A brief history of IHMR

The Institute of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix- Ggogonya (IHMR), is of a diocesan rite and was founded by the late Archbishop Joseph Louis Cabana on the 21st of April 1948 at Bugonga convent, Entebbe. Cabana was one of the members of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, commonly known as White Fathers. He came to Uganda in 1924 and in December of that very year was posted to Bukuumi Parish for his first apostolate.

 Being a diligent young priest who had successfully completed the construction of Mubende Parish within a very short time, Cabana was in 1929 appointed by Bishop Henry Streitcher, the Vicar Apostolic of the Vicariate of Uganda at that time, to be the Treasurer General for the Vicariate.

 This was an extremely demanding job in vast a vicariate that was comprised of the current  Kampala Archdiocese, Kasana Luweero, Kiyinda- Mityana, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Hoima, Fort Portal and Kasese dioceses plus some parts of Busia and Zaire. Since the treasury headquarters were located at Bugonga – Entebbe, Cabana moved and resided there in order to execute with ease all the duties pertaining to his new apostolate.

 By that time, the Sisters of Mary Reparatrix  (MR) had settled in Bugonga for 17 years, for they had arrived in Uganda in November, 1912 at the invitation of Bishop Henry Streitcher, to intercede for the success of the mission of evangelization in the vicariate of Uganda.

 Whereas the MR Institute is both contemplative and active, the mission for which it had been invited needed more devotion to prayer than active apostolate, that it led almost a purely contemplative life. Yet they had a lot of house chore demands such as cooking, house keeping, laundry as well as teaching catechism to the pupils of the nearby St. Agnes Bugonga Primary school. For that

reason, they requested Bishop Streitcher to grant them permission to get some young women to assist them in this active side of life, while they devoted much of their time to the contemplative side, particularly the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Why this adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?   For Reparation: the Charism of the Sisters of Mary Reparatrix.

 It was during his interactions with the Sisters of MR at Bugonga that Cabana encountered these young women, the “helpers/auxiliaries” of the Sisters of MR, a new name they had acquired in 1927, before Cabana’s appointment to the office of the Treasurer General. In their minds, the “helpers” were convinced that they were  Religious members of the MR Institute – given the new robe they had received and the promise of obedience they had made to the Superior of the Sisters of MR at Bugonga. Canonically, however, they were not religious since they never underwent the official religious formation and had not even taken the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Though they had left their respective homes to pursue Religious life, the “helpers” never knew this difference which was clear only to the Sisters and to Fr. Cabana. On several occasions, Cabana appealed to Ecclesiastical authorities and the Superiors of the Sisters to change the status of the “helpers” to full religious membership, but all in vain because, their Constitutions then, was not open to admit native sisters to their Institute.

An opportune time arrived when Cabana was appointed the Apostolic Vicar of the Vicariate of Uganda, replacing Bishop Michaud whom the Lord had called to Himself. That was in the year 1947.  By 21st April 1948, Archbishop Cabana had already accomplished the process of founding an Institute for the Ugandan natives, out of the young women who had been acting as “helpers” of MR Sisters of Bugonga, Entebbe. He entrusted their formation to the Sisters of MR and the following members (once “helpers” or MR sisters)  made their first profession on 2nd May 1949:

  • Rev. Sr. Maria Majella Nambi

  • Rev. Sr. M. Joseph Kawala

  • Rev. Sr. M. Agnes Nakanwagi

  • Rev. Sr. M. Bertha Nagawa

  • Rev. Sr. M. Immaculate Nandawula

  • Rev. Sr. M. Theresa Nanziri

  • Rev. Sr. M. Bernadette Nansikombi

  • Rev. Sr. M. Augustino

  • Rev. Sr. M. Aloysious

 After a period of ten years in 1959, some other members had joined the Institute and among all these members four of them were allowed to make their perpetual vows and these were:

  • Rev. Sr. M. Majella Nambi

  • Rev. Sr. M. Joseph Kawala

  • Rev. Sr. M. John Sardinians

  • Rev. Sr. M. Timothy Nambi

 The new Institute was given the name, “The Congregation of the African Sisters of Mary Reparatrix ”.   There was confusionbetween this name of the new Institute and that of the sisters of ‘Mary Reparatrix’ (MR), who were their formators. In 1963 Archbishop Kiwanuka wrote to Rome seeking for permission to change the name of the new Institute to ‘the Congregation of African Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On 12th October 1963, the Holy See granted the request as per letter, Prot. NO. 4062/63, signed by His Excellency, P. Sigismondi. The 7th General Chapter of the Institute through His Eminence Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala the then Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kampala, sought further permission to Rome to change the name of the Institute to “The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix-Ggogonya”  (IHMR). This name was to enable the Institute capture the mind of their Founder which was REPARATION. This permission was granted on 11th September 1996, Prot. n. DD 2418 – 1/96.  

Like their Mothers and formators, the Sisters of IHMR, were to maintain the same Charism of Reparation. They were also to remain contemplative and active, committing sufficient time to the work of evangelization without neglecting the contemplative dimension through worthy celebration of the Eucharist, mortification, praying the rosary and above all adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

According to Archbishop Cabana, the founder of the IHMR Institute, people are falling into sin partially because of their ignorance of God. It is therefore mandatory for the IHMR Sisters to evangelize God’s people by teaching catechism especially to children and women and to witness to Christ through their vowed life in all their apostolate. Through prayer and work, the IHMR sisters, following the example of the Blessed Mary, are to constantly unite themselves with the heart of Mary  to do God’s will in humility, charity and obedience, as a sacrifice of reparation for the salvation of souls. In other words, Cabana intended his new Institute to be a home of other Mary’s for Jesus after the inspiration of Mother Mary of Jesus, the Foundress of MR Sisters. It is believed that our Lady appeared to Mother Mary of Jesus on 8th December 1854 at Bauffe Chapel- Belgium, with this message highlighting the need for reparation:

“Her mother’s heart was suffering from no longer being there to surround Him and have Him surrounded with adoration, respect, tenderness and love…. she told me (Mary) of her desire to see herself replaced on earth by souls that would have a tenderness and quite special respect for her divine Son, with that loving delicateness that is found within a mother’s heart.”

 It is against this background that IHMR Institute took up the Charism of Reparation. It moved from Entebbe to Ggogonya on 2nd March 1959, by the guidance of Bishop Joseph Kiwanuka Nnakabaale. The Institute received its first native Superior General Sr. Maria Yoanna Omuganzi Naluyimba on 20th September 1962 after the European predecessors; Mother Antione ( 1948- 1960) and Mother Alvaro (1960- 1962). Other Superior Generals after Sr. Yoanna are:  Mother M. Margaret Nalwoga (1970-1980), Mother M. Germina Nakibuule- RIP (1980-83), Mother M. Benedicta M. Nalukenge (1983- 95), Mother M. Lawrence Namata (1995-2007), Mother M. Anne Christine Kizza (2007 to date).

Compiled by Sr. Yonna Omuganzi the first African Superior General of the Institute

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