The Diocese of Hoima has commenced preparations for the 2017 Uganda Martyrs Day celebration slated for June 3, at Namugongo Catholic Shrine. Hoima diocese was chosen last year to animate the celebration on behalf of Mbarara Archdiocese.

The chairperson of the Organizing Committee at Diocesan level for the 2017 celebration has confirmed that at least US $41,806 an equivalent of Ugandan Shilling 150m has been collected so far in form of cash and pledges from parishes and corporate companies. He was grateful for the contributions made so far and was hopeful that the target will be met by April. The preparations and actual celebration have been estimated to a cost of at least US $ 139353 (Ug Shs 500m). The diocese is expected to launch other channels to help in the fund-raising drive.

“We are organizing for two major fund-raising drives: fund raising dinner which will mainly target corporate companies and Namugongo Marathon both expected to be held in April respectively. We hope to start the actual preparations at the Namugongo Shrine by May so that we can start receiving the pilgrims with ease.”

Meanwhile, on January 30 the UEC Secretary General Msgr. John Baptist Kauta inducted a 30 man-delegation from Hoima diocese representing all the nine organizing committees for the June 3 celebration. The delegation was led by Rt. Rev Vincent Kirabo the Bishop Hoima.

Over 400 choir members have also began rehearsals in various training centers ahead of the June 3 celebration. The choir members have been drawn from all the parishes in the three vicariates of the Diocese which includes Hoima, Kibale and Masindi.

The view of the altar at Namugongo Catholic Shrine
The view of the altar at Namugongo Catholic Shrine

The annual celebration commemorates the heroic faith of the 45 Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, who were burnt to death following the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. Twenty-two Catholic Martyrs were beatified on June 6, 1920, by Pope Benedict XV, and on October 18 1964, Pope Paul VI canonized them as Saints.

In addition to the 22 Catholic Martyrs, there are two Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okello and Blessed Jildo Irwa who were killed in 1918. The two Catechists were beatified by St. Pope John Paul II on October 20, 2002. Of the 22 Martyrs who were canonized, two of them, St. Andrew Kaggwa and St. Anatoli Kiriggwajjo hail from Hoima Diocese

The celebration usually brings together millions of pilgrims from across the globe. Hoima diocese last presided over the Martyrs Day celebration in 2001.