Burial – James Odongo Arch.Emeritus Tororo
✳ Dec 6 – Requiem Mass Lubaga Cathedral 3.30pm
✳ Dec 7 – Body St. Austin, Mbale 3pm
✳ Dec 8 – Requiem Mass St Austin 12.00pm
✳ Dec 8 – Body Cathedral Tororo 4pm
✳ Dec 9 – Mass of Christian burial Uganda Martyrs Cathedral Tororo 12pm
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Archbishop Emeritus of Tororo James Odongo, 89, has passed on today at Nsambya Hospital. Uganda Episcopal Conference Secretary-General Msgr John Baptist Kauta has confirmed.
Rev. Fr Kevin Musisi, the Tororo Archdiocese Vicar General, says that although the cause of the death of the Emeritus Archbishop is not yet known, he has been struggling with hypertension and diabetes for the past few years.
He eulogized the deceased saying that besides being the longest-serving ordinary of Tororo who steered them for close to 44 years, he will be remembered as a dynamic, courageous, and dedicated person.
“Since then he has been living in retirement and doing a little bit of pastoral work where he has been able, until he became quiet weak and sick. He was very dynamic, a visionary leader and committed to his job, had a sense of humor, courageous, a visionary and dedicated leader… an example of what most people should be,” Fr. Musisi told URN in an interview.
James Odongo was the fourth African Bishop in Uganda and the first African Bishop of Tororo Diocese. He was also the first African chair of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), a position he held twice.
Odongo and his twin brother, the late Fr Alfred Opio, were born on March 27, 1931 in Molo village, 19km along the Tororo-Mbale road in then Bukedi district. His farther Gabriel Omunyin was a catechist of Nagongera Parish, while mother Rosalina Nyachwo was a farm worker.
In 2015 he celebrated his 84th anniversary of his birth and the 59th anniversary of his momentous priestly ministry.
He was ordained priest in Rome in 1956 and retired as Archbishop in 2007, having served as a priest for 51 years and, as a Bishop for 43 years, 39 of which he was Bishop of Tororo.
History of Centenary Bank
As chairperson of the social services committee of the Episcopal Conference of Uganda, a pivotal organ in the creation of Centenary Bank, Archbishop led a delegation to meet then President Milton Obote in 1983.
Obote remarked to him personally; “I know Catholics, when you want to start something, you cannot fail. Please go ahead and have the bank.” The rest is history.
According to a Biography of James Odongo, compiled by Msgr. John Baptist Kauta, Secretary of the Uganda Episcopal Conference titled “Shepherd of a multi-Cultural Mosaic’, the Bank was conceived to be a ‘monumento’ for the Catholics to celebrate 100 years of the religion in Uganda. It was primarily aimed at serving the rural communities, although it spread to urban areas.
James Odongo had great political insight, as he started his service under the British government, then that of the Democratic Party, Uganda’s People’s Congress, Idi Amin, Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Binaisa, Paulo Muwanga’s Military Commission, Obote II, Tito Okello until Yoweri Museveni.
Who is Odongo?
Archbishop Emeritus James Odongo served as the First Metropolitan Archbishop of Tororo – after Tororo diocese received the status of an Archdiocese.
Odongo was ordained to the Priesthood in Rome on 22nd day of December, 1956. After serving as priest for a while, Fr. Odongo was elected to serve as Titular Bishop of Baana and Auxiliary Bishop of Tororo on November 25, 1964. The following year, he was consecrated Bishop on February 16, 1965. After three years, he was appointed on August 16, 1968 to serve as the first Native Bishop to his people.
In 1999, when Tororo diocese was raised to the status of an Archdiocese – thus serving as the mother diocese in the Eastern Ecclesiastical Province, he became the First Metropolitan Archbishop.
Archbishop James Odongo’s contribution and service to the growing Church in Tororo and Uganda in general marked him to be a uniquely wise and memorable cleric – who even got the wonderful privilege of participating in the last sessions of Vatican II Ecumenical Council.
Archbishop Odongo faithfully served the Eastern Ecclesiastical Province and in particular the diocese of Tororo until the 27th day of June 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI accepted his retirement request.
A brief history of the twin Archdioceses of Tororo and Kampala
The Archdiocese of Tororo metamorphosed from the Upper Nile Vicariate instituted on July 13, 1894 by the Holy See and entrusted to the Mill Hill Missionaries.
Arriving in Tororo at the onset of the 20th Century, the Mill Hill Missionaries embarked on the establishment of religious, educational and health institutions in the then Vicariate of the Upper Nile, a territory stretching from Kampala, Uganda to Nakuru in Kenya.
The Congregation on the Mill Hill Fathers was headquartered at Freshfield, England and Nsambya became the seat of the Bishop of the Vicariate.
The following Bishops headed the Vicariate: Henry Hanlon 1894-1911, Bishop John Biermans 1912-1924 and Bishop John Campling 1925-1937
In 1948, Rome divided the Vicariate of the Upper Nile into Kampala and Tororo.
Bishop John Reesinck 1938-1950 became the first Vicar Apostolic of Tororo, thus relinquishing his title as Bishop of the Vicariate of the Upper Nile,.
In the same year, Reesinck relocated his residence from Nsambya to Tororo, the Bishop’s See.
He retired in 1951 and Bishop John Greif 1951-1968 was installed as the Bishop of the Tororo Vicariate.
Therefore, when the Diocese of Tororo was created on March 25, 1953 Bishop Greif, the second Bishop of Tororo Vicariate, became the first Bishop of Tororo Diocese.
He dies on August 17, 1968 at the age of 70, after serving the people of Tororo for 46 years.
Upon the death of Bishop Greif, Bishop James Odongo became the second Bishop of the Diocese of Tororo, on August 19, 1968.
In 1999, he was appointed the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Tororo, overseeing the dioceses of Jinja, Kotido, Moroto and Soroti.
SOURCE: The Biography of Archbishop JAMES ODONGO – Shepherd of a Multi-Cultural Mosaic compiled by Msgr. John Baptist Kauta in 2015