REV. FR. DR. FRANCIS NDAMIRA (1941-2023) LAID TO REST
Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Ndamira has today been laid to rest at Rushoroza Cathedral preceded by Mass which was led by Rt. Rev. Callist Rubaramira with His Grace. Lambert Bainomugisha, Archbishop of Mbarara Archdiocese and many priests from Kabale Diocese and beyond. In his homily, Bishop Callist thanked all those who went to check on Fr. Ndamira when he was in hospital. He said that on Good Friday, the disciples abandoned Jesus because the cross was ahead of him, but people did not abandon Fr. Ndamira, but helped him carry the cross of sickness to the end.
Bishop Callist thanked God for the gift of Fr. Ndamira who had spent 53 years in priesthood. He was the very first priest to be ordained by Bishop Barnabas Halem’Imana on April 12, 1970 at Makiro Parish. Fr. Ndamira loved his priesthood and worked hard to put the Gospel in practice. He had great love and commitment to his priesthood.
Fr. Ndamira has been an example to many because he treasured his priesthood. He would often go for his holiday and would go to his home and would report to his parish priest to assign him some duties of Pastoral work. Others would not be bothered during their holiday. In life God helps, but does to those who help themselves or seek help from him. – Bishop Callist Rubaramira on Fr. Ndamira.
Taking the example of Jesus in the Gospel of John 13, as God had loved Jesus, he also loved the disciples and commanded others to love people. Fr. Ndamira spent 29 years as a National Director of Caritas. Previously it was called Social Services, but it is Fr. Ndamira who renamed it to Caritas, so that the Church fulfils the mandate of Christ to extend Love in action. Many Dioceses in Uganda and beyond have benefited from his services. He connected Caritas Uganda to the international caritas e.g Norway, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, etc. Bishop Callist who is the chairman of the Finance commission of UEC said that Fr. Ndamira had passion for the poor and needy as part of his implementation of the love of God. Much relief was passing through caritas to benefit many dioceses and people of God including the refugees in West Nile.
From the 2 Cor writes that we believe that as God raised Jesus from the dead, he will also raise us too. When this house in this world is destroyed, another tent is already established one heaven not built by human hands.
The family of Ndamira said he was developmental, down to earth loving and lovable. Being first born, he made sure that all siblings went to school. He was a musician and composer. He was a good communicator and offered pieces of advice. He was good at consultation and was a consultant.
Narcis Rwangoga, Chairman of Kigezi Kampala Catholic Residents Addociation (KKCRA), on behalf of the entire association thanked Fr. Ndamira’s services rendered to them when he was appointed by Bishop Callist as their caretaker priest. Thanked secretariat and UEC for welcoming him and made him feel at home. Thanked the family members for taking care of Ndamira and this showed a united Family. He was patriotic to the family. He was an enemy of minimalism and would advise people never to settle for the less which he called kucuringanya obwonko to think and do more. He would urge them to be people of action and not lamentations, because he himself was a man of actions. He processed an official permission from Kampala Archdiocese to allow KKCRA congregate for prayers as people from Kabale Diocese, and also have a monthly pilgrimage to Namugongo every 3rd Sunday of the month.
Fr. Charles Lwanga chairman KADPA talked about Fr. Ndamira as a priest of impeccable character, hard to replace. And we have a lot to learn from him. He urged his fellow priests to take health very serious, go for medical check-ups in time and have time for yourself since prevention is better than cure.
Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister for ICT and MP Kinkizi East, on behalf of the gov’t delivered condolences to Bishop Callist and Caritas fraternity and talked about Ndamira as a strong pillar in national development. He was a champion education and other social services especially his love for the poor and underprivileged. He loved his priesthood as narrated in his book the laurels of a priest, very developmental and would give government some ideas about Parish Development Model (PDM). Dr. Baryomunsi said that the first couple that Fr. Ndamira wedded as a newly ordained priest at Makiro are the parents of his wife (parents-in-law).
The president had appointed Fr. Francis Ndamira on the committee of the prerogative of mercy based on health and humanitarian grounds, and the president pardoned 200 prisoners on 20/8/2023 including Jimmy Rwamafa who was permanent secretary in the ministry of Public service. He worked hard to ensure that Uganda Catholic Television (UCTV) is operationalized and made sure that the license is procured. UCTV is currently hosted on Zuku channel 074. Unfortunately he has not lived to see the progress of UCTV which actually was broadcasting his burial Mass. As medical Dr. Baryomunsi appealed to people especially those who have reached 40 year to always have regular medical check-ups.
Who was Fr. Francis Ndamira?
He was born on January 5, 1941 to Raphael Ntembaheiguru (RIP) and Oliver Kakushuro (RIP) in Rwesasi in Kaharo, Kabale district. In 1966, they migrated to Kijumi in Makiro, Kinkizi in the present day Kanungu District. He was the first born of 12children (5 girls and 7 boys) ordained on April 12, 1970 by Bishop Barnabas Halem’Imana at the age of 29. That year, 3 priests were ordained namely: Fr. John Baptist Ntahorutaba, Fr. John Bagamuhunda (RIP) and Fr. Francis Ndamira (RIP).
From April 1970 to January 1971, he was appointed to work as the Assistant Parish Priest of Makiro Parish with Verona Fathers (Comboni Fathers).
1971-1973: Acting Rector and Teacher at St. Paul’s Seminary Rushoroza. At that time, he was also appointed Priest in charge of Liturgical Renewal in the Kabale Diocese. He was a pioneer and original composer of Bakiga Church Music for Runyankore Rukiga Liturgy after the Vatican Council II had approved use of vernacular songs in liturgy instead of Latin.
1973-1982: He was sent to study Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Development in U.S.A at Villanova University. He did a Master’s Degree and PhD from New York University from 1973-1976 and was a part time Assistant Pastor of St. Ignatius Philadelphia, USA. From 1976 1978, Fr. Ndamira was an Assistant Pastor at Our Lady of Charity, New York, USA. And in 1977, he was a Chaplain for Youth during Summer Programs in Los Angeles USA. In 1978, he was a Chaplain for Scouts during summer in the Archdiocese of New York. Between 1978 and 1980, he was an Assistant Pastor at St. Aloysius, Harlem New York, USA and from 1980 to 1982, he was a Chaplain at Immaculate Heart Hospital, Bronx New York, USA.
From 1983 to 1985, Fr. Ndamira Francis was appointed by Bishop Barnabas as a Secretary to organize the First Diocesan Synod for Kabale Diocese.
Between 1985 and 1994, he was the Vicar General for Kabale Diocese but also serving as the Pastoral Coordinator and Vocations’ Director respectively. During the same period, he was appointed Founding Chairman of Advisory Committee for establishment in Kabale Diocese the first branch of Centenary Bank in Uganda.
In 1986, he was elected Chairman of Kabale Development Committee by the elite of Kigezi to promote tourism industry and to found Kigezi Bank of Commerce which later became National Bank of Commerce in 1988.
From 1995 – 2023, he was serving as the National Director for Caritas Uganda, at Catholic Secretariat Uganda Episcopal Conference
From2018 up to the time of his death, he was the Priest Caretaker of Kigezi Kampala Catholic Residents Association (KKRCA)
After retirement, he felt weak and the CT scan showed his liver and lungs were damaged with cancer. He said “am very happy that I am sick after retirement from caritas Uganda.” Meaning that if he fell sick on job, the work of caritas would be jeopardized.
He passed on Sunday morning of August 27, 2023 from St. Francis Nsambya Hospital the age of 82.
May the soul of Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Ndamira continue resting in peace!