Rev. Cyprian Binaka, C.S.C., has been elected as the first provincial superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross, East African Province of Priests and Brothers. East Africa is currently home to 77 professed Holy Cross priests and brothers, 39 temporary professed members, 11 novices, and 24 postulants.
The inauguration Mass occurred in the Virika Cathedral (built by Servant of God Vincent McCauley, first bishop of Fort Portal Diocese). Bishop Robert Muhiirwa of Fort Portal presided and preached. Superior General Br. Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., was in attendance along with the provincial superior of the United States Province, Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., accompanied by Br. William Zaydak, C.S.C., the provincial delegate from the Moreau Province. Holy Cross Mission Center Director Rev. Thomas Eckert, C.S.C., and several other U.S. missionaries who served in the former district, including Rev. Frank Murphy, C.S.C., Rev. Russell McDougall, C.S.C., Rev. William Blum, C.S.C., and Rev. Michael Mathews, C.S.C., were also present. It was a beautiful occasion to thank God for the many years of labor!
One of the many reasons the East African District of the Congregation of Holy Cross was elevated to a province was the steady growth of Holy Cross vocations in the region.
In a statement on the inauguration of the province, Fr. Cyprian told members of the press that the move attests to the growth in membership and ministries in East Africa. In addition, it “points to the region coming of age and having the ability to carry on the good work started by Holy Cross missionaries.”
“The Congregation of Holy Cross in East Africa has a significant number of indigenous African Holy Cross religious, who run some of the largest and vibrant parishes and institutions in dioceses,” Fr. Cyprian continues. “There is a continuous flow of vocations to the priesthood and the brotherhood.”
Before becoming a province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the region was a district under the supervision and support of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province.
During the Congregation’s General Chapter in Rome, Italy, in July 2022, the membership voted to make the District of East Africa a province. The decree stated that the new province would take effect on January 1, 2023.
“It is with joy and gratitude to God that the Congregation of Holy Cross in East Africa announces the inauguration of the province of East Africa,” Fr. Cyprian says. “This exciting news affirms the many years of good ministry in East Africa since November 4, 1958, when the Congregation of Holy Cross first established its presence here.”
He recounted what Servant of God Vincent McCauley wrote in April 1958 before he was sent on a two-week feasibility study of a potential Holy Cross mission in Uganda. “This is going a long way to look over a mission that three to 30 members of Holy Cross might work in all their lives.” Fr. McCauley later became the first Catholic Bishop of Uganda’s Fort Portal Diocese.
“Many years later, what originally started as a small mission, ends up playing an auxiliary supporting role in building the local church that has grown like a mighty tree,” Fr. Cyprian adds.
Fr. Cyprian noted that with fewer Holy Cross missionaries arriving from the Western world to serve in East Africa, Holy Cross in East Africa is living out the prophetic words of St. Pope Paul VI when he visited Uganda in 1969. “By now, you Africans are missionaries to yourselves. In other words, you must now continue upon this continent the building of the church.”
“This celebration is an expression of gratitude to God, Holy Cross missionaries, and lay collaborators who have for years worked hard to bring the work of Holy Cross in this part of the world to what it currently looks like.” Fr. Cyprian adds.
In addition to the men in formation, Holy Cross has eight parishes, five primary schools, two high schools, two technical schools, five healthcare institutions, and seven offices of Family Ministries in East Africa. And Ugandan-born Rev. Fred Jenga, C.S.C., serves as president of Holy Cross Family Ministries globally.
Holy Cross Congregation is also a founding member of two institutions of higher learning, namely, Nairobi-based Tangaza University College, and Philosophy Center of Jinja in Uganda.
The Congregation of Holy Cross also facilitated the founding of John Paul II Justice and Peace Centre in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.