By Arnold Neliba
FORT PORTAL, APRIL 26, 2022 (CISA)-The Annual Uganda Martyrs’ Day public celebrations are set to resume on June 3 after two years of virtual celebrations following the suspension of public gatherings to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
According to the initial preparations for the celebrations, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Portal has been selected by the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) to animate the 2022 celebrations at Namugongo Catholic Shrine.
While acknowledging the communication came late, Bishop Robert Muhiirwa of Fort Portal said, “The task is enormous and demands serious preparations on the spiritual level and material level so as to profit from the pilgrimage to Namugongo whose purpose is eminently spiritual, the material dimension notwithstanding.”
The last time the diocese led the celebration was in 1997, and the event has undergone changes, what used to be an event of about 300 people now attracts the participation of millions internationally.
“This celebration is a great opportunity for us as a diocese, together with the faithful in Uganda and the Universal Church to learn from the Martyrs’ witness of Christ with love and hope and to seek their intercession. It is a moment of spiritual renewal as we strive to preach the gospel and fight the evils in our society today,” Bishop Muhiirwa emphasized.
Commenting on this year’s theme, BAPTIZED AND SENT TO WITNESS CHRIST WITH LOVE AND HOPE MT. 28:19, ROM. 8:35, the bishop said is a reflection on the way the, martyrs died. “… they were men of faith baptized with water, but some were not yet baptized (baptism of blood). They had a great love for Christ. That is why they opted to die than obey the orders of Kabaka Mwanga. They were not threatened by the sword or fire. With love and hope, they looked to the life after death and resurrection without any fear.”
“We are going through so many socio-economic challenges of sicknesses, unemployment, poverty, death, among others. Some people have even lost hope. As Christians and Ugandans, we need to be inspired by our martyrs. They faced several hardships, especially when the missionaries had run to Tanzania. They kept the faith and succeeded,” the bishop added while noting that the theme invites Ugandans in these post-Covid-19 times to witness faith and hope everywhere as individuals, in families, institutions and government.
Also, as part of the preparations, a committee led by Fr Charles Oyo as the Chairperson and Dr Patrick Birungi as his vice has been constituted with several other members and Sub-committees.
“I continue in a special way to appeal to you all people of goodwill to support Fort Portal Diocese in realizing successful and fruitful celebrations. With your spiritual, financial, moral, social and all kinds of support, we shall be able to meet our UGX 1 billion budget, which is very much needed for the success of the occasion,” requested Bishop Muhiirwa while also acknowledging help from the Uganda Episcopal Conference and the Government of Uganda.