The HOLY CROSS FATHERS under His Lordship, Bishop VINCENT JOSEPH McCAULEY, took over from the WHITE FATHERS (Missionaries of Africa) and started FORT PORTAL DIOCESE in 1961.
Their coming coincided with Uganda’s political changes which led to her political independence in 1962.
These Missionaries worked with all the confidence and enthusiasm as though they were going to give a new face to everyone and everything! The Holy cross Fathers founded new Parishes mainly in the present day KAMWENGE DEANERY.
In 1963, the Obote Government took a drastic step by nationalizing all Government-aided school in the country. This was most devastating to the White Fathers and White Sisters (Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa) who had laid a strong foundation for Catholic Christianity through their founded schools. Many of these Missionaries could not easily come to terms with the new arrangement, so they went back home or moved to other African countries.
The Amin regime (1971-1979) brought a lot of insecurity to Ugandans and more so to no-Ugandans. Missionary work of Evangelization was baldy hampered! Many could not stand the embarrassment and humiliation they suffered, especially at road-blocks!! With down-cast eyes, many of the Holy Cross Fathers, Brothers and Sisters went back home or moved to neighbouring countries.
In 1972, Bishop V.J.McCauley was appointed Secretary General of AMECEA. Bishop V.J. McCauley is well remembered for the construction of our present Cathedral and other structures on VIRIKA HILL.
The earthquake which shook the whole country on 31/3/1966 destroyed most buildings on Virika hill including the Old Church, which was built in 1908. Bishop V.J.McCauley is also remembered with appreciation, for founding St. Mary’s Seminary, which has produced and continues to produce, not only priests for the Rwenzori region, but also leaders in various spheres of influence in the country!
We always remember the Holy Cross Fathers, Brothers and Sisters with gratitude for their great contribution towards the development of our Diocese through Schools, Hospitals and Parishes; they gave a new modern face to St. Joseph’s Technical School.
Bishop Serapio B. MAGAMBO took over the leadership of the Diocese in 1972 from Bishop V.J. McCauley. Bishop S.B. MAGAMBO was a giant of a man; he was bigger than life, with a heart bigger than himself! He plunged himself into the work of evangelization and tried his hand into so many projects and activities! He is well remembered for his generosity. He helped so many widows, orphans and the needy in so many different ways including paying school fees. He was generous to everyone who approached him regardless of creed or colour! Bishop S.B. Magambo attracted a relatively big number of young men to priesthood, and he founded a Religious Order of Brothers known as THEBROTHERS OF ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER.However, Bishop S.B. Magambo’s era was characterized by political upheavals which affected church activities in one way or other. His work/era was suddenly brought to a halt by a stroke!!
His Lordship Bishop PAUL KALANDA took over the leadership of Fort Portal Diocese in 1991. His period was fairly peaceful; he tried to consolidate what his predecessors had established and he encouraged and emphasized self-reliance at all levels, in the Diocese.
The present Bishop, His Lordship, Bishop Robert K. Muhiirwa succeeded Bishop Paul KALANDA in 2003.Bishop R.K. MUHIIRWA is running the Diocese with a team of the youngest priests in the country! In 2013, our Diocese had the youngest priest in Uganda!
These priests have to deal with challenges connected with the “GLOBAL VILLAGE”.
They drive at supersonic speed dashing to evangelize inflammable, riotous youth or to save middle-aged men and women crowded in witch-doctors’ shrines, while others rush to shacks and half built shelters which false prophets call Cathedrals or Healing Centers!
Many of these middle-aged people disparately believe the witch-doctors or false prophets can heal and save them frompoverty and the effects of the “MID-LIFE CRISIS”.
These young priests have the challenge of counselling half-dressed child-mothers, school-drop-outs orphans, while trying to console senile elderly and the aged, suffering from the EMPTY- NEST SYNDROME!!!
They have to struggle to break masks!! So many people are wearing masks, and yet these young priests have to break them, in order touch the hearts of those wearing them and so bring them closer to God!!
Bishop R. K. MUHIIRWA has established many Parishes, thus, bringing spiritual and other services nearer to the people.
FORT PORTAL DIOCESE has been in existence for fifty years! Looking back over that period one can only praise and thank God for the special privileges He has granted to the people of this part of the world.
We were privileged to have most dedicated Missionaries who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the sake of evangelizing the people of this Diocese!
They tried to provide wholistic education and health education and health services to as many people as possible, within their capacity.
We can never thank God enough for sustaining and protecting us through some of Uganda’s most turbulent years, which were a hindrance to progress.
At present, our obligation is to pray for and give our whole-hearted support to our Bishops, the Clergy and the Religious, in their struggle to preach the GOOD NEWS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST and to build GOD’S KINGDOM in the whole of FORT PORTAL DIOCESE.
BEATRICE MARY HENRIETTA BAKURAIRA