In what is seen by many as a move to reward some old guards in the church, the pope has bestowed the title of monsignor to five priests of Kampala archdiocese.
Three of the new monsignors are above seventy, namely Rev Fr Joseph Kyeyune (Lubaga parish), Rev Fr Joseph Mugambe (Christ the King parish) and Rev Fr Expedito Magembe (Bukalango prayer parish - Naddangira). The other two are Rev Fr Joseph Kazibwe Ntuwa, the Kampala archdiocese Chancellor and Rev Fr Lawrence Ssemusu, the chaplain of Makerere university Business School, Nakawa.
Notable among the new monsignors is Rev Fr Joseph Kyeyune, 96, who will later this month celebrate 66 years in priesthood. He arguably becomes one of the oldest monsignors in the country and on the continent. He has stepped in the footsteps of his elder brother late Monsignor Ssemanda who died at the age of 94. As for the new Msgr Joseph Kazibwe Ntuwa, the Kampala archdiocese chancellor, he was ordained priest in 1988 by the late Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga.
Having studied Philosophy at Katigondo Major seminary and later Theology at Ggaba National seminary, Ntuwa went to Lancaster University in the UK between 1993-97 for Bsc in Physics, Masters degree in Physics and Education before taking on Information technology and management (ITMOC). Before being appointed archdiocese chancellor, his ministry had always been in education-related fields; at one time he taught sciences at Kisubi seminary and later became a visiting lecturer at Uganda Martyrs university.
Ntuwa is a staunch Machester United diehard and fan of the premiership and while in the UK, he is said to have visited Old Trafford and met Sir Alex Ferguson.
Elsewhere, Rev Fr Dr Lawrence Ssemusu, 57, whom the pope has also appointed a monsignor, is the Makerere University Business School chaplain. He was ordained priest 32 years ago by Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga. He is a product of Nswanjere and Kisubi minor seminaries, Katigondo and Ggaba major seminaries. He had his advanced theological studies at St John's Major seminary in California, USA.
Among the new monsignors is the well-known Rev Fr Expedito Magembe, founder and director of Mt Sion prayer centre Bukalango in Wakiso district. The masses at Bukalango have tremendously increased since its inception in 1992 because of the miracles performed by this priest. Fr Magembe established Bukalango with the authority of the Catholic church in the archdiocese.
He is one of the best church music composers in the country, a professional teacher and a former "brother" who taught in Catholic seminaries during his early priesthood years. The fifth new monsignor is Rev Fr Joseph Mugambe of Christ The King church. The grey-haired priest preaches in a youthful manner.
Monsignor is the title given to a Catholic priest by the pope in recognition of outstanding service to the church. A monsignor remains a priest but also has this great honour to his title.
The process of becoming a monsignor begins once a diocesan bishop nominates a priest for this high honour. The bishop submits the priest's name, biography and works to the Holy See. At that point, the pope reviews the information and determines whether or not to make the priest a monsignor.
Later, the Vatican issues a diploma designating the new title and rank.