This year, Hoima Diocese will lead the celebrations for the Roman Catholic Shrine while Namirembe Diocese will be leading the celebrations at the Anglican Shrine. The Church of Uganda Martyrs celebrations will be a week-long event, starting on May 27 with a Children’s Outreach.
This will be followed by a parish day on May 28 and a Youth Outreach on May 29. Other activities include Family Ministry on May 31, and a Health Camp from May to 31 to June, 2.
More than 100 pilgrims from West Ankole Diocese have set off for Namugongo ahead of the Uganda Martyrs day celebrations slated for June 3.
The day is commemorated every year in honor of the martyrdom of 45 young men who converted to Christianity between 1885 and 1887 to the annoyance of then King of Buganda, Mwanga II. The young converts were burnt to death after they refused to denounce Christianity.
The martyrs included 22 Catholics who were beatified on June 6, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. They were later canonized and elevated to sainthood on October 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI.
The annual pilgrimage in honor of the Uganda Martyrs attracts over two million people from all around the world, including countries like Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and the DRC, as well as European countries and the Americas. Over the years pilgrims walk the journey of faith from different parts of the country to the Martyrs shrine in Namugongo.
The group from West Ankole Diocese will trek a distance of more than 300 kilometers holding prayers along the way and emulating the faith, suffering and commitment displayed by the Uganda Martyrs. It comprises of teams from the districts of Buhweju, Sheema, Mitooma, Bushenyi and Rubirizi
Their journey started with special prayers at St. Peters Cathedral Bweranyangi, flagged off by West Ankole Diocesan secretary Rev. Canon Arthur Atwine. He called upon them to desist all temptations along the journey to ensure that they do not deviate from the primary purpose of the trip.
The leader of the team Rev. Ben Jackson Bitungirwe says that the trek is a sign of devotion and that they intend to use the mission to pray for an end to cases of insecurity and murder in Uganda.