News from Uganda

Christmas in Kakoba – Novitiate

The feast reached at a time when we did not have workers in our community. On 19th Dec, all the workers went to celebrate Christmas and New Year with their families. After their departure, the novices took over all their duties. It was not easy with the preparation of Christmas; but with cooperation and brotherhood everything was possible.

On December 24th, we divided ourselves into groups: some in the kitchen, others in liturgy and decoration of the chapel, others decorated our dining room and cleaned our compound. Others went to buy something for the celebration and looked for other needs.

We  had lunch at 1: 30 pm and after lunch, there was no rest. Each one continued his work. At 2: 00 pm, we saw a benefactor bringing for us a nice goat, a sack of maize flour and a crate of beer for wishing us a merry Christmas. Despite the tiredness, at 4: 00 pm, we revised the songs prepared for the vigil mass. All of us got an occasion of phoning home and wishing our families Merry Christmas.

After evening prayer, there were songs of Christmas sounding in our chapel. The vigil mass started at 10: 05 pm. The brothers were shining in ironed habits, singing the beautiful songs in English, Runyankore, and Swahili. The voices were like the ones of the Angels. After the songs of thanksgiving, Br. Aimable Bizimungu, our guardian, wished a merry Christmas  and thanked Br. Augustus who celebrated the mass, the novices who sung and all the Christians who attended the mass. The mass ended at midnight.

On Christmas, the mass started at 8: 00 pm. The Christians were many and most of the songs were in Runyankore. During the homily, Br. Augustus gave an opportunity to all the brothers to share briefly how they celebrate Christmas in their respective countries. After mass, there was no rest, we continued with pastoral work where five novices with Br. Augustus and Aimable went to celebrate mass in an outstation called Biharwe. From there, we went to the women’s prison at 4: 30 pm. We took the gifts of bananas and milk (NIDO) for the children. We had also mass with them.

On 26th December, the mass was at 8:00 am. The Christians were not many. During preaching one of the novices reminded us that it was because of the love that Christ came on earth. Nevertheless, St. Stephen, the first martyr died because of the love of Christ.  As Jesus said on the cross “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”, this was what St. Stephen did before dying. He said: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”. This is a good example for a true follower of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as Franciscan, that is what we were called to do. Indeed, at 10: 00 am, the brothers who remained home the previous day went to celebrated mass at men’s prison.

Afternoon, we went to Br. Tinka, is a secular Franciscan, who was celebrating Christmas and blessing his new house. We had mass with them and his grandson received the sacrament of Baptism.

It was at 4:00 pm, when the brothers from Rushooka arrived in our community to celebrate Christmas with us. They were welcomed and immediately they started helping us to prepare the celebration. Evening prayer was at 6: 45 pm, after we had supper with them followed by a nice recreation with all the brothers of the two communities. It was an occasion to welcome Deacon Agapitus who is doing his ministry in Rushooka parish. We enjoyed with one of our novices who was celebrating his birth day. Moreover, we were blessed by the presence of Br. Florentius who came to teach us computer.

The brothers from Rushooka went back the following day after breakfast. It was the best celebration of Christmas since we joined the Franciscan Order.