700 Nebbi pilgrims start journey to Namugongo

Archbishop-elect of Gulu Ecclesiastical Province, Raphael Wokorach, leads pilgrims to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine from Namrwodho Uganda Martyrs Chapel on May 15, 2024. PHOTO/PATRICK OKABA

What you need to know:

  • Nebbi Catholic Diocese will animate this year’s Martyr's Day mass and organisers say they require about Shs1.9 billion for a successful event.

Foot pilgrims from Nebbi Diocese, the host of this year’s Martyrs Day celebrations, were yesterday flagged off to embark on a long-distance spiritual trek to Namugongo in Wakiso District for the celebrations.

The more than 700 pilgrims from the various parishes across Nebbi Catholic Diocese parishes who included women, youth, and the elderly, were flagged off by the newly appointed Archbishop-elect of Gulu Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace Raphael Wokorach, at 10am.

Nebbi District is about 450 kilometres from Namugongo. Pilgrims were drawn from parishes of Parombo, Angal, and Madi-Okollo District in the West Nile Region, and Mahagi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Some of the pilgrims had, days before, assembled at Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral and engaged in physical exercises before the holy trek, to prepare their bodies for the long journey.

Yesterday, before they set off from the Uganda Martyrs Chapel, Namrwodho Catholic Parish, Archbishop Wokorach led Mass at 6:30am, attended by area politicians, religious leaders, and other congregants from the neighbouring districts of Zombo and Pakwach.

Uganda Martyrs Chapel is of significant importance because it was established under the sainthood of the Uganda Martyrs. 

Nebbi Catholic Diocese will animate this year’s Mass celebrations and organisers say they require about Shs1.9 billion for a successful event.

Archbishop Wokorach  said: “Your evidence of faith must bring in development because you are the ambassadors of faith, which Christians must emulate to make their long-distance journey a successful one.” 

The day is celebrated under the theme: ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’. 
“The journey of faith should not stop with Uganda Martyrs’ Day celebrations but must be part of life for Christians to practice,” he added.

Martyrs Day is celebrated annually in honour of the 45 converts, 22 being Catholics and 23 Anglicans, who were killed for their faith on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga in 1885 and 1887.

After the speeches, the pilgrims set off. Clad in boots and open shoes, the pilgrims carried bags loaded with clothes and food items. 

Ms Deo Beropamungu, one of the pilgrims from Erussi Chapel, said she is optimistic that the Lord will forgive her sins. 

She prayed for abundant blessings for her family and deliverance from the economic challenges she had been undergoing. 

“We anticipate that the long-distance walk to Namugongo will be of great importance in the Christian lives because Ugandans are undergoing numerous challenges coupled with increased prices of commodities. We will pray that these challenges will be overcome with faith,” she said. 

Mr Powel Ongei, one of the organisers, said this pilgrimage is meant for Christians to reflect on the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Mr Sam Okaba, the chairman for foot pilgrims sub-committee, said they registered the youngest pilgrim from Paidha Chapel, Solomon Munguromu, 11. 

The oldest pilgrim is 80-year-old Kachila Acibu from Pakwach Parish. 

He added that those with health complications such as diabetics, high blood pressure, pregnant women, and those with a history of accidents were screened out to avoid further complications.

He said 54 of them would use vehicles to reach Namugongo. Okaba noted that Movit Products Limited and MTN-Uganda would provide refreshments to the pilgrims at their stopovers.