I greet you in the name of Jesus our Lord.

As you might be aware, Hoima Catholic Diocese was chosen to lead and animate the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Celebrations at the Catholic Shrine in Namugongo on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Province of Mbarara.

The Diocese is organizing the celebrations in partnership with the Uganda Episcopal Conference and various stakeholders for the spiritual benefit of the entire Catholic Community in Uganda and beyond.

1. About the Uganda Martyrs

Every June 3, Christians from around the world pay homage to the Uganda Martyrs, Catholic and Anglican, who were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887, for converting to Christianity.

The Catholic Church honors those who exhibit such courage, devotion, and selfless sacrifice for their faith as heroes, models of faith who intercede for the living before God. Twenty two Catholic Martyrs were canonized on October 18, 1964 as saints by Pope Paul VI, in the presence of Bishops from all over the world who had gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council. In addition to the twenty two Martyrs, there are two more Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Jildo Irwa who were killed in 1918. 
Millions of pilgrims from different parts of the world usually travel to mark this celebration which transforms many people’s lives. The majority of the pilgrims usually come from Rwanda, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and DR Congo, South Sudan besides Uganda. The commemoration of the day is supposed to give inspiration and enhance Christian belief.

2. The Theme:

The theme selected by Hoima Diocese for this year’s celebrations is “STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH THAT WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT” (COLOSSIANS 2:7). The theme calls on the faithful and pilgrims to be stronger witnesses in faith, personal lives, families, places of work and all areas that daily lives influence.

3. The organizing committees

Different committees have been set up in both Kampala and Hoima Diocese to assist in the preparations. At Uganda Catholic Secretariat in Nsambya and in Hoima Diocese the central organizing committees which include Pastoral and Liturgy, Transport and Protocol, Publicity and Communication, Catering and Welfare, Construction and Decoration, Finance, Security, Pilgrims, Medical, and Ushering.

4. Publicity and communication (official souvenir magazine)

An official Souvenir Magazine is being prepared for the day, which will have content about the life of the martyrs, and the official proceedings of the day including but not limited to the Order of Mass. Institutions and other partners are encouraged to support the magazine by advertising.

5. Activities to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs celebrations:
Several activities have been lined up by the Uganda Episcopal Conference coordinated by the animating diocese. Here below are the activities.

a) The Uganda Martyrs Walk 2017 (Walking in the footsteps of the Uganda Martyrs) Saturday May 27th 2017.

In order to deepen people’s faith and show commitment to the Uganda Martyrs, the Uganda Episcopal Conference and Hoima Diocese in partnership with Uganda Tourism Board will undertake a one day pilgrimage from Munyonyo Martyrs shrine from where the story of martyrdom started. This symbolic walk is a spiritual journey to enable our Christians today to experience the martyrs’ pain and last moments on earth in a commemorative walk from Munyonyo to St. Matia Mulumba Church in Old Kampala. This walk is part of the continuous grand plan to organize such a pilgrimage every year to officially launch the pilgrimage to Namugongo by people from all over the world. This year’s walk will be the second such official event to be included on the Uganda Martyrs day celebration calendar intended to promote Uganda Martyrs trail further. The church wishes to encourage Christians to always come and walk the way of the Cross, marked and hallowed by the blood of the Martyrs. Everyone is encouraged to bring a cross with them and carry it all the way through this walk of faith.

b) Novena to the Uganda Martyrs
We shall have a novena to the Uganda Martyrs commencing on 25th May 2017 and concluding on 2nd June 2017. A novena is a nine days of public or private prayer made in preparation of a feast or for special graces. All the Catholic faithful in Uganda are encouraged to observe this novena as we prepare to honour our Martyrs.

6. Conclusion
We would like in a special way to express our gratitude to the Government of Uganda and in particular His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, the Hon. Minister of Tourism Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu and Uganda Tourism Board. The government has continuously supported the Uganda Martyrs day celebrations unreservedly.

I would also like to thank Uganda Episcopal Conference for guiding Hoima Diocese in the preparations, and I appreciate all the government organs who are working with us, the media and all our sponsors.

May the Peace and Love of the Risen Christ be with you now and forever, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Amen

+Rt. Rev. Vincent Kirabo Amooti
Bishop of Hoima Diocese


Courtesy of Uganda Episcopal Conference

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