By Simon Emunyu
The Catholic Diocese of Jinja will animate this year’s Martyrs Day celebrations at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine on June 3.
Thousands of faithful from all walks of life pay homage to the Martyrs most of whom were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II between 1885 and 1887 for refusing to denounce their faith.
Speaking to the faithful at St. Fatima Cathedral during Mass recently, Fr. Paul Okello Wandera, the Parish Priest of Fatima, argued the faithful to support the day in any way they can.
“As we prepare to celebrate Martyr’s Day, let’s do the needful,” he stated.
Fr. Okello revealed that the decision of Jinja diocese to celebrate Martyrs Day next year was made in a rare special broadcast on Uganda Episcopal Conference-owned Radio Sapientia. It emanated from the bishops’ resolutions from their annual plenary held at St. Augustine’s Institute Nsambya from June 6 to 10th,2022.
The plenary chose the Tororo Ecclesiastical Province which was then allowed to choose the Diocese that would lead the celebrated festival that draws thousands of people from inside Uganda and beyond.
Fr. Okello stated that the Bishops of Tororo Ecclesiastical Province surprisingly picked picked Jinja to lead the celebration.
Within the Province, Tororo Archdiocese had animated Martyrs Day celebrations in 2018, Kotido Diocese in 2014, Moroto Diocese in 2010 while Fort Portal Catholic Diocese animated last year’s Martyrs Day celebrations. It has been long since Soroti and Jinja animated the Martyrs’Day celebrations.
Jinja Diocese was created in 1966, having been carved out of the former Diocese of Kampala which was under the Mill Hill Fathers.
The Diocese also has a special attachment to the Uganda Martyrs given the fact that some of the converts who were killed like Matia Mulumba and Gonzaga Gonza hailed from Busoga.
Fr Okello said the Bishops shared the situation of the Catholic church in Uganda and its institutions, which were formed for evangelization across the country and heard reports from other institutions linked with the catholic Church in Uganda During the Plenary.
In a related development, Rev Fr. Julius Kazziva, the youth Chaplain at Rubaga Students’ Centre, while presiding over last year’s Christmas Mass, urged the Christians at Rubaga students’ Centre to prioritise this year’s Martyrs celebrations.
“As we celebrate the birth of Christ, lets also be thinking about the task we have next year and be prepared for it as well,” he said.
The Uganda Episcopal Conference is the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Uganda that is constituted with the approval of the Holy see. Bishops use the Uganda Episcopal Conference to Express their collegial responsibility through collective action and ensure the progress of the Church and coordination of its social and pastoral Ministry.
However, according to Rev. Elly Tumwebaze the youth Pastor at of Christ the King Bugembe Church of Uganda on the celebration for the Church of Uganda where he said the decision that has been made states that 10 Eastern dioceses of the cluster will lead the 2023 Uganda Martyrs day at Namugongo in Wakiso celebrations, among those include; Mbale, Soroti, Iganga, Jinja, Sebei, Moroto, Kotido, Kamuli and Kumi.