Father Silvino Ndayambaje, parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, is celebrating the silver jubilee of his priesthood.
He was born and raised in Uganda, Africa. Father Ndayambaje had visited the United States but did not begin serving here until October 2016, when he was first assigned to SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Huntington. Then last year, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades called him to his present assignment at the cathedral. “I am thankful to Bishop Rhoades from the bottom of my heart for accepting me to serve in his diocese,” he said.
Father Ndayambaje recounted his early childhood and the strong influence of devout parents who shared their faith with him and his four siblings through home prayer, good example and attendance at Mass and the sacraments. He recalled, as an 8-year-old, being awed by the holiness of a missionary priest and by the throngs of parishioners that lined up for confessions. But he credits the influence of the same kindly missionary priest who visited his village church and shared his tea with the children there for opening his mind to the possibility of a religious vocation.
At the age of 14, that discernment prompted him, along with two of his close friends, to apply for seminary training.
The aspiring priest attended St. Mary’s Minor Seminary in Fort Portal, Uganda, for six years. He then attended Kitigondo National Major Seminary, where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and Ggaba National Major Seminary, where he got a theology degree. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Robert Muiirwa of the Diocese of Fort Portal, Uganda, on Aug. 22, 1993.
Like many others from his country, Father Ndayambaje said he greatly admires and prays to the Ugandan martyrs, “men who gave up their lives and died for their faith.” They remain an inspiration to himself and millions of others. He noted the recent June 3 commemorative date which was observed at the Ugandan Martyrs Shrine Namugongo in his home country.
As he reflected on his 25-year-jubilee, Father Ndayambaje said that if he were to give advice to the current seminarians, it would be that prayer should be the first tool in their ministry, then devotion to our Mother, Mary. He would advise them to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to stay “focused” and to remember why they decided on a vocation.
“A priest’s mission is to help people know and love God,” he said. “Having walked this journey, I promise them my prayers … I know it’s not easy.”
As for himself, Father Ndayambaje said he simply wants to be a good priest and to carry out his priestly ministry the best he can in the years to come.
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