The diocesan Pontifical Mission Societies has welcomed its new director. Father Justus Ndyamukama, native of Tanzania, East Africa, will help support the Catholic faith in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The Pontifical Mission Societies are comprised of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, and the Holy Childhood Association. The diocesan office's mission is to assist the people of the diocese, young and old, to develop an authentic missionary spirit by encouraging support of missionaries throughout the world with prayers and sacrifice, assisting them financially and welcoming them on visits home. As director, Father Ndyamukama's role is to spread word of the needs of the mission parishes throughout the Diocese of Buffalo.
"My plan now is to go to the parishes and share with the parishioners about the missions - what the missions are and what the missions are working here in the United States and outside the United States," Father Ndyamukama said.
Born into an already large family in Mwanza, Tanzania, in 1968, the eighth of 10 children grew up as a peasant. His parents survived by selling coffee, bananas and beer, all of which were plentiful in the area, so prices were low. His parents were strong in the Catholic faith and sent their children to a Catholic education.
"I attended Church every Sunday and sometimes during weekdays," he said. "In the family, we said daily morning prayers, evening prayers and the rosary."
After Mass, the children were required to explain the sermons to their parents, which made the young man pay close attention. By the age of 10, he was serving at the altar.
"Seeing the way the priest celebrated Mass and the way he dressed, I wished one day I should be like him," he recalled. "I remember in my childhood as we were playing with other children from the neighborhood, we formed a congregation, acting as if we were gathered in the church for Mass."
While his friends took on the roles of choir members, catechists and altar servers, Father Ndyamukama took on the role of priest.
"I dressed traditionally like a priest," he said. "I said all the prayers I remembered the priest said during Mass. I did all the gestures the priest did during his celebration of the Mass. I guess it is where I started exploring my ambition of becoming a priest."
Father Ndyamukama completed elementary school and continued studies until 1993, when he joined the mandatory National Service. He then studied philosophy and theology in Africa. In August 2001, he was ordained a priest.
After a brief stint as parochial vicar, Father Ndyamukama became pastor of St. Peter Apostle Church. Along with celebrating the sacraments, he taught religion.
"I involved myself in developing projects where in collaboration with the people we were able to build four outstation churches, the rectory for the priests, and we installed the pump for safe water for the parishioners," he said.
He followed this with clinical pastoral work and teaching at the local seminary. He did not have an actual degree so his bishop allowed him to come to the United States to continue his studies. D'Youville College in Buffalo provided a scholarship to him, and that's how he ended up in Buffalo. He graduated in December 2014.
Along with his duties with the Pontifical Mission Societies, Father Ndyamukama celebrates Latin Mass at St. Rose of Lima, St. Anthony parishes in Buffalo and helps out at Our Lady Help of Christians in Cheektowaga when needed.
Father Ndyamukama succeeds Father Ronald P. Sajdak, who held the position for five years. Father Sajdak is current the pastor of St. Martin de Porres and St. Lawrence parishes in Buffalo, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Harris Hill.