Uganda: Silver Jubilee Panyangara Parish, Kotido

Looking back through the years, our parish of Panyangara has grown and flourished from strength to strength, impacting the lives of countless people in the community.  Started in 1998 by three Mill Hill pioneers that included Fr Phillip O’Halloran mhm as its moderator, Fr Denis Hartnett mhm, and the late Fr Declan Apalopus O’Toole mhm, RIP, with the primary aim of evangelizing, and transforming the livelihood of the local community. A parish cut out from its mother parish of Losilang in the remote Diocese of Kotido in North Eastern Uganda. It consists of outstations of Watakau, Napumpum, Kadokini, Lookorok, Potongor.

The altruism and the zeal these first missionaries exhibited for the local community to the point of putting their lives on the line in order to foster peace and justice, has seen the parish become a model parish within the diocese. A model which most parishes have learnt to emulate.. The Mill Hill missionaries have brought many projects that have impacted, and transformed the livelihood of the local community. Through its various programs and outreach initiatives, the Mill Hill missionaries have touched the lives of many and made positive strides in their lives through education, health care, and charity support.

The parish has become a place where people have found healing, hope, and purpose. In one of the largest outstation of Watakau, a youth center was established in 2017 by Fr Sylvester Odhiambo mhm. This has been fully equipped with learning resources (text books, desktops) and projects such as the shoe making project. In addition, Fr Ignatius Nshing mhm has also seen to it that a women and youth empowerment center is set up to foster peace, reconciliation, and togetherness within the parish. A bakery and nursery school have been fully established and put under the care of the Franciscan missionaries of St Joseph, to foster development and growth of the Church in the area.

As our parish celebrates its 25th anniversary, it’s  a time we pause, and reflect on the lives of the many people who have come before us, and the many blessings that God has bestowed on us. In a special way we are grateful to the pioneer missionaries, to Fr Gerry Hastie mhm, Fr Bernard C Phelan mhm, Fr Philip Adede Amek mhm, Fr Sylvester Odhiambo mhm, Fr Fred Yangyi mhm, Fr Cyprian Taah mhm, Fr Johnson Tatah mhm, Fr Len Wiedemayr mhm, RIP, Fr Mark Owor mhm, Fr Joseph Okwara mhm, for the love and the mark they left in the lives of many in the community of Panyangara, in a special way we remember associate Corry van den Bosch mhm and the countless people who have been part of our volunteer community.

The anniversary celebration is an opportunity to acknowledge the Mill Hill missionaries’ past achievements and also to look forward to the future with renewed hope and faith. It’s a time to renew our commitment to God and to each other, to strengthen our bonds of fellowship, and to rededicate ourselves to the mission that fosters the growth of our Christian faith and the local church. This year’s anniversary celebration is an occasion to launch new programs and initiatives that will see Panyangara parish grow from strength to strength for the betterment of our community. Whatever forms it takes, this anniversary celebration is a time of thanks giving, joy, gratitude, and renewal.

 At the beginning of this year, our moderator Fr Ignatius Nshing mhm informed all Christians in the various outstations that the theme of our silver jubilee is “Anupit ke Etic” literary meaning ‘Faith and Action”. This theme is reawakening our hearts to especially take into account the three pillars of communion, participation, and mission for all in a community torn apart with insecurity.

 On 18th /February/2023, the new bishop at the helm of the diocese, Rev Dominic Lokut Eibu, MCCJ, launched the jubilee year at the parish with the various activities that involved the confirmation of Christians, blessing and handing over of the Jubilee Cross, nmoving round in all mission stations within the parish, and launching of the jubilee prayer.

 On the 23rd /march/2023, a retreat for all Christians according to the mission stations, was organized. The Christians and the bishop made a pilgrimage to the site where Fr Declan O’Toole RIP, was killed together with his companions.

 “Declan worked on something that he cared about, he didn’t have to be pushed, his vision and ideology of mission pulled him to serve the people of Karamoja diligently” we celebrate him and through him we intercede for peace to reign in Karamoja.

On 23/April/2023, the Christians made a pilgrimage to the parish of Losilang, where they engaged in sporting competitions, singing competitions, and community and drama songs in the different chapels.

This Friday the 5th/May/ 2023, the parish will celebrate the 25th anniversary at Panyangara parish, with the bishop of Kotido Diocese being the main celebrant.

We thank all those who have been praying and supporting our parish especially to the SPICMA team who have always responded to the disaster crisis of hunger that has frequently ravaged the lives of the needy humanity, thanks for being receptive to the need of these people over the years, God protect you and bless your good works of charity.

Siligi Mathias Makoba (student)


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