Taking the church to the market place
Rt Rev. Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira is a busy man. He heads the mother diocese of the Anglican Church in Uganda comprising 342 local churches but, perhaps due to the humble background and accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savior at a very young age in 1976, he makes time for everyone.
Born on December 8, 1958 in Kiwenda, Wakiso District, Luwalira is the 14th of the 15 children of the late Eriazali Kityo Wanzu and Gertrude Faith Nantume. Most of his siblings never lived to study beyond primary education although he was lucky to complete O’level at Kololo Senior Secondary School thanks to the hard work of his mother who sold local juice she brewed.
His service in the church dates back when he was appointed a youth leader at Bubajjwe Church of Uganda in Kawempe during his long Senior Four holiday. But this service didn’t last long as Luwalira was forced to head back to Kiwenda in search of a job to make ends meet.
“I had a friend who was a farm manager at one of the farms in the nearby village who took me on as a stock man until I was elevated to milk recorder,” he says. But this didn’t alter his ministry in the church although focus changed to the village church.
His vision to become a veterinary doctor was cut short by God’s calling. In 1981, there was an opportunity for young people to train as lay readers at Namugongo Martyrs Seminary which he took on and upon completion; he was posted back to Namulonge the following year.
Another opportunity struck when he was sent back to the Seminary to be trained and ordained as Deacon in 1984. During this training, the seminary was attacked by soldiers who killed the principal, farm manager and, other staff. The trainees took a short break, returned, and in December 1986, Luwalira was ordained a deacon.
He was then posted to Kabowa Parish where he spent a year and was moved back to the Diocesan Youth office to serve as the Youth Secretary with a huge territory to serve since, at the time, Luwero was part of Namirembe diocese.
He pursued a Diploma in Theology at Ugandan Christian University Mukono then Bishop Tucker Theological College and a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity. He was appointed to serve as the vicar at Namirembe Cathedral from 2001 until he was elected bishop on February 21, 2009, and consecrated and enthroned on May 31, 2009.
It never crossed his mind that he would be elected fourth indigenous Bishop of Namirembe Diocese even when he was asked to present his papers.
Luwalira is married to Faith Nakitende whom he met through family connections in 1988 while she was a teacher at Gayaza High School. On September 2, 1989, Faith and Wilberforce married at St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe at 11am. The late Bishop Misaeri Kawuma officiated.
Luwalira says Bishop Kawuma features prominently in his life.
“He presided over my ordination as a deacon and priest, officiated at our marriage, and baptised one of our children,” he says. The Luwalira’s have two boys and two girls.
After years as Bishop of Namirembe, Luwalira says next seven or eight years will be focused on improving the livelihood of the congregation.
“We want people to be empowered as agents of change wherever they are not only confined to the church buildings as we also work to see the welfare of Christians improve,” Luwalira says.
As part of the plan, Luwalira wants to, as he says, “put the church land to fruitful use and take the church to the market place”.