Mannya Parish

St Bernard's has a sister parish in Uganda. 

 This section of the site will contain information and news on the Mannya Parish and support projects.

Latest Update:                        Mannya 2020

Memorandum of Understanding : Sister Parish relationship and financial support between                             St Bernard’s Parish, Belmont and St Luke’s Parish Mannya, Uganda

In March 2020, a Memorandum was prepared by St Bernard’s, to verify the commitment and support between the two parishes at this time.

It was signed by Fr Sang Ho and Fr Emmanuel Kiwanuka, Parish Priest of Mannya.

Mannya 2019

Mannya 2017

What should you do when you turn 50? 

- David Butler (7/11/2017)

We can all come up with many and varied responses but what should a 50 year old Ugandan priest do so that he can continue serving his community and his God?

Time waits for no one, and a priest’s life in a developing country is an extremely demanding one. Fr Nestus and his Bishop are keenly aware of this. At 50 it is time to take stock, to reflect on the past 50 years and to prepare for the next 50. It’s OK when we’re young to have 18 hour days but realistically it can’t continue that way.

St Bernard’s Parish invited Fr Nestus to visit parishioners and to thank supporters of 
Mannya. Initially it appeared that Fr Nestus would be having his 50th in the air on his way home from Australia. However, conscious of Fr Nestus’ needs Bishop Kaggwa kindly not only allowed Fr Nestus to travel to Australia to meet with supporters, but also encouraged him to have some R&R and also some time on retreat. Bishop Kaggwa enabled September and October this year to be set aside for the Australian visit, so we stretched the visit to seven weeks. 

Holidays are luxuries that just don’t happen in Uganda. Every day is busy. A priest’s only opportunity for a break is during their annual retreat. The life of the whole parish revolves around the priests, especially the parish priest.

Tuesday 4th September was cold, windy and rainy as we met a gracious, smiling Fr Nestus at Tullamarine. But as we stepped outside the Terminal building we were greeted by cold piercing blasts from the Antarctic. Two coats were not enough, such was the contrast in temperatures from that experienced in Uganda the day before. Over ensuing weeks he explained that back home sometimes the temperature goes down to 18 degrees!

Many families and groups extended kind hospitality to Fr Nestus. Special thanks are due to Kevin and Barbara Shannon who provided him with a base and accommodation and meals for all times he was not accommodated elsewhere or on retreat or touring.

His programme was very full, and varied. Besides enjoying multiple 50th birthdays Fr Nestus enjoyed several days on retreat at the Cistercian Monastery at Tarrawarra, just beyond Yarra Glen. The Gleesons took him to Port Campbell and included a visit to Penola where Australia’s first canonised Saint, Mary MacKillop had her first school. An introduction to the Australia of that era is particularly valuable and valid as in those days life in Australia was very tough.

Secondary School students at St Joseph’s, Newtown, Clonard College, and St Ignatius were delighted to meet with Fr Nestus as were students at Catholic Regional College, Caroline Springs. The Friends of Mannya Dinner was held at St Joseph’s and he was able to meet with the Year 12 students from St Joseph’s and Clonard who will be visiting Mannya at the end of November this year. Fr Nestus was also able to meet with teachers and school staff who have been very supportive of new initiatives in several places throughout the expansive Mannya parish, assisting the numerous sub-parishes. This also enabled him to be based in Torquay for a few days.

At St Mary’s Primary school, Dandenong Fr Nestus enjoyed delicious matoke lovingly prepared by one of the teachers (matoke is a staple food, stewed bananas). The multicultural schoolchildren were delighted to ask Fr Nestus questions about life in Uganda, why he wanted to be a priest, etc. As Vice-Principal of Clairvaux Natalie Heard visited Mannya in March this year, and now, as Principal of St Anthony’s, Lara Natalie welcomed Fr Nestus to the school. Clairvaux, of course, is also close to Fr Nestus’ heart and he is grateful for Clairvaux’s support of the new Primary School at Nseese within Mannya parish. He joined the schoolchildren in Clairvaux’s Lapathon, something he is not used to! But he appreciated it nonetheless. The transformation at Nseese, as well as in many other parts of the parish, is mind-blowing. As Fr Nestus says, what we – all of us – have given to the people of Mannya parish is HOPE.

Cotton On staff were delighted to have Fr Nestus available to present ‘travel packages’ to select Cotton On staff who will be visiting Mannya in February next year. Such cultural immersion experiences are of immense value to the participants who return to Australia and enthusiastically promote the work of the Cotton On Foundation.

Cotton On staff were delighted to give Fr Nestus a surprise 50th birthday celebration. Yes, it really was a surprise, on his second last day in Australia. They appreciated the opportunity of meeting with him again, and he certainly did also. Well done to all.

Fr Nestus was the principal speaker at the St Joseph’s College Fashion Dinner at Skilled Stadium. He also connected with many people, far and wide, who had visited Mannya, people in the medical field, in education, in business and in the coffee industry. On his way back from his retreat at Tarrawarra he was well received at Archibald’s Honey in Dingley before visiting Redpaths Beekeeping Supplies in Parkville which led to an introduction to Beekeepers at Mount Moriac and contacts in the Beekeeping industry in Uganda. Beekeeping is ideally suited to many of his parishioners and there is a good market for honey.

A visit to the peace and tranquillity of the Otways gave another dimension to the Australian way of life, as did a visit to the Melbourne Show. Of course it was AFL Grand Final season also so watching the Grand Final was a ‘must’.

Baptisms, confirmations at St Michael’s at Bell Park, weekend Masses at St Bernard’s, concelebrating at the St Vincent de Paul Regional Festival Mass at St Michael’s, attending a St Bernard’s conference meeting, concelebrating at St Mary’s on a Sunday evening – indeed a truly lived ‘holiday’, a refreshing one.

A 5 am GULL bus saw Fr Nestus on his way to Coolangatta for several days holiday with Fr Peter and other priests who were already in Queensland. As luck would have it, it rained every day except one. But, as Fr Nestus pointed out in Queensland it was still warm after the rain.

Fr Nestus has arrived safely back at Mannya and is deeply appreciative of the kindness and thoughtfulness of so many people throughout Australia. He now looks forward to a steady stream of visitors over coming months.

Fr Nestus and Mannya Parish make visitors very welcome. There is guest accommodation; meals are great – the parish cooks delight in using the new smoke-free combustion stoves provided by St Bernard’s.

Well done, everyone! Thank you, everyone!

Mannya 2014

It is with great pleasure to bring to you the good news that now we have officially the sisters in Mannya Parish by the names of Daughters of Mary Bwanda. Sunday was a great day in the history of Mannya witnessing the Bishop and the Superior general handing over the sisters to Mannya parish. Special recognition and attribute was given to your great contribution. 

The bishop, the sisters and the whole community felt sorry for your poor health and being unable to attend. We have been having special prayers for you and especially as you go to meet the doctors on Friday. We shall continue praying for you.

Brother Russell Peters represented you at the function and he was the face of St. Bernard's. We feel much honored and privileged to have you and the community of St. Bernard's that made a tremendous difference in the life of Mannya and hopefully the rest of Uganda as Cotton on continues to venture more opportunities for the needy communities.

Thank you very much, thanks to Fr. Vincent and the entire community of St. Bernard's.May God bless you most abundantly. Nestus.

1. This is the photos of the sisters convent we officially opened on Sunday.

2. Bishop handing over a gift of The Statue of Blessed Virgin Mary to Br. Russell as the sign of Mannya commitment to always praying for him and St. Bernard's.

3. The three sisters starting the Mannya convent after the opening of the convent together with Bishop John Baptist and Br. Russell , Fr. Nestus, Emmanuel and Nsamba.

4. (below) A video thanking St Bernard's Parish for their donation of cows to the Parish of Mannya.

Mannya 2013

Someone asked Len Monk, who now works 8 hours a week visiting people in the Parish, if the Parish was still involved in Mannya. The answer is a big YES.

I went to Mannya on 1st August this year and returned on the 25th. I set out on my own and Kevin Shannon came a week or two later. He was last there in 2009 and noticed an extraordinary difference in the last four years. The biggest change is certainly the opening of a kindergarten where over 300 children are catered for, for 5 days each week. There are now nearly 1000 children in 

the Primary school and 800 in the Secondary school. With the Primary and Secondary schools at Busibo, the Cotton On Foundation is educating 4,700 children in Uganda.

Where does St Bernard’s fit into all of this? We are especially involved at the Health Centre and supply up to $35,000 per year to support the Centre. While I was there, the people christened me ‘Jadga’, which means ‘Grandfather’ in their language. I met all sorts of people and Fr Nestus had me working flat out with talks at the schools, with Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals. The people are buried the day after they die and are buried in their own backyard.

Paul Spence, the former Principal of Clairvaux, has a wider role after a number of years and he is responsible for what we call ‘The Four Pillars’ – Health; Education; Maintenance and Sustainability. Carolyn Kelly, the current Principal of Clairvaux, has taken responsibility for Education. They travel to Mannya 3 times a year in our school holidays. We, at St Bernard’s, owe a great deal to both of them. There are now over 40 students at the University in Masaka, the second biggest city in Uganda. 

Coffee is now being produced at Mannya and coffee plants are given to farmers to help them sustain their families. While I was there, the locals fenced 50 acres of land with access to water. On your behalf, I purchased 20 cows (Texas Longhorns). The cattle will have calves in the next few months and when sold at 6 months old, will help the Parish towards sustainability. Cattle are expensive – we paid $A350.00 for each one and already, since I returned, 10 people have paid for 10 cows. We are now purchasing a bull!

Fr Peter blessing a cow in Mannya

A great celebration took place on the second Sunday of August in Mannya. Everyone and then some were there. The Bishop, the Vice-President of Uganda – all sorts of people we there. We celebrated the Centenary of the ordination of the first African priests. In 1913, Ugandans, Frs Basil and Victor were amongst those priests. The celebration went on for 6 hours and you can imagine the struggle I had to sit there for such a long time. At the centenary, the Vice-President and I laid a foundation stone for a convent which should be finished by Easter next year. Five Sisters, Daughters of Mary, will come to work in Mannya, 3 in the Health Centre and 2 in the school.

After speaking with the other Executor of the Will of the late Peter Redmond, we had decided that St Bernard’s Parish would use Peter’s $89,000.00 bequest to Mannya, to build the convent. The total cost of the project is $A123,000.00 with St Bernard’s to cover the shortfall. How can this happen? Projects such as these are possible because of your generosity.

I will continue to visit Mannya and Fr Vince intends to go when he can. Cotton On will continue to promote The Four Pillars. They are planning to build a coffee processing plant in the district and involve Mannya people in a type of co-operative. Mannya coffee is highly regarded throughout the world. St Joseph’s College, Newtown paid for musical instruments for a band which is now flourishing and the Cotton On Foundation are bringing some of the band to Geelong in November this year. They will give a couple of concerts and play at St Bernard’s one weekend in December. Fr Nestus will return with them.

I will try to keep you informed of happenings at Mannya.

Fr Peter


Below: Some people of the Mannya Community
Subpages (1): Manyya Update 2019
Kelly Butler,
Sep 17, 2009, 3:20 AM
Kelly Butler,
Dec 8, 2008, 4:20 PM