By Peter Ssebulime
Kampala: Archbishop Emeritus of Tororo James Odongo, 89, passed on yesterday at Nsambya Hospital. Uganda Episcopal Conference Secretary-General Msgr John Baptist Kauta has confirmed to this reporter.
Burial Arrangements For Arch. James Odongo
✳ Dec 6 – Requiem Mass Lubaga Cathedral 3.30pm
✳ Dec 7 – Body St. Austin, Mbale 3pm
✳ Dec 8 – Requiem Mass St Austin 12.00pm
✳ Dec 8 – Body Cathedral Tororo 4pm
✳ Dec 9 – Mass of Christian burial Uganda Martyrs Cathedral Tororo 12pm
James Odongo was the fourth African Bishop in Uganda and the first African Bishop of Tororo Diocese. In 2015 he celebrated his 84th anniversary of his birth and the 59th anniversary of his momentous priestly ministry.
He was also the first African chair of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), a position he held twice.
As chairperson of the social services committee of the Episcopal Conference of Uganda, a pivotal organ in the creation of Centenary Bank, Archbishop led a delegation to meet then-President Milton Obote in 1983.
Obote remarked to him personally; “I know Catholics, when you want to start something, you cannot fail. Please go ahead and have the bank.” The rest is history.
According to a Biography of James Odongo, compiled by Msgr. John Baptist Kauta, Secretary of the Uganda Episcopal Conference titled “Shepherd of a multi-Cultural Mosaic’, the Bank was conceived to be a ‘Monumento’ for the Catholics to celebrate 100 years of the religion in Uganda. It was primarily aimed at serving the rural communities, although it spread to urban areas.
James Odongo and his twin brother, the late Fr Alfred Opio, were born on March 27, 1931, in Molo village, 19km along the Tororo-Mbale road in then Bukedi district. His farther Gabriel Omunyin was a catechist of Nagongera Parish, while mother Rosalina Nyachwo was a farm-worker.
Odongo was appointed by Pope Paul VI as the ordinated titular bishop of Bahanna on 25 November 1964 and auxiliary bishop of Tororo. He was consecrated as bishop on 16 February 1965 by Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa†, Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Bukoba, assisted by Bishop John Francis Greif, MHM†, Bishop of Tororo and Vincent Joseph McCauley, CSC†, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Portal.
On 19 August 1968, he was appointed as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tororo. On 5 January 1985, Pope John Paul II appointed him to concurrently serve as the bishop of the Military Ordinate of Uganda. As of July 2019, he is the incumbent diocesan Ordinary of that diocese.
On 2 January 1999, Odongo became the first Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tororo. He retired from that position on 27 June 2007, thus becoming Archbishop Emeritus of Tororo, Uganda. As of January 2017, following the death of Right Reverend Colin Cameron Davis, Bishop Emeritus of Ngong Diocese, in Kenya, Archbishop Odongo became the “Only Living Representative from AMECEA Region at the Vatican II Council”, between 1962 and 1965.