By Fr. Lwanga C. Gilingere
Fr. Lwanga Cornelio was born in Deim Zubeir on 3rd May 1978 in the family of their late grandfather Cornelio Gilingere. His mother was the Late Emilia Cornelio. He was the fifth and was an energetic boy in the family of eight children, two girls and six boys. A boy and a girl are now deceased. Among his peers, Lwanga was rather a troublemaker, a fighter and a boy with an inquisitive mind. He was baptized in Deim Zubeir on 7th October 1978 by Fr. Peter Nenebubu. He received his first Holy Communion in 1989 and got confirmed in Deim Zubeir on the 19th April 1992 by Fr. Salvatore Pacifico who was his Parish Priest in Raga at that time. He was brought up with a good Christian Catholic foundation.
Education and Vocation History
Lwanga went to Deim Zubeir Primary School in 1984. After the civil war, which had interrupted his school for about five years, he left his village and went to Raga in 1991 to resume his studies. He was enrolled in Madrasa Al-Gharbia in primary three and at that time he felt the desire to become a diocesan priest. He talked to Fr. Salvatore Pacifico who was his Parish Priest then. Fr. Pacifico encouraged him to build that desire though not as Comboni Missionary. In fact, he had read a booklet about Comboni and he thought of him being like Nelson Mandela or a freedom fighter similar to him. Later, with the coming of Fr. Joseph Parlade in 1992 to Raga, he understood it clearly who Comboni was and about the Comboni Missionaries. When Fr. Parlade suggested to him the idea of becoming a Comboni Missionary, he immediately embraced the idea and took it seriously. In March 1995, he left Raga to Wau looking for better quality Education. He continued his studies in Wau Boy’s Basic School and did his senior in Rumbek Secondary School.
He was transferred to Islamic Secondary School called Al Mustafa for one year. Within that period, a lot of attempts were made from the headmasters to Islamize him but he stood firm in his faith. Because of many difficulties, he was nearly giving up the idea of becoming a Comboni Missionary. Fortunately, he met with Sarah Saleh a Comboni Missionary Sister who strengthened his vocation and he stood up again and continued with great determination. In terms of Church participation, Lwanga was among the active catechists who served with dedication for a long time in St. Mary’s Cathedral. Lwanga did two years obligatory Military Service under Bashir’s regime in Sudan from 2001 to 2003. After that, he joined the Pre-postulancy in El Obeid. Later he was sent to study English for one year at Saint
Augustine Minor Seminary, Khartoum with two of his colleagues; Levi Stephen, (who is now a Diocesan Priest) and Stephen Robo. Lwanga entered Postulancy in 2005 and successfully obtained a diploma in Philosophy from St. Paul’s Major Seminary in Khartoum. He did his Novitiate in Lusaka, Zambia from 2007 to 2009 and made his first religious profession on Sunday 3rd May 2009 in the presence of Fr. Pacifico the Provincial Superior Khartoum. He offered his theology in South Africa at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute from 2009 to 2012. He came back to South Sudan and practiced his missionary experience for two years in Yirol with Fr. Joseph Parlade his former parish Priest of Raga.
On the 31st December 2014, Lwanga made the Perpetual Vows in the presence of Fr. Moschetti, the Provincial of South Sudan, the delegate of Fr. Giorgetti, Provincial Superior of Egypt/Sudan and was ordained a Deacon the following day, 1st January 2015 by His Lordship Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak at Holy Cross Parish – Yirol. Lwanga jurisdicaly belongs to Egypt-Sudan Province.
Deacon Lwanga was ordained a Comboni Missionary priest on Sunday 28th June 2015 in Wau Cathedral under the imposition of hands of the Emeritus Bishop Taride Taban of the Diocese of Torit. Fr. Lwanga Cornelius has been assigned to work as a missionary priest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
His dreams and wishes
Fr. Lwanga was very much touched and disturbed when he was thirteen years of age to understand why an Italian boy was crying “Africa or death?” while the Africans themselves were alive! His dreams are his wishes. His wish is to give up his life, the only and the best he has, for Christ. His wish is to hear one day a young man or a girl shouting; South Sudan or death, like Comboni cried out: “Africa or death”.
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