Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The African Catholic bishops and religious leaders participating in SECAM assembly have paid glowing tributes to the Uganda Martyrs.
The delegates led by His Grace Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi, the President of SECAM on Wednesday traced the footsteps of the Uganda Martyrs from St. Denis Ssebugwawo Chapel in Munyonyo to the Uganda Martyrs Chapel.
Bishop Victor Phalana, the Bishop of Klerksdorp Diocese in South Africa says paying tribute to the Uganda Martyrs during the Golden Jubilee celebrations is humbling and extremely blessing for the bishops.
The Uganda Martyrs are a group of 45 young men who converted to Christianity between 1885 and 1887 to the annoyance of the then Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda, who ordered that they are burnt executed to death, about three years after the death of his Father Mutesa I who had earlier on invited Missionaries to Uganda.
Bishop Phalana says they are deeply inspired by the faith of the Uganda Martyrs and the fruits of the missionaries including Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, former Archbishop of Kampala.
Later, the delegates toured Nalukolongo, the first seat of the Catholic Missionaries where they met the Superior General of the Good Samaritan Sisters Sister John Evangelist Mugisha and the Chancellor of Kampala Archdiocese Father Pius Male.
Father Pius Male, told the delegates that they were indeed blessed and privileged to tour the home of the catechism of 13 out of 22 Catholic martyrs at Nalukolongo.
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala Nsubuga, the former archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese transformed the Center into a home for the needy, destitute and the elderly. It is currently being operated by the Comboni Samaritan Sisters.
The institute is currently taking care of 72 needy people out of which majority are women. It was built to take care of 100 needy people.
Earlier, the delegation trekked on foot for some 10 minutes from St. Denis Chapel to Uganda Martyrs’ Chapel, the site where Kabaka Mwanga II delivered the execution order of the Martyrs. They heard stories of the circumstances which led to the execution of the Martyrs including the loss of Kabaka Mwanga’s inherited hunting rifle during a hippo hunting expedition inside Lake Victoria Islands.
Father Ulman Male, the parish priest of Uganda Martyrs’ Chapel told the delegates that the home of the martyrs is increasingly becoming popular religious pilgrimage destination for Catholic faithful around the world.
Father Male said “the sacred place hosted Pope Francis in 2015 and several other prominent leaders of the country including President Yoweri Museveni” adding that “the Martyrs suffered different forms of executions including spearing, beheading and being burnt alive”.
The SECAM delegates then went to Nabulagala, the cradle and ancestral home of the Catholic Church in Uganda. It is here that the first Comboni Missionaries and the White fathers who came to Uganda settled to minister the Gospel and treat people.
It is hosting the relics of some of the Missionaries including Ludovic Girault, Leon Livihac, Simeon Lourdel, Leon Barbot and Amans Delmas.
His Grace Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi, the President of SECAM led the delegates to light candles in memory of the missionaries after celebrating a mass at the Memorial chapel.