History of the Diocese

History of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara is  located in the Ecclesiastical Province of Mwanza in Tanzania. Formerly, Rulenge-Ngara Diocese was a part of Rulenge Diocese that was originally a part of Bukoba Diocese. The Diocese of Bukoba  was first established as an Apostolic Vicariate of Bukoba from the Diocese of Tabora in Tanganyika and an Apostolic Vicariate of Uganda in Uganda on April 8, 1929. It was raised to the status of a Diocese on December 13, 1951 and the part of Bukoba Diocese that would later form a major part of Rulenge Diocese was renamed as Lower Kagera (Rutabo Diocese) under the late Bishop Alfred Lanctot, M.Afr. 

It was on June 21, 1960  when the area comprising the present administrative districts of Karagwe, Biharamulo, Ngara and part of Muleba was split from Bukoba and Rutabo Dioceses and the Catholic Diocese of Rulenge was inaugurated. The first Bishop of Rulenge Diocese was the late Rt. Rev. Alfred Lanctot (M. Afr.) who died in May 1969. His successor was the late Rt. Rev. Bishop  Christopher Mwoleka who died on October 16th, 2002. He was succeeded after retirement by the Rt. Rev. Severine Niwemugizi. 

On August 14, 2008 the Diocese of Rulenge was divided whereby part of the Diocese was renamed as the Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara under the leadership of Bishop Severine Niwemugizi and the other part as the Catholic Diocese of Kayanga in Karagwe under the leadership of  Bishop Almachius Rweyongeza.

Geographical Location

The Catholic Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara is located in Kagera Region in the North-Western Corner of Tanzania, East Africa. It covers the area of Ngara, Biharamulo and Chato. This makes a total of 13,004 km2  out of 40,838 km2  of Kagera Region. The Diocese Borders with the countries of Rwanda in the West and Burundi in the South.  In the North there is Karagwe District and in the East are the shores of Lake Victoria and Muleba District. The Diocesan headquarters including the Bishop’s House are situated in Ngara town, which is 50 km from Rulenge Pro-Cathedral.

Population and Socio Economic Situation

According to the National Census of 2002, the total population of Rulenge-Ngara Diocese is approximately  748,384 people. The Diocese covers a geographical area of three administrative districts of Ngara, Biharamulo and Chato. It is divided into three ecclesiastical deaneries of Ngara, Biharamulo and Chato with a 300,000 catholic population in 15 parishes.

Agriculture is the main economic activity of the people living in the Diocese, involving over 90% of the population. This refers to all the three districts. Due to a variety factors including the climatic conditions,  the rainfall pattern,  the water resources and soil conditions, some differences exist between the various areas as regards  agricultural productivity and  the living conditions of the people.

Leadership

Bishop Alfred Lanctot, M. Afr. (June 21, 1960 – May 30, 1969)

During his life time, his Motto was “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You receive without charge, give without charge” (Matthew 10:8).   As part of his evangelization efforts, gave priority to the opening of parishes and the building of  Churches in the entire diocese. New churches built during his time include those at  Bugene , Nyakahura, Rwambaizi, Isingiro, Bushangaro and Ntungamo and Rulenge Parishes.  He also opened the new parishes like Biharamulo and Chato.

The establishment of schools was another vision for the entire diocese so as to foster education to the people. He built middle schools for girls (boarding schools) at Bugene-Nyakasana and Ntungamo – Ngara.  He also built Katoke Junior Seminary that was started in 1964 in order to train the seminarians for the aim of becoming diocesan priests. Initially, Katoke Seminary offered Form I - II Studies after which the students had to continue with Form III – IV studies at Rubya Seminary in Bukoba Diocese. Presently, the Seminary offers studies from Pre-Form one to Form Six. The late Bishop Lanctot  also started the diocesan Congregation for the Nuns,The Franciscan Sisters of St.Bernadette of Lourdes –in short F.S.S.B,in 1968 when Rulenge Diocese was still the part of Bukoba Diocese. His vision in establishing this congregation was that the nuns would evangelize by teaching religious education.

Bishop Christopher Mwoleka (26.06.1969 – 08.11.1996)

Bishop Mwoleka was consecrated and installed the Bishop of Rulenge Diocese in 1969. From the beginning of his episcopate, he was guided by his Motto: “Ili wawe na umoja” This is a Swahili phrase meaning “May they all be one”( John 17:21). It is for this reason that he never ceased to talk and write about communal life, collaboration, sharing and  unity in the church.

The pastoral priority of building the Small Christian Communities (SCCs), was his paramount concern. Moved by the ideal of community life and supported by the pastoral plans of the AMECEA bishops, he dedicated himself to the promotion of small Christian Communities in the entire diocese. He was convinced that community life is indispensable for the renewal of the Church’s life and mission. He also introduced the  Integrated Community popularly and locally known as „Jumuiya ya Mkamilishano“   in 1980 with a small group of 12 people, lay people, priests and Bishop Mwoleka himself.  The members of the community promised to lead a common life in pooling together all their material and spiritual resources and live according to the Gospel. The main center of the Mkamilishano was in Bushangaro Parish-Karagwe.

 Bishop Mwoleka  resigned at the age of 69 because of the health problems, and this was announced officially on November 28, 1996 by His Holiness the late Pope John Paul II, who appointed Rev. Fr. Severine Niwemugizi to become the Bishop of Rulenge Diocese as the successor. Bishop Emeritus Mwoleka died on October 16, 2002.

Bishop Severine Niwemugizi (16.02.1997)

Bishop Severine Niwemugizi was consecrated and installed the Bishop of Rulenge Diocese on February 16, 1997. Since then, Bishop Severine has been a Bishop of Rulenge Diocese up to August 14, 2008 when the administrative district of Karagwe was spilt from Rulenge Diocese to form a new diocese of Kayanga and the Catholic Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara was created. Currently, Bishop Severine Niwemugizi is the Bishop of Rulenge-Ngara Diocese.

Under his leadership, the pastoral priorities are guided by the vision and mission of the diocese.  As regards the vision of the Diocese, „The Catholic Diocese of Rulenge- Ngara envisions a self- supporting church that leads to holistic liberation of all people in Rulenge- Ngara Diocese through the proclamation of the Gospel“.  The mission statement that guides the evangelization programme is „To proclaim the Good News of Salvation to all people within the Diocese of Rulenge- Ngara with renewed vigour and zeal (Lk. 4:18-19).

In line with this mission and vision, Bishop Severine promotes the development and use of available human, financial and material resources. His priorities include the mobilization, nurturing and support of vocations, development of human resorce through education and training, mobilization of the faithful’s participation in financially supporting the church, promotion of justice and peace and promotion of responsible use of financial and material resources.