Fluvanna Faces: Father David Ssentamu

Fluvanna Faces: Father David Ssentamu

By Madeline Otten

What do you do for a living?

I am a Catholic priest, but I don’t do it as earning a living in the strictest sense. If it were doing something to earn a living, I would be a psychologist. I therefore serve as a priest in the Catholic Church.

Where do you live?

I live at Lake Monticello.

How long have you lived in Fluvanna?

Two weeks.

What were your previous churches?

I served three smaller churches in southwest Virginia: St. Joseph Church in Woodlawn, All Saints Church in Floyd and the Risen Lord Church in Stuart.

How does Sts. Peter and Paul differ from your former churches?

It is different in many ways, but I would for now point out that the parishes I served before coming here were more rural. Otherwise each church even in the Catholic Church tends to have its own character.

Why did you change parishes?

I don’t know. The bishop just asked me to take up a new position.

What did you want to be as a child? How has that changed?

Growing up, I always wanted to be a priest. Over the years I have just grown into loving it, and also sometimes challenging myself whether this is really what I wanted to do. But every time I challenge myself, I keep coming back to the same answer: priest.

What was your first job?

My first job was priesthood.

How do you prepare for mass?

I give myself a few minutes before mass, and I sit before the Blessed Sacrament. That way I allow Jesus to teach me, before I go out to teach others.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I visit with friends and have some fun. I like also to take a hike once in a while, as I observe nature in silence.

What are your favorite books and movies?

I like to read books related to psychology. Such books help me to understand man’s brokenness. In my call as a priest, I encounter many people who are broken. Reading such books helps my understanding of them and also helps me to appreciate them. I am not so much into movies. I live most of the time by myself. I get bored watching interesting stuff by myself.

What sports do you follow?

Once I have company I like to watch sports, especially basketball and soccer. Right now I have been rooting for the American women’s soccer team. I was very happy seeing them winning the World Cup!

What pivotal decision helped to shape your life?

Trusting that my parents always meant the best for me. Many times I did not like their decisions, but obeyed and trusted that they meant the best for me. I am going to be grateful always to them. I see that as a very pivotal decision I took: obeying them.

Tell us about a way you have changed over the years.

I don’t think a lot has changed. I have always been a loyal person and attentive to the pain and injustices in society.

What has surprised you about your life?

Human nature being the same wherever you go. People tend to be the same regardless of their race, color, sex, and other factors. There is something I have found as a constant wherever I have been. I fail to give it a proper name though. I guess that is why it surprises me still!

What’s one thing you hope to accomplish before you die?

I want to be a better person. I want to accomplish that wonderful person God created me to be.

Tell us about one of your regrets.

I don’t regret much. I fail many times, but all the failures in my life become learning opportunities.

Tell us about your proudest moment.

In general and on a daily basis, whenever I accomplish a task. But my proudest moment ever was when I was ordained a priest in August 2006. I started seminary formation to become a priest in 1992. It was quite a long journey of several years. When I was finally ordained, it made me so proud.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done in Fluvanna?

I have not yet done anything crazy so far. I plan to swim across Lake Monticello from one end to another in the shortest time possible. I want to break a record!

What quote do you connect with most?

It is a Bible verse from Jeremiah 14:9: “Lord, we are called by your name; do not desert us!” I believe I am weak. In this way, I need to feel God’s presence always surrounding as I speak to his people and as I make important decisions that affect lives of many people. Who am I left to myself, really? That is why I feel I need him always.

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