KAMPALA — Masaka Catholic Bishop Serverus Jjumba huth central diocese is ready to lead the Catholic Church celebrations for the Uganda Martyrs day 2020.
Addressing a press conference at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat at Nsambya on Thursday February 27, Bishop Jjumba indicated that the organisers need UGX. 950 million to prepare the celebrations, including liturgy, public address system, security, health and sanitation of the pilgrims.
This year’s celebrations will run under the theme, “Do not lose heart (2Cor 4:1-18), Bishop Jjumba said, at the conference jointly addressed with the Chairman, Uganda Episcopal Conference Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa, of Kiyinda Mityana.
“All these activities bring financial implications to the reality. We have drafted a working budget of UGX. 950 Million. This going to be spent on a number of activities, including the following; liturgy, publicity, health and sanitation,” he said.
Bishop Zziwa urged Masaka to coordinate with the Secretary General, Uganda Episcopal Conference for smooth preparations.
“Today, I have to reiterate that whichever diocese is chosen, acts on behalf of the Uganda Episcopal Conference and its guidelines for the day. The Conference has entrusted the Secretary General, the overall Chairman for the preparations for the celebrations, and Staff at Uganda Catholic Secretariat (UCS) with the responsibility of assisting and guiding such a diocese as much as possible,” Bishop Zziwa said.
Full statement below:
27th February 2020
PREPARATIONS FOR THE UGANDA MARTYRS DAY CELEBRATION 2020 AT NAMUGONGO ANIMATED BY MASAKA DIOCESE
Our hearts are set on pilgrimage to Namugongo: Let us move with faith and courage to that valley of bitterness that was transformed into springs of life by the blood of the martyrs (cf. Psalm 84: 5-6).
The martyrs are a rare and precious gift God gives to the church and the world at large. The History of the Church and of Christianity, especially in the early centuries, is written and mapped out by the very blood of the martyrs, the courageous and faithful witnesses of the faith. Like in the first Millennium, the church in Uganda was born of the blood of the martyrs (cf. TMA 37). The Uganda martyrs are, thus, a very special gift and singular favour to Uganda, to Africa and to the entire world, for Martyrdom is central to the mystery of salvation won for us by Jesus Christ and is a sign of the maturity of the faith in Jesus Christ, the Ssabajulizi, the fountain and Icon of Martyrdom.
The martyrs’ courageous witness to Jesus Christ and His Gospel, their commitment and dedication and willingness to surrender their life in fidelity to the Lord inspire many others to convert to Christianity and to remain steadfast in the faith by their intercession. Hence the famous saying of Tertullian in 197 AD, The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of Christians.
Martyrs are so special that usually people flock to their places of martyrdom for pilgrimage. This is a religious and spiritual journey of faith with a particular purpose among which can be the following: Veneration of a saint, asking for a spiritual favour, begging for a physical cure, performing an act of penance, expressing gratitude, fulfilling a promise or simply practicing a virtue of religion . Since 1920 when the first pilgrimage was made to Namugongo by Fr. Walters and his group, Catholics and non-Catholics have continued to make pilgrimage to this holy site. Until 2000, it was a custom for the Archdiocese of Kampala to organise and lead the liturgy at Namugongo. In 1999, the Uganda Episcopal Conference agreed that organisation of the pilgrimage to Namugongo be rotational from one diocese to another. Masaka was chosen to start this practice and led the celebrations ably in 2000 under the theme, “Christ Yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrew 13:8).
At the conclusion of the plenary of the Uganda Episcopal conference in June 2019, the bishops chose Kampala Ecclesiastical Province to prepare for the Uganda Martyrs Day in the year 2020. The lot again fell on Masaka Diocese that had been a pioneer of the entire practice to lead the preparations of Namugongo. We are happy and proud to lead the people of God in the preparations and celebrations of Uganda Martyrs’ day at Namugongo this year.
The task is enormous and demands serious preparations on the spiritual level and material level so as to profit from the pilgrimage to Namugongo whose purpose is eminently spiritual, the material dimension notwithstanding.
We have organised a number of activities to march the task ahead of us, below are some of them.
1. A WHOLE YEAR OF PILGRIMAGE
We declared a whole year of pilgrimage from 3rd June 2019 to 3rd June 2020 with the climax on 29th May for the pupils and students in schools and 3rd of June for the adults.
The theme to guide us in all our preparation until the final celebration at Namugongo is: DO NOT LOSE HEART (2 Corinthian 4: 1-18). St. Paul is encouraging the Christians of Corinth to continue living the faith happily and witnessing to it with courage despite the many challenges and difficulties they met in their own lives and those from society, focusing on Jesus Christ who won salvation for us through the cross. Challenged, inspired, supported and interceded for by the Uganda Martyrs’ faith, heroism and courage; we must remain steadfast in faith. We move forward to live and witness to our faith with courage and enthusiasm despite the challenges in all dimensions of life, be they physical, religious, spiritual, economic, social, cultural, political, intellectual, moral, personal and ecological. It is this theme that also helps us to face our task with courage in raising the resources, be they material, financial, human and spiritual that we need for the successful and fruitful celebrations of the Uganda Martyrs’ day at Namugongo. We invite individuals, families, communities, societies, institutions, the Church and State to identify those challenges and fears that make people lose heart and face them with the courage and faith of the Uganda Martyrs fully assured of their powerful intercession. Take heart Christ lives.
We created a Central Organising Committee (COC) with other committees to organise the preparations and celebrations of Namugongo. The COC is led by Rev. Fr. George William Lubega. This committee will work in direct communication and contact with the team at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat led by Msgr. John Baptist Kauta. We also have a coordinating team from Kampala that is led by Rotarian Emmanuel Katongole. These have already started meetings to find ways and means of preparing for Namugongo.
4. DEVOTION TO THE UGANDA MARYTRS
We called for massive national re-awakening of the devotion to Uganda Martyrs. This included the following activities:
i) Recitation of prayers and litanies of the Uganda Martyrs at the end of every liturgical function especially the Mass.
ii) Each Sunday from 29th December 2019 up to 29th May 2020 was assigned a Martyr to be reflected upon and the programme was sent to all the 19 dioceses in Uganda.
iii) A votive Mass to Uganda Martyrs was recommended every Tuesday.
iv) We have made special pilgrimages to the places where the martyrs from Masaka were born ( Ssaza for Bruno Sserunkuuma , Minziiro-Kakuuto for John Mary Muzeeyi on 26th January, Birinzi for Charles Lwanga on 16th February ).
v) Uganda Martyrs Novenas will be made from 25th May to 2nd June 2020.
We have created a Logo for this year’s event. It has been registered and will be copy-righted under Masaka Diocese. We invite interested and capable companies to help us produce better items needed for this great event. The components of the logo are hereby explained below;
i) The 24 Uganda Martyrs holding branches as a sign of Victory gazing at the Crucified Christ.
ii) Jesus the Crucified. Through his suffering death and resurrection, he won for us a new life by the Cross.
iii) Red colour symbolises Martyrdom and victory through the shedding of blood. This is blended with the colours of Uganda National flag that represents the nationality of the Martyrs.
iv) The theme: Do Not Lose Heart (2 Corinthians 4:1-18).
a) We are in the process of training two choirs to animate the liturgy.
b) We have generated an appropriate program for the functions of 29th May and 3rd of June with all activities mapped out.
i) 29th of May to be exclusively for the pupils and students in and outside the country. This is born out of the concern for the children in and out of school so as to give them a chance to participate fully and actively. Due to increased attendance on 3rd June, it was recognised that pupils and students hardly attended the event. The Uganda Episcopal Conference has always desired to decongest 3rd June. This could be one of the ways and Masaka is to pioneer it on the 29th of May.
ii) 3rd of June then would be for all adults as is normally the case.
7. FOOT PILGRIMS
The number of foot pilgrims from Uganda and outside have constantly increased, last year Masaka Diocese alone had more than 1,500 foot pilgrims. This year we expect the number to exceed 2,000 foot pilgrims (From Masaka Diocese). We thus appeal to all those concerned especially along high ways to Namugongo to cooperate and support these pilgrims on the journey of faith.
a) Creative promotion of pilgrimage on foot in defence of Nature. Pilgrims are always welcomed in places where they rest before they embark on the next leg of their walk. We are planning that pilgrims on foot will plant 24 trees in every parish where they rest. In remembrance of the 24 Uganda Martyrs.
b) Ecological memory of the martyrs. At the close of the celebrations at Namugongo, each diocese will be given a tree to plant as memory of the martyrs’ day of 2020 and a permanent reminder of planting trees and protecting our environment. Each pilgrim is reminded to avoid polythene pollution wherever they will pass, rest and celebrate the Uganda Martyrs day.
All these activities bring financial implications to the reality. We have drafted a working budget of 950 Million Uganda Shillings. This is going to be spent on a number of activities, including the following;
i) Preparing for liturgy. This involves the preparation of the days’ choirs that will animate 29th May and 3rd June, and the proper celebration of the Eucharist.
ii) Hiring a good public address system and screens to enable the pilgrims to follow the activities.
iii) Provision of first aid and necessary health facilities.
iv) Ensuring proper sanitation and hygiene for all pilgrims.
v) Welfare of the Choirs and organising committee members.
vi) Preparing the events magazines.
How to realise this budget;
i) We have already started mobilising from our parishes and institutions;
ii) We have also contacted and continue to contact individuals of good will, corporate companies, other dioceses and the Government of the Republic of Uganda
Donations are welcome and the following are our bank account details:
Account Name: NAMUGONGO 2020 MASAKA DIOCESE
Bank: CENTENERY BANK
Account Number: 3100069734
We extend our gratitude to Uganda Episcopal Conference for giving Masaka Diocese the opportunity to animate this year’s Martyrs day celebration at Namugongo. We thank the Government of Uganda and its various organs for all the support, especially the security agencies that have always ensured the security of persons and property. We appreciate Uganda Catholic Secretariat for the continued guidance, and we thank all the institutions, our Christians and all people of good will who have given us support in cash and kind. We commend the media for the coverage and commitment to work with us.
May the Uganda Martyrs intercede for us for a successful and fruitful pilgrimage and celebration.
Rt. Rev. Serverus Jjumba
Bishop of Masaka Diocese.
Given at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat, Nsambya, Kampala
on Thursday, 27th February 2020