Fr Jeremiah Martins who is originally from Portugal, is the Vicar General at the Comboni Missionary in Rome, He did his formation in Portugal, France and Spain. In 1994, he was appointed to work in Mozambique until 1999 and in 2000, he was transferred back to Portugal till 2005. He was posted to South Africa where he worked as Provincial Superior for 10 years. In November 2015, he was called to Rome where he is working as the Vicar General.
Brother Alberto Lamana is an Assistant Superior General of the Comboni Missionary based in Rome, he is originally from Spain, he worked in Rubek and Juba where he opened a network of radios, and he also worked in Spain before being called to Rome in 2015 where he is working as the Assistant Superior General.
In February, they both visited the Uganda Province of Comboni Missionary to strengthen the communion with the Comboni Missionaries in Uganda. During their visit, they visited Leadership Magazine, and shared their experience.
How has your visit to Uganda been and did you achieve your purpose?
This visit to Uganda is to strengthen communion with the Comboni conferrers in Uganda. Our visit has also been to give the conferrers a sense of belonging, and a moment of gratitude for the good work the Comboni missionaries are doing in Uganda. Our visit was a very good eye opener to the reality at hand, it was a comprehensive visit for us both. We visited Karamoja, Lira and Gulu for the first time.
The visit has helped us get in touch with the reality of refugees living in the refugee camp in West Nile being headed by Br Fafa, then we got into other reality of how the mission is working in Kampala. Our visit was purposely to encourage and strengthen our links with the province in Uganda. This visit has helped us on many aspects like becoming aware of the situation of the province, country and the challenges faced. If the province is faced with challenges, then there are challenges with the institute. To achieve these goals, the institute arranges visits to different provinces and communities and so we get to talk to each conferrer and become aware of their situation and work, we also encourage them to continue their work.
Our encounter with each conferrer is important to the institution. On our visit to Uganda, we were welcomed in Angal parish in Nebbi which was celebrating 100 years of Comboni Missionaries. The centenary celebrations in Angal marked the presence of the Comboni missionaries in Uganda and we are very proud of how Christianity has penetrated this country; we believe was St. Comboni’s dream. Angal was a visible example that the country has many resources and potential at every level. Our visit to Angal has also been our eye opener to the levels of poverty eating up Uganda and the amount of people living in poverty. There are so many people living in poverty, but this poverty could be dealt with if the wealth in the country was divided equally. There is great investment in education in the country although we cannot speak about the quality of education. Schools are in poor situations, you can see that there is an economic boom, construction of new roads, buildings but you see people struggling to make a living.
Do you think the Charisma of St Daniel Comboni is being implemented in Uganda?
The Charisma of St Daniel Comboni is very much present in Uganda. We have 65 Ugandan missionaries, and the idea of Comboni was to save Africa with Africa. More than half of the Ugandan missionaries are living outside Uganda, which is a sign that the charisma of St Comboni is fulfilled.
We are going through a time of deep change. Before this, missionaries were coming from Europe to Africa but today, missionaries are moving from Africa to Europe and the United States of America. Even at the leadership level, leaders are coming from Africa. We need to pray and devise new ways of being missionaries and doing missions in Uganda.
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