What is special or unique about St. Joseph’s Cathedral? This is the first question to come into someone’s mind at the mention of this Cathedral but by the time you read about this place, you will understand why it is worth talking about or worth anyone’s attention thus you have to explore it during your visit to Uganda.
This Cathedral is a Roman Cathedral found within Gulu district in Northern Uganda and is the current seat of the Archbishop John Baptist Odama, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu district, about 6hrs drive from Kampala city. But what is special about the site? This Cathedral is actually a monument to the Roman Catholic Faith and was constructed by the Comboni Missionary Brothers.
Construction of St. Joseph’s Cathedral began in 1931 and was finalized by 1941 and presently seats up to 5000 people and it is said that the brotherhood made and baked over 800,000 bricks from River Oyitino from where the Christians and Catechumens also carried bricks on their heads to the building site every Sunday after Mass. This Church was later consecrated on the 13th June 1947 as the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Interestingly, the first two Priests- Rev Fr. John Onom and Donasyano Bala from the Northern Uganda region were ordained on the 24th December 1938 even when work was still in progress. The remains of former Bishops-Cypriano Kihangire and Angelo Negri are found at the Cathedral but on 6th February 1993, Pope John Paul II entered the Cathedral to adore the Holy Eucharist as thousands of people visited the place to see him and in 1994, the old roof with iron sheets were replaced with a copper roof.
Another renovation was done in 2000 when the original floor was replaced by a new one with the interior and exterior redecorated in 2000 and 2001 respectively. From its construction, it was run by the Comboni Missionaries until 2006, and the first Diocesan Priest to become a pastor of this Cathedral was Fr. Gaudensio Langol Olango from 2007 to 2008 when he finally died as a result of a road accident along the Gulu-Kampala Highway.
Faith-based tourism is one of the developing tourism sectors in Uganda and one of the important religious sites to explore during the Uganda holidays is the St. Joseph’s Cathedral found within the Gulu district in Northern Uganda. Special thanks to Entebbe Airport Car Rental services for offering our Team transportation to St. Joseph’s Cathedral Gulu. Our visit to this site introduced us to the history of Christianity-Catholicism in the Northern region and Uganda in general.