Bishop John Henry Mary Biermans was of the Mill Hill Mission. He was made priest in 1896 and left for Uganda in October of the same year. In 1897 he was present at the proclamation of Daudi Chwa as Kabaka of Buganda. Later in the same year he was sent to Fort Lugumba near Luba’s in Busoga to serve as Chaplain to the African forces during the Sudanese Mutiny. In 1898 he was appointed tutor to the Catholic princes, Augustine and Joseph. In 1899 he met Kabarega and Mwanga on their way into exile in the Seychelles. He founded the Buvuma Island Mission in 1901. During Bishop Henry Hanlon’s absence in England in 1904 to 1905 he was in charge of the Vicariate, and on Hanlon’s return he was appointed Superior of Nsambya Mission. In 1910 to 1911 he was on leave, and in 1912 he was consecrated Bishop of Gargara and succeeded Bishop Hanlon as Vicar Apostolic of the Upper Nile. In 1914 he attended the 4th Chapter General of St. Joseph’s Foreign Missionary Society (The Mill Hill Mission). In 1924 he became the third Superior General of the Society. He retired in 1934. At his silver jubilee as a priest he was described as “the most popular man in Uganda.”
This article, used by permission, was written by Louise Pirouet, as part of A Dictionary of Christianity in Uganda (Department of Religious Studies, Makerere University College, 1969), p. 17. Copies available at Africana Section, Makerere University Library (AF Q 276.761 MAK and AR/MAK/99/1); Bishop Tucker Library, Uganda Christian University and in UK at the University of Birmingham; Crowther Centre Library, CMS Oxford and Louise Pirouet Papers, Cambridge Centre of African Studies.