Preparations for the 2018 Uganda Martyrs Day (UMD) celebration are in high gear. With just hours left to the much anticipated celebration in the history of the Catholic Church in Uganda, pilgrims from across the world have already begun registration.
As of Wednesday, March 14, 2018, over 400 international pilgrims from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania had confirmed participation on 3rd, June 2018, at Namugongo Catholic Shrine. Tororo Archdiocese will animate the celebrations on behalf of Tororo Ecclesiastical Province which comprises of the Dioceses of Jinja, Kotido, Moroto, Soroti and Tororo.
According to Theresa Obbo, convener of Pilgrims Committee for the 2018 UMD celebration, says, “We have already started the registration process of both local and international pilgrims. We have so far received a list of names from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania as well as from the foot pilgrims in Uganda,” he said adding that “We encourage pilgrims especially from outside Uganda to register with us so as to guide them upon arrival on certain things such vigil Masses, accommodation and offertory among other things.”
She added that pilgrims, especially those who intend to travel to Namugongo on foot, should go for thorough medical check-up before starting the journey to avoid injuries along the way or preventable deaths.
The Uganda Martyrs Day celebration usually attracts millions of enthusiastic pilgrims from across the world: from the East African Community member countries besides hosts Uganda, United States of America, Nigeria, Mexico, Malawi, Italy, Zambia, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, India, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada among other countries.
Millions of these pilgrims usually travel by air, road and on foot to mark this celebration which transforms many people’s lives. It is a journey that sometimes takes a whole month, weeks or days depending on where the pilgrims come from but, the testimony of the Uganda Martyrs to die for their faith in the imitation of Jesus Christ usually inspires them to make this spiritual journey of renewing their faith. Their (Uganda Martyrs) intercession has transformed many people’s lives and has become the source of strength amid the challenges and difficulties many Christians go through in their lives.
In the Catholic Church, the Martyrs are venerated for their heroism in professing and witnessing to their faith. They have an intercessional role for those who are still struggling in life’s journey to join them triumphantly at the end of their earthly lives.
This annual celebration usually marks the commemoration of the heroic faith of the Martyrs, both Catholic and Protestant, who were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887, for refusing to denounce their faith.