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From Uganda to Ave Maria -Meet Fr. Joseph Lugalambi


On AMU’s campus, Father ministers to students and, with the support of friends from Ave Maria, founded Our Lady of the Rosary Orphanage and Primary School in his home country of Uganda.

Fr. Joseph Lugalambi has been a light to AMU’s campus since he arrived in 2017. Quickly becoming a fan favorite among students, Fr. Joseph exercises care for our community daily, hearing confessions, giving spiritual direction, and even celebrating many of our alumni’s weddings and baptisms!

As we reflect on our years as a University, Fr. Joseph shares his story of coming to Ave Maria and how he found a deeper joy in his religious vocation through choosing Our Lady’s University.

Ave Maria Magazine, April 26, 2023

Coming to Ave Maria

In the fall of 2017, I began my doctoral studies in theology at Ave Maria. Only two weeks ordained I was afraid of beginning my priestly life in an anti-Catholic community. Growing up in Uganda, the United States, I knew it was mainly from Hollywood movies.


Ave Maria University was nothing I could have ever imagined — Deo gratias! I chose AMU because of the recommendation of my late Bishop, John Baptist Kaggwa, who served on the Pontifical Committee for Life with Dr. Michael Waldstein, a theology professor at Ave Maria at the time. My seminary professors also knew about AMU’s faithfulness to Christ, the Church, and Truth. Thanks to the admissions committee and our benefactors, I began my journey at Ave Maria University.

My Experience as a Student in the University’s Doctoral Program

Ave Maria has become my second home. I found the graduate theology faculty to be special because of their commitment to the saving truths of Jesus Christ taught in Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

Within graduate theology, I developed good friendships with a common goal: seeking to understand the mysteries of our faith. All my doctoral seminars were directed towards growth in wisdom personified in Jesus Christ.

The saving truths learned in the classrooms climax the hymn of praise sung during the Mass, which is celebrated seven times a day in Ave Maria.

Teaching Theology of the Body

I have taught Theology of the Body at AMU since the Spring of 2019. With my students, we read the Wednesday audiences of Pope St. John Paul II delivered between 1979 and 1984. John Paul lays out God’s plan for human love in these audiences.

With my students, we seek to understand and appreciate the God-given dignity of the human body, God’s plan for marriage, and how we can respond to God’s call of love. I also use the material from Theology of the Body to prepare our engaged couples for marriage. As a result, the Catholic bishops in Uganda asked me to prepare a curriculum of chastity education for all Ugandan primary and secondary schools based on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Teaching this class has been an amazing opportunity for me to grow with the students at AMU while preparing this good work for the ecclesia in Uganda.

Campus Ministry

In addition to my doctoral work, I am a spiritual director for AMU’s Campus Ministry. It is a privilege to minister to young people on fire with the faith!

Like many other priests, my spiritual sons and daughters challenge me daily to be more faithful to my priestly vocation. These men and women intentionally seek the Lord through frequent reception of the Sacraments (Penance and the Eucharist), spiritual direction, retreats, household life, and other forms of Catholic culture on campus.

AMU students understand priests are Christ’s instruments of sanctification and encourage us in our priestly work. I have heard brother priests in schools and other institutions say they miss parish life, but for me, Ave Maria University is my parish. With three Masses and two (busy) hours of daily confession, it feels like I’m in a real parish at AMU. In the past three years, I have prepared 36 couples for marriage and officiated at 13 AMU weddings!


Mission Trips to Uganda

Since the Summer of 2018, I have led mission trips to my home country of Uganda. Before Covid-19, the AMU missionaries and I would stay and work with the Missionaries of Charity in Kampala, Uganda.

Since the partial closure of the MC sisters’ convent due to the pandemic, I have taken the missionaries to Our Lady of the Rosary Orphanage and Primary School in my home village of Nabutongwa-Masaka. In 2019, with the support of friends from Ave Maria, I founded Our Lady of the Rosary Orphanage and Primary School, which now has 548 children.

The AMU missionaries pray and play with the orphaned children, teach classes, serve meals, etc. We also make house visitations to the elderly and sick. We pray with them and minister the sacraments of Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Communion. During these visitations, students experience authentic home life in Uganda, and many of them often say they will never complain about the few luxuries they sometimes lack in the US.

A Note of Gratitude

I am so grateful to Ave Maria University for giving me the opportunity to pursue my doctoral education and exercise my priesthood at AMU.

The solid theological education and friendships I have acquired from Ave Maria will help me be a faithful, intentional, and joyful servant of Jesus Christ and contribute to the well-being of the body of Christ in my home country of Uganda.

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