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Nakakeeto, Maria Levocata
1960 to 2014
Catholic Church 
Uganda 

 

Maria Levocata Nakakeeto was born at Kyamaganda, Masaka, Uganda, the child of Catholic parents, Matia Mayanja of the heart clan and Theresa Nakibuuka of the Ngonge clan, on January 25, 1960. She received her primary education at Kyamaganda Girls Primary School. She did her secondary school education at St. Bernard’s Kisweera and continued to Nkumba University for a certificate in secretarial studies. After her studies, Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu got her a job at Bukalasa minor seminary where she worked as a secretary for 25 years. Nakakeeto died abruptly on February 3, 2014. She was found in her bed, having died peacefully in her sleep. She was buried on February 4, 2014.

Maria Levocata Nakakeeto was a dedicated, compassionate and professional worker. She did her work with dedication and extraordinary promptness. She was always diligent and meticulous in her work as a secretary and so created peace for both staff and students: her efficiency meant that mistakes were not made. She was hardworking and worked overtime, without asking for extra pay, for the good of the seminary and the seminarians. She did this especially during the examination periods and when holidays were approaching. [1] Her dedication to the seminary was also manifest in her discretion and respect for the confidentiality of the seminary.

Brought up by a tough father and serious mother, Nakakeeto was a strict disciplinarian. She wanted the children at her home to grow up to be good human beings and good Christians. She wanted to instil them with the right human, religious and Christian values. She was never afraid of rebuking and correcting those in error, even sometimes using the cane. But she did it as a true parent both to her own relatives and to all those who needed help. In her own village, every child called her aunt. She had no biological children of her own but all the children in the village recognized her as their parent. [2]

Trained by Bishop Ddungu and Fr. John Mary Waliggo, Nakakeeto was a wonderful counsellor. Many people, including those older than her, recognized this gift and would go to her for help. Despite her busy schedule, Nakakeeto always found time for people. It is particularly interesting that many priests and members of the religious community sought her counsel which she always gave freely. She had an unusual ability to tell people the truth to their face but had developed the art of doing it without hurting them. She would speak what she felt without fear or favor. [3]

Nakakeeto was a gifted educator. At the minor seminary, all the seminarians that passed through during her 25 years there called her mother. In the first place she was very sensitive to their physical needs as children who were growing up and used to prepare chapats and cakes for them, for which they always loved her. But she was also very concerned about their moral life and would rebuke them or teach them some good moral lesson if she found them in the wrong. Many of them went to her for counselling. She did a wonderful job. Many priests remember her as having helped them to survive the adolescent tide that would have destroyed their vocation to the priesthood.

Nakakeeto had a deep spirituality. This made a strong impression on the seminarians who learned to recognize the value of prayer in their lives from the example of a good lay person. Nakakeeto was always present at prayers in the chapel in the morning and in the evening. She never missed mass except when health would not allow her to attend. She used to say the rosary every day, going to the nearby cemetery where the priests are buried to pray for them. It was a great lesson for the seminarians and priests at the seminary, some of whom hardly found time to pray for their own dead lying in that famous limbo of Bukalasa. [4]

Nakakeeto was dedicated to development. She abhorred ignorance and poverty and did her best to fight them. She started projects at her home in Kyamaganda to help family members and needy children. She had a magnificent banana plantation, a zero grazing project and a poultry project. She used many of the funds from these projects to pay fees for the seminarians and girls who wanted to engage in religious study. At her death, she had funded the education of more than ten priests and she was paying school fees for five major seminarians and a number of minor seminarians. Her career of paying school fees for the seminarians began almost by default. One day in 1991 she went to the cemetery to pray for the dead. There she found a young boy who was weeping at the grave of one priest, Fr. Joseph Ssenyonga, who had died tragically in a car accident. After consoling him, Nakakeeto took the boy back to the seminary. But she observed that the young seminarian went back to weep at the tomb of this priest every day. She discovered that the dead priest was this young boy’s brother. The boy went to the tomb to ask his brother to help him because they were going to send him away for lack of school fees. Nakakeeto then decided to pay for the school fees of the boy who eventually completed school and became an ordained priest. He is called Fr. C. Kazibwe. From then on Nakakeeto decided to dedicate her life and resources to the education of priests. [5]

Nakakeeto was a great parent to the seminarians: she was especially attentive to those who might feel like outsiders, such as seminarians from Tanzania and Burundi.

She gave up her time and energy to take care of Bishop Ddungu until he died in 2010.

Nakakeeto was a lady of great heart who understood her mission particularly as serving God through serving the seminary: as a secretary and by educating priests. She did this work excellently and that is what makes her a hero for the church in Masaka and Uganda. She never discriminated against anyone, knowing well that God calls priests from every tribe, people and nation. In this way, she promoted the idea of the catholicity of the church over ideas of tribalism. Nakakeeto now takes her place among the great, courageous and missionary-minded women of Uganda. In her own small way, she did her best to ensure that the church gets many good, committed, faithful priests and bishops.

Benedict Ssettuuma Jr


Notes

1. Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa at the burial of Nakakeeto. February 4, 2014.

2. Fr. Joseph Namukangula, Vice Rector Bukalasa Minor Seminary. Interview, May 5, 2014.

3. Fr. Denis Mayanja, Bisanje Parish. Interview, May 2, 2014.

4. Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, at the Burial of Nakakeeto. February 4, 2014.

5. Conversations with Nakakeeto, June 16, 2006.



This article, received in 2014, was written by Fr. Benedict Ssettuuma, a diocesan priest from Masaka Diocese who holds a doctorate in missiology from Urban University in Rome. He teaches pastoral theology and missiology at St. Mary's National Major Seminary, Ggaba, Uganda. He is also the chairperson of the board of directors of the Center of African Christian Studies (CACISA), a DACBparticipating institution.