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Gulu Archdiocese ready to lead Martyrs Day

Archbishop Odama (C), flanked by the Secretary-General Uganda Episcopal Conference Msgr. John B. Kauta (L), and Mr. Bradford Ochieng the deputy CEO, Uganda Tourism Board (R) (PHOTO/Courtesy)

NSAMBYA – Archbishop John Baptist Odama has flagged his team ready to lead the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations in 10 days, on June 3.

The Archbishop addressed his final 2019 Martyrs Day celebrations press briefing at the Catholic Secretariat in Thursday, May 23, and appealed to all people of good will to support the organising team realise the budget for organising the day the remaining days for a successful celebration.

“I would like to emphasize that this celebration is a great opportunity for the Archdiocese of Gulu as a family, together with the faithful in Uganda and the Universal Church, to learn from the Martyrs’ faithfulness and obedience to Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:13), and to seek their intercession,” he said.

“It is a moment of spiritual renewal as we strive to preach the gospel and fight the evils in our society today,” the Archbishop told journalists.

He reported that only 40 percent of the Shs 900 million budget had been realised to date.

“A special appeal goes to those who have made pledges and have not been able to honour them. Our success is your success and the success of the Nation,” he said.

The Uganda Tourism Board has injected UGX. 96m into the organisation of the Martyrs Day celebration, supporting the Public Address System and Day Light screens, among others (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Gulu Archdiocese was selected by the Uganda Episcopal Conference to lead the 2019 Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations.

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Below is the Archbishop’s Full Statement:

FINAL BRIEFING ON THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE UGANDA MARTYRS DAY ON 3RD JUNE 2019

Beloved fellow Ugandans, men and women of good will, I greet you all in the name of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

It was three months ago on 25th February 2019 that we held a Press Conference expressing gratitude that the Uganda Episcopal Conference chose the Archdiocese of Gulu to lead this year’s Uganda Martyrs day celebrations at Namugongo Catholic Shrine. The purpose of this Press Conference is to give you a final briefing on the preparations leading to the actual celebration due in ten days’ time from now.

I would like to emphasize that this celebration is a great opportunity for the Archdiocese of Gulu as a family, together with the faithful in Uganda and the Universal Church, to learn from the Martyrs’ faithfulness and obedience to Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:13), and to seek their intercession. It is a moment of spiritual renewal as we strive to preach the gospel and fight the evils in our society today.

Our preparations have hinged on the theme for this year’s celebration: “OBEY GOD ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE” (ACTS 4:19). We have been able to prepare for this day through retreats, recollections, pilgrimages, and daily recitation of a special prayer composed for the celebration. These spiritual activities have enabled our people to reflect more deeply on the celebration theme and the life of the Uganda Martyrs and to pray for the success of the celebration.

Through the Central Organizing Committee with its ten Sub-committees, the Christians and community of the Archdiocese of Gulu and Uganda at large, have been mobilized at all levels to prepare for and participate in this year’s celebration. As Archdiocese of Gulu, we officially flagged off our foot pilgrims on 15th May 2019 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Gulu, and they are now halfway to Namugongo.

As we draw closer to the great day, we are still faced with some challenges. So far we have realized only about 40% of our budget of 900,000,000/=. There are so many pledges that have not been honoured. We need the money to realize the essential items budgeted for the success of this important National event.

The money can be deposited into our bank account with CENTENARY BANK, Gulu Main Branch and the following are the account details:

ACCOUNT NAME: ARCHDIOCESE OF GULU NAMUGONGO MARTYRS CELEBRATIONS
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 3100059093

You can also send the money through the MTN Mobile Money payment. Simply dial *165*3#, enter the business number 142445, enter any amount as low as Shs 1,000/= then send.

I would like to make a final appeal to all men and women of good will to support the Archdiocese of Gulu to realize the shortfall in the budget which is very much needed for the success of this occasion. A special appeal goes to those who have made pledges and have not been able to honour them. Our success is your success and the success of the Nation.

I would also like to draw your attention to the following upcoming activities leading us to the climax of the celebrations:

1) Saturday, 25th May 2019: The Uganda Martyrs Novena prayers will start and end on 2nd June 2019. There will be daily novena prayers at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine and other Parishes.

2) Saturday, 1st June 2019: There will be a Walk of Faith from Munyonyo Martyrs shrine to St. Matia Mulumba Church in Old Kampala. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda has been invited as the Chief Walker.

He will flag off the walk at 8.00 a.m. together with the Most Rev. Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kampala Archdiocese, and I, Most Rev. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu. We shall conclude with Mass at St. Matia Mulumba Church beginning at 2.00 pm. This Walk of Faith is being organized by the Lay Apostolate Department of Uganda Episcopal Conference in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Gulu, Munyonyo Parish, and Uganda Tourism Board, who are also the main sponsors.

3) Sunday, 2nd June 2019: There will be several Vigil Masses at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine.

4) Monday, 3rd June 2019: This is the day for the Uganda Martyrs celebration and Mass will commence at 09.30 a.m.

An official Souvenir Magazine is being prepared for the occasion and we continue to invite institutions and individuals who would like to advertise in this magazine to contact the Editor Mr. Alex B. Atuhaire on 0776-499122.

A few weeks ago, my brother Bishop and Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference Rt. Rev. Joseph Antony Zziwa, Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese announced that the Catholic Church had in partnership with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and others — Vivo Energy, NBS and Coca Cola, launched a joint campaign against “Kaveera” in and around the premises of Namugongo Martyrs Shrine. This campaign is a call to all of us to exercise responsibility to protect our environment and indeed Mother Nature. This effort is in line with the appeal of His Holiness Pope Francis in his Encyclical “Laudato Si” (On Care for our Common Home), for us to protect mother earth from destruction.

As most of you are aware, “kaveera” take long to decompose and pose a great threat to our environment including the soil and also human and animal health. The amount of “kaveera” dropped in and around Namugongo during the Uganda Martyrs celebration is, therefore, a great concern for us. We call upon the pilgrims to make Namugongo Shrine “kaveera” free. We encourage them to carry their items in paper bags or any other environment-friendly bags. NEMA and their partners have promised to provide Green bins for proper disposal of “kaveera”.

I would like to appreciate all those who have been praying and are still praying for the success of this great celebration. With God everything is possible. His project never fails. I also extend my appreciation to the following for their enormous contributions:

1) The Uganda Episcopal Conference through the Team led by Msgr. John Baptist Kauta at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat.

2) The Government of Uganda for working hand in hand with us and for all the support, and most especially for providing security.

3) Msgr. Matthew Odong, Vicar General and Chairman of the Gulu Central Organizing Committee for the great work of coordinating the ten sub-committees and the Kampala Team.

4) The Uganda Tourism Board, through their newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Ms. Lilly Ajarova, who have committed to partner with the Organizing Committee through the Uganda Episcopal Conference, to support the budgets for the Day Light Screens, the Public Address System and the publicity materials for the celebration.

5) All the organizations and individuals who have so far supported us in cash and in kind.

6) All the pilgrims, especially the foot pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Gulu, and those from other parts of Uganda and beyond. Your sacrifice will be rewarded by God for the good of all men and women through the intercession of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda.

7) Special thanks to you the Media houses for the mobilization through the publicity of this important event. Keep up the good work of spreading the Good News.

You are all welcome to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine to celebrate and pray to God through the intercession of the Holy Uganda Martyrs for love, peace and unity to prevail in our Country Uganda and the world at large.

In a special way, I invite all of you to pray for the people of Apaa so that those in authority may make the right decision that favours humanity and lasting peace for all.

Let us remember to obey God always and everywhere and in that way we shall fully live our motto: “For God and my Country”.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL

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Most Rev. John Baptist Odama
Archdiocese of Gulu
Given at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat, Nsambya, Kampala on Monday, 23rd May 2019

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