Many readers will be saddened to hear that Fr Robert Kaggwa MAf, died suddenly yesterday. He had been taking medication for a heart condition but his death was sudden and unexpected. He was 55.
Fr Robert was Chaplain at Digby Stuart College as well as RC Chaplain to Roehampton University and Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies. Over the past two and half decades his work took him from Uganda, where he was originally from, to several countries across Europe - as a student, lecturer and researcher. He directed the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS) programme as its convenor at Digby Stuart College and is member of the Board of Religious Studies for England and Wales. Robert taught Systematic Theology, Contextual Theologies and African Traditional Religions here in the UK prior to coming to Roehampton. He also did postdoctoral research on Ethnic Conflicts, Genocide and Reconciliation at Cambridge University. His academic interests were in ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and the interaction between the West and the non-Western World.
Robert organised and chaired the first ever Interfaith Day at Roehampton in 2006 - covered by ICN, As chaplain and lecturer he trained students for leadership and meaningful involvement in areas of theology, social justice, conflict resolution, volunteering and fundraising.
Writing on Facebook today, Professor Tina Beattie said:"Many of us had spent time with him during the last few days and he was his lovely, laughing, generous self, which is how I shall always remember him.
Describing him as "the most pastorally sensitive priest" she ever knew Tina writes: " Every year, he accompanied a group of students on the HCPT pilgrimage to Lourdes, and those many pilgrimages were wonderful experiences of loyal friendship, gentle leadership and quiet attentiveness to all in his care. Students of all faiths and none loved Robert and I don't think any of us will ever know how many he guided, counselled and befriended during their time at Roehampton. Through his encouragement and support, I know many students were able to continue their studies when they might otherwise have given up. Every Tuesday during term, he cooked a fairtrade lunch for students and staff which often attracted large numbers. It epitomised the spirit of warmth and welcome that he dedicated himself to creating in the chaplaincy.
"Robert was a priest of deep faith and prayerful reflection, always looking for new ways to make Christ real to people who could not find him behind the rigid face that the Church has so often presented to the world in the years before Pope Francis. His Masses combined quiet reverence with friendly warmth - informal, but never lacking in dignity. His homilies never droned on, but were always insightful, inspiring and to the point. He refused to adopt the new translation of the liturgy - oh, for more priests like him.
...He told me often that, whatever the shortcomings of British society, it was better to be black in Britain than in any other European country he had lived in. Dearest Robert, there must be much laughter in heaven this morning, for wherever you go you bring laughter and light. May you know the eternal peace and love of the God you served with such unflinching and inspiring grace."
A full obituary will follow soon.
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