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Interfaith prayers held for Mbarara Hospital Director Dr Celestine Barigye

Prof Iraka Owange, the MRRH Board chair (‘in kanzu’) led the MRRH & MUST staff during the cake cutting ceremony. This was performed to thank God for rewarding the Hospital Director Dr Celestine Barigye a gift of life. [Photo by Baker Kwikiriza]

By Halson Kagure

Mbarara, (UG): Wednesday, August 23, 2023, was a ‘D-Day’ at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital as a Thanksgiving Mass was organized for the Hospital Director Dr Celestine Barigye.

Earlier thought to be an internal arrangement, it was irresistible to refrain from people from all walks of life who thronged the hospital premises.

Heavenly speaking, it’s healthy and fit to say God thank you for the life of the man whose astonishing recovery lasted for about four months.

He had been diagnosed with a swelling on the brain which was effectively dealt with, catapulting his fresh comeback.

The function which was streamed live across different social networks was graced by religious leaders from different denominations.

Fr. Didas Tumwine, the Hospital Chaplain led the mass, and the main theme was extracted from Joshua 1:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”.

Fr. Tumwine reminded the congregation that Dr Barigye’s healing was a gesture that God still wanted to use him to do His work on this planet Earth.

He further assured them that the position one is holding is not only by human making but divinely inspired. 

“It’s through His goodness that Dr Barigye is alive and fit. Who knew who would come alive, not even the hospital administration, supporting staff, different heads of departments, family and relatives. We were all expectant and indeed God made it”, Fr Tumwine said.

Dr Deus Twesigye, a Senior Consultant General Surgeon who spoke on behalf of the hospital staff said that the Hospital Director’s sickness threw them in panic mode. 

But, his return stirred happiness among Mbarara community and Uganda at large and the Hospital is at it again.

“Dr Barigye is a unique gentleman, we love him, he is a very good team player and a social gentleman. There is a lot to talk about him. He is the one behind most of these mushrooming structures including the perimeter wall which has created sanity.”.

He was further talked about as a transformative man who lobbied for many projects such as the administration block.

To Dr Twesigye, for long, the administration was housed in the university building with inadequate space to accommodate administrators.

The functionalization of Computed Tomography (CT) scan services couldn’t be omitted from the catalogue of his achievements.

“When he came in he found our CT scan services were grounded and the cause was known; he took some courage and took some members to courts of law, they lost a case and rectified the problem. Ever since the CT scan has never broken down, there are a lot of things to talk about Dr Barigye”, he added.

Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital is the teaching center of Mbarara University with some of the staff serving as both lecturers and clinicians in the hospital.

The prevailing harmonious existence between the two institutions calls for a charismatic and accommodative leader which Dr Barigye has achieved.

“We cherish the partnership between the Hospital and the Medical School. As stewards, let us serve humanity and make these two entities better”, Prof. Joseph Ngonzi noted.

Prof Ngonzi, who is the Dean Faculty of Medicine described Dr Barigye as a ‘rare gem in this generation’ as he prayed for his strength to continue performing good works that the Government of Uganda and God entrusted him with.

His note address was delivered by the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Public Relations Officer Halson Kagure as he has been in Belgium for official errands. 

Mbarara University community was represented by Prof Nixon Kamukama, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of academics and his speech was spot-on.

A soft-spoken Prof Kamukama hailed him as a great mentor and a developmental leader who has greatly contributed to the growth of MRRH and MUST.

 “We thank God because He has given him another chance. What we thought to be the end of the road turned out to be a corner. We thank God for giving our mentor a second chance”, he said.

Prof. John Iraka Owange, the Hospital Board Chairman says that Dr Barigye is a great friend and his sudden sickness made him fall sick. He described him as a man who has united people regardless of age, religious creed adding that he still has a lot to do for this institution.

“Barigye represents that group of people who don’t see the difference between the Greek and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Tutsi and Hutu, is that kind of person; May God bless him”, he says. 

Mr Robert Kanusu, the Deputy RCC Mbarara City South Division addressing the congregation.

Mr Robert Kanusu, the Mbarara City South Division Resident Commissioner joined the congregation to thank God for the life of Dr Barigye.

Kanusu, who was the guest of honor, reminisces about unsolicited social media news which he said shocked them as he praised God for restoring his health.

“…And indeed, God has made it possible for us to meet him, to interface with him in good health. When you meet him, you may even wonder whether he has been sick! His smile remains standard as it was, he remains jolly, very encouraging and inspiring’, he says.

Men of God Ask the Lord…….

Religious leaders from different denominations leading the congregation to sing praise and worship songs. Photo Credit: Baker kwikiriza

 “…. In the name of the Almighty Allah the most gracious, the most merciful praise be to Allah the cherisher and sustainer of the world

We thank you for sustaining us. We thank you for sustaining Dr Barigye. May the Almighty Allah give us strength, praise all we have done here”, Sheikh Siraj Ntutumu, Secretary Religious Affairs UMSC, Mbarara branch. 

“…..On behalf of Dr Celestine Barigye and his wife Ruth Birungi, we join our faith today to ask you Lord to forgive us where we didn’t do the right thing and where we did the right thing oh God I pray that you bless this function, bless the life of Dr Celestine Barigye and his family, bless with double portion where they have lost a lot strength, things, wealth, time. Lord, today may you reward him with a double portion and preserve him, protect him, cover him with precious with your precious blood that was shed on the cross….”, Bishop Cyrus Tayebwa, the Provincial Overseer of Ankole National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches

“Father Lord we are ending this service but we are commissioning you to go and tell others that God heals. And you did it many times in the bible even today… we can witness that Jesus heals… Father Lord we are going and you do promise us in psalms 121 that I shall ever be with you as ever you go out and even going in.., May you extend our thanksgiving to that great man Dr Celestine Barigye and Ruth his wife. We thank you for the Administration, MUST administration and progress we see because of the good work relationship with the Director….”, The Very Rev. Canon Bobs Mwesigye, Dean of Ankole Diocese

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About the Author: Halson Kagure is the Public Relations Officer of Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, a Government Hospital serving as a teaching center of Mbarara University of Science and Technology and other Medical Schools in the country.



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