Dear Family of St. Ann Church,
I am happy to come back home. For those who are new to this family of faith, I was here at St. Ann Church 2007 through 2009. Before that, I was one of the teachers at our former famous high school, Quigley Preparatory Seminary, for seven years. My years here at St. Ann were very enjoyable, and I am very excited to have the opportunity to serve Him together with you again.
A little bit of my background; I was born in Uganda, which is in the Eastern part of Africa. The bordering states (countries) are Kenya to the East, Democratic Republic of Congo to the West, South Sudan to the North, and Rwanda and Tanzania to the South. The size of Uganda is compared to the size of Oregon in the United States. Uganda’s population is about 41 million people. Africa, as some of you might know, was a colony of so many European countries: Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, etc. Uganda was colonized by the British until 1962 when they peacefully gave Uganda her independence. Uganda has had her share of dictatorial rules in the past, but is now a Republic Government.
My developmental years were difficult and profoundly impacted by political unrest in my homeland. Both of my parents were murdered by the then Uganda military when I was ten years old. Interestingly and significantly, I always describe my childhood as happy. My uncle, who had ten children of his own, raised my sister and me. As I grew up I admired my uncle who cared for all of us as his own. In fact, it was not until I went to high school that I stopped calling him dad. I always felt like his own son because he treated me as my own father had treated me. Most of all, I was comforted by missionaries who cared for over 50 orphans in my parish alone.
In spite of the social and political unrest in my country at the time, I was reared in a reasonably structured and stable environment. This provided me with a sense of safety in an unsafe world. From the missionaries, I learned at an early age to be accountable and reliable. Besides this, I developed a degree of social interest and concern about the welfare of others. I also developed a set of defenses, which up to this day have provided me with a kind of immunity from external turmoil and disruption. I also feel that I tried to identify with the authority figures in my life: my uncle, the missionaries, and the teachers and catechists that I perceived as committed to helping develop the local community and the people within it. I was grateful for the caring and opportunities provided to me, by both my uncle and the missionaries at our church. My direct, constant and immediate exposure to adult authority in my childhood was nurturing, supportive and tolerant. All these traits now figure prominently in my personality structure.
I was ordained 32 years ago, on May 31, 1986. I went to Rome to further my studies in Mass Communications, had my internship with Florida Catholic newspaper and received a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Gregorian and Salesian University in Rome. When I finally came to Chicago, I did also pursue a Master’s Degree in professional counseling/psychology, and I have two units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) – Hospital Chaplaincy. My previous assignments in the Archdiocese have been at Presentation Church on the west side (long closed now), St. Barbara in Brookfield, and St. Joseph and Immaculate Conception in Old Town on the near north side of Chicago. When I left St. Ann nine years ago, I became Pastor of Our Lady of Peace Church in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago.
Just looking to serve HIM together again. I am happy to be home at St. Ann’s!
Fr. Mark Kalema
(Just call me Fr. Mark)!