By Charles Igwe
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has candidly shared his regret over a pivotal moment in his life when a misinterpretation of the English language steered him away from his calling to the priesthood.
Justice Owiny-Dollo revealed that his path might have been quite different had he not struggled to translate English into Acholi, a native language of Uganda. He recounted that during his time at the seminary, where he was preparing for the priesthood, he was informed that priesthood is a vocation—a divine calling from God. However, his difficulty with English caused him to make an unexpected decision.
“I was meant to be admitted into the seminary to study and become a priest, but interpreting English to Acholi language made me miss that chance. I would be a priest today,” he lamented.
Justice Owiny-Dollo continued, “I was told priesthood is a vocation, a calling by God to his service, and I kept waiting that God would call me like he called prophet Samuel, but I waited in vain.”
Despite his family and close relatives having aspirations for him to become a priest, he came to realize that God had charted a different course for his life.
“Perhaps God knew that I would not manage that one (priesthood),” he mused.
Justice Owiny-Dollo made these remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Kal-Aloi Catholic Church in Aloi village, Patongo Sub-county, Agago District. The church is being built in memory of his late mother, Paulina Angom. His family has taken the initiative to rebuild the church, a place of worship they have frequented for generations.
Emphasizing that the church is intended for the community, he expressed his hope that it would help restore the village’s historical significance and purity.
To kickstart the project, Justice Owiny-Dollo pledged UGX 15 million (approximately USD 4,000), with the remaining funds to be raised through contributions from friends and well-wishers. He also called upon the local residents to support the construction by providing water for the work when it commences.
Present at the ceremony were notable figures including Mr. Hassan Alwii, the chairman of the International University of East Africa, Prof. Andrew Khauka, Senior Technical Advisor to the Judiciary, and Msgr. Mathew Odong, the Vicar General of Gulu Archdiocese, among others.
The construction of the church, dedicated to the memory of Justice Owiny-Dollo’s mother, is expected to cost at least UGX 500 million (around USD 133,000) and will be undertaken by Strasburg Construction Ltd.
Msgr. Odong, who led the mass, commended the Owiny-Dollo Foundation for its contributions to the region’s economic and social development. He highlighted the significance of the initiative and encouraged a collective effort to support the project.