History of Rushooka parish

The beginning of Rushooka Parish goes back to 1995. That year the Bishop of Mbarara, Paul K. Bakyenga, erected a new parish in his diocese. Christians have been present in this area for over 50 years thanks to the White Fathers – the Missionaries of Africa who founded a nearby parish of Kagamba.

They also started visiting Rushooka situated 45 km away. In that time a church in Rushooka was built, as well as the cathechists house. Unfortunately, because of the long distance, a priest was coming to Rushooka only twice a year, so when parishioners had any religious needs, they had to go to the main parish church – usually on foot. It’s quite obvious that in these conditions a spiritual growth of the parish was almost impossible. 

A perfect occasion to change this situation occurred when the Minor Brothers came to Uganda. There had already been a formation house in Mbarara and the Minor Brothers also finished their work in the parish of Kashekuro. Now they started looking for a new place to work and for something that could be challenging for their missionary vocation. Franciscans choice of a new parish was equally shocking and fortunate. Shocking, because they chose the parish that was the poorest, the most neglected and remote from the centre of the diocese. Fortunate – because there was somebody who wanted to go to such a place to preach the Gospel.

In that time Rushooka was extremely underdeveloped. Among Rushooka dwellers there were only three persons who listened to the radio, two read a newspaper in Runyankole and almost nobody spoke English. People suffered from all kinds of diseases, they had no proper sanitary habits, quite often were drunk since the beginning of the day.

The Bishop Paul K. Bakyenga officially welcomed the Brothers in  Rushooka on the 26th January 1995. Fr. Ivica Petric, OFM became the guardian of the community working together with Fr. Sylvestro Arosio, OFM - the vocation director, Fr. Pero Vrebac, OFM - formation and studies secretary, Fr. Kizito Ngomanzungu, OFM - the Third Order assistant and also Fr. Aphrodise Nsengumuremyi, OFM, and Fr. Eugene Nzabagamba as the members of the community.

Initially, the Minor Brothers lived in an old house built by Christians for the catechist. There were only 4 rooms for 6 brothers so the decision was made to expand the house. The building of the extension started in September 1995.

On 25th August 1996 the parish of Rushooka was officially erected by the Bishop of Mbarara, Paul K. Bakyenga. The big crowd participated in the holy mass. The first parish priest was Fr. Ivica, OFM. In the meantime Fr. Alberto, OFM joined the community.

In June 1997 there was first canonical inspection of the community in Rushooka. In the post inspection summary Fr. Thomas Naim, OFM, expressed his admiration for the Brothers for their pastoral work in a new and challenging parish.

He also reminded that their activity should not harm the community life and being witness to the Gospel should be the main task of our presence in new mission.

At the end of July 1997 the Provincial Chapter took place. As the result there were some changes in Rushooka. Fr. Alberto became the guardian, Fr. Ivica – the parish priest, Fr. Kizito became responsible for the Third Order in Rushooka and Uganda and Fr. Sylvestro started to work in the parish.

On 14th February 1998 one of the Brothers, Fr. Alberto Campos, was chosen a bishop in Peru. He was replaced by Fr. Dariusz from Poland, who spent 11 months in Rushooka.

In June 1998  the new friary was completed. Now the Brothers were able to live in better conditions.

The parish was steadily developing. Many new catholic movements appeared, new catechists, also number of new Christians grew rapidly.  

Fathers faced many new challenges. Brothers first of all had to start dealing with health problems of the villagers and concentrated one the great needs of the youth. Mostly for those reasons the decision had been made to invite sisters to help at work. On 8th October 1998 first 6 nuns from The Daughters of Divine Charity arrived in Rushooka.

Later that same year Fr. Ulrich Gellert joined the community. After the Provincial Chapter in July 2000 in Nairobi, new brothers joined the community: Fr. Ulrich Gellert – parish priest, Fr. Ivica – priest, Fr. Fidelis – responsible for house finances and Fr. Franciszek who stayed in Rushooka until September 2000.

In 2001 an important project in Rushooka was finally completed. On 5th September the Bishop of Mbarara officially opened a water supply system for the village. Since then water has been pumped from the source in Romanioyi to the container on the hill, and after that to many places in the village. Thanks to this project many health problems in the village have been solved. Easy access to clean water changed people’s lives. In the same year the building of a very needed church began. Without a proper place to pray, no parish can develop properly. All the faithful got involved in building God’s house in Rushooka, both young and old, all helped as they could.

On 15th March 2002 Fr. Oscar Girardi from Italy joined the Brothers in Rushooka. In 2004 Fr. Carmelo Giannone came to Rushooka and enriched the community with his talents.

After the Provincial Chapter in 2006, a new team was formed in Rushooka: Fr. Carmelo Gianonne - guardian,  Fr. Kizito Ngomanzungu – parish priest,  Fr. Teofil Czarniak – responsible for house finances. After three years Fr. Kizito was replaced with the newly ordained Fr. Agapitus Mubangisi as a parish priest and also brother Viateur Uwamungu joined the community.

In 2009 building of a pastoral centre began in the parish. It will contain three classrooms, a hall, a sleeping room, a kitchen, showers and parish offices. Completion of this project is expected by the end of 2010.