000 Catholics in 25 parishes sprawled out across a 100-mile diameter.
“Many parishes are very large with more than 30 outstations (chapels and other ministry centers located away from the central parish) and are served actively by catechists because of the long distances to walk on foot. As a diocese, we strive to prepare our Catholics to play a rightful part in the Church and society. This requires training more priests and catechists.”
October 21 is World Mission Sunday — a day when Catholics of the world, in every country, diocese and parish, from the remote bush to the majestic cathedrals, unite at Mass to heed their Baptismal call to be missionaries of the world. Organized by the Society of the Propagation of Faith, one of the Pontifical Societies of Pope Benedict XVI, World Mission Sunday is a day set aside for Catholics to actively participate in the mission outreach of the Church through prayer and sacrificial offerings. The theme of this year’s celebration is “One Family in Mission.”
Last month, because of support from World Mission Day, the Diocese of Jinja was able to break ground on the St. Gonzaga Gonza Minor Seminary in Iganga. Father Joseph Isanga, a local priest, said the new school will allow more seminarians to receive a much needed education, which, in turn, will benefit the Catholics of the region. He added that a priest’s role in these parishes reaches beyond spiritual guidance. They also oversee the schools, health clinics, orphanages and women’s programs within their parishes.
Through the offering of Catholics worldwide, the Propagation of the Faith provides ongoing support for the pastoral and evangelizing programs for the world’s Missions, now some 1,150 dioceses in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and remote regions of Latin America. Help is offered for pastoral and evangelizing programs, for catechists and catechetical work, to build churches and chapels, for the work of Religious communities in health care and education, and for communication and transportation needs. And to offer help to women like Luz, a young, pregnant Mexican immigrant, who found herself alone in our country as her husband faces deportation. She turned to El Puente, a mission founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in Jefferson, Mo. With the help of the missionaries, Luz has received the prenatal care and education she may not have otherwise received. Sister Peggy Bonnet, CCVI, said the mission strives to provide for the growing Hispanic community in their pastoral, sacramental and economic needs. It serves more than 2,000 people annually.
“It is our responsibility as individuals to live out our faith, particularly in this Year of Faith, in ways that transform lives, bring healing and hope, compassion, and welcome others to the table of Christ,” said Justo Gonzales II, director of Mission Integration and Engagement for the Diocese of Orlando. “We need to bring Christ to all of those we encounter and answer the call to evangelize.”