Proposed school would build hope in Uganda, says Father Julius Turyatoranwa

Father Julius Turyatoranwa is pictured outside St. Patrick School in Washington. The priest, who has served in the Diocese of Peoria since 2007, hopes to form a sister-school relationship between the Illinois school and the proposed St. Patrick Boarding Primary School in his homeland of Uganda. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

WASHINGTON — In the United States, a good education offers an advantage when students look at starting a career with a decent salary and benefits. In Uganda, it means so much more, however.

In the east-central African nation, it can help to break the generational cycle of poverty, according to Father Julius Turyatoranwa, parochial vicar at St. Patrick in Washington and St. Monica in East Peoria. A priest of the Diocese of Kabale, Uganda, he is completing his doctorate in educational administration at Illinois State University.

He plans to use his advanced studies to establish a private boarding school when he returns home in December. It will be located in Isingiro State, about six miles from the city of Mbarara, on five acres of land he has donated.

“You know, these kids are born into poverty. They are raised in poverty. Their children will be poor, their children’s children will be poor and the cycle continues,” Father Julius told The Catholic Post. “I wanted to do something that will break the cycle of poverty and help them out because with a good education they can be successful.”

The name he has chosen is St. Patrick Boarding Primary School, a nod to St. Patrick School in Washington. He hopes to form a sister-school relationship between the two.

“Failure is not an option” is the new school’s motto.


Most of the quality schools in Uganda are boarding schools and in this case, it will offer a better quality of life for most of the children who attend, Father Julius said.

“They get electricity, they get clean water, they get healthy meals, especially those who come from very poor families,” he explained. “So they become healthier and study better.”

St. Patrick Boarding Primary School will enroll children from ages 7 to 14 eventually. The boys and girls in preschool and kindergarten will be day students because at 4 to 6 years old they are too young to take care of themselves, Father Julius said.

Donations may be mailed to Building Hope in Kids-Uganda, P.O. Box 612, Washington, IL 61571, or made securely online at

The total cost of the project, known as “Building Hope in Kids-Uganda,” is about $2.8 million. While a sum that large could take 10 to 15 years to raise, Father Julius said initial construction could begin next year if he had $500,000.

The first phase includes the main building, which would include classrooms on the first floor and temporary dormitories on the second floor, and another building for a dining hall and kitchen. That would allow the school to offer classes to about 200 children in kindergarten through third grade when the new academic year begins in February 2019.

As funding becomes available, construction will continue to add dormitories, a house for the principal and living quarters for the staff, a guest house, and a multipurpose hall and chapel.


Father Julius isn’t the only one excited about the prospect of the sister-school relationship.

“I am looking forward to the two schools communicating back and forth,” said Doreen Shipman, principal of St. Patrick School in Washington.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students in both schools to learn about the culture and lives of students in another part of the world and their families. It will be interesting to see how we are the same and how we are different,” she told The Post.

The site plan for St. Patrick Boarding Primary School shows the scope of Father Julius project.

Shipman added that if the technology is available, it would be wonderful to Skype or “visit” each other’s classrooms.

“Our students are very generous in helping others, so we look forward to continuing support for our sister-school as best we can,” she said.

The Washington students have helped Father Julius by buying wristbands last spring, and purchasing “bricks” for 50 cents each in another fundraiser. The girls’ basketball team also donated their earnings from babysitting the children of parents who attended a “Cash Bash” event.

Father Julius has served the faith communities in Washington and East Peoria since 2014. Since coming to central Illinois in 2007 for graduate studies, he has also ministered at Epiphany in Normal, Holy Trinity in Bloomington, and Blessed Sacrament in Morton.

In addition to raising money for construction, Father Julius is working to establish a sponsorship program for the children who will not be able to afford to come.

“To educate a child in this school it is going to cost about $600 for a whole year,” he said. “That will cover all of her needs — scholastic materials, school uniform, medical expenses. And this child will be in a boarding school, so it will even cover food and accommodations.”

A contribution of $50 per month would cover a child for the whole year.

In the future, Father Julius would also like to plan adult mission trips. That would allow American supporters to visit the school, interact with the children, experience the Ugandan culture, and see some of the sights.

Building Hope for Kids-Uganda is a not-for-profit organization and donations are tax deductible. Father Julius added that while he will set the standards for the school and ensure proper supervision, boards of directors have been established in the United States and Uganda to oversee the finances of the project.

Donations may be mailed to Building Hope in Kids-Uganda, P.O. Box 612, Washington, IL 61571, or made securely online at


Meanwhile, the Msgr. E.L. Grzybowski Knights of Columbus, Council No. 7580, from East Peoria is inviting people to “go to bat” for Father Julius Turyatoranwa by attending a Peoria Chiefs game against the Kane County Cougars on Saturday, Aug. 26. The game at Dozer Park in Peoria begins at 6:30 p.m.

A fireworks show will follow.

Tickets are $12 each and $6 of each ticket bought in advance will be donated to St. Patrick Boarding Primary School in Uganda. To purchase tickets, checks made payable to Adolph Arnold may be sent to him at 111 Regent Court, East Peoria, IL 61611.

Before the fireworks begin, there will be a tennis ball toss onto the field for prizes. The Knights of Columbus will be selling tennis balls inside the gate and throughout the game. The Chiefs will donate 50 percent of all money earned from the tennis ball toss to Father Julius’ school.

For more information, contact Arnold at or (309) 264-7221.


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