, 20 November, 2019 / 9:56 AM
One of the recent news from the Holy See related to the Church in Africa has been Pope Francis’ appointment of Ugandan-born Monsignor Joseph Kizito as Bishop of South Africa’s Aliwal North diocese, with his ordination slated to take place on February 15, 2020.
In an interview with ACI Africa Tuesday, November 19, the Bishop-elect has described his appointment to shepherd the people of God away from his ancestral land as the Church’s fulfillment of what the Lord Jesus commanded and that he is a Ugandan “in the family of the Catholic people in South Africa.”
“It makes me proud that the Church is fulfilling its teaching, the mandate of Jesus Christ saying you are baptized and sent,” Mons. Kizito told ACI Africa and explained, “Jesus said, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (and) go out. So, it is the Church saying go out. We are living the great commandment of God of going out to the whole world.”
He viewed his appointment as part of the realization of the acknowledgement, which Pope Paul VI made in July 1969 during his pastoral visit to Africa, the first-ever Papal trip to the continent.
“It is what Pope Saint Paul VI said … the time has come for Africans to be missionary to ourselves,” 52-year-old Bishop-elect said referencing his being appointed in an African jurisdiction.
He added, “I still remain a Ugandan, but in the family of the Catholic people in South Africa. So, it is just sharing that we have come to share our faith with the people of Southern Africa.”
After receiving news of the appointment of their kinsman, Mons. Kizito, jubilation filled his native home of Wakaliga in the suburbs of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, with members of his family, neighbors and friends gathering at his ancestral home singing songs of praise, The Independent of Uganda has reported.
According to the report, Mons. Kizito’s mother, Christine Babirye Nsubuga shed tears of joy saying she felt blessed and humbled for being alive to receive the news.
Asked how he received the news of his appointment, Mons. Kizito told ACI Africa that the news was “a shock to him.”
“I was called by the Nuncio, that is, last week Friday and he said I should open my email and there would be a message from the Holy Father,” Mons. Kizito recalled and added, “and the message came, it was a shock, it was something that was with mixed feeling.”
He continued, “I was afraid but I reflected and told the Nuncio, look, if this what has come, I trust you. I am not alone.”
He further reflected on his appointment saying, “The Church can be proud of itself. It brings out the message of being one. The church has no boundaries.”
Mons. Kizito also spoke against the recent xenophobic attacks witnessed in South Africa, saying his appointment “has come at the right time to say we the Church, we don't look at colour, we look at the person.”
As he looks forward to his Episcopal Ordination in February, 2020 and installation as Bishop of Aliwal North diocese, he is being guided by the motto “Love one another,” which he explained, “is the summary of all our Christian calling, it touches on all the areas of the Gospel (and) of human life.”
The diocese of Aliwal North where Mons. Kizito was incardinated and later ordained priest in September 1997 is part of South Africa’s Ecclesiastical province of Eastern Cape.
Having been born in Wakaliga within the Archdiocese of Kampala in Uganda, Mons. Kizito had his basic education in his ancestral land of Uganda. While in primary school at Christian Brothers’ School and Achilet Banakaloli Brothers’ School, he enrolled as an altar server and became a youth leader at St. Mary’s Lubaga Cathedral parish.
According to a report by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) regarding the Bishop-elect, “After a year of being in the Cathedral he joined the Order of the Servants of Mary at (OSM) in Kisonga and one year later he went to join St Augustine Major Seminary Roma Lesotho where he obtained his Cum laude Probatus degree in Philosophy.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa