St. Gerard Church says goodbye to Father Kawesi

AIKEN — On May 9, parishioners of St. Gerard Church will share an evening of friendship and remembrance as they prepare for Father Charles Kawesi’s return to his native Uganda and the Diocese of Kampala. Also, the event will commemorate the 26th anniversary of Father Kawesi’s ordination.

For the past three years, Father Kawesi has served as parish administrator at the ethnically diverse, historically black church.  During Father Kawesi’s assignment, there has been remarkable growth in parish enrollment, nearly tripling in size and necessitating the addition of a second and third Mass to the weekend schedule.

Father Kawesi initiated or renewed a number of church activities such as an annual Seder meal, Lenten retreats and weekly Bible study classes.

“Father Charles has been an inspiration to our parish community,” said Steve Banwarth, a parishioner. “His dedication and humble leadership, his faithful adherence to Catholic teaching, and his Sunday homilies that always gave a better understanding of the word of God were a model to us all.  He is respected and loved by this church community, and I know that I speak for our parishioners when I say that he will be spiritually and physically missed by all.”

Parishioners learned of Father Kawesi’s long-term efforts to support and educate women and children in Uganda who are in need, and formed Uganda Spirit, an ecumenical, nonprofit organization that has been helping the priest in his extraordinary work.

“Getting to know Father Charles has been an incredible experience,” said Peggy DeVine, president and co-founder of the organization. “We know what a difference he makes every day to those in need in Uganda, and we are committed to continue to assist him after his return there.”

Father Kawesi returns to Uganda at the end of May.

For more information on Uganda Spirit or to make a donation, visit