Brief History

The history of the Roman Catholic Church in Kampala is closely connected to that of the Missionaries of Africa known as the ‘White Fathers’. When he was appointed Archbishop of Algiers and Carthage, Primate of Africa and Apostolic Delegate for the Sahara and the Sudan, the future Charles Cardinal Martial Lavigerie considered Algeria as ‘a door opened on a Continent’. He considered it his responsibility to bring the light of Christ to the Arabs and the many black people south of the Sahara. Accordingly, in 1868 he was accepted by Pope Pius IX to found the Missionaries of Africa (popularly known as the White Fathers due to their white habit). The task of forming his new missionaries was entrusted to the Jesuits to train them to be ‘contemplatives in action’. 

In 1878, two years after several unsuccessful expeditions across the Sahara, Cardinal Lavigerie dispatched 10 missionaries under his future successor Leon Livignac as Apostolic Delegate to Equatorial Africa.  The caravan set off from Marseilles on Easter Monday, 22 April 1878. In June they left Bagamoyo in Tanzania and proceeded together as far as Tabora, which they reached on 12 September and where they built their first station. According to Lavigerie’s instructions, at Tabora the missionaries split into two groups, one group setting off for Lake Tanganyika, the other one under Father Livinhac turning northwards to the southern shores of Lake Victoria. At Kageye the White Fathers made another base, and from there they sent two of their number, Father Siméon Lourdel (1853 – 1890), popularly known as ‘Pere Mapeera’, and Brother Amans Delmas (1852 – 1895) to the kingdom of Buganda. They left by canoe on 20th January 1878 and on 17th February 1879 landed at Kigungu Kyattale a place right next to the current Entebbe International Airport runway in Kampala Archdiocese.  Four months later, they were joined by three colleagues - Fathers Leon Livinhac, Ludovic Girault and Leon Barbot to start up a mission in the interior of Africa.

The present Kampala Archdiocese is the result of a number of territorial changes from Victoria Nyanza Vicariate in 1883 through various vicariates till the establishment of the Catholic Hierarchy in Uganda in 1953 when the former Vicariates became the dioceses of Uganda. Rubaga then became the Metropolitan Archdiocese with Louis Joseph Cabana as Archbishop and five suffragan dioceses namely: Gulu, Kampala, Masaka, Mbarara and Tororo.

On 5th August 1966, the Holy See joined together the Archdiocese of Rubaga which was then administered by the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) and part of the former Kampala Diocese, which was under the charge of the Mill Hill Missionaries and created the Archdiocese of Kampala. The new diocese covered most parts of Central Uganda and His Grace Archbishop Emmanuel Kiwanuka Nsubuga, who was later created first Ugandan Cardinal in 1976 and was the first Ordinary of the new Archdiocese. He was consecrated at Nakivubo on 30th October 1966 by the first African Cardinal, His Eminence Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa of Dar-es Salam, Tanzania. He was succeeded in 1990 by His Eminence Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala who retired on 19th August 2006. I was installed Archbishop of Kampala on 30th September 2006. Since 1966, three other new dioceses have been carved out of the then Archdiocese of Kampala. These are: Kiyinda-Mityana in 1981, Kasana-Luweero in 1997 and Lugazi in 1997.

The Archdiocese of Kampala is found in the Ecclesiastical Province of Kampala which also comprises of the dioceses of Masaka, Kiyinda-Mityana, Lugazi and Kasana-Luweero. The city of Kampala, the capital of Uganda is also found within the Archdiocese. It encompasses the civic districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Mpigi and Butambala District which was created in 2010 from Mpigi.

According to the 2015 census The Archdiocese covers a total area of 3,644.75 square kilometers and a total population of 4,334,854 of which 1,777,290 are baptized Catholics. That means 41% of the total population is Catholic


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