Interfaith Prayers Held for Dr. Celestine Barigye, a ‘Rare Gem of This Generation’

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 a gift of life.
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 a gift of life.
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Last Wednesday marked a significant day at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, as a Thanksgiving Mass was organized to honor the Hospital Director, Dr. Celestine Barigye. Initially believed to be an internal event, it was impossible to prevent people from all walks of life who gathered at the hospital premises.

Spiritually speaking, it is both wholesome and fitting to express gratitude to God for the life of the man whose remarkable recovery lasted about four months. He had been diagnosed with a brain swelling that was effectively treated, leading to his impressive comeback.

The event, which was streamed live across various social networks, was graced by religious leaders from different denominations. Fr. Didas Tumwine, the Hospital Chaplain, led the Mass, and its central theme was drawn from Joshua 1:9, which states, “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 sign that God still intended to use him for His work on Earth. He further assured them that one’s position is not only a product of human effort but also divinely inspired.

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“It’s through His grace that Dr. Barigye is alive and well. No one knew who would survive— not even the hospital administration, the supportive staff, department heads, family, or relatives. We were all hopeful, and indeed, God made it possible,” he stated.

Dr. Deus Twesigye, a Senior Consultant General Surgeon who spoke on behalf of the hospital staff, mentioned that Dr. Barigye’s illness initially caused panic. However, his return brought joy to the Mbarara community and Uganda as a whole, reinvigorating the hospital’s spirit.

“Dr. Barigye is an exceptional man; we hold him dear. He’s a wonderful team player and a social gentleman. There’s so much to say about him. He’s the driving force behind many structures, including the perimeter wall that has brought order,” he remarked.

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He was also praised for his transformative influence, having advocated for various projects such as the administration block. Prior to his efforts, the administration was housed in the university building, which lacked adequate space.

Among his accomplishments, the successful restoration of Computed Tomography (CT) scan services was notable. “Upon his arrival, our CT scan services were nonfunctional, and the issue was identified. He showed courage by pursuing legal action, which resulted in the issue being resolved. Since then, the CT scan has remained operational. There’s much more to highlight about Dr. Barigye,” Dr. Twesigye added.

Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital serves as the teaching center of Mbarara University, with several staff members serving as both educators and clinicians. The harmonious relationship between these institutions demands a charismatic and accommodating leader, a role Dr. Barigye has excelled in.

“We value the partnership between the Hospital and the Medical School. As stewards, let us serve humanity and enhance these two entities,” stated Prof. Joseph Ngonzi.

Describing Dr. Barigye as a ‘rare gem of this generation,’ Prof. Joseph Ngonzi, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, prayed for his continued strength in performing good works entrusted to him by the Ugandan Government and God. His message was conveyed by the Hospital Public Relations Officer, as he was away on official business in Belgium.

Representing the MUST community, Prof. Nixon Kamukama, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of academics, delivered a poignant speech. He hailed Dr. Barigye as a remarkable mentor and visionary leader who significantly contributed to the growth of both MRRH and MUST.

“We thank God for granting him another chance. What we thought was the end turned out to be a turning point. We thank God for giving our mentor a second opportunity,” he expressed.

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Dr. Barigye’s sudden illness deeply affected Prof. John Iraka Owange, the Hospital Board Chairman. He described Dr. Barigye as a unifying figure who transcended differences in age and religious beliefs, emphasizing his potential to contribute further to the institution.

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

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

Mr. Robert Kanusu, the Resident Commissioner of Mbarara City South Division, joined the congregation to express gratitude to God for Dr. Barigye’s life. Kanusu, who served as the guest of honor, reflected on the unsolicited social media news that had shocked them. He praised God for restoring Dr. Barigye’s health.

“…And indeed, God has made it possible for us to encounter him, to interact with him in good health. Upon meeting him, you might even question whether he had been ill! His smile remains as radiant as ever; he continues to be joyful, remarkably encouraging, and inspiring,” he shared.

Sheikh Siraj Ntutumu, Fr Didas Tumwine, The Very Rev Bobs Mwesigye and Bp Cyrus Tayebwa during the Thanksgiving Prayers.
Sheikh Siraj Ntutumu, Fr Didas Tumwine, The Very Rev Bobs Mwesigye and Bp Cyrus Tayebwa during the Thanksgiving Prayers.

“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 and praise for all we have done here,” stated Sheikh Siraj Ntutumu, Secretary of Religious Affairs at UMSC’s 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 and bless the life of Dr. Celestine Barigye and his family. Bless them abundantly where they have lost strength, things, wealth, and time. Lord, today may You reward him with a double portion and preserve, protect, and cover him with Your precious blood that was shed on the cross,” conveyed Bishop Cyrus Tayebwa, the Provincial Overseer of Ankole National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches.

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

About the Author: Halson Kagure serves as the Public Relations Officer at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, a government hospital and teaching center of Mbarara University of Science and Technology, as well as other medical schools in the country.

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