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Fr. John Pitton,

//Fr. John Pitton,

1st death anniversary 18th May 2022

The greatest is the least amongst you Luke 9:46-50 Jesus stated the need for humility in service; he made clarity as his disciples begin arguing on who will be the greatest. Jesus replies that the greatest is the one who welcomes a child in his name (Luke 9:46-50). This is what makes a leader great. Indeed, we lived with a great leader, Fr John Pitton (R.I.P). Early Life: He was born in 1943 in a small village of Barco Italy. During war, many feared that he would not survive, he later narrated, “But God’s plan was different and I am still alive here with my angels.” Attending his early education of Primary, Secondary and philosophy in Pordenone, he was ordained a diocesan priest on 7th July 1968.

SERVICE OUTSIDE UGANDA

Fr Pitton served as a parish priest of Spilimbergo for 20 years, with a lot of commitment in pastoral work and religious education in the schools. A peacemaker, his relations with those he worked with, parishioners and the students was one to emulate. He had passion in serving the poor, sick and disabled. He went on to form a charity to better his service to these needy persons. He kept good relations with the Comboni missionaries.
During a visit in Kenya, a seed of missionary life was planted in him and continued to grow. On 10th October 1989, he was incardinated a Comboni missionary and posted to Malawi-Zambia, for a period of 9 years, very committed to the work of evangelization. He attended to 1) Announcement of the Good News; 2) Celebrating the Baptisms and the other Sacraments; 3) Charity. Yes, charity he noted was an essential part of evangelisation, as Saint Theresa of Calcutta said: “Anytime you give some help to a person in need, either he or she is a Christian or a Muslim or of any other religion or even without religion, you help that person to go nearer to God.”

SERVICE IN UGANDA
During his last year in Malawi-Zambia, he said, “I read in a newspaper that some Comboni missionaries were living together with some orphan children in a suburb of Kampala called Kataza. I felt a strong desire to join them. I requested and was permitted and in November 1998, I reached Kataza (Kampala).” He continued, “I remember well the first day: the orphan children gave me tea and one of them, Moses, exclaimed “Thank you for coming, father, from now on, you are our dad.” He said, “I noted great appreciation of Comboni missionaries’ work and I was grateful to be part of the team at first, Kataza, in Comboni House then later in Kanjokya street from 1998 to 2006. My main focus was not only for orphans but also the poor, the sick, the disabled, the prisoners, the marginalized and the like, with a special attention to the disabled group living in Kyebando”. He exclaimed, “These have been the best years of my missionary life”.
After yet another return to Italy, I was brought back to Uganda in 2011 and appointed to Rushere Parish, Kiruhura district, Mbarara diocese. In western Uganda, the trend was different; they are not poor, many had cows that provided milk and bananas plantations help them have a comfortable life; all the children attend school. Here, my focus as had been in my missionary service, was the children. They are the angels of the Lord” and also “my angels”. Interacting with them brings that pure peace and innocence, the nice words made me very happy, a sign of God’s and their love for me.

During farewell bid at Our Lady of Africa

After 9 years in Rushere, he left Uganda for Italy but promised to keep Ugandan people in his heart and prayers.

Fr John Pitton; his simple life, his sacrifice for peace amongst his loved ones, his being part of our homes, his love for the elderly, orphans, encouraging them as a biological father would, his parental embrace that comforted those in tears, his silence that spoke volumes, his generosity and counseling will forever remain with us. May his soul rest in peace!

Fr John Pitton; his simple life, his sacrifice for peace amongst his loved ones, his being part of our homes, his love for the elderly, orphans, encouraging them as a biological father would, his parental embrace that comforted those in tears, his silence that spoke volumes, his generosity and counseling will forever remain with us. May his soul rest in peace!

Memories of Fr John Pitton

Adongo Mildred- Disabled woman
My priest, he is a strong hearted person. I remember when during mass the drunkards amongst us would keep making noise and Father would just smile and touch their backs and many later stopped drinking and concentrated during mass. He would give me support without anyone noticing, and I don’t know English but somehow we understood each other. I am already missing him. Rest in peace!

Akite Mildred; Disabled woman

Father John is a very good man. He didn’t know our language and even names. Surprisingly, he always knew us. I recall when he got one of our people with difficulties to role the wheel chair and he himself helped him. People looked at him as a “muzungu” but I told them he is our friend. I also recalled when he would baptize our children on the street; almost all the children were given his name. He would bring eats during Easter, Christmas and sit with us just smiling and not minding the on lookers.

Julius Peter Ocen

The war in the north impacted on us greatly; we were thrown on the streets and made it our safe haven. I was one of those who could speak English so I could help the Christian team read the scriptures, translate where there was need and sometimes attend to assignments by Fr John. Unlike other helpers on the street, he was not after any of our photos but I believed him later when he said it was not necessary because Jesus and he have them in their hearts. He did not turn his nose away even when some of us would smell, (many had leprosy then and drug addicts would urinate on themselves). We loved him so much, sometimes he would come even without anything to give us but we always had good time. He ate whatever we gave him; we made sure we cleaned it well before, sometimes he shared a plate with the children.
We then tried to send away children when he arrived but somehow they got their way to him. His last baptism was my daughter and I requested him to give her a name that will remind us of his great friendship. Laughing, he gave the name of his Mother; I think she was also a nice person like him. May God rest his soul in peace!