”I do not call you servants but friends” Jn 15:15.
The Archdiocese of Mbarara has been chosen to lead Uganda Martyrs Celebrations 2013 at Namugongo. The theme for the celebration is “I do not call you servants but friends” Jn 15:15. The Archdiocese of Mbarara last led the celebrations at Namugongo in 1992. The Overall Coordinator for the preparations is the Diocesan Pastoral CoordinatorRev. Fr. Leo Tinkatumire (PHD).
About the Martyrs:
Worldwide, the Catholic Church marks June 3rd as the feast of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, the martyrs of Uganda, East Africa. St. Charles Lwanga is singled out because of his leading role as a catechist and animator of the martyrs. He even baptized some of them. In addition to traditional twenty two Martyrs of Uganda, God gave us more two Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Gildo Irwa. So we are blessed with twenty four martyrs. In his introduction to African Holocaust: the Story of the Uganda Martyrs, Bishop Joseph Willigers explains, “Saints are special gifts which God makes to the world. They are given to us not merely to be objects of our admiration to be safely locked away in a shrine or as a source of national pride. They are in the first place meant to inspire us and spur us on to be in our own times and to our own living signs of God’s saving power.” Charles Lwanga and his companions and the Blessed Catechists of Paimol lived lives much like our own, but had to make a choice that most of us will never face.
The Martyrs are heroes and models for us, as the faithful, to follow in our faith. They were given choices: “Denounce Christianity or die.” They chose “to die rather than denounce their faith.” Between January 1885 and January 1887, Mwanga II had at least forty-five new Christian converts killed and the Blessed two Catechists were killed at Paimol in 1915. The Church honors those who exhibit such courage, devotion, and selfless sacrifice for their faith as heroes, models of faith who intercede for the living before God.
The twenty-two Catholics who Kabaka Mwanga II killed for their faith were beatified on 6th June 1920, by Pope Benedict XV, and on 18th October 1964, in the presence of Bishops from all over the world who had gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI canonized them. They are: Charles Lwanga, Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, Matthias Kalemba, Luke Banabakintu, Noe Mawagali, Andrew Kaggwa, James Buzabaliawo, Pontian Ngondwe, Bruno Serunkuma, Anatole Kirigwajjo, Athanasius Bazzekuketta, Adolphus Mukasa Ludigo, Gonzaga Gonza, Achilles Kiwanuka, Ambrose Kibuka, Mukasa Kiriwawanvu, Mbaga Tuzinde, Gyavira Musoke, Mugaga Lubowa, Kizito, Denis Ssebuggwawo and Jean-Marie Muzeyi. The two Blessed Catechist of Paimol, Daudi Okello and Gildo Irwa, were beatified by Pope John Paul II on 20th October, 2002. In the Catholic Church, the Martyrs are venerated for their heroism in professing and witnessing their faith and they have an intercessional role to those who are still struggling in life’s journey to join them triumphantly at the end of their earthly lives.
Working of the Committees:
Committees have been set up in Kampala and Mbarara. These are the leaders of the Central Organizing Committees: in Kampala the Chairperson is Mr. Gervase Ndyanabo andProf. Peter Kasenene is Vice Chairperson; in Mbarara the Chairperson is Mr. Polly Turambure andMr. Deus Tumusiime is the Vice Chairperson. Other Committees are: Pastoral and Liturgy, Transport and Protocol, Information and Publicity, Catering and Welfare, Choir, Accommodation, Construction, Decoration & Maintenance, Finance, Security, Pilgrims, Medical, and Ushering.
The preparations and actual celebration of the Uganda Martyrs Day on 3rd June 2013 has been estimated to cost at least UGX 650 million. In an effort to raise this big sum of money, we are appealing to all God loving, good-willed and generous people to give us a hand in raising this money for preparing the International Pilgrimage and actual celebration of the Uganda Martyrs Day at Namugongo. This big sum of money is not to be spent on one day alone! The committees listed above, have a big budget to cover what they must put in place before June 3, 2013. For example, the pavilion and all sheds/tents must be repaired, the lake must be de-silted, new sanitation facilities must be constructed and the whole venue repaired and cleaned up. Security of all kinds must be put in place to ensure peace and medical teams will be at the venue a week before the actual celebration. Much work is to be done before the actual day of June 3, 2013. Our Information and Publicity team is hunting for the best of the best Public Address System with big screens to allow people to watch the celebrations from all corners of the Uganda Martyrs Day celebration venue and we guarantee the best Choir and liturgical celebration on that day. The work at hand is much yet we have confidence that we will give the best of the best this year. It is for this reason that we are extending our hand of appeal to you.
We have opened a bank account in Centenary Bank:
Account name: ARCHDIOCESE OF MBARARA UMC
Account number: 5020446201
We have printed banking slips with an account name, account number and provision for the amount and put them in all Centenary Bank Branches in the Archdiocese of Mbarara: Ibanda, Ishaka, Ntungamo, Isingiro and Mbarara.
Information and publicity:
We are appealing to companies, schools, cooperate bodies to advertise in the official Magazine which is being prepared for the celebrations on June 3, 2013.
To advertise and give information about the celebrations, we have opened a Face book page: www.facebookcom/Uganda Martyrs 2013, twitter handle: @UGMartyrs2013 and hashtag: #UGMartyrs2013 where communication will be given to all those who can have access to these media. We are also using the Uganda Episcopal Conference Website: www.uecon.org to give information. We shall also use the available communication means Radio, Television and Newspapers to continue updating the public about the preparations and celebration of our beloved Uganda Martyrs Day.
In order to encourage all the faithful to pastorally and spiritually participate in the preparations of the Uganda Martyrs Celebrations led by our Archdiocese, a prayer has been composed to be used in Churches, families and individual worship. Other exercises are being planned i.e. Retreats, workshops and Novenas at all levels focusing on the Uganda Martyrs. I call upon everyone to participate in pastoral and spiritual exercises that focus on the lives and the benefits of the devotion to the Uganda Martyrs.
Competitions in activities like singing and composing of Uganda Martyrs Songs; Research and writing on the lives of the Uganda Martyrs; Sports tournaments like football, netball, running etc., may also be organized to prepare our people for the celebrations.
Finally, every year many people make pilgrimage to the Uganda Martyrs Shrine at Namugongo. Some fly into the country, some drive, others take public means but a big number choose to walk from neighboring countries like Kenya, Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and all Dioceses in our country. We are greatly indebted to all Parish Priests, Parishioners and other people of God who live along the roads that lead to Kampala for the material, A and spiritual support you give to these pilgrims. Again, this year, the routine will continue and many pilgrims are preparing to walk long distances. Let us again remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ that “When I was hungry you fed me and when thirsty you gave me a drink, when I was homeless you gave me shelter”.
Thank you very much for your support to make the Uganda Martyrs Celebrations 2013 a success. I hope to see all of there in big numbers.
Sr. Mary Germina Keneema
Diocesan Executive Secretary for Social Communications, Archdiocese of Mbarara
26th February 2013