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CATHOLICS WANT GOV’T TO ALLOW UNRESTRICTED MARTYRS’ DAY CELEBRATIONS

By Mulengera Reporters

The Catholic Church is seeking guidance from the government about the nature of this year’s Martyrs’ Day celebrations. The annual celebrations are in honor of 45 young men who converted to Christianity between 1885 and 1887 to the annoyance of the then Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda, who ordered that they are burnt to death.

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Millions of pilgrims from within and outside Uganda descend on Namugongo, the site where the majority of the converts were martyred, in celebration of their bravery. In 2020, the celebrations were canceled while in 2021 the church organized a low-key event with a limited number of Christians invited due to the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, Fort Portal Catholic Diocese was chosen to animate this year’s celebrations. Fort Portal Catholic Diocesan Bishop Robert Muhiirwa, says for better planning, they have written to the government seeking their guidance on how the day will be marked given the fact that there are still health concerns.

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Bishop Muhiirwa who is also the vice-chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference says although the government has delayed giving them feedback, they would like to have open celebrations like the ones that were held before the covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Patrick Birungi, the Executive Director of Uganda Development Corporation-UDC who is the Vice Chairperson organizing committee, says that the government’s response is critical since their decision can inform the nature of celebration and numbers to attract.

Dr. Birungi said that a final decision should be taken earlier to enable planning by the organizing committee and individual pilgrims who will be preparing to trek to the shrines.

Fort Portal Diocese last animated the martyr’s day celebration 25 years ago. At that time, the event had not attracted a multitude of pilgrims. The organizing committee says they have already embarked on the preparations starting with setting and training a choir of 200 members and hymns that will make this year’s event stand out and memorable.

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The diocese has already started the preparation and is currently hunting for one billion shillings to facilitate the event. However, Bishop Muhiirwa is worried about how they will raise the funds given the fact they were informed about the preparation on short notice.  (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

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