From Staff Reports
The ongoing generosity of an Ocean County faith community is helping to reap a rich harvest of joy in a parish in Africa. Parishioners in St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, through their Uganda Ministry, have been assisting needy Catholics via its twinning with Holy Trinity Parish in the Diocese of Kasana-Luweero.
The ministry was founded about three years ago after a missionary visit by Father Vincent DePaul Mukiibi, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, located in the village of Ziroobwe, Uganda. Once the Barnegat faith community learned of the area’s lack of adequate food, clothing, medical needs and educational opportunity, they were moved to create a “twin parish” status and aid their fellow Catholics.
Currently, about 20 parishioners meet monthly to aid their brothers and sisters in the African nation. St. Mary Parish has created a website, Stmarysugandaministry.com, to encourage donations and offer Ugandan-made crafts and clothing for sale. Donors may also sponsor a child’s educational needs or feed a family of four for $25 per month.
When queried about what project would most benefit his people, Father Mukiibi had expressed the desire to build a new secondary school for the area’s nearly 1,000 children. The only other secondary school is quite a distance away “and Catholic values are not promoted at all. It is so expensive that most cannot afford it,” the priest continued in a March 2014 letter to St. Mary Parish. “This has been my hope: to give the children the gift of the best Catholic education.”
Concentrated fundraising by the St. Mary Uganda Ministry has succeeded in achieving Father Mukiibi’s goal. Construction on a secondary school is underway; enrollment is ongoing and the school is slated for opening in February 2018.
More work needs to be done at Holy Trinity Parish, and St. Mary’s annual parish carnival this July proved to be a successful fundraiser for the Ugandan people, reported parishioner Bud DeSalvo said. The sale of home-made rosaries and a superhero-themed photo display pulled in about $2,900 for their twin parish.
Msgr. Kenard Tuzeneu, pastor of St. Mary Parish, and a group of parishioners are in the planning stages for a visit to Uganda next August. [[In-content Ad]]
“This is our chance to see first-hand what Father Vincent has accomplished in such a short period of time since we began our joint effort three years ago [and] an opportunity to connect, person to person,” their website reads. “This experience shall allow us to see how our fellow Catholics live in another part of the world… This real life experience is a wonderful way to experience your Acts of Mercy, both physical and spiritual.”