What I missed on Martyrs’ Day

Sunday June 7 2020

The procession during the prayers at Catholic

The procession during the prayers at Catholic Shrine Namugongo last year. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA 


What Now? Every year multitudes from different parts of the world make a pilgrimage to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic breakout, the day’s celebrations were cancelled. The faithful followed the proceedings of the day from their TV sets and radios. CHRISTINE KATENDE talks to different Christians on what it was like to celebrate this day from home.

Lillian Kibunza, Teacher
I have been making pilgrimage since childhood except this year. However, on the morning of June 3, I did my chores early enough so that I follow holy Mass on TV. I held a fast and prayer to seek the Martyrs intercession. I missed the pilgrimage, mass on the eve of June 3, and the angelic voices of the animating choir as well as fetching holy water. But through the intercession of the Martyrs, I am assured of life.

Joan Namuleme, student
I followed the Holy Mass proceedings on TV. I missed the togetherness and brotherhood Catholics portray when we walk while breaking into hymns about the Uganda Martyrs. I also missed the Eucharistic celebration, associating with people from different parts of the world, and the entertainment plus promotions by different companies in Uganda.

Noelyne N.Kalema, teacher
I walked to Munyonyo mini basilica which is near my home and prayed to St Andrew Kaggwa to intercede for us in this trying moment of Covid-19. I, however, missed praying with fellow Christians, the clergy and the choir from Masaka Diocese. I believe they had prepared a lot for us. I missed sitting next to the choir because I am the chairperson of a choir at my parish. I also missed, interacting with long-time friends, enjoying pork and a glass of wine after Mass.

Julie Bamuta, family counsellor
With my family we followed the holy mass on television. I, however, missed attending such a historic event, with so many fellow Christians from all corners of the world. I also missed meeting my old friends and relatives from Masaka Diocese which was at the helm of organising the colourful event. May the Holy Martyrs of Uganda intercede for us to overcome Covid-19.

Taaka Gertrude, Christian Martyrs Day, June 3 2020 will be etched on my memory because I missed making the annual pilgrimage and attending the Holy Mass with diverse members of the congregation. I thank God for the advanced technology because I tuned in to Radio Maria- Uganda but it takes self-discipline for one to be united at Mass through the tech-driven gadgets. I made annual pilgrimages by foot from 1995 until 2004 to Namugongo. Now, I go to Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine a few days before June 3, because it is less crowded and I love the fact that reverence during Holy Mass is still observed.


Patrick Dumba, Xaverian
I woke up early did house chores then prepared myself for the prayers which were broadcast on TV. Thereafter, I meditated on the lives of the Uganda Martyrs. As Xaverians, the church authorities grants us permission to help around during the preparation and celebration of Martyrs’ Day. Since 1998, I have been participating in services such as; ushering, welcoming pilgrims, providing order of Mass booklets to the pilgrims, preparing and organising children and fellow youth, helping the elderly to access the holy ground, providing first aid, and maintaining the place in the days that precede June 3. I missed it though we had already started the preparatory meetings early February.

Godfrey Bukenya, scout
I equate missing this year’s Martyr’s Day to losing a loved one. One hour before the mass was broadcast, I recited the rosary contemplated on the faith of the holy Uganda Martyrs. I followed the mass proceedings with my family. I believe that even if I did not make it to Namugongo, I did not miss the blessings of the day. As a scout, I missed rendering voluntary services with my group as we always do hand in hand with the deployed security personnel.