Our History

Our History

In his article on the golden jubilee of the priesthood of Fr. Vincent Kanyonza in 2009, the late Prof John Mary Waliggo noted that the creation of National seminaries in Uganda was a fruit of both the political independence and radical changes of Vatican II. These two took place in the early 60s. So, these years were full of changes in the outlook of formation and with new lenses of nationalism and national building. Like any other public servants, priesthood was also geared toward national identity. In this regard, the issue of national seminaries was widely discussed by ecclesiastical authorities. Waliggo stated: “The aims of moving from regional seminaries to national major seminaries were good, positive and commendable. National seminaries would tap a wider professional staff from all the major congregations and even beyond to improve the seminary formation. They would remove the unhealthy tensions which had existed among priests trained in regional seminaries. They would form a firm basis for unity and solidarity of the Catholic Church in Uganda.”

1960 In the late 1960s In the late 1960s, the Uganda Episcopal Conference decided to establish a National Major Seminary system and so between 1968-69, the Conference phased out regional seminaries and created one Major Seminary at Katigondo.
1964 Aim of the Uganda Hierarchy is one National Seminary In 1964, the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) agreed that the final aim of the Uganda Hierarchy is one National Seminary with an African Rector for all candidates to the priesthood (c/o Plenary meeting, April 17, 1964). This seminary was to replace the regional seminaries operating in the country at the time (St. Thomas Aquinas Katigondo for the White Father, St. Mary’s Ggaba Major Seminary for the Mill Hill Father, and Lacor Major Seminary Gulu for the Verona/Comboni Fathers). Vatican Two had called for the adequate formation f diocesan priests in the document Optatam Totius. The national seminary would form a firm basis for unity and solidarity of the Catholic Church in Uganda and help candidates grow up as friends and future collaborators in the mission throughout the entire country.
1965 Katigondo houses this national seminary By 1965, a decision had been taken to nationalize the existing seminaries. It had been agreed that Katigondo would house this national seminary, but soon the conference realized that the facilities at Katigondo would soon be inadequate for both philosophy and theology candidates from all over Uganda. The conference then resolved to build a new seminary in Kampala.
1966 Episcopal building committee for the new seminary On February 1966, an episcopal building committee for the new seminary was appointed by the conference. It was headed by Bishop Vincent MacCauley of Fort-Portal assisted by Bishop James Odongo of Tororo and Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu of Masaka. The committee explored the two proposed sites, that is, Nsambya Hill and Ggaba Hill – donated by the then Archbishop of Kampala, Archbishop Emmanuel Nsubuga. The committee settled for Ggaba hill. The work of construction started in late 1965 with landscaping and paying off of tenants. It took six years of planning, fundraising, and actual construction until the seminary was approved to be a habitable.
1970 Ggaba opens her doors to the first seminarians Hence, in January of 1970 Ggaba opened her doors to the first seminarians. the name was put under the patronage of the Blessed Mother Mary, the patron of the closed regional seminary on the same hill (today occupied by St. Mbaaga’s Seminary). all theology students at Katigondo Seminary were sent to Ggaba in January 1970. However, the official opening and dedication was done on October 21, 1970. Among those present was Msgr. Antonio Mazza, Secretary of St. Peter the Apostle, who had played a crucial role in funding of the seminary construction. By 2018, Ggaba National Seminary had registered 2,451 students and of those, 1,632 candidates had been ordained priests.