Uganda – Kampala
First Novitiate Outside Jamaica: Mater Salutis
With the Mission drawing an average of 40 young men each year from both Uganda and Kenya, the field is certainly ripe for the harvest. At present we have 73 young Brothers in-formation who are under the direction of 10 formators at our three houses of formation in the Mission: 44 aspirants and 4 postulants at Our Lady of Good Counsel Monastery, 15 novices at Mater Salutis Novitiate, and 10 junior professed at St Joseph’s Juniorate.
Having proven to be a very fertile ground as far as vocations are concerned, our leadership in Jamaica decided to institute our first novitiate overseas in this Mission. This took place in March 2006 with Fr Hayden Augustine for its first Master of Novices. Upon his election as Vicar General of the Institute in 2010, he was succeeded (as Master of Novices) by Fr. Ramon Pulayan who is in the same position to-date.
Since its foundation, a good number of Brothers who have successfully emerged from Mater Salutis Novitiate—in 13 batches thus far—made it to first profession of vows and their eventual perpetual profession. Today, some of them are now missionaries themselves who are stationed in our missions in Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, and the US. Several of them are also in our Mother House in Jamaica serving the community in various capacities.
St Joseph’s Juniorate: our Second Juniorate in the Institute
With a growing number of junior professed Brothers filling up our Institute’s only Juniorate House in Jamaica—such that there is no longer any more space to accommodate the constant increase of professed members sent from our missions overseas—our Third General Chapter in 2010 decided that a juniorate formation center be established in our East African region. Fr. Henry Lozano, newly appointed Superior of the Kampala Mission, set about fulfilling this task soon after he assumed his new responsibility and mission assignment in early 2010. The official groundbreaking ceremony took place on the Solemnity of Mary’s Assumption on the 15th of August 2010. Less than a year later, on the 9th of April 2011, St Joseph’s Juniorate was inaugurated and blessed by His Excellency, Most Rev. Paul Tschang In-Nam, then Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda. By the 1st of May of the same year, the first group of juniors formally took possession of it and began their juniorate formation almost immediately thereafter. Presently, we have 10 juniors here undergoing formation.
First African Sisters
Shortly after the inception of the Missionaries of the Poor Sisters (MOPS) in Jamaica in 2011, our Founder gave us his blessing to recruit vocations to this young movement—the female wing of the Institute. Our first Ugandan candidate to MOP Sisterhood presented herself for admission on June 9, 2012. Eight others followed her at different intervals, including five Kenyan candidates. On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord this year (February 2), seven of them made it to aspirancy while the eighth followed suit on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (May 1). Before the end of February, two from this first batch travelled to our Mother House in Kingston to join our original band of Sisters. On June 16, three others will be making the same journey.
Temporarily housed in our guest quarters at St Joseph’s Juniorate, this is where our Sisters in Uganda are currently doing their initial formation under the direction of the Superior of the Mission. At present, we have 8 aspirants and 6 candidates.
Future Plans: Bethlehem Academy
With more than 400 residents currently living with us at the Good Shepherd Home and Bethlehem Home, both homes are now actually filled to capacity. Our various outreach programmes are also ever-growing and expanding that today, MOP Kampala is the biggest of all of our missions overseas. Still, we wish to expand and serve as many poor people as we can despite our limited resources. Among our plans for expansion is the proposed Bethlehem Academy—to be constructed within the premises of Bethlehem Home.
Meant to be a basic school for the orphans and abandoned children who are under our care, we also envision the Academy to cater to the needs of economically challenged children from our immediate neighborhood in this part of the city.
As MOP, it is our cherished dream to see our children move on and live a fairly stable and independent life as much as possible. By offering them the fundamentals of education—and later a more advanced one like we do with those who are in our school sponsorship programme—we wish to see them equipped for the future.
Bethlehem Academy will sit on the ground floor of our front building at Bethlehem Home. This portion of the Home houses our still-to-be-opened clinic and our computer room for some of our older children already going to school. To be divided into four (4) classrooms, it will also contain an administrative and staff room.