He succumbed to complications stemming from COVID-19 which he had contracted in October 2020. The priest, who died at the age of 66, was renowned for divine healing prayers, psychiatric as well as unity and reconciliation initiatives.
At the beginning of 2020, Father Rugirangoga traveled to U.S.A for usual mission of spreading the gospel and healing prayers. He had to return in April, the same year but was stuck there as flight travels were suspended due to emerging COVID-19 pandemic.
As flights resumed, Father Rugirangoga caught the virus in October 2020. He recovered from the virus but later suffered from complications stemming from the disease until his demise.
He is said to have succumbed to lungs complications.
The Bishop of Gikongoro Diocese, Hakizimana Célestin who also oversees Cyangugu Diocese has told IGIHE that Father Rugirangiga belonged had read a mass at the hospital where he was admitted on 7th January 2021. It was his first mass after recovering from COVID-19.
Few hours later, caretakers called the brother of Rugirangoga (Révelien) telling him that his elder brother was critically ill. One hour later around 11pm of U.S.A time zone , Father Rugirangoga breathed the last.
IGIHE has spoken to Rugirangoga’s acquaintances who have described him as a kind person who strived for a peaceful society.
Father Rugirangoga has been a priest for 35 years.
His Eminence, Cardinal Antoine Kambanda has said that he was with Rugirangoga by the time he read the first ever mass as he was ordained priest.
Cardinal Kambanda was ordained priest on 9th September 1990 by Pope Jean Paul II during a ceremony that took place at Nyandungu in Kigali. Kambanda read the first mass next day at Junior Seminary Saint Vincent de Paul.
Antoine Cardinal Kambanda has recounted great memories with Father Rugirangoga who attended his mass coming from Cyangugu Diocese where he was accomplishing his pastoral duties.
“The next morning on 10th September 1990, I read the first mass in presence of Father Ubald who had visited us. He was staying at the seminary given that I was living with his friend, a priest with whom they studied together [late Emmanuel Gasana],” he revealed.
After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Father Rugirangoga played a big role to Rwandan community in divine healing prayers that saw many recovering from incurable diseases and contributed to the country’s unity and reconciliation efforts.
“We have been liaised by the mission of promoting unity and peace and rebuilding Rwandan community. We have been particularly, working together at justice and peace commission in Rwanda’s Catholic Church,” he said.
“We are deeply moved on by his death. We still needed his contribution to this mission of uniting Rwandans. May his soul Rest In eternal Peace,” added Cardinal Kambanda.
The Bishop of Gikongoro Diocese, Bishop Hakizimana Célestin has said that Rwanda’s Catholic Church and Rwanda community loses an important person.
As he explained, Bishop Hakizimana also lived with Father Rugirangoga in Kigali shortly after Genocide.
“He used to say that we didn’t carry out our mission appropriately. Then, he started promoting unity and reconciliation journey in Mushaka Parish which was extended countrywide,” he said.
“We know that he used well his spiritual talent that he toured the entire country praying for patients some of whom fully or partly recovered. He was God’s gift to Rwanda,” added Bishop Hakizimana.
Ubald was the head priest at Mushaka Parish had requested his Bishop to be assigned in a parish where he could easily pray for mass public and help them along unity and reconciliation journey.
Bishop Hakizimana said, he appointed him to head the organization dubbed ‘Ikigo Ibanga ry’Amahoro’ (The Secret to Peace) located in Nkanka Parish, Rusizi district, Western Province.
“He had traveled to America for fundraising to upgrade activities of the organization. So far; a church and priests’ accommodations among other facilities have been set up at the center. He was a man of God who dedicated his life to provide psychiatric services, peace, unity and reconciliation,” he said.
The head priest at Mushaka Parish, Rwabugiri Siméon has also highlighted that he started living with Father Rugirangoga during internship.
“He was a humble person, treating everyone modestly and used to dedicate time for everyone with sufferings seeking his help,” he noted. “After Genocide, he has been uniting perpetrators and survivors and helped to mend members of the community involved in different disputes including poison accusation cases that yielded big,” added Rwabugiri.
Father Rugirangoga has prayed for many patients some of whom recovered from sight problems, HIV/AIDS, Diabetis among other incurable or hardly curable diseases.
He always attributed the healing to Jesus.
Speaking to IGIHE in 2015, Father Rugirangoga revealed that he started healing prayers in 1987 when he was a young priest. “Later in 1991, I started seeing visuals and hearing strange voices speaking to me. In the four previous years, I used to pray for people who would come to tell me that they have recovered,” he said.
Niyibizi Verena from Kicukiro district witnessed that he recovered from heart disease in 2015 after attending Ubald’s healing prayers. He had suffered from the disease for nine years that hospitals in Rwanda, Kenya, Belgium and Germany had failed him.
Father Ubald Rugiranoga was born in February 155 in former Rwabidege sector, Mwezi parish in Commune Karengera, Prefecture Cyangugu currently in Rusizi district. He was ordained priest in 1984 at the age of 29. He used to organize different gospel crusades in which many people healed from different diseases.
He has been a priest for over 32 years.
In 2015, Father Rugirangoga was selected Protector of Friendship Pact ‘Umurinzi w’Igihango’ for outstanding contribution to unity and reconciliation initiatives that started in Mushaka Parish and extended countrywide.