Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), Lay Apostolate Department in partnership with Association of Religious in Uganda (ARU) is promoting child safeguarding and family values at all levels. This time round, Lay Apostolate Office organized a National Family Apostolate program workshop on March 3, 2023 at ARU Secretariat, Kampala in Nsambya.
The workshop saw invites from many key leaders; head of married Men, Women and the Youth belonging to Kampala Ecclesiastical Province, which entails five Dioceses; Masaka, Lugazi, Kiyinda-Mityana, Kasana-Luwero and Kampala itself converge at ARU Secretariat, Nsambya in Jubilee Hall.
The workshop aims at promoting family apostolate in Uganda, according to the National Programs Coordinator, family office at Uganda Episcopal Conference, Mrs. Florence Kevin Kwesigabo. “We are aiming at re-awaking the importance of the family, to sensitize people about being in good family relationships and offer children supportive family environment. It is all about promoting a peaceful family living, through promotion of Catholic Church values.” Mrs. Kwesigabo revealed.
Mrs. Kwesigabo told this website that this is a training of trainers being equipped with information on pastoral care, marriage and family and participants have received a manual, which they will use back home.
Parenting and Formation
According to the National Director, Lay Apostolate at the UEC, Fr. Frederick Tusingire, parenting in the present-day life is more complicated than ever before due to parents devoting more time to work and ignore children and single parenting; both parents must raise a child.
Fr. Tusingire emphasizes that formation of children starts at an early stage, right from the time of conception; what you say, eat and where you go has an impact on the formation of a child. Formation must be age appropriate and holistic, covering all areas of life. These include; faith, morality, culture, manners, and academic values. All these are far better than money.
Child Safeguarding Policy in the Church
Fr. Tusingire said that to avoid forms of abuse to children like physical and emotional torture, inhumane treatment and neglect of support, “Silence is no option; anyone can/should be a whistle blower.” He adds that the foundation of Child Safeguarding is rooted in the church teachings where all people are created in God’s image and are equal. They deserve equal rights, dignity and respect.
Fr. Tusingire therefore advises all Christians to create an environment that minimizes the livelihood of all forms of abuse and exploitation that is in line with the Child Safeguarding policy in the Church.
According to the National Pastoral Coordinator, Fr. John Baptist Kaganda, there is need for ardent pastoral care for marriage and family institutions. These institutions deserve a unique attention of the Church because couples have the responsibility to inculcate faith in the children.
Fr. Kaganda also notes that there is a decreasing number in marriage and separation, yet divorce is on the rise. Young people are running away from responsibilities and marriage. “There is need for a pastoral plan to accompany marriages and families by guiding and supporting members to have reconciliation with God, themselves and with other people. There is need for healing both physical and at heart in families.” Fr. Kaganda advised.
Fr. Kaganda also urged parents and members in the Small Christian Community and Church leaders to accompany members of Marriage and Family Programs. This helps to sustain people to preserve the family unit. “The success of marriage and family life lies in the pastoral care provided through accompaniment and journeying with you. The word of God above all, must be at the centre of the pastoral care.” Fr. Kaganda noted.
Mr. Vincent Kisagala, head of Diocesan Youth Coordinator, Lugazi Diocese admitted that this workshop was very important because it has helped him realize the importance of marriage and family in the Church. “I have learnt that in marriage, we become co-workers to take the Church on to another level,” Mr. Kisagala noted.
He added that he is going to embark on training his fellow youth together with the married couples in his Diocese of Lugazi and mobilize them to join the church so that they can firmly stay in their marriages. He will counsel and advise single parents to reform and go for Holy Communion.
Kisagala believes that Bishops and Priests have realized that there is information gap among pastoral agents concerning marriage, family and parenting. There is need to bridge the information gap about family life and children by promoting Church teachings and values for a health family life. “The workshop was good and has come at the time we are amidst a big challenge of Lesbianism, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) in the country and worldwide.” Mr. Kasagala admitted.
This is the second workshop of the kind as the first one was organized a week before which constituted; the Pastoral heads, Pastoral Coordinators of the Dioceses and key Priests from the 19 Dioceses across the country. The next workshop will be in Tororo Ecclesiastical Province, then Gulu and finally to Mbarara, according to Mrs. Kwesigabo.