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At Requiem Mass, Late Ugandan Archbishop Remembered for Championing God’s Word

Late Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga during SECAM's Golden Jubilee in Uganda in July 2019.

At his Requiem Mass, the Archbishop of Uganda’s Kampala Archdiocese who passed on hours after taking part in and preaching at an ecumenical Way of the Cross on Good Friday, has been remembered for championing the sharing of the Word of God and the empowerment of the people of God in his episcopal sees.

Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga succumbed to a heart attack occasioned by a blood clot that was found inside the artery that supplies blood to the heart, the Health Coordinator of Kampala Archdiocese, Dr. Andrew Ssekitoleko, announced during the Monday, April 5 Requiem Mass following a postmortem.

Aged 68, the Ugandan Archbishop had been at the helm of Kampala Archdiocese since September 2006 following his transfer from Uganda’s Kasana-Luweero Diocese, his first episcopal see from March 1997.

“We have truly lost a dear shepherd of God’s flock. We are all aware of the great deeds done by the Archbishop in spreading the word of God and the development of all people spiritually, morally and economically,” Bishop Paul Ssemogerere of Uganda’s Kasana-Luweero Diocese said during the late Archbishop’s Requiem Mass.

During the Eucharistic celebration that took place at the Sacred Heart Lubaga Cathedral of Kampala Archdiocese, Bishop Ssemogerere added that the late Archbishop’s “work is clear to our eyes and ears pertaining to the call to all people to follow the rule of law and respect of each other.”

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Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit East Africa, Archbishop Kizito Lwanga issued a decree forbidding the reception of Holy Communion in the hand in order to promote reverence for the Eucharist and to stop “abuses.”

“Henceforth, it is forbidden to distribute or to receive Holy Communion in the hands,” the late Archbishop directed in his February 2020 decree titled, “Proper Celebration of the Eucharist in Kampala Archdiocese.”

He explained that said he was issuing the directives “relying on the Liturgical and canonical norms of the Church Universal and basing on the vigilance which is required of him by law to fend off abuses in the liturgical life of the Church.”

“Due to many reported instances of dishonoring the Eucharist that have been associated with reception of the Eucharist in the hands, it is fitting to return to the more reverent method of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue,” Archbishop Kizito Lwanga further explained his decree that followed the 1 February 2020 high level meeting with the Clergy and senior executive committee members of Parishes of Kampala Archdiocese.

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Recalling his predecessor’s tenure, Bishop Ssemogerere said that the people of God in the Diocese of Kasana-Luweero “appreciate the special way of work he (Archbishop Lwanga) did in the establishment of the Diocese and his thoughtfulness about us even when he was transferred to Kampala as the Archbishop.”

“He laid a strong and firm foundation in the Diocese and we shall greatly miss him,” the Local Ordinary of Kasana-Luweero eulogized Archbishop Kizito Lwanga.

He described the death of the Ugandan-born Archbishop whose lifeless body was found in his room on Holy Saturday, April 3 as one that “truly shocked” the people of God in the East African country and urged faith and hope.

“With merely human eyes, we may look at his death as disheartening. However, with the eyes of faith, we look at his death with hope for God has called him home after undergoing profitably 40 days of Lenten fast, which he crowned with the prayer of the Way of the Cross on Good Friday,” Bishop Ssemogerere comforted those who gathered at the Cathedral and those who followed the April 5 event that was livestreamed on Facebook.

Bishop Ssemogerere implored God to “welcome His beloved shepherd in His Kingdom and that He may strengthen the entire Church in Uganda through this trying moment.” 

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“We can say he is blessed because the Lord found him at work for Christ said Blessed is the servant whose master finds him when still doing his job when He comes,” 64-year-old Ugandan Bishop added in reference to the late Archbishop Kizito Lwanga.

He continued, “Having led the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, his savior found him still doing his job and was even ready and eager to celebrate the Easter vigil and Easter Sunday.” 

“As we grieve for the loss of God’s shepherd, we ought not to grieve like those without hope for his resurrection, since after his death, he shall always be with the Lord,” Bishop Ssemogerere said.

“We commend Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga’s soul to the Blessed Virgin Mary who among all Saints was assumed to heaven body and soul. Through her soul, may he see God,” he further said and added, “We also commend him to the prayer of the Uganda Martyrs whose devotion he has greatly been spearheading.”

Meanwhile, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has led citizens of the East African nation in mourning the late Catholic Archbishop.

In his April 3 Tweet, President Museveni says he learnt of Archbishop Kizito Lwanga’s demise “with profound grief,” adding, “He has died in faith. May God grant his soul eternal repose.” President Museveni adds.

In another Tweet following the autopsy, the Ugandan President shares, “When I received the news of Archbishop Lwanga's death, I called the police surgeon who was involved in his postmortem and they told me the condition was well known. I asked them if it was the case, what did they do about it when he was alive!”

“Although religion gives us the comfort that when we die, it is because God has called us, I want our people to stay here as long as possible,” President Museveni further says in his April 6 Tweet.

He adds, “Doctors should have explored all options when dealing with known conditions like the one that killed Archbishop Lwanga.”

More Eucharistic celebrations in honor of the late Archbishop have been slated to take place on Tuesday, April 6 and Wednesday, April 7 at his native home of Kyabakadde, Mukono district, in the Kasana-Luweero Diocese of and at the Namugongo Catholic Martyrs’ Shrine in the Archdiocese of Kampala, respectively. 

He is expected to be laid to rest in the Sacred Heart Lubaga Cathedral of Kampala Archdiocese on Thursday, April 8.