Tag Archives: Uganda

A Journey to Sainthood…meet Venerable Giuseppe Ambrosili

Venerable Giuseppe Ambrosoli                                                     comboni.org

By Larry Peterson

The woman was only twenty years old and was dying of Septicemia (blood poisoning). It was October 25, 2008, and on that day, her baby had already been lost, and Lucia Lomokol, seemed destined to follow her child in death. All means known to the doctors to reverse Lucia’s condition had failed, and there was no hope to save her.

Doctor Eric Dominic, a physician from Turin, reached into his pocket and pulled out a small prayer card. It was the holy card of Servant of God, Father Giuseppe Ambrosili. Doctor Dominic placed the holy card on Lucia’s pillow and asked the young woman’s relatives and all else who were present to pray to Father Guiseppe for Lucia’s recovery. They all did as requested, and the next morning, Lucia Lomokol was alive, well,  and her infection was gone.  No one thought such a thing was possible.

Giuseppe Ambrosili was born on July 25, 1923, in Ronago, Italy, a small town in northern Italy five miles from the Swiss border. He was the seventh son of Giovanni Ambrosili and Palmira Valli. Guiseppe did well in grade school and went to high school in nearby Como, Italy. In 1942, after finishing high school, he moved on and attended the College of Milan, but World War II disrupted his studies.

He became part of the Italian underground, and in 1943 he pledged to help save as many Jewish people.  Giuseppe and others worked clandestinely to hide them and get them safe passage to the Swiss border. The alternative for them was the concentration camp. If Giuseppe or his cohorts had been caught it would have meant their immediate execution.

Giuseppe did survive the war.  His ultimate calling had always been to the priesthood, but in 1946, he returned to the College of Milan. On July 28, 1949, he was awarded a degree as a Doctor of Medicine. Giuseppe then headed home to the seminary located in Venegona (also in northern Italy) to study to receive Holy Orders. He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1955. The Archbishop of Milan presiding over his ordination was Archbishop Giovanni Montini, who would become Pope St. Paul VI.

He was now a priest who had also been schooled in medicine and surgery. He then moved on to get a Tropical Medicine Diploma with the goal of eventually tending to the poor and deprived in Africa. Upon completion of his training, he announced to his mother and the rest of his family that his ultimate calling was to be a missionary. He told them, “God is love, they are suffering neighbors, and I am their servant.”

He became part of the Congregation of the Comboni Missionaries, and in 1956 he left for Africa. He was sent to a  small village in a town called Kalongo. This was located in northern Uganda, and he was put in charge of the medical dispensary at the outpost. He would remain at this place for the next 32 years.

During Father Giuseppe’s tenure at the dispensary, he transformed it into the Kalongo Hospital. Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) was quite prevalent at the time, and the lepers were kept isolated in a place called the “leprosarium.” Care at these places was of poor quality, so Father Giuseppe began the “St. Mary’s School of Midwifery” training Ugandans to be the caregivers of the lepers.

Father Giuseppe transformed the methods for leprosy care. The first thing he did was acknowledge those with leprosy were, foremost,  people with an illness. These people deserved the same dignity and treatment as all others. Then he incorporated the ‘leprosarium” into being part of the hospital. The lepers became patients like all the other patients, and Father made sure they were treated as such.

In February of 1987 an insurrection erupted in Uganda, and Father Giuseppe and his hospital had to be evacuated. The hospital was burned to the ground by the insurrectionists. The humble priest, who only wanted “to be His servant for people suffering,” died March 27, 1987, at the Camboni Mission in Lira. The cause of death was kidney failure. (A little bit of “heartbreak” probably was also involved).

Today the Kalongo Hospital is called the Dr. Ambrosili Memorial Hospital. It has 350 beds and treats more than 60,000 people a year. He is remembered in Uganda as the “Doctor of Charity.”

Giuseppe Ambrosoli was elevated to the rank of Venerable on December 17, 2015, by Pope Francis. On November 28,2019, the Holy Father attributed the recovery of Lucia Lomokol, to the intervention of  Giuseppe Ambrosoli. He will be beatified sometime in 2020 to the rank of the “Blessed.”

Venerable Giuseppe Ambrosoli, please pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This kid from Iowa grew up to be a Bishop in Uganda, served in all four sessions of Second Vatican Council, and his cause for sainthood has been sent to Rome.

Servant of God Vincent McCauley              Congregation of Holy Cross

By Larry Peterson

Vincent Joseph McCauley was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 8, 1906. His dad, Charles, worked as an installer for AT&T and his mom stayed home taking care of the six kids of whom Vincent was the oldest.  Vincent’s parents were active and devout Catholics; dad was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and mom was active in the Rosary Altar Guild and parish prayer groups. The McCauley children grew up knowing what it meant to be Catholic.

During the fall of 1924, during his first semester at Creighton College, members of the Congregation of Holy Cross came to St. Francis Xavier Church to conduct a parish mission. Vincent, who was 18 at the time, had a life-changing experience. The mission sparked within him a call to the priesthood.

His family was stunned. He had never expressed an interest in a religious life. But he wrote to the vocation director that a calling to the priesthood “has been the aim of my life for many years. Trusting that God will it, my only desire now is a favorable reply from you.”

Vincent McCauley did, in fact, receive a “favorable reply” and on July 1, 1925, entered the novitiate. He professed his first vows one year later and took his perpetual vows on July 2, 1929. He then was sent off to Foreign Missionary training in Washington D.C. After completing his training there, he had one more stop to make. The date was  June 24, 1934; he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John Noll at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Great Depression of the 1930s left its boot-heel on many a person in America. It even affected missionaries. Father Vincent was trained in missionary work, but the depression had left the Holy Cross Order short on funds. Instead of going overseas, Father Vincent was assigned to the faculty at the congregation’s seminary in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He would remain here for the next two years.

In 1936 Father Vincent was sent to East Bengal to be the rector of a minor seminary. During his time there he learned much about indigenous people.  In 1944, because of poor health, he had to return to the United States. He would spend the next fourteen years working in Washington D.C. It was during this time that he began treatments at the Mayo Clinic for skin cancer, an affliction he had been battling most of his adult life.  But his experiences in Bengal had prepared him for the mission work that would come his way; serving in East Africa.

In early 1958, Father McCauley and Father Arnold Fell were sent to Uganda to check on establishing a community mission under the Holy Cross umbrella. Bishop Jean Ortiz of Mbarra, wanted the “White Fathers”  to establish a new diocese in West Uganda. McCauley wrote, “Unless something changes our impression, this is a great opportunity for Holy Cross.”

They submitted a very favorable report. The job was entrusted to Father McCauley. He arrived back in Uganda on November 4, 1958. It took only three years for Father McCauley to establish schools and churches in the region. The Holy Cross Order, under the guidance of the priest from Iowa, was about to open a new Catholic Diocese in Fort Portal, Uganda.

Having been the effective and inspiring guiding force in establishing the new Diocese of Fort Portal, Father Vincent was consecrated the first bishop of Fort Portal on May 18, 1961. Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston was the presider.

Bishop McCauley immediately set out to organize and promote the Catholic Church in East Africa, He was so successful at his work that he was invited to represent at the Second Vatican Council. His opinions on missionary work in Africa regarding finances, and forming catechesis and how to overcome conflict among different tribes in the area was highly regarded by the council. It was a challenge for sure because there were many cultures and nationalities mixed together.

The baseball playing priest from Iowa did all these things while having to endure over fifty surgeries for his chronic skin cancer. In 1976 he had open heart surgery, having a plastic aorta placed into his heart. Then in 1982, suffering from lung cancer, he agreed to another surgery. He died during the operation. The date was November 1, 1982; the Feast of All Saints. He would become a part of their team.

In 2006 Bishop Vincent J. McCauley was declared a Servant of God and his cause is now before the Congregation of Saints in Rome.

We ask Servant of God, Vincent J. McCauley to pray for us.

copyrigh©Larry Peterson 2019