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Martyrs Day celebration: Nebbi pilgrims begin 438km journey to Namugongo

NEBBI, May 15, 2024 – Over  700-foot pilgrims from Nebbi Catholic Diocese in West Nile region were this morning flagged off to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in Wakiso district by the Rt. Rev. Raphael Wokorach, Archbishop-elect of the Gulu Archdiocese, and Apostolic Bishop of Nebbi Diocese.

Uganda will on June 3, 20224, mark the annual Martyrs Day at Namugongo, and Nebbi Diocese will for the second time, since 2007, lead the prayers on the side of the Catholic Church. Particularly, Uganda celebrates the lives of 22 Catholic and 23 Anglican martyrs, who were executed for their faith on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda Kingdom between 1885 and 1887.

While addressing the foot pilgrims at Uganda Martyrs Chapel  Namrwodho, Nebbi Cathedral Parish, Archbishop Wokorach urged the Christians to exhibit spiritual capital and the power of faith as they embark on the journey of 438 kilometres to Namugongo.

This year’s Martyrs Day celebrations expected to attract thousands of local and foreign pilgrims will be held under the theme, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”.

However, before the foot pilgrims were set off for the holy journey to  Namugongo, mass was  celebrated at Uganda Martyrs Chapel at Namrwodho where  the Archbishop  blessed  the pilgrims  from the different Catholic parishes in West Nile.

The prelate said trekking to Namugongo is a journey of faith, and shouldn’t stop with Uganda Martyrs’ Day celebration but must continue to be part of the lives of Ugandan Christians.

According to Sam Okaba, a member of the subcommittee leading foot pilgrims to Namugongo  Catholic Shrine, Nebbi Diocese has registered  11-year old Chapel  Solomon Munguromu from Paidha district as the youngest pilgrim while Kachila Acibu, 80, from Pakwach Diocese, is the oldest pilgrim registered for the holy journey.

He said there was screening to identify the faithful with health complications like diabetics, blood pressure, among other ailments to avoid further complications that may arise during the journey to Namugongo.

Okaba noted that, Movit Products Limited and MTN-Uganda are all set to provide refreshments to the pilgrims at their stopovers. “The pilgrims will have their first stopover at Alwi, four kilometres before reaching Pakwach where they will be given refreshments,” he said.

According to the programme line-up, after reaching Pakwach on foot, the pilgrims will on Thursday morning board buses district to cross the Murchison National Park which covers around 100km, and disembark from the buses at Karuma -West Nile junction, and continue footing.

Deo Beropamungu, one of the pilgrims from Erussi Chapel was optimistic that Christians marching to Namugongo will have their sins forgiven and that Uganda as a country will be blessed economically.

“We anticipate that the long distance walk to Namugongo will be of great importance in the Christian lives because Ugandans are facing challenges such as increased prices of commodities,” he said.

On his part, the Nebbi Resident District Commissioner, Robert Abak  assured the pilgrims that there would be total security on their way to Namugongo. “The security teams will be present all the way to Namugongo, he said,  urging the pilgrims to care for each.

“We shall be with you, leave the issue of security to us, and concentrate on your journey and where you are getting complications, tell the team leaders,” Abak said.

List of Uganda Martyrs

Yusuf Rugarama, Kakumba Makko, Ssrwanga Nuwa, Balikuddembe Mukasa, Mukasa Musa, Kaggwa Anderea, Ngondwe Posiano, Ssebuggwawo Denis, Bazzekuketta Antanansio, Gonza Gonzaga, Mbwa Eriya, Muddu-aguma, Mulumba Matiya, Muwanga Daudi, Kayizzi Kibuuka, Mawaggali Nowa, Mayanja Kitoogo, Muwanga, Lwanga Karoli, and Baanabakintu Lukka,

Others are Buuzabalyawo Yakobo, Gyaviira, Kiuuka Ambrosio, Kiriggwajjo Anatoli, Kiriwawanvu Mukasa, Kiwanuka Achileo, Kizito, Lugido mukasa adolofu, mugagga, sserunkuuma Bruno, tuzinde mbaga, kadoko alexanda, Mubi-Azaalwa, Munyangabyangu Robert, Kifamunnyanja, Kiwanuka Giyaza, Kizza Frederick, Kwabafu, Muwanga Njigija, Lwakisinga Mukasa, Lwanga, Nakabandwa Danieri, Wasswa, Walukagga Nuwa,  and Muzeeyi Jean-Marie.

Martyrs Day, a public holiday in Uganda, is fast becoming an African religious event celebrating these Saints of the Church.

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