On Thursday 7 July 2022, the Kalongo community thronged the Town in a procession to receive the relics of Fr. Dr. Ambrosoli from Italy, singing hymns of praise, traditional bwola dance and ululations.
These were accompanied by Fr. Cosimo de Laco the Coordinator of the Comboni Missionaries to the Vatican, former Parish Priest of Holy Rosary Parish Gulu and former Director of Ngetta Catechist Center.
Part of the process of beatification includes the exhumation of the mortal remains the servant of God. The relics are then distributed or displayed for public or private devotion. Some of those relics were prepared for the celebration of the 20th Nov 2022 but are not yet objects of devotion since the beatification has not taken place.
This event was just a welcome of the relics and the priest who accompanied them.
Businessmen and women, Public Servants and those from the Private Sector, the Religious, Nurses and Health workers from Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital, Students from Kalongo Technical Institute and St. Mary’s Midwifery School, those from all the Secondary Schools in Kalongo Town Council as well as pupils from the Primary Schools within Kalongo Town Council estimated at more than a thousand welcomed the relics of Fr. Dr. Ambrosoli. The people were exhilarated that their very own Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli commonly known by the name Dr. Aburojoli by the local community has finally returned home.
According to Fr. Ramon Vergas the Parish Priest of Kalongo Catholic Parish, the arrival of the relics (well preserved bones for veneration) that has been prepared for the celebration of the 20th November 2022 are not yet objects of devotion since the beatification has not taken place. The relics will be distributed and displayed for public or private devotion once the beatification is done.
Fr. Cosmos in his short message to the Christians in the Kalongo Catholic Church where he was received, thanked them for the warm welcome which signifies the immense love the population had towards Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli. He said that Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli was a gift from God to the people of Kalongo and therefore the one who gave this gift should deserve more praise, and as such it’s important that we love and praise God at all times.
He also said that he was sent to do this work just like John the Baptist who came ahead to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ; in the same way he is also in Kalongo to prepare the way for the beatification of Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli. He said Fr. Joseph Ambrosoli was a selfless person who was humble and always at the service of others and he also knew him as a person who regularly received the sacrament of penance in spite of his righteousness. He therefore implored upon the Christians to emulate the works of Fr. Ambrosoli while giving thanks and praise to God who sent him amongst them.
Amidst the congregation were leaders from the community namely former MP Agago North Hon. Professor Morris Ogenga Latigo, the Vice Chairman Agago District Local Government Hon. Ocana Morris, Chairman Urban Council III Kalongo Town Council Hon.
Olaa Elijah who also doubles as the Kalongo Chairperson Central Organising Committee for beatification of Fr. Dr. Ambrosoli and his Vice Chair Mr. Quinto Owot among others. In their brief remarks, they thanked the community for showing their love for Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli by coming in big numbers to welcome his relics, they further encouraged them to work hard and pledged to work with them towards the success of the forthcoming beatification ceremony.
Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli who was born in 1932 in Ronago Italy, came to Kalongo in 1956 and helped open Kalongo Hospital (later named after him ‘Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital’) and St. Mary’s Midwifery School where he spent most of his adult life. On the 13th February 1987 Kalongo hospital and school were closed and he was evacuated to Lira where he died a month or so later on the 27th march 1987 and was temporarily buried. His remains were exhumed and reburied in Kalongo Cemetery on the 10th April 1994 in accordance with his wish to remain with his people.
Fr. Dr. Ambrosoli was truly a servant of God. Once again his remains were exhumed from Kalongo and the bones taken to the Vatican in Rome.
On the 28th /11/2019, Pope Francis authorized the congregation for the causes of saints to promulgate among others the miracle attributed to the intercession of the vulnerable servant of God Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli.
This occurred in St. Kizito Hospital Matany in Karamoja in 2008 to a beneficiary called Lucia Lumukol who was dying of septicemia and was miraculously healed after her relatives praying for the intercession of Fr. Dr. Joseph Ambrosoli.
The authenticity of this miracle has made him eligible for beatification slated for the 20th of November 2022 and that is why today his relics has been returned to Kalongo ahead of the beatification.
Why the bodies of potential saints are exhumed
Exhumation of the bodies of potential saints takes place after the cause for sainthood has been initiated by the local bishop and approved by Rome, at which time the person is given the title “Servant of God”. The body of the Servant of God is then exhumed to exhibit, protect and reserve it for proper veneration.The relics of a saint are considered by Catholics to be powerful and the source of miraculous healings and assistance with exorcisms. Once a person is identified to have lived a heroic life by the local bishop, it is the Church’s responsibility that such precious relics be protected and cared for in the most dignified manner.Catholics believe the saints in heaven are at work and they love to bestow benefits upon them. If God has ordained His miracles to continue to be channelled through the relics of the saints, they believe the saints would love to maximize that benefit. Using relics for veneration, healing and other ministries, therefore, is not considered to be an act of disrespect, but an act of love — to want to be loved by God through the saints in the way God chooses.
Obonyo Alex is The Kalongo Times, Bureau Chief, Kalongo Town Council. He currently serves on the Board of Governors at St. Charles Lwanga’s College Kalongo and on the Pader Abim Community Multipurpose Electric Co-operative Society Limited (PACMECS); a cooperative dealing with the distribution of electricity in the northern service territory. He is a member of the Board of Directors chairing its Finance and Human Resource Committee. Between 2016 to July 2018 he also served on the Board of Governors at St. Kizito Hospital Matany in Karamoja. Alex worked at Dr Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital for 28 years (1990 to 2018), and for 14 of those years, he was the Hospital Administrator. He has a Masters of Science in Health Services Management and a bachelor’s degree in Administrative Studies. Obonyo Alex is also a local Kalongo businessman.