By Fr. Vincent Ferrerio Kateregga Senior and Fr John Francis Mutebi PHF
The Historical Catholic Mission of Villa Maria has had a lion’s share of Buganda Royal visits during the 125 years of her existence.
These Writers chose to start with the above sentence that excite the most vivid and life-long impressions!
In 1965, at the invitation of Rev. Fr. Joseph Musaanya who was the Parish Priest then, Sir Edward Muteesa II paid a visit to Villa Maria. We lined up along the road, from the Hospital to the Church yard where shelters had been erected. The School-band of Villa Maria St. Francis Xavier Primary led the marching in procession of several School Children of Villa Maria and Bwanda. Women and Children knelt before the Kabaka in warm-welcome greeting; men prostrated a traditional Baganda way showing royalty and reverence to their heart-felt King.
Of the many memorable things that took place that day, Kabaka made pronouncements which turned out of particular significance:
Firstly, the Kabaka pronounced a telephone-line to be extended to Villa Maria Catholic Parish. This drew deafening applause and ululations from the mammoth crowd, though some of us had no idea what a telephone neither was nor did!
The telephone-line was connected within one month time.
Secondly, in response to the concerns raised by Mr. Ssekitooleko, the then Headmaster of the First School in Uganda, St. Francis Xavier Villa Maria Primary, on the plight of the Rwanda Refugees lacking school fees and scholastic materials:
The Kabaka granted full bursaries to all Refugee Children covering their tuition, lunch, uniform and scholastic materials.
On hearing this, all Children broke into shouts of joy because everyone knew how poor these Refuge Children were. This confirmed how all-embracing and non-discriminatory the Buganda Kabakaship had always been. One beneficiary of that Program is Mr Celeste Karuhanga, this day, a Leader of Rwanda’s biggest Opposition Party.
This year 2018 visit of His Highness KABAKA Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, King of the Buganda Kingdom to Villa Maria marks second to the many sweet memories of Buganda Royal Visits. Sir Edward Muteesa II personally graced the Episcopal Consecration of Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu on 18th March 1962 at Bukalasa Minor Seminary within Villa Maria Parish. This could explain the life – long and close friendship between the Bishop and the Royal Family. Already on 13 June in 1913 when the first African Priests were ordained at Villa Maria, there was a delegation from Mengo who came not just in their official capacities but so for curiosity to see whether a Muganda could become a Catholic Priest just like the Whites, without turning white!!
Excitement is again as co-Jubilants of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II
63rd Birthday in Life on Friday 13th April, 2018 and the 25th Anniversary of his Coronation celebrated at the Historical Catholic Mission of Villa Maria.
Quite recently in 2011, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II attended the Centenary Celebration of Katigondo National Major Seminary, another pillar Institution of Villa Maria.
One must remember that Villa Maria Catholic Parish together with its pillar Institutions of Bukalasa Minor Seminary, Katigondo Major Seminary, Bwanda Bannabikira Mother House, Villa Maria Hospital and a chain of Primary, Secondary Schools as well as Vocational Institutions do stand because of land that was donated by Alex Ssebowa, the POOKINO to Father (later Bishop) Henry Streicher (Stenseera) in 1891 for Church development.
Indeed Villa Maria is Center of attraction with sweet memories of the Royal Family!
LONG LIVE KABAKA!