By Kefa Senoga
What would you do about a son who turns down a job offer after graduating with a veterinary medicine degree, preferring to return to school to become a priest? In 1986, that was the dilemma of the father of Edison Kalengyo. His son, now the Rev. Can Prof. Kalengyo, had just completed a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine, a four-year course, at Uganda’s Makerere University. Kalengyo had even received an appointment letter, dated June 20, 1986, from the Ministry of Animal Industry and Fisheries.
Despite his fresh qualification, Kalengyo’s heart was elsewhere. He felt compelled to answer God’s call to become a priest, prompting him to join Bishop Tucker Theological College in 1986. The college, now known as part of Uganda Christian University (UCU), in Mukono, is where Kalengyo pursued a bachelor’s degree in divinity. This was after going through a stringent process of selecting candidates for the ordained ministry by South Rwenzori Diocese, his home diocese.
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Along the way, Kalengyo’s family kept questioning his decision. For instance, his father, who was a trained lay reader in the Church of Uganda, knew fully well that the economic prospects for priests were not encouraging. In the extended family, Kalengyo had been the first person to graduate with a degree. As such, many people looked up to him. But he stuck to God’s call on his life to the ordained ministry.
After his course at Bishop Tucker Theological College, the Rev. Kalengyo served in South Ruwenzori as a curate in the cathedral before moving on to serve as a diocesan secretary and, eventually, an archdeacon.
In 1997, the principal of Bishop Tucker Theological College, Bishop Eliphaz Maari, invited Kalengyo to join the staff of the college, following the recruitment process. He obliged. Since December 1997, UCU has been Kalengyo’s “home.” He currently serves as Professor of New Testament and Coordinator of Biblical Studies and Languages in the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology.
Why Dr. Kalengyo Prefers Teaching at UCU to Higher Leadership Positions
He says teaching theology at UCU goes beyond a mere salary. He believes that the true significance lies in knowing that he is fulfilling God’s calling on his life, and that this is what brings him reward and fulfillment.
Kalengyo has refrained from considering higher leadership positions within the church before, even when such opportunities presented themselves, in preference for his job of training church leaders. His extensive theological expertise and deep-rooted academic grounding make Kalengyo’s job of teaching church ministers one easy for him to execute. In addition to the 64-year-old’s bachelor’s degree in divinity, he also holds a Master of Philosophy in the New Testament from Nottingham University in the United Kingdom (UK) and a PhD in Theology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
Another reason for Kalengyo’s stay in theological education is his wife, who explained to him that by teaching church ministers, he was serving the entire province as opposed to being a bishop who serves mainly his diocese.
Because of this, Kalengyo says he is always happy and believes he has fulfilled his purpose in life whenever he meets his former students who have taken up church leadership roles.
Kalengyo says his guiding principle has always been that every theological educator should be a pastor and actively participate in church life. For this reason, he once voluntarily served as an auxiliary member of the pastoral team at St. Philip’s Cathedral in Mukono and was the first Chaplain of St Luke’s Chapel Butabika. He also has served as a priest at St Luke’s Church Ntinda and was Priest-in-Charge All Saints Chapel Lweza.
He says he now pastors a group of about 400 Christians from his home diocese who reside in and around Kampala. The Christians gather for worship once every month. He said he also performs baptisms and helps to prepare couples for marriage.
Kalengyo and his wife, Dorothy, will celebrate their 36th marriage anniversary on December 12, this year. They have three adult children — two boys and one girl — and they are all married. From the three children, the Kalengyos have got five grandchildren.
Born in 1958 in Kasese district, western Uganda, to Hosiah and Elizabeth Katsiotho, Kalengyo completed his primary education at Karambi Primary School before joining St Edward’s Bukumi Secondary School for O’level and Ntare School for A’level. Both Bukuumi and Ntare are located in western Uganda.