The Chargé d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature to Uganda Fr. Alfred Rayan D’Souza spared some time to share his missionary journey to priesthood with our readers.
Briefly tell the readers who you are and your journey to priesthood.
I am Fr. Alfred Rayan D’Souza. I am from India. I am a diocesan priest. I belong to the diocese of Mangalore in Karnataka, India. After my seminary studies, I was ordained Priest in 2008. After serving in my diocese for three and half years, my Bishop sent me to Rome for further studies. I completed my Licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Urban University.
In 2015, I was invited to join Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy which prepares priests for the diplomatic service of the Holy See. Here, I continued my doctorate studies in Canon Law and obtained a doctorate degree from the Pontifical Lateran University. After the studies, I was assigned to the Apostolic Nunciature in Uganda. I came here in August 2017.
What has formed your impression of Uganda?
Uganda being my first place of mission, I have so far had a very amazing experience here. Uganda indeed is the Pearl of Africa as it is known. From a Christian perspective, the Uganda martyrs are these precious pearls. Their life example, testimony and martyrdom are really impressive. Along with these martyrs, the life of two catechists of Paimol who are blessed is also very inspirational.
The zeal and love for Christ was very evident in them. The Church in Uganda has been very much influenced by the life witness of its own heroic sons. The Church is very active and vibrant in faith aspects. The people are very accommodative and hospitable. I was also very much impressed by the participation of the faithful for the Martyrs Day celebrations on 3rd June.
Many people came to this sanctuary by foot journeying for days. It shows the real devotion and respect people have for their martyrs.
How can you describe the situation of the Church in Uganda? What are the strengths to be consolidated and perhaps areas of growth?
By and large, the church in Uganda is vibrant and active. It is a growing church. In a short period of 140 years of its history it has produced martyrs and also other people who are exceptional for their virtuous life. Growing numbers of faithful, good numbers of vocations; for both priestly and religious life are positive things. Besides these, there is need to strengthen the faith aspect of the people so that they may not easily become prey to various sects which are somewhat growing and is a sign of warning to us. There is also need to strengthen the family values and to deepen the gospel values among the faithful.
Can you tell our readers about your responsibility as Chargé d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nuntiature?
At present, I am the Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim of the Apostolic Nunciature. It is a technical term which means in charge of the affairs of day to day administration for a temporary period. It is not something new. It is a normal thing especially important when the head of the mission is transferred or away from the country. The idea is the work of the institution should go on. There should not be any vacuum. So the Chargé carries out all the necessary administration temporarily till the arrival of the new head of the Mission i.e. Nuncio or and also during his temporary absence from the assigned country.
Any word for the youth after the synod of bishops for the youth in Rome?
The Yyouth, no doubt, play a vital role in any society. The richness of any society or country depends on how they utilize and promote youth power and resources. As we know, youth are creative, dynamic and energetic with new ideas. As a result, sometimes it may be difficult to understand them. So there is a tendency in general to keep them abit away. Realizing the importance of the youth, the Church too deemed it necessary that it has to focus on them and the result is the recent Synod of Bishops on youth which held at Vatican from 3rd-28th October. The main intention was to listen to them and how the Church can be closer to them. In it apart from the Bishops some youth representatives participated in the discussion and presented their views. I can say that the Synod has opened a new chapter for the younger generation in the Church. In Uganda, a large number of population is composed of youth. It is really a good sign. Sign of hope and a better future. So my appeal to the youth is this, don’t be afraid to involve yourselves actively in the church activities and to make your contribution for the good of the Church and the society. Take the lead and lead others by your life example. Be committed and do not be after cheap popularity and publicity. Try to be the real protagonists of Jesus and his gospel values in your own surroundings.
What message do you have for us all for the new year 2019?
New Year is a gift to us from the Almighty. First of all, we need to thank God for this gift. Every moment is precious. It is necessary that we make good use of time. So it is very important to make a resolution at the very beginning to utilize this year more fruitfully and meaningfully and as christians, to be true witnesses of our Master through our life and example and to do better things for the greater glory of God. I take this occasion to wish all the readers of Leadership Magazine a Blessed Christmas and a joyous and Spirit filled New Year 2019.
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