Celebrating 50 years in Uganda


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[tab:DSP in Uganda]

Historical Notes of the Daughters of St Paul in Uganda

The Daughters of St Paul arrived in Uganda on 2 February 1964, invited by the Ugandan Episcopal Conference, in the person of Fr Tarcisio Agostoni, the then Secretary General. They were four Sisters guided by the Superior, Sr Basilia Bianco.

In June St Paul Book Centre was officially inaugurated and in October, the Superior General, Sr Ignazia Balla visited the community.

With the arrival of other Sisters, many activities followed: the visit to dioceses and parishes with books, the collaboration in the Leadership magazine, the admission of the first vocations.

1969 marked the visit of Pope Paul VI and the activity of St Paul Book Centre was prospering and was very much appreciated by the people.

At the end of 1969, Sr Basilia Bianco was succeeded by Sr Piergiovanna Dedola until 1972.

Meanwhile the situation of the country was deteriorating and in 1971, the Army Chief of Staff, Idi Amin Dada, in a coup, toppled Milton Obote’ regime.

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In 1972, the community of the Daughters of St Paul was completely renewed with the departure of a few Sisters and the arrival of Sr Maria Grazia Bosio, Sr Maria Rosa Ballini and Sr Teresa Marcazzan, who was appointed the superior of the community.

In 1975, with the opening of the community of Kenya, the little group of Uganda was again dismantled: Sr. Maria Rosa was assigned to Dar es Salaam, Sr Maria Grazia returned to Italy and two new Sisters were sent to Kampala: Sr Mariuccia Pezzini and Sr Gianpaola Capobianco.

This situation continued until 1984.

During the difficult time of dictatorship and war, the Sisters kept St Paul Book Centre open and also managed, with the help of collaborators, to start the production of calendars (the first to celebrate the Centenary of the Catholic Church in Uganda), the liturgical pocket diary and the Moral Rehabilitation programme (posters, leaflets, booklets).

In 1984, Sr Mariuccia and Sr Teresa were given the grace of a Sabbatical Year and Sr Maria Rosa Ballini returned to Uganda as the Superior of the community. Life and apostolate with new Sisters continued with full speed and enthusiasm.

1987-1990: Sr Angela Aimo was appointed Superior. In her three years, big changes happened: St Paul Book Centre had to move and until the Sisters found a permanent location, they moved it to Mkruma Road, and not even a year later, to the present location in Kampala Road, now with a new name: Paulines Book and Media Centre.

1990-1997: Sr Clara Zaniboni was nominated for two consecutive turns the superior of the community and she greatly developed the Book Centre.

1997-1998: Sr Atanasia Seganfreddo was appointed Superior for one year and was substituted by Sr Fidelis Saba who served as superior for two Terms until 2003.

During the year 2000 the launching of The African Bible by His Eminence Cardinal Wamala took place and was followed by many Bible Days in the Parishes.

2003-2006: Sr Augustine Nemer was chosen to serve the community as Superior for three years. She was joined by Sr Mariuccia Pezzini who followed the building of Thecla House.

In 2005, Thecla House was officially opened and the first group of young aspirants arrived together with a group of Junior Sisters for their academic studies.

2006-2012: Sr Mary Manje was nominated Superior of Kampala for two consecutive terms: The first African local Superior of Kampala Community, followed by the present local Superior, Sr Theresia Swai.

Fifty years of continuous faithful service to the Church of Uganda.
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[tab:Homily, 8th February 2014]

50 Years of Evangelization of the Daughters of St. Paul, Kampala

Nuncio

After hearing the testimonies presented before mass, we certainly understand better the evangelizing mission of the Paulines. Dear Sisters, your identity is not defined simply by what you and many other people do, for example, selling books or preparing them for publication. You do these things, but your vocation is more than art and commerce. Your contribution to Uganda flows from something deeper, the consecrated life, which is “the pursuit of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels [,which] draws its origin from the doctrine and example of the Divine Master and reveals itself as a splendid sign of the heavenly kingdom” (Perfectae Caritatis 1). That is what sets you apart from other business pursuits and makes you evangelizers, communicators of the Gospel by your life and your word.

When you sell a book, for example, this is not simply another business transaction. You talk to people about it, you invite them to dialogue of faith. Your presence creates what Pope Francis calls a “culture of encounter,” in which the beauty and truth of Jesus Christ draw souls to their only salvation. This encounter is by nature joyful and is a sign of the eternal happiness, to which we are called.

The “culture of encounter”: If expression seems new, the idea goes back a long way, to the first encounters between man and God in the Garden of Eden and in particular to the great communicator, St Paul, who invites us anew to experience the richness of the mystery of Christ.

Paul solemnly tells his disciple Timothy: “I charge you in the presence of God ….” Timothy is to imitate Paul, the Apostle by doing the following: “proclaim the Word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, [and] encourage. That is how to create a culture of encounter where people can really meet the living Lord. Don’t keep your faith locked up in your room or in your heart or buried in the earth, he tells Timothy. Timothy will communicate, by word and by being close to those people whom God has brought into his life, rubbing shoulders with them, knowing, as Pope Francis says, the smell of his sheep. This is not a school lesson in religious knowledge that stops when the bell rings. Paul is talking about a way of life that lets people meet Christ, not through gadgets or stunning video effects but through the loving presence of Christ, whom his disciples communicate in all patience, in season or out of season.

Dear Daughters of St Paul, like Timothy, you have been fulfilling, for the last fifty years in Uganda, the solemn commission of St Paul. You have been attentive to the signs of the times, those realities of our world where the voice of God cries out for urgent attention, and you have been responding to them by your publications and presence. St Paul mentions a few of these signs in the reading: People who do not follow sound doctrine but their own insatiable curiosity, those who look for teachers saying what they want to hear, those who stop listening to the truth and prefer myths. Did St Paul really write that 2000 years ago and not yesterday? He seems to talk to our world today as a true prophet.

Dear Sisters, to respond to signs of our times, you have not immediately filled your stores with computers and tablets and gadgets. You promoted what we could call “traditional print media,” which has not lost its importance even in today’s technologically advanced societies. And here, where digital access is found in few households, your publications are a real service. You continue the Lord’s mission that started off in the Synagogue of Nazareth where He announced the gospel preached to the poor. Traditional media are, in that sense, the “people’s media,” very “democratic,” accessible to great numbers. Many people who do not know how to use a tablet are happy to have a copy of the Bible or The Catechism of the Catholic Church or Pope Francis’ the latest, The Joy of the Gospel. These are example of valuable and affordable resources that will be read over and over again and touch many hearts. With these more humble means we can concentrate on the Word of God and not risk being dazzled by the spectacular effects of the internet, which, in the end, dull the mind and make us no wiser, for they too often reflect the godless electronic cultures that invade us.

Traditional media protect us from some of the problems of instant communication, whose speed, as Pope Francis recently remarked, “often exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgment, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression” (Message for the World Day of Communication, 2014). The media you produce, dear Sisters, invite us to something profoundly human: patience, reflection, evaluation, and discernment. They also let us experience something essential for growth in wisdom and knowledge, something to often neglected an experience that all the world lived for a few moments on the night when Pope Francis made his first public appearance: silence. Authentically human media let us appreciate the paradoxical value of silence, which is indispensable if communication, in its deepest sense, is to happen.

The culture of encounter: The media you offer, dear Sisters, are ideal for making us into neighbours. For example, they give us the time to try and answer the question God asked at the beginning of humanity: Where is your brother? When Jesus told us the parable of the Good Samaritan, he was answering a similar question: Who is my neighbour? Communication is about recognizing and loving brothers and sisters.

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May the joy of the Gospel accompany your coming years for the good of the Church in Uganda and in Africa.

H.E. Archbishop
Michael August Blume, S.V.D.
Apostolic Nuncio in Uganda

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