Father Ubald

Father Ubald Rugirangoga prays with John Sezikeye in a small chapel at the home of Jackson resident Katsey Long last week. Rugirangoga, who often preaches to congregations of more than 30,000 in his home country of Rwanda, visits Jackson regularly for rest. Sezikeye, a Rwandan native and resident of Baltimore, heard Rugirangoga was in America and flew to Jackson for one day to pray with him.

Carmel Tice had leukemia. Then Father Ubald Rugirangoga said God had healed her. And Tice didn’t have leukemia.

That’s her story. But not just hers. You can hear many people say the same, in Jackson, around the United States, the world and in Africa, where Rugirangoga survived the Rwandan genocide and went on to preach another healing message, of peace through forgiveness.

Rugirangoga died in a Salt Lake City hospital on Jan. 8 from complications due to COVID-19. News of his death spread quickly in his home country, where his popularity among his people made him a sort of living saint.

In Rwanda, Paul Vogelheim said, "he's like Billy Graham.

"People would walk for days to hear him, he was overwhelmed by people who wanted to touch him."

Bishop Celestin Hakizimana of Gikongoro Diocese told the Times of Rwanda that Ubald "love people so much and had unwavering integrity in his service."

A foundation in Jackson helped create Father Ubald's Center for the Secret of Peace in Rwanda. Rotary of Jackson Hole contributed money for the 80-acre compound to provide water and sewage infrastructure.

His friends in Jackson are raising money to return his body to Rwanda, and a funeral mass will be live-streamed from Salt Lake on Jan. 27 at 12:30 p.m., with further details to be announced on Fr. Ubald's Facebook page

Rugirangoga considered Jackson a second home. Jackson Hole News&Guide Reporter Mark Huffman spoke with some of the priest's friends in the valley to learn more about his work, his message of peace and his legacy. Read "Father Ubald, Catholic healer, Jackson part-time resident, dies" for more. 

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