The Catholic Diocese of Hoima is set to lead celebrations for the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day that are slated to take place on June 3rd at Namugongo Shrine.
The celebrations which attract a number of Christians from around the world have since revolved from just being a spiritual event to a tourism event as well.
According to Hoima Diocese Bishop, Rt. Rev. Vincent Kirabo Amooti, the celebrations are being organized in partnership with the Uganda Episcopal Conference and various stakeholders for the spiritual benefit of the entire Catholic Community.
”The Diocese of Hoima will lead on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Province of Mbarara,” said Rev. Kirabo.
“The event gives opportunity to Christians from around the world to pay homage to the Uganda Martyrs, Catholic and Anglican, who were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887, for converting to Christianity”.
Twenty two Catholic Martyrs were canonized on October 18, 1964 as saints by Pope Paul VI, in the presence of Bishops from all over the world who had gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council.
In addition to the twenty two Martyrs, there are two more Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Jildo Irwa who were killed in 1918.
“This year’s celebrations are running under the theme; “stand firm in the faith that we have been taught.”
Rev, Kirabo explained that “the theme calls on the faithful and pilgrims to be strong witnesses in faith, personal lives, families, places of work and all areas that their daily lives influence.”
The spokesperson of the organizing committee, Fr Jude Semambo, said Hoima Bishop Vincent Kirabo will lead mass during the celebrations.
He said the church organized martyrs walk on May 27, in Kampala which started from Munyonyo Shrine to old Kampala Parish.
“We shall walk in the footsteps of the martyrs. It is a walk of faith and prayers as we proclaim to the world the dignity of the martyrs and what they went through,” Fr Ssemambo said.
“We are on schedule in our preparations. It is a blessing and a privilege for our diocese to be chosen to animate this year’s Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations at Namugongo,” said Dr Emmanuel Aliba Kiiza, the chairperson of the organizing committee. `
The choir uniforms have also been tailored to match the colors of the church and Uganda martyrs, added Dr Kiiza, a former seminarian.
“Yellow and white are the colours of the Catholic Church while red are for the martyrs. It symbolizes the blood of the martyrs while yellow represents light and is the Vatican colour,” Fr Ssemambo said.
According to Dr Kiiza, 75 per cent of the budget of Shs579m, which the diocese planned to cover the required expenses for the celebrations has already been realized.
More than 2 million pilgrims have expressed their readiness to make the annual pilgrimage to Namugongo.
“More than 400 foot pilgrims have so far registered to walk from various parts of Uganda to Namugongo” Dr Kiiza who is also the national executive secretary at the Catholic Peace and Justice Commission said.
The foot pilgrims from the Hoima vicariate were flagged off on May 26 to walk to Kampala. Other foot pilgrims were flagged off from Nyamigisa parish in Masindi District and Bujuni Parish in Kibaale District.
By Ambrose Gahene