Preparations are in high gear ahead of the 2018 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration due June 3 at the Catholic Shrine in Namugongo.
On 17th, January, 2018, the Archdiocese of Tororo held its first crucial meeting at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat premises in Kampala, to officially set-up the Central Organizing Committees (COCs) to assist in the organization and coordination of the 2018 celebrations. A total of 10 COCs were formed according to the allotted tasks which include: Pastoral and Liturgy, Protocol and Security, Transport, Publicity and Communication, Catering and Welfare, Construction and Decoration, Finance, Pilgrims, Medical/Health and Ushering.
Speaking as the Chairperson of the COC, Msgr. John Baptist Kauta, also the Secretary General of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) said that Tororo Archdiocese is organizing the celebrations in partnership with the UEC and various stakeholders.
“This is a very big celebration which attracts many international pilgrims from across the world. Therefore, we will be working hand-in-hand for the spiritual benefit of the entire Catholic Community in Uganda and beyond,” said Msgr. Kauta.
An official Souvenir Magazine is being prepared for the day by Publicity and Communication. The magazine will have content about the life of the martyrs, and the official proceedings of the day including but not limited to the Order of Mass. Institutions and other partners are encouraged to support the magazine by advertising.
“We appeal to all corporate companies and other partners to come forth and run their advertisements at a fee in our souvenir magazine,” he added.
Several activities have also been lined up by the UEC coordinated by the animating Archdiocese in a bid to raise US$198,029 (an equivalent of 720m Ugandan shillings) that is required for the preparations and actual celebrations.
“We have formulated different strategies to help raise the shs720m. One of them is assigning our 45 parishes in the Archdiocese and well-wishers to raise a total of $61600 (Ushs 220m). We appeal to all well-wishers within and outside Uganda to come and support us,” said Fr. Kevin Musisi, the Chairperson of the Organizing Committee at the Archdioce level adding that the Archdiocese has so far raised $44800 (Ushs 160m) as of 15th January.
Meanwhile, last year the Archdiocese held two fundraising activities with the first being held in Tororo on 21st October, 2017. A total of $5040 (Ushs 18m) was raised in cash and $1316 (Ushs 4.7m) in pledges. The Archdiocese also held it’s second fund-raising drive on 12th November, 2017 in Kampala and collected US$ 3,052 (Ushs 10.9m) in cash while $8008 (Ushs 28.6m) in form of pledges.
Tororo also unveiled a theme for the 2018 celebration: “Let Us Walk in the Light of God as a Family” (1 John 1:5-10). In addition, they released a special prayer (novena) dedicated to the Uganda Martyrs. The prayer is intended for the success of the June 3rd celebrations and for the intentions of all the pilgrims who will attend the 2018 celebration.
Tororo Archdiocese will animate the 2018 celebrations on behalf of Tororo Ecclesiastical Province which comprises of the Dioceses of Jinja, Kotido, Moroto, Soroti and Tororo. The 2018 celebration will be held concurrently with the 100 year’s celebration of the martyrdom of the two Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okello and Blessed Jildo Irwa who were killed in 1918. The two Blessed Martyrs are usually commemorated on 18th, October but they will be remembered in a special way on 3rd, June, 2018.
Every June 3 the celebration commemorates the 22 Catholic Martyrs who were killed on the orders of Mwanga II the Kabaka (King) of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. Twenty-two Catholic Martyrs were beatified on 6th June, 1920, by Pope Benedict XV, and on 18th October, 1964, Pope Paul VI canonized them as Saints.
The celebration usually brings together millions of pilgrims from across the globe. Tororo last presided over the Martyrs Day celebrations in 1998.
By Jacinta W. Odongo; Media Officer, Uganda Episcopal Conference