AFRICA/UGANDA - Thousands of pilgrims flocked from across Africa to celebrate Ugandan Martyrs' Day

Friday, 3 June 2022 martyrs   local churches  

Kampala (Agenzia Fides) - "We are not alone. The Lord is with us. He was with the martyrs to sustain them during their tribulation", said His Excellency Msgr. Robert Kisaija Muhiirwa, Bishop of Fort Portal, during the Mass for the Martyrs of Uganda which is celebrated today, June 3, in the shrine of Namugongo. Msgr. Muhiirwa spoke about the challenges and tribulations Ugandans face in their daily lives, especially the surge in basic necessities. He encouraged the faithful to deepen their faith by reminding them that "our life here on earth is short-lived. It is transitory. We must deepen our love and our faith in the Lord", in order "to overcome challenges with his help". Drawing on the example of the Ugandan martyrs, the Bishop of Fort Portal encouraged believers to be faithful to the teaching of the Gospel and to reject all forms of witchcraft. "Let us learn from martyrs. Let us turn away from all forms of witchcraft". This year's celebrations are particularly heartfelt because they are the first to take place after they could not be held in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Among the thousands of pilgrims who flocked there was also a 100-year-old believer, Bernaldo Tibyangye, from Kigoma village, who arrived in good health with 18 other pilgrims, despite having walked for 350 km. Msgr. Muhiirwa is leading a delegation of more than 2,000 pilgrims from the diocese he presides over to lead this year's celebrations for the Martyrs of Uganda. Among the pilgrims, many came from all over Uganda and other African countries (Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania) to join the delegation of the Diocese of Fort Portal. Among them was also a Tanzanian delegation which organized a mass for the beatification of the first President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere. The celebrant, Fr. John Chrysostom Kyazze remembered the late President, affectionately known as mwalimu (teacher), for being a person who kept things simple and put prayer at the center of his actions. "My friends, put God first and your prayers will be answered, but if you forget God, everything you do will be empty," Father Kyazze said. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 3/6/2022)