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So Sad: Catholic Church Closes Parish After Popular Priest Dies Of COVID-19

By Keefa Nuwahereza

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge in Uganda is not sparing anyone, not even men of God and as you read this, a renowned Catholic priest in Western Uganda is breathing no more after he succumbed to the pandemic over the weekend.

Fr. Irenaeus Karenzi, who was attached to Archdiocese of Mbarara, passed away over the weekend at Holy Innocents Children Hospital in Nyamitanga Mbarara, after he developed breathing  complications, a severe flu, cough and headache.

Rumours in the public domain alleged that the priest had died of COVID-19 but the diocese had since denied the claims saying they were still waiting for a postmortem report about the cause of the death, which has since confirmed that he died of COVID-19.

We have since established that following Fr. Karenzi’s death, the Catholic Church in Uganda has since announced the temporary closure of St. Kagwa parish in Bushenyi District, where the deceased has been serving, and the church administration said the church was closed down as a means of ensuring health safety.

Sources in Bushenyi reveal that the diocese has since set up strict measures to accord Fr. Karenzi a decent sendoff scheduled for today November 30, at Nyamitanga cathedral.

Rev.Fr. Fidelis Betungura, the Deputy Director Radio Maria Uganda, Mbarara sub-station, wrote on his Facebook account that the priest’s death was related to covid-19.

“As we give farewell to our beloved Rev.Fr. Irenaeus Karenzi, we wish to inform the general public that his death is related to COVID-19,” reads a Facebook post on Fr. Fidelis’ account.

According to the post, the diocese has set health and safety measures to follow both at the cathedral and at St. Kagwa parish.

The diocese said few people will attend the funeral and to be conducted in adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), they also temporarily closed down activities at St. Kagwa parish and the community for a period of two weeks.

The priests and residents at St. Kagwa parish will according to Fr. Betungura, be in self-isolation during the same period but the faithful have been advised to seek Sacramento services at neighbouring churches.

In addition to the above, activities at the Archibishop’s office, Administration offices at Nyamitanga cathedral have also been temporary suspended for a period of one week to first ascertain the situation.

This however comes at a time when Uganda has so far registered 201  COVID-19 deaths, out of 20,145 cases of infection and 8,989 recoveries.

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