Your Beatitude, Your Excellence the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda Hon. Jessica Alupo Epel, All Excellencies the Ambassadors present, Your Eminences, Graces, Imams
Rt. Honorable, Honourable Members of Parliament, Cultural leaders, Venerable priests, clergy, deacons and all faithful Guests, all beloved children of God,
What can I give back to God for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
I’ll lift the cup of salvation – a toast to God!
I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do, and
I’ll do it together with His people. (Psalms 116:12-14)
As an Orthodox child, my upbringing was characterized by the conscience of the Orthodox family in which our Father in Heaven rules and the Church of Christ is the Mother. Here, regardless of differences in ethnicity, color, language, all people are brothers and sisters.
Born and educated from a humble beginning in the Orthodox Church, the love of the Church was ever around me. That feeling of the Orthodox family prepared me right from Nakabaale village in the now Luuka District where I was initially and spiritually nourished, at the time of Uganda’s independence. Then, throughout Namungoona where the Orthodox Mission Center in Uganda was established in 1934, to Nairobi at the Makarios III Orthodox Seminary, and Greece, the place where St. Paul pronounced the unknown God to the seekers of faith. These have been and continue to be the foundation for the Holy Synod electing me into this position. Glory be to the Almighty God.
Indeed, the love and care in the Holy Synod overwhelm me. I ask, “What shall I give back to God for His goodness to me?” for all the preparations, titles, offices, and goodness bestowed upon me. Important are my pastoral responsibilities first, in Kampala, then in Bukoba and Mwanza, and subsequently back in Kampala, God willing, to become my final resting place in this earthly life. Equally important are the many members of the orthodox family who have prepared me for this journey. For this reason, I am eternally grateful for this immeasurable gift of the orthodox family; I am extremely grateful to my parents Agustinos Kakombe and Agnes Biribawa for raising me and entrusting me to the Orthodox Church; Rev. Fr Joachim Foola Kaawonawo and Papadhia Anna; Archbishop Theodoros Nankyama, and all he worked with; Sir Mariam; His Beatitude Anastasios Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania; His Eminence Iakovos, Metropolitan of Argos; His Beatitude Seraphim, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece; His Beatitude Parthenios Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, His Beatitude Petros Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa; His Beatitude Theodoros Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa; and St. Sophronios. Each of the above within the Orthodox family has done much to mold me into the person that has merited such a high position am holding today.
Above all, I wish to reorganize the enormous contribution that was made by the pioneers and founders of the Orthodox Faith in Uganda namely Rev. Fr. Obadia Basajjakitalo and Bishop Spartas Ssebanja Mukasa in the early 1920s and my immediate predecessors; Metropolitan Theodoros Nankyama and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga. It is on the basis of their initial efforts that a strong foundation was laid paving way for the additional contributions by other Orthodox faithful that present the Orthodox Church we currently witness. As the newly enthroned Metropolitan of Kampala, serving in the footsteps of my forefathers, I pledge to be fundamental in capitalizing on the foundation they established so that the Orthodox Church in Uganda attains the glory desired by our Lord and that befitting in the 20th century. I continuously request your prayers and support as I strive to realize the aspirations of our Mother Church.
As I ascend the Archbishopric throne of Kampala, this 20th day of February 2022, according to our liturgical calendar, is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. It is a great honor for me to come to the service of God as the 3rd Archbishop of the Holy Metropolis of Kampala and all Uganda. This election paradoxically found me in Mwanza Tanzania where I became Archbishop in the Orthodox Metropolis and have been a servant since my consecration as Bishop on 11th December 1999. For all these years, I have been working well knowing that an Archbishop is the icon of Christ and also an heir to all Apostles: Not above the Church, not outside the Church but within the Church. Therefore, being within the Church I am aware that I must be in a good working relationship with all and know my sheep by name and they too know me as their shepherd. I did my best while in the Orthodox Diocese of Bukoba, to show this love to all, including priests and deacons and believers, not leaving behind the Tanzanian people as a nation. They too did their part, heard God’s voice when called. The Holy Diocese of Bukoba was elevated to the status of Archdiocese of Mwanza with God’s Grace. With the same Grace, that transforms all manner of infirmity and makes holy; God has considered me worthy to become Metropolitan of Kampala and Exarch of Uganda.
I am ready, in the same Orthodox family spirit, through which I have gone through in my life to work closely with the priests and faithful here in the Archdiocese of Kampala, to take our work forward; for the glory and the salvation of our souls. I assure you, I have learned a lot in Mwanza and Bukoba, and with this experience and I intend to share them with my fellow servants of God for the enrichment of the faithful and rapid growth and development of the Orthodox Church in Uganda both spiritually and otherwise. In the area of ecumenism, I am ready and very willing to work, first of all, with UJCC, where we are founder members since 1963, to strengthen the good relationships between the three sister churches, and with IRCU, where we are founder members, since 2004, to strengthen our commitment to the social-economic transformation of our beloved country Uganda.
I look forward to working with the Government of Uganda, in all ways possible, for the unity, peace, and prosperity of all. As our National motto says, “For God and My Country,” I, the servant of God, feeling the heavy responsibility to love, shall see that all Ugandans remain conscious of their duty to God and our nation as God desires and expects of us. One is filled with awe when he visits the opening lines of the three stanzas of our National Anthem. “Oh Uganda, May God uphold thee…”; “Oh Uganda, the land of freedom…”; “Oh Uganda, the Land that feeds us…”. Our Fathers held these core values for our beloved Country Uganda. Fervent prayer for Uganda, great respect for the Country. Our Church shall keep these values.
I strongly cherish the diverse Cultures of all people of Uganda. For the initial part of my formative years here, growing up in Buganda has strongly imparted in me, the values of modesty, honesty, respect, and love of the Uganda culture. This has had an immense impact on me as we celebrate unity in diversity. It is my sincere hope and prayer that such a tested and trusted relationship be strengthened.
Finally, I thank the Patriarchate of Alexandria, extremely, for elevating me to this level. I am thankful to His Beatitude Theodoros II, the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, and all members of the Holy Synod for the trust and honor they have placed in me in this Office. I request their prayers to see that I can fulfill their expectations. On matters concerning the administration and shepherding of the flock in the Metropolis of Kampala, our faith will be paramount without betrayal. Our cooperation with other Christian faiths and other religions will always be fostered and strengthened to bring glory to God and Humanity.
In a very special way, I also thank His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Her Excellency the Vice President Jesica Alupo Epel, and the entire government for the moral and material support for the success of the function. I also extend my appreciation to you all for being present on this occasion, for the preparations, contributions, and for participating lovingly in every way possible to make this event a big success. We are indeed grateful.
Here I am; called and ready to serve as a good shepherd to serve under such challenging circumstances of biting poverty among the faithful and indeed all Ugandans. I, therefore, applaud His Excellency the President’s efforts and strategies of fighting poverty that include the Parish Development Model and Bonna Bagaggawale among other strategic interventions. I am also conscious of the political contestation under a multi-party democracy. We are all God’s image. I, therefore, strongly call for tolerance amidst our political diversity for the good of our Country.
May the good Lord bless you all.
For God and My Country.
+ Metropolitan Jeronymos Muzeeyi
Archbishop of Kampala and all Uganda