BRIEF HISTORY OF KATWE PARISH
LOCATION: Lake Katwe Parish, also named after Sts. Peter and Paul is located in Queen Elizabeth National Park, in the western part of Uganda (East Africa). It stretches along the shores of lakes George and Edward, a big fresh water lake between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
HISTORY OF CATHOLICISM IN LAKE KATWE PARISH
The church in Katwe parish, and indeed in Kasese diocese is relatively young. However, it is important to note that even before the first parish (ie Nsenyi parish) was inaugurated as a parish in 1938 in Kasese, candidates to the Christian faith or catechumens, used to travel to Rugazi through the wilderness in queen Elizabeth National park, to undergo catechism instructions for some years.
It is said that by 1925, catechists from Rugazi (found in Bushenyi under the Archdiocese of Mbarara) had spread Christianity to Katwe.
Originally, Katwe was a small local church belonging to Kasanga parish that was officially opened in 1956 as a parish under Fort Portal diocese. With time, it became a sub- parish with 7 (seven) out stations. The Christians were being attended to by a number of catechists, and some priests who used to come from the parish Headquarters at Kasanga parish and go back.
CREATION OF LAKE KATWE PARISH
Lake Katwe parish was inaugurated as a parish on…………. Of September 1989. This was shortly after Kasese was inaugurated as a detatched Diocese from Fort Portal diocese in the same year 1989. Its first serving priest as a parish was Rev. Fr. Augustine Muhindo who holds the title of Msgr. Today. Fr. Augustine Muhindo served together with Fr. Joseph Matata Tibaijuka.
In 1993, Rev. Fr. Blaise Maathe became parish priest of Katwe serving with Fr. Birungi John Kithendere.
From 1994 to 1999. Fr. Expedito Masereka was parish priest, followed by Rev. Fr. Thomas Tusingwire in 2000 to 2002. Fr. Thomas was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Vincent Muhindo up to2005. From 2005 to 2007 the Late Fr. Joseph Kuribuuza was parish priest who was succeeded by Fr. Joseph Kule Syathetha as parish priest and is serving today with Rev. Fr. Francis Mbusa.
At present, the parish has got eight (8) out stations. They are mainly fishing villages along the shores of Lake George, Edward and Kazinga channel. These eight out-stations are divided into two sub-parishes.
KATWE SUB PARISH
1. This is the parish headquarters. It became the main parish church when the area was elevated to a status of a parish in 1989. It had an old church constructed in the 1950’s built out of lava blocks and soils that had started falling apart by fast-developing cracks. There was a great need for a new church which we started seeking funds for some three years ago. We demolished the old church in August 2008 and a new church is under construction. At the moment, Christians are praying from a nearby parish hall. The head catechist Mr. Josephat Tibenda stays nearby.
2. Kyakitale Local Church
This is located west of the main parish church about 1km. it has a female catechist Biira Perpetua. Most of the Christians in this church are old women. The church building is getting old and there is need to renovate or put up a new church.
3. Rwenjubu Local Church
It is about 1 ½ Kms from the main church, located east North of the parish. It is an active church with a lot f indigenous people. It is also managed by a female catechist Mbambu Mary.
4. ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER (MWEYA LOCAL CHURCH)
It is eleven (11km) from the main church. It is a commercial centre with a big hotel located in the heart of Queen Elizabeth National park. It is basically a place where work takes a bigger proportion of the people’s time, leaving little or no room for church activities. People in this place are transient, making it difficult to have a good serving administration . it has no trained catechist, except for a volunteer who at the same time works in the national park as a game driver. The priest at the parish however, endeavors to regularly visit this church. The church building belongs to the Hotel management given for the services of the Christians who reside there.
5. ST. PETERS’ CATHOLIC CHURCH (KATWE LANDING SITE)
This is the newest local church in Katwe Parish, created mainly to cater for the spiritual wellbeing of the fishermen and fishmongers at katwe landing site. It started I February 20009. There is no church building at the moment. Christians pray from a tent or under taplins provided by some good Christians. This local church is also under a trained female catechist Ms. Justina Kabataizibwa who is also an extra ordinary Eucharistic minister
1. KATUNGURU LOCAL CHURCH
It is located twenty four (24km) from the parish headquarters through the National Park. It is a long the Mbarara-Kasese Highway just at the boundary of Kasese and Mbarara Dioceses. Being on the shores of kazinga channel, it is basically a fishing village. Most people om this area are mobile.
It is a Eucharistic centre, with am extra Eucharistic minister, catechist Paul Tumusiime. The centre has got also a nursery school with two(2) classrooms and an office
2. KASENYI LOCAL CHURCH
It is 35KM from the parish through Queen Elizabeth National game park with the smallest population. Its new church was blessed by the ordinary of Kasese Diocese, Bishop Egidio Nkaijanabwo in 2004.
It is about 31KM from Katwe parish through the national park. It has a small church building but developing cracks very fast. It is served by a trained catechist from another parish (Nsenyi parish) and stays there in a temporary catechist house. His name is Joseph Baguma.
MAJOR ACTIVITIES IN THE PARISH
The Christians are very poor because they rely on subsistence mining of salt and low fishing. There is a nearby salt lake which has supplied salt to the people around for centuries. People still use primitive way of getting salt from it: directing water into small ponds (salt pans) and under the sun films of salt are formed on top of the water. And the lakes George and Edward have been over- fished and so not much fish is caught. These two economic activities do not bring in sustainable income to the households.
Being in the national park, government cannot allow cultivation of crops, and even then, the soil does not support the growth of crops.
ACTIVE PROJECTS AND PLANED ONES ALREADY IN PROGRESS
1. SALT PAN
The parish has a salt pan that can earn shs.400.000 per year for the parish
2. PRIMARY SCHOOL IN PROGRESS
Construction of a primary school is in progress with so far only three classrooms built and pupils have already started using them. (cfr to photo). This school is found in Rwenjubu catholic church
3. Putting up a parish hostel in view of earning income for the parish. Katunguru sub-parish is the proposed place to construct the Hostel.
4. A standard hospital/clinic can be of great help to the parish and the population at- large since we are in the national park and people lack immediate medical services. There is quite a long distance to the health centres, hospitals and dispensaries in other places from Katwe.
5. Its also a plan for the parish to buy another salt pan in order to boost the income for the parish.
ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE PARISH
The number of churchgoers is steadily increasing since 2008
The parish currently boasts of a new parish church building though not yet completed, 2 nursery schools and a primary school under construction with so far three classrooms only.
A number of people have willingly tested for HIV/AIDS in order to know their status. This has been simply because of the campaigns and preventive programs run by the church leaders with the parish HIV/AIDS taskforce with the support of the interreligious council of Uganda (ICU).
More Christians have joined the church movements especially Maria Rosa Mystica
DATE/TIME PROPOSED ACTIVITY PERSON RESPONSIBLE
Lenten season 9th March-20th April 2011 Visiting small Christian communities in the local out-stations in preparation for Easter (Resurrection of the Lord) Priests, members of the parish pastoral council
1st May-31st May 2011 Month of the Rosary PASTORAL PLAN
Recitation of the Rosary in Homes praying for peace and reconciliation after the concluded elections Priests leaders of SCCs Parish pastoral councils (Team) catechists.
June-July 2011 HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns in the villages with messages of abstinence and faithfulness HIV/AIDS parish task force
August 2011 Life in the spirit seminar for various local churches Diocesan Charismatic team (DST)
October 2011 Month if the Rosary Praying for the suffering in Katwe: HIV/AIDS patients, Orphans, Child sacrifice, Youth to turn to God. (In small Christian Communities) Leaders of SCCs, Catechists, priests, and chairpersons of Local churches
November- December 2011 Advent programme: visit to the local churches in preparation for Christmas celebrations
Katwe parish is a hard to live and hard to reach area. One of the challenges as pastoral agents that we face is the lack of means of transport and communication. This has curtailed the pastoral programmes set as we live in a national park with wild animals. The parish is in need of a vehicle.
The catechists of the parish are not paid monthly salary, yet they have families to look after.
The area is characterized by loose and immoral conduct which is typical of most lake areas. This does not allow proper formation of a child.
Lake Katwe parish is one of the areas where HIV/AIDS epidemic has highly claimed lives of people. As a result, there are many orphans and helpless people. A pastor in this place finds himself challenged by the growing number of Christians in slums living with and affected by the HIV/AIDS disease.
The Christians are very poor since they rely on subsistence mining of salt and low fishing, thus leading to very low income. The income of the people cannot afford to support house hilds, put up social services like education facilities, parents are too poor to raise funds for their children in schools. This has led to a vicious circle of poverty.
Lack of enthusiasm from the Christians to support church activities, receive sacraments especially the reception of Holy Matrimony is very poor.
Lack of personal commitment among Christians. For some Christians, Christianity is still on the peripheral. This can be observed through syncretism on part of some Christians.
Lack of office equipments (eg. Computer, photocopier, no internet services) etc.
CATHOLIC FOUNDED INSTITUTIONS IN THE PARISH
There are not many catholic founded institutions. There is only one primary school at Kasenyi local church and has been taken up by government.
The second primary school is still under construction. There are three classrooms only. A lot is still desired in order to build it and out it to standard.
There are 2 nursery schools also in the parish: One at Katwe Parish and another at Katunguru sub-parish.
Katwe(day) nursery school was opened on 5th February 2001, at the foundation of the catholic church. It started with 2 branches:
• Katwe Top-Hill Both using church buildings.
These schools depend on only one way of income- school fees.
In the year 2002, Rwenjubu branch failed to operate due to poor turn up of pupils and payment of the caretakers. However, it has again resurrected, now bringing the number to 3. All these schools are founded with an aim to inculcate good morals, discipline and impart a sense of responsibility into the young children and prepare them for the future through education