Dear friends of the Mission,
Rejoice in the Lord always.
Twenty years have passed since the Benevolent God led me to the Mission. 1996 was the year when the late Metropolitan of Kampala and All Uganda Theodore Nankyama came to Greece gravely ill. When I went to see him, he asked me to go down with him to Uganda to help the Overseas Mission. I was really at a loss because the late Metropolitan was everything to me. He had practically collected me from the streets of Kampala, where I was wandering around like a stray dog, and took good care of me. “What should I do now that he is sick?” I thought to myself. “I’ll go for a while and as soon as he gets well, I’ll come back to Greece”.
Unfortunately the late Theodore did not recover, but fell asleep in the Lord. At his funeral I saw something that shocked me. It was the children who the Bishop had gathered close to him, orphaned, poor and stray. They all had one question: “Who will take over us from now on?” Then I heard a voice inside of me saying, “I will” and indeed, it was that day that I decided to stay close to these children.
The same year 1997 His Eminence the new Metropolitan Jonah of Kampala and All Uganda appointed me rector to the historic parish of the Transfiguration in the village of Degeya. Historic parish indeed, because this was the first parish of the local African Orthodox Church. I wrote my first letter to Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos –eternal be his memory! In a few days I received a considerable amount of money for the orphanage. Since then, the Fraternity has not left my side.Until today it has repeatedly helped us with programs like the soup kitchens, the reconstruction of two primary schools in the region and educational sponsorship. Two children have studied at University, a health clinic has been built in memory of unforgettable Panagiotis, a mill and a tractor have been acquired, and the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen is being completed. We are deeply grateful to you!
Fifteen children from the orphanage have been ordained priests led by Father Paul Nzalambi, the new vicar of the Metropolis of Kampala and All Uganda, and the priest monk Father Prodromos, abbot of the first Orthodox male monastery in Uganda. Six girls from the orphanage have become priests’ wives. Three girls have become nuns led by Sister Maria, abbess of the first female monastery of Saint Mary. In a few weeks, three other girls are leaving for Rhodes to be tested in a nunnery and get properly prepared for establishing the second female monastery. Many others, male and female, have become professors, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, police wardens and catechists.
We expect your humble contribution so that we can keep these centers of humanitarian offer running as much as possible.
We wish you all of the Lord’s grace and blessings unto you and a good missionary year.
Lately, despite the financial difficulties that we have been facing, there has been an extraordinary effort by members of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity to get two building projects completed in the parish community of Transfiguration, Degeya of the Holy Metropolis of Uganda. These projects are the Sacred Church of Sts. Constantine and Helen, and the “P. Papadimitrakopoulos Health Clinic”, which is located beside the church. We praise the Most Merciful God, for His Grace has promoted such projects to their current stage despite numerous difficulties. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Fraternity and also to all those who have contributed their mite to the realization of these projects. Their support has been invaluable.
As you may recall, the place where these projects are taking place, that is, the Transfiguration center, has a prominent position and serves a sufficient number of fellow humans in the region, not only those of the Orthodox faith but also the heterodox, mainly as regards the need for education and health care. However, with the development of the region and of the people living here, the basic needs are increasing. Therefore, whatever is added to the center, such as an extension wing, or the widening of the range of its services, arouses great expectations for this people’s further course in Christ.
As young people’s education within the precincts of the parish community of Transfiguration is considered very important in the region, the S. Church of Sts. Constantine and Helen has been erected outside the wall surrounding the school in order to be established for the community life of the believers and, (in this way), to separate programs and activities. As for the Clinic, although located inside the area that is surrounded by the school wall, it will serve not only the students, but also all the patients coming through a special entrance beside the church.
The church needs painting as well as furnishings and equipment (there is 1000 euro available in the fund for this purpose). However, the carpenters’ bids for the seats required were flimsy. Maybe we should have them made gradually. It seems that the carpenters are trying to exploit us regarding the size of the seating space. As for the clinic equipment, the project work is proceeding according to schedule, that is, without any problem. Doctor George Sunday, Orthodox grandson of the late Fr. Elias Buzinde, is the person making arrangements for buying the right medical equipment and having it installed. (There is 2500 euro left in the fund for this project).
The salvation of the people in Uganda and Africa is a work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the delays and the unexpected situations that usually arise, it is going on. May the God of Love bless all those working for the salvation of mankind.
On Sunday, June 12, at 10.30 a.m., we will be honored to host HE Metropolitan Jonah of Kampala and all Uganda for the monthly gathering of our Fraternity. His Eminence will be there and speak about the latest developments of the Orthodox Mission in this Eastern African country that has served as the cradle of the modern Orthodox missionary activity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Earlier in the morning, we will jointly participate in the Divine Liturgy at Saint John the Baptist church on the junction of Pavlou Mela and Mackenzie King street.
You are all welcome to join us!
We would like to congratulate you on the great job you have been doing for the African nations through evangelism and support for those in need, especially our little orphans and the poor children.
Unfortunately, the economic crisis that Greece is going through has had a great impact on our missionary work here in every respect, mainly as regards our support for the children in every school. We are confronted with plenty of difficulties in our effort to feed the orphans and provide them with school supplies, as we did before based on the financial assistance received from the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity. This has definitely affected not only us but also the Orthodox Church in Uganda as a whole. However, we have faith in God’s providence and still believe that everything will turn out well in the future, or as you say in Greek, «Ola tha pane kala».
At the general priestly assembly that took place last year, our spiritual father Metropolitan Jonah of Uganda advised all priests at every level of the parish to create possible means that will help them make every parish financially self-sufficient, so that we can continue our missionary work here without waiting for donors from Greece, since Greece is under strong financial pressure.
For this reason we got down to work and made a small prospective study, which is simple yet difficult, because we lack the financial resources required to get started. We tried to find a way to work today for a better future in both our permanent parish communities, St. James in Nawango and the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Nakyaka, along with the six chapels and all the others that are to be created.
We agreed to start breeding livestock on a small farm of 2-3 hectares and put at least six cows as a simple start. We believe that if you help us buy this land and six cows, after at least two years, this small farm will be a source of income and will provide milk for our schools, giving an opportunity to the orphans and the poor children that we support to drink milk every day from their own farm.
This project requires about 290o euro per hectare and 280 per cow, making a total of 5,800 euro for 2 hectares and 1,680 euro for six cows. However, the problem is that we cannot afford to buy this land and the animals at the above cost by ourselves.
Therefore, brothers, we appeal to the friends of the Mission who can help us to support this effort in order to generate potential financial resources for the survival of our parish communities and our children.
CC BY-NC Giovanni Formenti
We continue to pray for you on a daily basis, so that the Almighty God, who loves mankind, redeems your life from every difficulty and gives you every gift in His Heavenly Kingdom. Amen!
Finally, we would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your kind support and wish you a good autumn! Fr. Stephen Lunagula
The seed of Orthodoxy has germinated in Uganda and the Orthodox Church has started growing in this African country despite the innumerable difficulties and obstacles it was confronted with. This is already an undeniable fact in people’s thoughts and in world history. As regards the constitutive relation of each Orthodox member with the Triune God, this is a question which belongs to those mysteries that remain inaccessible to objective research and experience.
However, what follows this agonizing growth?
What comes next?
How will it continue its existence and survival among contemporary global changes?
How will this Church in Uganda become self-sustaining and growing?
Such and other similar questions make this period the most critical in the history of the Orthodox Mission in Uganda. Besides, it must be consciously accepted that the work of the Orthodox Mission in Uganda has been much delayed too. Historians are required to describe the reasons for this delay in admonition of future generations. Now as regards us, the questions we have concern issues and problems encountered in our living reality.
Despite the contradictory state of events, we believe that God’s plan is actually being unfolded, particularly for Uganda. However, we never stop worrying about the whole of our mission, especially the poor priests serving in Uganda during this critical time. This is so because when the current economic crisis emerged so abruptly, the flock was not yet mature enough to bear material, social and spiritual fruit for self-sustenance and perpetuation of the missionary work. Therefore, the priests in Uganda will have to exceed their powers in order to continue preparing the flock so that it attains maturity and self-sustenance. This means that for as long as we have to live and face this financial crisis and our Orthodox congregation is not yet mature enough to promote and continue the apostolic work, the heavier load will have to be carried by the priests.
For Uganda, from the entire flock of the faithful, after the priests, another group that bears a great deal of responsibility is that of teachers and catechists. While the priests primarily serve the church-based cycle of the Sacred Mysteries, teachers and catechists primarily serve the school-based cycle of education. We try to make this clear to everybody that the priests are also responsible for the life and proper operation of the schools. Naturally, teachers do not want to understand this because for them, school employment is more advantageous than church employment. The schools here are somewhat productive and financially self-sustained while the churches have not reached that level yet. Church work is voluntary and does not involve too many restrictions. School work is done under more pressure due to the social system. That’s why at the present time the schools must help the churches financially until the churches reach the point of being able to help the schools in the future. This will be achieved provided the same members-parents view spiritual progress as a primary need…
This dialectic of the most critical period for the Orthodox Mission in Uganda could be extended to other groups of the flock as well. However, the Arch- Shepherd Christ has His own plans for the course of events. We hope for the best.
I would like to inform you that we have received the donation you sent us for feeding the poor children and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Your money came at a time when hunger was a major problem in our schools.
Thanks to your donation, we were able to buy food (maize flour, beans, sweet potatoes, etc.) for children studying in our Orthodox schools.
In each school, children number as follows:
Nakyaka Middle School 210 students
Nakyaka Primary School 384 students
Nawango Primary School 178 students
Nawango Kindergarten 76 children
The total number is 848 students, who get free soup kitchen food for the academic year 2014.
For this reason we appeal to your Fraternity for continuation of this help so that we can provide free soup kitchen meals to our poor children.
May God bless and sanctify the holy work of your Fraternity.
Thanking you in advance.
With love in Christ, Fr. Stephen Lunagula
Vicar, Nawango, Uganda
Our times are changing at a very quick pace and things in Africa are becoming more and more complicated. It is no longer easy to watch the rapid changes involving the local events. Meanwhile, the internal impressions are not as clear as the external ones, which are accumulated every day through the automatic mass media. Despite this chaotic situation though, our struggle still goes on.
Mobilization of the Deans
Since the determination of the nine deaneries (that is, the districts under the jurisdiction of the Deans) in the diocese of Uganda in 2002, it was believed that the Bishop would bring money and cars to give out to the Deans, so that they could start their work! However, the challenges caused by the financial crisis in Europe drove the Deans to exceptional activities regarding the organisation of the districts.
After serious discussions, they reached an understanding: “it is imperative that all members should participate actively and promote the work of the Church towards all directions.”
Condition of Priests and communities in general
There are 67 clerics within 105 communities, which have been marked into 9 ecclesiastical districts and deaneries. All of them try to work properly, except for two regions, where the problems are really big and demand a very careful handling in order to be solved. These backward regions are Lira in the North and Fort Portal in the West.
Below you can see some indicative figures in brief:
250,000 – 300,000 people comprising the orthodox population of Uganda
9 deaneries: 3 in the centre, 2 in the east, 2 in the west and 2 in the north.
47 brick-built churches (25 functioning)
105 parishes and sub-parishes, communities
100 catechists (male and female)
51 big teams of mothers
50 small teams of youth
18 surgeries, 1 small central hospital
9 doctors of various specialties
99 schools: 23 high schools (junior and senior), 26 primary schools, 50 kindergartens with catechetical
650 teachers: 160 + in auxiliary jobs at the schools
19 boarding schools, 3,000 boarders (lots of orphans among them)
more than 20,000 pupils of all levels of education
3 teams of builders
1086 wardens assisting Clerics, Mothers and Youth, and serving at Churches, Communities, Surgeries,
Schools, Boarding schools, Orphanages
2 priest-monks, 2 rassophore nuns
A special team: General Commissioner, Chief Secretary, Scribe, Accountant, Education Secretary, Driver
1 non-governmental organisation named Social Philanthropic Care of the Orthodox Church of Uganda.
Hopes in the field of Education
The Orthodox Church of Uganda is now a Church of young people. This is so simply because the leakage from the Orthodox Church to heterodox religions has stopped thanks to education. We have got schools of our own, though not as well organised as those of the other denominations. For the time being, the whole effort relies entirely on schools and education.
For this very reason within the last two years we have invested in education more than 2 billion Ugandan shillings (580,000 €) in order to construct new schools, improve the old ones and contribute to the tuition fees of the young students.
From the beginning we abandoned the “free education” system of Orthodox students in schools and introduced the “participation” system on the part of parents or relatives with a “minimum operational contribution” at almost all levels of education (except for the Theological Seminary). This way, thanks to the donations of our Greek brothers, we were able to construct additional schools and help more children to be educated. Last but not least, we have managed to have all the people involved in the field of education paid with a small monthly salary.
I am happy to announce to you that we have received the amount of the 3,000€ which you sent us for the common meals of little children (the poor ones and the orphans).
We would like to thank from the bottom of our heart the Fraternity and our friends in Thessaloniki and all over Greece for supporting the works of our Lord here in the eastern district of Uganda.
We have orphans as well as poor children who want to go to school and ask for it but we put them on standby since we cannot make it on our own without your help.
I would also like to inform you that on the 23rd of October, name day of Saint James the brother of the Lord, we were visited by His Grace Bishop Jonah, who celebrated the Divine Liturgy with five presbyters and three deacons. We dedicated that day to the little children, many of whom gathered from the surrounding communities to feel what Orthodoxy means. May God always bless you, your partners and their families.
Father Stephen Lunagula is a graduate of the Orthodox Patriarchal Ecclesiastical School “Makarios, Archbishop of Cyprus” at Nairobi in Kenya, and also holds a degree of Pastoral and Social Theology. He was ordained priest in 1975 by the late Bishop of Uganda Theodore Nankyama. He serves as a Prelatic Commissioner in the Eastern region of Uganda (Busoga). He is the father of ten children.
Rejoice in the Lord!
It is a great blessing and opportunity for me from Uganda to be in contact with your Fraternity, which was founded in 1963 by the name “Friends of Uganda”.
I feel the spiritual joy and honor to thank our Bishop Jonah Lwanga, who blessed and entrusted me with the position of the Prelatic Commissioner of the Orthodox Church for the eastern part of Uganda at the region of Busoga.
I am deeply touched to be writing to you humbly asking for spiritual guidance and financial support.
The exact base where I serve is the Holy Church of Saint James Adelphotheos ( Jacob, the brother of the Lord) in Nawango, where there are 919 Orthodox Christians. We have a permanent primary school with 415 children, of which 139 are orphans, or come from very poor families. I try to support them in many different ways to the extent this is possible. We teach them reading and writing, we offer them common meals, we supply them with school uniforms, blankets, notebooks…
Makeshift school in Nakyaka
Apart from Saint James’ community, we have created other communities as well, like that of the Annunciation of Theotokos in Nakyaka with a primary school, where most children sit under the trees, while some of them learn reading and writing at the temporary buildings. Here we have 365 children, 22 of which are orphans. We also have a permanent Junior High School, which started operating in 2012.
I always try to help them as long as I can afford it, but many times it is technically impossible for me to accept any other children who are srarving, due to lack of financial support. The number of children mentioned is small, but there is a larger number of orphans or children coming from very poor families who need our love and support, and who are waiting to be included in the new aid program. We also have new communities in the regions of Kananage, with 64 Orthodox Christians, Bugondha, with 49 Orthodox Christians, and Kiyunga, with 14 Orthodox Christians.
I would also like to offer the children the following:
Βάπτιση από τον π. Στέφανο
Spiritual guidance, a common meal at school as well as the absolutely essential, especially to the orphans and those coming from very poor families.
An orphanage, which I hope we will be able to build at the region of Nakyaka, for a more convenient spiritual supervision, medical treatment and concentration of the orphans.
The construction of a permanent primary school in the same region, which will help us bring the children closer to Orthodoxy.
In conclusion, with possible future assistance on your part, I would like to do as many things as possible in other parishes of my region too, so that Orthodoxy can expand and flourish, and increase the number of the orthodox Christians in the Church of Uganda.
Dear Brothers in Christ, I humbly ask for your spiritual guidance as well as your financial support so that we will be able to realize our wishes, dreams and hopes through the love of our Lord and Savior. Amen!
I am writing to you from far-off Uganda to tell you our news. First I would like to inform you that we have received the amount of 13,000 € which you so kindly sent us for the common meals at the orphanage, and I would like to thank you for your warm-heartedness and generosity.
Recently we were paid a visit by the Metropolitan of Kition Chrysostomos along with a large number of volunteer doctors and nurses, who offered their medical expertise and services for a week. The Metropolitan and the team participated in the consecration of the Holy Church of Theotokos in Bugolo.
A few days later we were also visited by the Metropolitan of Philippi Prokopios along with a team of sixteen people. He baptized a lot of catechumens in the region of Buyambo and set the foundations of the Holy Church of Saint Basil in the region of Kikwanya.
Such visits fill us with joy and give us courage to face the difficult situation we are in. We pray that the All-good God keeps healthy all of you as well as the partners of the Orthodox Mission, which has been constructing schools, orphanages and health centers in our region for 20 years now. Our efforts are being continued for the glory of God.