The Catholic Church in Mbarara Ecclesiastical Province was yesterday in sombre mood as one of its longest serving Comboni Missionary Priest and philanthropist, Rev. Fr. Paulino Tomaino was laid to rest. Fr. Paulino died in Italy on Sunday, March 3 2024 from Milan in Italy.

Archbishop Lambert Bainomugisha leading prayers at the burial of Fr. Paulino Tomaino at Kyamuhunga Parish

Preaching during burial Mass, the Archbishop of Mbarara Archdiocese, His Grace Lambert Bainomugisha thanked God for the gift of Fr. Paulino and that Paulino was a big man, who did great to church and nation. He comforted mourners citing the Gospel of John where Jesus tells his disciples not to be troubled. He said, “we gather here as people of God indebted to Fr. Paulino Tomaino through his ministry and life as a priest and as a person. Paulino means Paul, but small Paul.” Paulino was by no means small, he was big in words, in ambitions, in his work, big in all, but small before God, and small in the footsteps of Paul, his patron saint, an Apostle to the nations.

Fr. Paulino preached in season and out of season. He hinged on Christ as the Priest. He followed the way of Christ. He revealed the truth of Christ, he modeled his life on the life of Christ. He came to Uganda in 1965 when I was 4 years old. He has been more of a Ugandan than many of us. He has been with us in life and has chosen to be with us in death. For the Bakiga, Paulino was a Mukiga, for the Banyankole he was a Munyankole, for the Italians he was an Italian, for the youth he was young. He came to our parishes, communities, homes and our lives that we may have life in abundance. Paulino has a litany onto his name – His Grace Lambert Bainomugisha on Fr. Paulino.

Family members of Fr. Paulino at his burial.

Hon. Raphael Magezi, Minister for Local Government while speaking on behalf of Ankole people at the burial said there are lessons to learn from Fr. Paulino. We are talking about a person who did the work he was supposed to do the way he was supposed to do it; a lesson that at our workplace, we do our work to the best of our ability and God will reward us appropriately. Secondly, Fr. Paulino emphasized education by established over 70 primary schools, and over 5 secondary schools, and his mind was that education is key to development. He teaches us to remain committed to education in order to uplift the society. Thirdly, he started financial institutions so that families can have income generating activities. Currently the Parish Development Model is realizing the intention and goal of Fr. Paulino.

Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa (C) with Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi (L) and Hon. Raphael Magezi (R) at the burial of Fr. Paulino Tomaino in Kyamuhunga on Thursday

Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister for ICT and National Guidance while representing the Christians from Kigezi (Kabale Diocese) where Fr. Paulino served from 1965-1989 said Fr. Paulino approached him at one time and made two requests: have Ugandan Citizenship and be buried in Uganda when he dies. Both requests were granted through the efforts of President Museveni. Dr. Chris also said that Fr. Paulino worked well with the NRM government by establishing schools, health facilities, financial institutions in order to uplift people’s standards. Fr. Paulino had requested for government intervention to support Sedes Sapientia Girls’ School Kakoni with computers and Dr. Chris announced 30 computers would soon be delivered to the school. He urged the Kabale Diocese and Mbarara Archdiocese to support Fr. Paulino Foundation and contributed 10m.

Speaking as chief mourner, Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, Deputy Speaker of Ugandan Parliament representing the President of Uganda said that Fr. Paulino tried to chase poverty from the region and urged people to learn from him. The president thanked the family of Fr. Paulino for giving him to Africa and particularly to Kigezi and Ankole. Fr. Paulino emphasized morals by preaching against evil acts of alcoholism, poverty, disease and illiteracy by establishing income generating projects, financial institutions, health facilities and schools. He also conserved the environment by planting trees in the dry areas of Rushere and followed the life of Christ who did not only preach but also healed people and gave them life. The president contributed 20 towards burial expenses and 30m towards the Fr. Paulino Foundation.

Who is Fr. Paulino?

Fr. Paolino Tomaino was born in a small village called San Pietro Apostolo in the Calabria Region, South of Italy on November 4, 1937 to Santo and Rosina Tomaino. He is the first born in a family of 5 children, others being Giuseppe Tomaino, Maria Tomaino, Luisa Tomaino and Antoinetta Tomaino. After Primary education, Fr. Paolino joined a Teachers’ College with a wish and love of becoming a teacher after the wonderful example from his teacher.

His course of life was changed when he met a Comboni Missionary who had spent many years in Sudan. The missionary told the young boys that, at their age they had dreams and requested them to always Remember that, “while you are studying, somewhere in this world, a human being is born, somewhere in a place of this world. He is waiting for you and needs your help. This creature, probably, is very far from your school and your village. Probably lives in a place like the one I have been compelled to leave, Sudan in Africa. Boys, in your dreams, don’t be afraid to dream about that creature, who needs your head and your heart.” Paolino heard an inner voice very loud telling him, you boy, the missionary is not talking about one class with 40 children, go for the thousands in that part of Africa, the Missionary is talking about. Paolino took his first vows in the congregation of the congregation of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus on September 9, 1958 and took perpetual vows on 9th September 1963. He was ordained a Priest on June 28, 1964 at the age of 27, thus becoming a missionary priest dedicating his priestly service to the African continent.

Fr. Paulino with colleagues after ordination

In January 1965, he arrived in Uganda and was assigned to Mbarara Diocese together with 3 other Priests Including: Fr. Sean Dempsey, Fr. Joseph Ambrose and Fr. Mario Cisternino. It took Fr. Paolino 9 months to learn Runyakole- Rukiga language with experienced Missionaries in Nyakishenyi and Mushanga. At the beginning of October, he went for his first Missionary Pastoral Experience, in Kigezi, Rushoroza Parish, Kabale. In April 1968, Fr. Tanel, Bro. Lucio Cariani and Fr. Paolino Tomaino were assigned to Nyamwegabira, a center under Makiro Parish, to start the new Parish. He later returned to Italy in 1970, but after a short stay, he returned to Uganda in January 1971. From January to October, he worked in Buhara and then in Rwanyena with Fr. Joseph Ambrose. In 1973, Bishop Barnabas R. Halem’Imana recalled Fr. Paolino to Rushoroza, and put him in charge of the Lay Apostolate Office. In 1975, Fr. Paolino organized a pilgrimage and took about 300 people to Rome. In 1976, Fr. Paolino got reassigned to Makiro Parish until the end of 1980, when Makiro Parish was entrusted with a Diocesan priest called, Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda (currentily retired at Kitanga Parish). Therefore, Fr. Paolino went to open the new Parish in Kambuga, and he was later joined by Fr. Pasquali and Fr. Franco between 1981-1989.

While in Kanungu, he established many schools like Bishop Comboni College Kambuga (1982), San Giovanni School Makiro and St. Charles Lwanga Zorooma in Kambuga Parish. While in Kigezi, Fr. Paulino was called Mutamba-irungu because of the tremendous work done. In 1989, Fr. Paolino celebrated his 25th Priesthood Anniversary and this was the last year for Fr. Paolino in Kabale.

Fr. Paulino freely interacts and integrates with community

In 1989, the Comboni Missionaries ended their services in Kabale Diocese and came to Mbarara Diocese specifically in Kyamuhunga Parish where Fr. Paulino was appointed in September 1990 While in Kyamuhunga parish, he founded Comboni Hospital Kyamuhunga (1994), started St. Mary’s Vocational School Kyamuhunga, Kyamuhunga People’s SACCO (KYAPS) and built several Churches and many primary schools. In 1999, he was assigned to Nyabushozi where the Catholic Church was not present.  Started over 70 Primary schools and when the children reached P.7, he started Sedes Sapientiae Academiae Rushere. Together with Fr. Sean Dempsey, he started St. Peter’s Secondary School Rwebigumya in Kazo. He also started Rushere SACCO. He also started a Health Centre in Kyeibuza and Lamezia Health in Burunga Kazo district.

In 2014, he was assigned back to Kyamuhunga Parish. He improved the standard of St. John Baptist Primary School Ntungamo and built more classrooms. In 2018, he embarked on building St. Mark Vocational School Nyakatooma which opened its doors in February 2019. In the same year he decided to go to support the Christians of Kakoni who were struggling financially with St. John’s Vocational School Kakoni since 2018. Together with the community, they agreed to dedicate the secondary school under the maternal help of Mary Seat of Wisdom, thus Sedes Sapientiae Vocational School Kakoni.

Fr. Paulino Tomaino celebrating 50 years in priesthood at Bishop Comboni College Kambuga in 2015

In 2015, for his Golden jubilee as a priest, Fr. Paolino decided to celebrate it in his home Parish in Italy. On October 10, 2015, Fr. Paolino returned to his beloved Bishop Comboni College Kambuga to celebrate 50 years as a Priest and the beginning of his pastoral life in Uganda. He has helped many needy students in all those institutions he started even up to university. In more than 50 years of service he has built schools, hospitals, orphanages, roads. Thanks to him, thousands of children were able to get education and put themselves in the service of the community. Africa made Father Paolino Tomaino a Man, a Priest, and a Missionary. No other kind of life, could have succeeded to give him what his Missionary life in Africa has given him.

Since 2020 he has had serious health issues, but he persevered. At some moments, he was unable to say Mass for people, therefore decided to have Mass alone. On December 27, 2023, he went to Kampala and was admitted in Platinum hospital. He remained in a critical condition until 13/2/2024 when he was taken to Italy for further treatment and died on Sunday, March 3, 2024 at the age of 87 with 60 years in priesthood. He was laid to rest on Thursday, March 14, 2024 at Kyamuhunga Parish in Mbarara Archdiocese.

May the soul of Fr. Paulino rest in eternal peace.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Father may Saul rest in peace and the angles sorrounds you father

  2. Karyarugokwe Valent

    He was really a blessing to Uganda, More particularly Kigezi & Ankole regions.

    May His Soul RIP!!

  3. Moreen Katusiime Aine

    May God grant him a blissful eternal rest in heaven and may the Lord’s perpetual light shine upon his soul for ever.

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