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On Saturday, March 20, some Old boys of Bishop Angelo Negri Primary and College schools came together to pay tribute to their former headmistress, Sr. Veronica Landonio. They were joined by sisters from the congregation of Comboni Missionary sisters led by their Provincial Superior, Sr. Luigina.  Sr. Veronica, who was a member of the St. Daniel Comboni Missionary Sisters, passed away from Milan, Italy on Saturday, March 13. She served in Africa for a long time starting from Sudan (now South Sudan) and finally Uganda where she served for the longest period before returning to Italy in April 2017. She succumbed to the deadly Coronavirus on Saturday, March 13 at 97 years of age.

Sr. Veronica served as the first headmistress at Bishop Angelo Negri Primary School in Gulu district.  The school was founded by Bishop Cyprian Kihangire in collaboration with Rev. Fr. John Scalabrini who was his Vicar General. The school became well known for its academic excellence during a very difficult period of turmoil from the Amin era to the LRA insurgency. Sr. Veronica was headmistress from 1975 until 1990. She is remembered for being a disciplinarian, a good music and mathematics teacher, being meticulous in her work and visionary. Sr. Veronica was appointed to lead the school by Bishop Dr. Cyprian Kihangire (RIP) with Lord Andrew Adimola (RIP) as chairman of the School Management Committee (1975-1998). After serving at Bishop Angelo Negri Primary school for that long period, Sr. Veronica was asked by the Provincial of the Comboni Missionary Sisters in Uganda to go and serve at St. Mary’s College Aboke in Oyam district. Subsequent head-teachers at Bishop Angelo Negri Primary School included; Rev. Sr. Aurelia Poma(1991-1992), Rev. Sr. Guillian(1993-1994). From December, 17 to date the administration and management of the school was entrusted to the care of St. Martin de Porres Brothers Congregation and Rev. Bro. Santo Okema became the first African head-teacher.

During the requiem and thanksgiving Mass at the Namugongo Basilica on Saturday, March 20 Sr. Veronica was eulogized for her humility, kindness, hard work and care for her pupils at a time of serious insecurity by Mr. Lawrence Semakula (Accountant General)  of the pioneer class in the school. He talked about the height of insecurity when Amin was being fought by Tanzanians alongside Ugandans in exile. It made it very difficult for some pupils to go back home for holidays because some parts of the country were cut off. Rev. Sr. Veronica ensured the pupils who were held up at school were provided for and taken care of very well.

The Provincial Superior of St. Daniel Comboni Missionary Sisters, Sr. Luigina eulogized her fallen colleague as a jolly person who always smiled and wanted everybody to happy. She loved people very much. She was happy to find solutions to challenges and didn’t want anyone to be frustrated in life. She imparted Christian values in her pupils which can be seen in the leadership they exhibit.  Sr. Veronica was gifted with great memory even in her old age. When she returned to Italy in April 2017, she always asked about the people at home [Africa].

The old boys of Bishop Angelo Negri schools were pleasantly surprised to see Senior Presidential Adviser (Special Duties), Hon. Chris Rwakasisi amongst them in the congregation. Hon. Rwakasisi eulogized Sr. Veronica as a missionary who had unconditional love which he witnessed practically. Sr. Veronica visited him for nine years of the twenty-four years he was imprisoned at Luzira Maximum Prison on death row. Such was the unconditional and kindness of Sr. Veronica. He said he would have loved to travel to Italy for her funeral but it isn’t possible because of the pandemic. “This requiem Mass in her memory gives us an opportunity to pray for the repose of her soul. May her soul rest in eternal peace” Rwakasisi concluded.

The school has remained true to its mission, “Education for academic success, Christian and moral formation for good citizens of Uganda.” and the motto “ Wisdom and Knowledge”.  Some influential leaders and technocrats in Uganda have been through this school. The Accountant General at Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Lawrence Semakula, The Deputy Secretary General, National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party, Hon. Richard Todowong,  The First Secretary, Embassy of Uganda in Rome/ Former Chief of Protocol, State House (Victor Acellam), Hon. Odonga Otto (Aruu County MP), Hon. Awany Tony (MP-Elect Nwoya county), Hon. Omony Oscar (Youth representative, Northern Region), Onen Patrick Ezaga ( Senior Communications  Officer, National NGO bureau and former Director Emmaus Foundation), Dr. Edward Ogwang (Dermatologist), Patrick Lucas Lucaci (DDS, MD(US)),  Ayo Sam Cris(Cybersecurity, former Device Services Manager Huawei Uganda) and Tempra Omona, a renowned musician to mention a few.

The main celebrant, Rev. Fr. Silvanus Mushabe of Fort Portal thanked Sr. Veronica for being visionary, loving and kind to people in her missionary work. He prayed for God’s mercy and repose of Sr. Veronica’s soul.

Jimmy Odoki Acellam is an old boy (OB) of Bishop Angelo Negri Primary School 

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Written by Odoki Jimmy (2)

Jimmy Odoki Acellam is Coordinator of Heartsounds Uganda and a Mental Health Advocate.

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