Recounting the life, legacy of Bishop Emeritus Benjamin Ojwang

Gone to the Lord - Bishop Emeritus Benjamin Ojwang. Courtesy photo.

Kitgum The Rt. Rev. Benjamin Ojwang was the second bishop the Diocese of Kitgum from 2002 – 2017. He Benjamin was born on 15th December, 1952 to Theopilus Odwar and Dolika Atiko in Pader Kilak, Pader District.

Both of his parents passed away when he was a baby at 5 years. He later taken care of and brought up by his grandmother, Ms. Elizabeth Acalla, who also passed away when Benjamin was in Primary three – P3.

This required Benjamin to grow up with his uncles, Zebenia Onying, Jenani Keny Alaga and Yokokaci Layoo Olik. As a young man, Benjamin was gifted in playing drums. No any community within his home vicinity would organise Larakaraka without him playing musical instruments, especially the drums. In some instances, he would be carried shoulder high as he would be taken to perform in cultural dances.

Baptism and confirmation

In 1965 and 1967, Benjamin got baptised and confirmed in the Anglican Church in Pader and Kilak respectively. Between 1959 and 1964, Benjamin Ojwang attended Pader Kilak, Kwon Kic and Pajule Lacani primary schools.

Also, from 1965-1966, Benjamin did his junior secondary school education from Palabek and Lira Palwo respectively. From1967 to 1971, he attended Kololo Secondary School in Kampala and Teso College, Aloet.

The Man of God who’s now breathing in eternity had his turning point in life in 1975 when he committed his life to Christ. The succeeding year, Benjamin joined Bishop Tucker Theological College- Mukono to train for ordain ministry [Theology].

Two years after, in 1977, he fled to exile in Kenya following the murder of the then Archbishop, Janani Luwum by then President Idi Amin Dada.

In the same year, he joined St Paul United Theological College – Limuru, in Kenya where he obtained Higher Certificate in religious studies of the University of Nairobi.

In 1978 and 1979, respectively, he was ordained deacon and made priest by the Anglican Bishop, James Israel Mundia of North Maseno Diocese, Church of the Province of Kenya. He was posted and served as Curate and subsequently as Vicar of St Thomas Church, Nambale Parish, in north Maseno Diocese.

Upon his return from exile in Kenya, he served as Vicar of Christ church – Gulu from 1981 – 1984 in the diocese of northern Uganda. He got transferred to Patongo Parish in Agago Archdeaconry where he worked until 1986.

When the war broke out in August, 1986, Benjamin was displaced and first served briefly in St Augustine Church in Lira – Diocese of Lango, as assistant Vicar. In 1987, he moved to South Rwenzori Diocese in Kasese district. While there, he served in various capacities under Bishop Masereka.

Between 1988 and 1990, he studied at Kakoba National Teachers’ College, Mbarara where he obtained a diploma in education. Benjamin returned to Patongo in 1991, where he worked until 1994. Between 1994 and 1997, he studied at Bishop Tucker Theological College – Mukono where he obtained a Bachelor of Divinity.

Benjamin was posted by late Archbishop Janani Luwum as a tutor where he served in different positions until 2002. In 2001, the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Uganda that sat in Soroti elected Benjamin replacing Bishop McLeod Baker Ochola II. By the time he was elected Bishop, Benjamin was pursuing his Masters in Divinity from Uganda Christian University.

Benjamin Ojwang was consecrated and enthroned the second Bishop of the Diocese of Kitgum at All Saints’ Cathedral, Kitgum on Sunday, 24th February, 2002. He made numerous contribution.

Among numerous contributions to the Churchinclude expanding the Church geographically and programmatically. He opened four Archdeaconries and appointed qualified personnel to manage them. Every clergy was deployed and were active reaching out people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Benjamin was passionate about manpower development for the Church. He trained, ordained and canonized more clergy and laity than any time in the history of the Diocese of Kitgum.

On reconciliation, Bishop Benjamin teamed up with other peace lovers working tirelessly to ensure peace prevail in entire northern Uganda. He was captured by LRA rebels and escaped during exchange of gunfire between the rebel and the government forces.

He made several trips to participate in the Juba Peace talk in South Sudan. He fell sick pursuing peace in Sudan and was flown back to Uganda under emergency care.

Partnership and networking

Bishop Benjamin made local, national and international partnerships with local governments, Churches and other organisations in order to deliver comprehensive services to the people in the Diocese of Kitgum and beyond. He build partnership with: Food for the Hungry where quality health care services at New Life Medical Centre was enhanced, Lutheran World Federation, German exchange visits which is an annual event

He also build a resource centre that was once hired by the Gulu University as Kitgum Campus.

Bishop Benjamin initiated the construction of magnificent church building at Town parish, which foundation stone was laid by His Grace, Henry Luke Orombi.

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