(Vatican Radio) On Saturday Pope Francis met with National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies and those who work with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The encounter took place in the context of the one hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU), which was inspired by Blessed Paolo Manna, a missionary priest of the Pontifical Institute for the Foreign Missions. In his address to the group, Pope Francis said that, “through the intuition of Blessed Paolo Manna and the mediation of the Apostolic See, the Holy Spirit has led the Church to have an ever greater understanding of her own missionary nature, later brought to maturation by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.”
Blessed Paolo Manna emphasized the importance of forming Bishops and Priests, and through them, the laity, for the missions. But, the Pope insisted, the emphasis on the formation of clergy does not mean “reducing the PMU to a simply clerical reality.” Rather, it has the mission of “supporting the hierarchy in its service to the missionary nature of the Church,” which is proper to everyone, in their own way, in the Church. In this way, he said, the “Pastors of the Church help to keep the Church, always and everywhere, in a state of mission.”
“Mission makes the Church,” the Pope said, “and keeps her faithful to the salvific will of God.” He asked the directors and collaborators to focus on the commitment to “permanent formation in mission,” with “the intention of serving and nourishing the missionary identity of the whole Church.” Although the organization of missionary efforts is important, he said, a certain passion, a 'mystique' is necessary. "I fear," he said, that your work might remain very organized, perfectly organized, but without passion." A mission without the "mystique of the saints and the martyrs" will not do, he continued -- and if something needs to be sacrificed, he said, "we sacrifice the organization, and go forward with the mystique of the saints."
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called for the directors and collaborators to engage in a “re-thinking” of their mission, with the goal of an “adequate reformation of methods,” and “an authentic renewal.” He expressed his gratitude for the work of the PMU, entrusting its service to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Missions; to Saints Peter and Paul, to Saint Guido Maria Conforti, and to Blessed Paolo Manna.”
The Church, Mother of Vocations
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is my great hope that, during the course of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy,
all the baptized may experience the joy of belonging to the Church and rediscover that the Christian vocation, just like every particular vocation, is born from within the People of God, and is a gift of divine mercy.The Church is the house of mercy, and it is the “soil” where vocations take root, mature and bear fruit.
For this reason, on the occasion of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I invite all of you to reflect upon the apostolic community, and to give thanks for the role of the community in each person’s vocational journey. In the Bull of Indiction for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I recalled the words of the venerable Saint Bede, describing the call of Saint Matthew: “Miserando atque eligendo” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). The Lord’s merciful action forgives our sins and opens us to the new life which takes shape in the call to discipleship and mission. Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus. Conversion and vocation are two sides of the same coin, and continually remain interconnected throughout the whole of the missionary disciple’s life.
Blessed Paul VI, in his exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, described various steps in the process of evangelisation. One of these steps is belonging to the Christian community (cf. no. 23), that community from which we first received the witness of faith and the clear proclamation of the Lord’s mercy. This incorporation into the Christian community brings with it all the richness of ecclesial life, particularly the sacraments. Indeed, the Church is not only a place in which we believe, but it is also an object of our faith; it is for this reason that we profess in the Credo: “I believe in the Church”.
The call of God comes to us by means of a mediation which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, he bestows on us a specific vocation. The vocational journey is undertaken together with the brothers and sisters whom the Lord has given to us: it is a con-vocation. The ecclesial dynamism of the call is an antidote to indifference and to individualism. It establishes the communion in which indifference is vanquished by love, because it demands that we go beyond ourselves and place our lives at the service of God’s plan, embracing the historical circumstances of his holy people.
On this day dedicated to prayer for vocations, I urge all the faithful to assume their responsibility for the care and discernment of vocations. When the Apostles sought someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot, Saint Peter brought together one hundred and twenty of the brethren (cf. Acts 1:15); and in order to chose seven deacons, a group of disciples was gathered (cf. 6:2). Saint Paul gave Titus specific criteria for the selection of presbyters (cf. Titus 1:5-9). Still today, the Christian community is always present in the discernment of vocations, in their formation and in their perseverance (cf. Apost. Ex. Evangelii Gaudium, 107).
Vocations are born within the Church. From the moment a vocation begins to become evident, it is necessary to have an adequate “sense” of the Church. No one is called exclusively for a particular region, or for a group or for an ecclesial movement, but rather for the Church and for the world. “A sure sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy and faithful people for the good of all” (ibid., 130). In responding to God’s call, young people see their own ecclesial horizon expand; they are able to consider various charisms and to undertake a more objective discernment. In this way, the community becomes the home and the family where vocations are born. Candidates gratefully contemplate this mediation of the community as an essential element for their future. They learn to know and to love their brothers and sisters who pursue paths different from their own; and these bonds strengthen in everyone the communion which they share.
Vocations grow within the Church. In the course of formation, candidates for various vocations need to grow in their knowledge of the ecclesial community, overcoming the limited perspectives that we all have at the beginning. To that end, it is helpful to undertake some apostolic experience together with other members of the community, for example: in the company of a good catechist, to communicate the Christian message; together with a religious community, to experience the evangelisation of the peripheries sharing in the life of the cloister, to discover the treasure of contemplation; in contact with missionaries, to know more closely the mission ad gentes; and in the company of diocesan priests, to deepen one’s experience of pastoral life in the parish and in the diocese. For those who are already in formation, the ecclesial community always remains the fundamental formational environment, towards which one should feel a sense of gratitude.
Vocations are sustained by the Church. After definitive commitment, our vocational journey within the Church does not come to an end, but it continues in our willingness to serve, our perseverance and our ongoing formation. The one who has consecrated his life to the Lord is willing to serve the Church wherever it has need. The mission of Paul and Barnabas is a good example of this readiness to serve the Church. Sent on mission by the Holy Spirit and by the community of Antioch (cf. Acts 13, 1-4), they returned to that same community and described what the Lord had worked through them (cf. 14: 27). Missionaries are accompanied and sustained by the Christian community, which always remains a vital point of reference, just as a visible homeland offers security to all who are on pilgrimage towards eternal life.
Among those involved in pastoral activity, priests are especially important. In their ministry, they fulfil the words of Jesus, who said: “I am the gate of the sheepfold […] I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10: 7, 11). The pastoral care of vocations is a fundamental part of their ministry. Priests accompany those who are discerning a vocation, as well as those who have already dedicated their lives to the service of God and of the community.
All the faithful are called to appreciate the ecclesial dynamism of vocations, so that communities of faith can become, after the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, like a mother’s womb which welcomes the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1: 35-38). The motherhood of the Church finds expression in constant prayer for vocations and in the work of educating and accompanying all those who perceive God’s call. This motherhood is also expressed through a careful selection of candidates for the ordained ministry and for the consecrated life. Finally, the Church is the mother of vocations in her continual support of those who have dedicated their lives to the service of others.
We ask the Lord to grant to all those who are on a vocational journey a deep sense of belonging to the Church; and that the Holy Spirit may strengthen among Pastors, and all of the faithful, a deeper sense of communion, discernment and spiritual fatherhood and motherhood.
Father of mercy, who gave your Son for our salvation and who strengthens us always with the gifts of your Spirit, grant us Christian communities which are alive, fervent and joyous, which are fonts of fraternal life, and which nurture in the young the desire to consecrate themselves to you and to the work of evangelisation. Sustain these communities in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding towards each one’s particular consecration. Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment, so that in all things the greatness of your merciful love may shine forth. May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus, intercede for each Christian community, so that, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, it may be a source of true vocations for the service of the holy People of God.
From the Vatican, 29 November 2015
First Sunday of Advent
The Episcopate ordination was presided over by His Grace Paul Bakyenga, Bishop of Mbarara Archdiocese after which he presented the new Bishop to the lay faithful.
He was assisted by the Former Apostolic Administrator Bishop Lambet Bainomugisha who placed the book of the Gospels on the head of the bishop-elect, thereby anointing him and also placed a skull cap (purple Zucchetto) on his head and a Mitre. Bakyenga later handed over a Pastoral staff/Crosier to the Rt. Rev. Vincent Kirabo, announcing him the Bishop of Hoima Diocese.
On his part, Archbishop Bakyenga said that the title of Bishop is not of honour but of service and called on the new Bishop and other Church leaders at large to serve the people and not to rule them. He described Bishop Kirabo as a very kind and gentle person.
UEC mourns Rt. Rev. John Baptist Kakubi, Bishop Emeritus of Mbarara
Uganda Episcopal Conference is mourning the death of Rt. Rev. John Baptist Kakubi, the Bishop Emeritus of Mbarara Archdiocese who died on February 11, 2016 at Kampala International Hospital in Kampala after a long battle with hypertension and diabetes.
Bishop Kakubi (86) was the third ordinary and first indigenous African Bishop of Mbarara to take over from Bishop Jean Marie Ogez, who succeeded Bishop Lacoursiere F.X. Bishop Kakubi led Mbarara from 1969 to 1991.
Born on September 23, 1929 in Mbarara District, he attended Primary School from 1939 to 1943 and joined St. Francis Xavier Kitabi Minor Seminary in 1944 to 1950.
According to his Memoir ‘A Day to Remember’ a total of 24 students joined the Seminary but, only four students, him inclusive, completed the seven year journey. “I had made a resolution in my preparatory at Kitabi that even if all my 23 classmates leave, I shall become a priest.” Bishop Kakubi narrates in his memoir.
He then joined Katigondo Major Seminary in 1951 to 1956. In 1958 Bishop Ogez sent him to England to continue with his studies at Allen Hall St. Edmund’s College, Ware Hertfordhire. He was ordained a priest on June 11, 1960 at Westminster Cathedral in London by William Cardinal Godfrey of Westminster Archdiocese. He had his first Mass at St. Patrick London University Church in Soho Square.
After his ordination, he remained in London and attended a course in Catholic Social Studies at St. Peter Clever Institute from 1960 to 1961. He was a teacher at Katigondo Major Seminary from 1963 to 1964 after which he worked as Diocesan Secretary for Education for Mbarara and Kabale from 1964 to 1966.
On July 5, 1969 he was appointed Bishop of Mbarara and consecrated on August 1, 1969 by Pope Paul VI at Kololo Airstrip together with other four Bishops. His motto was “Lord you are my shield” Psalm 3:3.
From March 1992 to the time of his death, Bishop Kakubi lived in Ibanda Priest’s House (house for priest’ and those that are retired and sick) which he renovated and expanded.
On many occasions, Bishop Kakubi was invited to give spiritual talks and retreats to priests and religious both in the diocese of Mbarara and other dioceses.
A requiem Mass was held for him on Friday 12 at Lubaga Cathedral in Kampala. He was later laid to rest on Saturday February 13 at St. Joseph’s Vocational School chapel, as per his wish, in Mbarara Archdiocese. He has lived and served as a priest for 56 years and as a Bishop for 46 years. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
By Jacinta W. Odongo; Media Officer, Uganda Episcopal Conference
Following the successful pastoral visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Uganda in November last year, the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) hosted a colorful thanksgiving function to acknowledge the contribution made by the various Organizing Committee members, government officials, corporates, and sponsors, towards making the event an unprecedented success.
The thanksgiving and get-together event, which was held on Tuesday 19th January 2016 at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat premises in Nsambya, attracted over 400 invited guests who included members of various organizing committees, top government officials and sponsors among other people. The event kicked-off in a colorful style at exactly 5.45pm amid jubilant songs, traditional and folk dances upon the arrival of the Chief Guest, the Prime Minister. Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda.
Rt. Hon. Rugunda was ushered in at the venue by the Archbishop of Gulu and Chairman of UEC - Most Rev. John Baptist Odama, the Bishop of Lira, Rt. Rev. Joseph Franzelli, the Bishop of Masaka, Rt. Rev. John Baptist Kaggwa, the Secretary General of UEC - Msgr. John Baptist Kauta, Minister in Charge of General Duties/Office of the Prime Minister. Hon. Tarsis Kabwegyere, the Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority - Jennifer Musisi Ssemakula , the Head of Civil Service – Mr. John Mitala, Ms. Deborah Katuramu who was the Chairperson of the National Organizing Committee [NOC], and other government officials.
Archbishop Odama told the guests that the Holy Father wrote to him a letter expressing his gratitude to all Ugandans for their warm welcome during his visit.
“The whole event was a success which gave the Pope a great joy. The crowd that accompanied him was a sign that people are yearning for Christ. It would not have been possible without the fervent hard work put in by everyone involved thus we are gathered here to celebrate that,” said Archbishop Odama adding. “The visit left us with a very important lesson that the Church and the state can be partners in promoting the common good.”
He also conveyed his gratitude to the office of the president, cabinet ministers, police, other religious faiths and local authorities for providing tight security and amenities such as water in all the locations.
The Archbishop told the guests that the visit made all Ugandans proud and urged them to keep that pride all the time to maintain unity, hard work and consultation.
“The presence of the various leaders from different political parties and religions, the shaking of the hands of the two presidential candidates in 15 years was proof that the visit knew no religion or political background but it was a demonstration that Uganda only shared oneness,” he stated.
Addressing the guests, Rt. Hon. Rugunda said that many memorable things took place in the nation because of the Papal visit.
“The Holy Father ignited national cohesion in practice. We were used to the presidential candidates hitting at each other but it was not a common sight to see the warmth of the handshaking at Namugongo thus we should follow the Pope’s example of unity,” said Rt. Hon. Rugunda adding “Unity, solidarity and ecumenism was another example from the Holy Father. He first visited the Anglican Shrine, prayed and meditated there. It showed that we have no choice but to follow his example in spite of variation in religion.”
Archbishop Odama later handed over a gift to the Prime Minister, other government officials and dignitaries present. The event concluded at 10pm with cutting of the cake.
Various dishes and refreshments were served to the guests who couldn’t hide their joy, excitement and gratitude throughout the evening.
By the Media Officer, Uganda Episcopal Conference