DIOCESE OF SOROTI, UGANDA
2020 MISSION APPEAL PROJECTS
In 2019, Soroti Catholic Diocese embarked on two key projects that are critical for consolidation of the Faith at the centre and in the remote locations of the Diocese. The two key projects are construction of a proper cathedral for the Diocese, and opening of new parishes.
1. Cathedral Construction Project.
When the Diocese was erected in 1981, Immaculate Conception Church in Soroti town was designated to serve as the Cathedral until the establishment of a proper Cathedral. The church, built in 1960 with a sitting capacity of 1,000, was therefore never envisaged to be a Cathedral. As a consequence, Diocesan events, like Ordinations, have historically not been held in the Cathedral but rather outdoors, in tents, because these events draw in the excess of three thousand people.
Immaculate Conception church (old Cathedral)
To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Diocese (1981-2021) a campaign for the construction of a proper Cathedral, Regina Caeli was inaugurated in August 2019. A consultancy firm was contracted, and has completed all the architectural, structural and other essential designs, all of which have been approved by Soroti Municipal Authority. The next step, after the Corona Virus Pandemic, is to procure a contractor to commence with the actual construction works.
Regina Caeli Cathedral will have a sitting capacity of 4,000, and is designed to last at least 300 years. The new Cathedral is estimated to cost UGX 8 Billion (USD 2,2 Million). Local fundraising efforts have so far raised UGX 186,000,000 (USD 51,667). In addition, as has happened with other projects, the local community will provide local materials as well as labor for the project. The greatest components to these costs are manufactured building materials that include:
a) Cement for reinforced concrete of classes 10, 20 and 25;
b) Ribbed bars to BS 4449, of 12mm, 16mm, 20mm and 32mm thickness;
c) Steel roof structure materials: SHS wall plate of 200x100x4mm, SHS bottom chord of 60x40x4mm, SHS top chord of 50x50x4mm, Internal members and battens of 50x50x4mm, Z-purlins (bolted) of 150x50x3mm, I-Beams of 220x120x26.2mm, and I-Beam rafter of 360x170x57.1mm;
d) Decra roofing tiles; 300x250x2mm mild steel Grade GJ fascia plates;
e) Ceramic floor tiles; 25mm-thick polished terrazzo;
f) 4 – 8 mm stained and toughened window glass and glazing, with metal casement in panes 0.1-0.5 sqm;
g) First Grade Weatherguard emulsion paint and Silk Vinyl emulsion paint.
Some of these are not locally manufactured and as such need to be procured/imported from abroad in US Dollars. The proceeds from the mission appeals will therefore be dedicated to securing these items.
An artistic Impression of new Cathedral (Regina Caeli))
2. New Parishes.
The Diocese was erected in 1981 with 15 Church parishes. By then, there were only two civil districts, namely Soroti and Kumi. Within the last 40 years, in response to the increased population and the need to bring services closer to the people, the Government has created and established an additional 8 districts making it a five-fold increase to a total of 10 districts today. The Church parishes, on the other hand, only increased from 15 in 1981 to 26 in 2019, representing not even a complete two-fold increase!
In the mean-time, the spread of the Faith continues in leaps and bounds. In 2019 alone, there were 31,309 Infant Baptisms. Every single Church parish in the entire Diocese is filled beyond capacity at its principal Sunday liturgies.
The Diocese was left without a shepherd for slightly over 5 years after the second Bishop, Most Rev Emmanuel OBBO was elevated to Archbishop of Tororo, in January 2014. In March 2019, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Joseph Eciru Oliach to shepherd the people of God in the Diocese of Soroti. After his episcopal ordination in May 2019, he had 22,600 Confirmations between June and December 0f 2019 alone!
It is therefore evident that there is a dire need for pastoral care and services in the different corners of the Diocese. To meet this overwhelming need for pastoral services, the new bishop created 15 new parishes in the Summer of 2019. These were created by breaking up the largest of the existing 26 parishes. These new parishes are in dire need for buildings and other facilities (churches, rectories, halls and other health/ social/ educational amenities) to meet the pastoral and other needs of the people. The proceeds from this program will therefore be applied towards facilitating the development of these new parishes. The funds will especially be dedicated to the procurement of manufactured and/or imported building products (cement, iron bars, roofing metals, iron sheet and paint) to enable the construction of buildings and facilities (rectories, churches etc) in the new parishes.
Bishop Eciru poses for a photo with a section of Confirmed Christians at Anyara Parish
Typically, a 700 sitting capacity church with a complete steel roof will require the following quantities of manufactured construction materials: