Vice-Province of Kenya launching mission into Uganda

This article originally appeared in the spring 2024 issue of The Vincentian, the quarterly newsletter of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province. 

In 1981, the Vincentians of the Western Province started a mission in Kenya, responding to the prevalence of extreme poverty there and eventually building it into a vice-province. Now, with a robust vocations program and a growing group of priests and brothers, the Vice-Province of Kenya is looking beyond its borders and asking the Vincentian question, “What must be done.”

The answer lies in neighboring Uganda, where the Vice-Province recently started a mission of its own, taking on a parish there in the Diocese of Jinja—Our Lady Queen of Peace Kyebando, which sits 83 kilometers from the Kenya/Uganda border. It is home to a shrine and is the birthplace of St. Mathias Mulumba, who was martyred there in 1886.

“The parish covers a large area with 41 outstations,” said Fr. Edwin Mugwe, C.M., Superior for the Vice-Province. “We have been thinking about a mission to Uganda for some time, the reason being that they are our neighbors and we have vocations from Uganda. We think of it as a natural progression.”

The Vice-Province started its own seminary program in 1998 and has had several candidates from Uganda. Fr. Alex Isonga, C.M., was the first Ugandan to be ordained in 2006, and the Vice-Province currently has three priests and one deacon from the country. Initially, Fr. Peter Mutula, C.M., will serve as superior for the Uganda Mission, and Fr. JohnBosco Idiama, C.M., will serve as Pastor. On Jan. 25, the anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Mission by St. Vincent de Paul, the two were commissioned in Kenya, reported to Uganda on Jan. 28, and took part in a week-long orientation before being installed in their new positions on Feb. 10.

“In the short term, we will be running the parish, and we want to animate the shrine to make it more functional,” Fr. Peter said. “The men who work there will be working in faith formation and delivering the sacraments for the people who come to the shrine.”

They will help other Vincentian family groups to work in Uganda by promoting the Association of the Miraculous Medal at the Shrine and working with the Vincentian Marian Youth group. Seminarians from the Vice-Province will conduct some of their pastoral work in Uganda, and the Vice-Province will also establish works of charity to enhance the lives of the people who live there.

“I’m so optimistic,” Fr. Peter said. “The first thing is to listen to the people so I can understand their way of life and needs and incorporate their desires into the mission of the Vincentians there.”

Fr. Peter said the long-term goal will be to grow the Vincentian spirituality in Uganda, starting with the parish and moving to the surrounding parishes, spreading the Gospel and evangelizing the poor, as the Vincentians have always done.


Photo captions:

(top photo, from left) Fr. JohnBosco Idiama, C.M., Fr. Edwin Mugwe, C.M., and Fr. Peter Mutula, C.M., celebrate a Mass on Jan. 25 commissioning Fr. Idiama and Fr. Mutula for their new roles in the Kenya Vice-Province’s new mission in neighboring Uganda.

(Middle and bottom photos in the article) The Shrine to St. Mathias Mulumba in the Diocese of Jinja and the surrounding countryside.

(Below) The installation Mass for Fr. JohnBosco and Fr. Peter on Feb. 10.