On January 28, 2024, the Province of East Africa celebrated the inauguration of St. André Bessette Holy Cross Parish in Koch Goma. The Most Rev. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu, presided at the Mass and installed Fr. Berry Apire, C.S.C., as the first Pastor.
Fr. Caxton Peter Mayanja, C.S.C., Superior of the Province of East Africa, and Fr. Cyprian Binaka, C.S.C., former Superior of the Province, were among the good number of Holy Cross religious for this historic moment.
The inauguration of St. André Bessette Holy Cross Parish is the realization of a longstanding dream of the Church and the Congregation.
Back in 1954, the Verona Fathers established a primary school in the region, but their plans for a parish went unrealized. Then in 1987 during the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency, rebels surrounded the area, causing a tremendous loss of life and destruction of property. The violence continued over two decades, with the loss of lives estimated at 720,000. Relief camps were filled with widows, orphans, and children.
To this day, the scars from the war continue to run deep. It was into this suffering that the Archdiocese reached out to the Congregation with our charism of finding hope in the Cross and educating in the faith. The Province of East Africa accepted the mission and sent a team to begin pastoral work in the region and establish a parish.
Led by Fr. Berry, the team arrived in the region six months ago and began making home visits, where they would celebrate Mass and share a meal. This table fellowship has brought hope and built community. There have already been several baptisms and many people returning to the Sacraments.
Adding to the joy of the day, Fr. Joachim Nganda, C.S.C., who had been assigned as a deacon to this pastoral team sent to found the parish, was ordained a priest by Bishop Odama during the inauguration.
Coming from Kenya, Fr. Joachim had spent the first part of his pastoral service at Holy Cross Parish Bugembe, before being transferred to the new mission. Fr. Joachim was joined by many family and friends in the Mass and the celebration that followed. He will begin his priestly ministry serving in St. André Bessette Holy Cross Parish in Koch Goma.