Fr. George Previdi was the Parish Priest of our Lady of annunciation, Kasaala Parish untill 2019. He did not know that he would one day become a priest, until his father literally put the idea in his head. In primary five, “my father asked me what I wanted to do in future, I told him I wanted to become a teacher, he asked me if I had never thought about becoming a priest, that is when I thought about it.” said Fr. George.
The idea of becoming a priest begun building up and, he went to his parish priest at Castelle Dario Parish in Italy who referred him to the seminary for an interview. When he completed primary school, he went to Matuva Seminary and did an interview which he passed. He began chasing his new found dream. While in senior two, a Comboni missionary priest from Uganda visited the seminary to talk to them about missionary life. After listening to the talk, he decided he would become a missionary priest. Given his young age, when he talked to the Rector of the Seminary, Monsignor Amari, about his decision, he was requested to wait until he completed his secondary school. After secondary, Fr. George joined Comboni missionaries, something that did not go well with his father, who had wanted him to work as a diocesan priest and did not talk to him for a month.
However, his father’s reaction did not deter him from following the footsteps of St. Daniel Comboni. After ordination, he requested that he works in South Sudan but his superior instead posted him to Uganda and it was the best choice. He immediately fell in love with the country and in 1969, Fr. George reached Kasaala which was a new Comboni Parish. This Parish had just been handed to them by the Missionaries of Africa. After five years in Kasaala Parish, he was posted to a seminary in Florence, Italy, where he worked as a formator. While there, he got news that two priests in Kasaala were returning to Italy because their permits would not be renewed by the regime of Idi Amin. Since he had a life permit to work in Uganda, coupled with his love for the country, he requested the Superior General for permission to return to Kasaala, Uganda.
In 1976, Fr. George returned to Uganda and immediately went to Kasaala. However, he was dismayed to find that the mission had been closed, as the priests had left before he arrived. It was not easy work in Kasaala after his return; the place had been invaded by cockroaches and dust. After seven months in Kasaala, he was requested to serve in Mbuya Parish in Kampala as the Parish Priest from 1976- 1979. And, in 1979, he was posted back to Kasaala Parish. Fr. George is a missionary who loves helping the young people achieve an education. This is seen in the many schools he has helped build during his time in Kasaala Parish. He said that the parish has 22 outstations and he has made sure all the outstations have got a school and a church. He noted that his love to see the young get an education without difficulty came from his experience as a child. Coming from a poor family, he walked for long distances to get to school. He would take off his shoes so that they don’t get dirty, and when he was about to reach, he would wash his feet in the streams near school then wear them. Fr. George said that he knows what it means to suffer, a reason he has chosen to build schools in all the outstations to help children of Kasaala get easy access to education.
A number of children in Kasaala have got education through his help and have achieved big in their lives. The fact that the children are successful in their lives makes Fr. George a happy man. Out of the 22 schools, he has also built two technical schools for boys and girls to help skill the children and youth of Kasaala in different fields. He noted that despite his contribution in building schools and churches, the people of Kasaala also contributed by laying bricks which were used to build the churches. Besides building schools in Kasaala, Fr. George also aided build St. Kizito Primary School Bugolobi when he was the Parish Priest of Mbuya Parish. The biggest challenge he remembers from his days as a new young priest in Uganda was when he had to learn Luganda, the language he was supposed to use for evangelisation. He said it was not easy learning the language but as soon as he learnt it, he visited one family in the parish, who inspired him to begin a savings group to help the people of Kasaala develop.
Unfortunately, when the family got paid, they decided to buy alcohol with the money and when he asked them why they did that, they told him they were keeping their money safe from thieves. That is when he opened up the Agaali Awamu savings group to help people save money and support one another. He has also opened up a St. Vicent De Paul Kateyamba elders home where the elderly people in Kasaala without relatives stay and are taken care of. One thing he enjoys about his missionary work is his stay and service in Uganda, particularly, in Kasaala and Mbuya. He added that the people of these two parishes were very kind to him. Besides, his father also contributed to his missionary work.
Fr. George says the last gift he received from his father in the 2000 before his death was financial assistance, which funded the building of the schools. He added that after his father returned from the mines in Germany, he concentrated on his dairy farm and saved money from milk which accumulated with interest. Before his death, he divided his savings amongst all the six of them. Fr. George said he donated his share to the Comboni missionaries. After that, his father would give interest of his money accrued every year to Uganda, to help build churches and schools. Fr. George said that one thing he was taught by his father is being grateful to God all the time.
Fr. George Previdi MCCJ