In Uganda ordinato sacerdote il Camilliano Richard Lubaale
The first Ugandan national has been ordained a priest in the 400 year history of the Camillian Order – known as the Order of St Camillus – . Rev. Richard Lubaale was ordained on 14th July last, the Feast of the Order’s Founder, St Camillus de Lellis, in his home parish of Kakira near the town of Jinja in Uganda. Three Camillians travelled from Ireland for this historic occasion. They were the Provincial of the Anglo-Irish Province, Fr Stephen Foster, together with Bro. Camillus McHugh and Bro.
(Left to right: Fr. Stephen Foster, Provincial, Bishop Joseph Willegers, Bro. Camillus McHugh e Bro. John O’Brien)
The ceremony was a prayerful festival of dance and hymns in true African style and brought great joy to all present.
The ordaining prelate was Bishop Joseph Willegers, the now retired Bishop of Jinja. Bishop Willegers is a Mill Hill Father from Holland who went to East Africa 55 years ago after his ordination. He was Bishop of Jinja for 42 years.
The Camillians began their Mission to Uganda over 10 years ago in 2000.
Despite a shortage of manpower in Ireland the Camillians believed they were answering an urgent call to care for those many people who at that time were dying from HIV/AIDS. Many of them were very young and some of them parents with young children.
The two priests who volunteered for this Mission were Frs Tom O’Connor (a native of Co. Kerry and Fr Tom Smith (who hails from Co. Cavan). Both men established a base in the Lugazi Diocese and set about operating a mobile clinic to go out into the Bush to visit and care for the Sick who were too sick or too poor to attend a hospital. Many of the patients were simply hydrated with a drip (sometimes using the car lights at night-time for visibility in order to insert the drip) in order to make their last moments as comfortable as possible. Thanks to the work of these two Camillian priests, many people are now alive who would otherwise be dead. The introduction of anti-retroviral drugs and counselling has enormously helped so many sick people who now have a better quality of life.
(Bishop ordains Richard Lubaale) (Singers greet the processing priests)
The two priests also set about – after a period of 5 years acclimatisation to invite vocations to the Camillian way of life which has now culminated in the first ordination. And we believe the first of many. They also introduced a number of diocesan priests to health care by facilitating with the consent of the local bishops an opportunity to study health care courses at Master’s level at the Order’s University in Rome. These priests then returned to Uganda where they lived for the next two years with our priests in order to implement what they had learned in Rome and then subsequently for them to return to their native diocese where they now can animate their fellow clergy. This is an important service as many people in Uganda had – and still have – a fear of being in contact with sick people.
Last year 2010, saw the arrival of two Indian Camillians who have gone to Uganda in order to help in the work started by the Irish missionaries. Fr Richard Lubaale will now work with these men as they take forward to the next level the work begun just over 10 years ago by the Anglo-Irish Camillians.
(Left to right: Bro. Camillus McHugh, Bro John O’Brien e Fr. Tom Smith on their way to greet the newly ordained Fr. Richard)