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In an interview with journalists in Gulu City at the weekend, Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama said Pope Francis has issued a concession to the archdiocese to conduct the beatification of Fr Ambrosoli on November 20 at Kalongo Catholic Mission in Agago District
The Archdiocese of Gulu has earmarked up to Shs923.3 million as a budget to organise the beatification ceremony of Fr Dr Giuseppe Ambrosoli, a Roman Catholic priest under the Comboni Missionaries Society, who died 35 years ago.
In an interview with journalists in Gulu City at the weekend, Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama said Pope Francis has issued a concession to the archdiocese to conduct the beatification of Fr Ambrosoli on November 20 at Kalongo Catholic Mission in Agago District.
“We are targeting to raise Shs923.3 million, which we know will not be adequate, but can help us to cater for the necessary logistics in ensuring the success of the event,” Archbishop Odama said.
He added that close to one million people are expected to attend the event and “that money will be contributed by people of goodwill in the region, including non-Christians since Ambrosoli served all categories of people regardless of religion, colour, and political affiliation”. Archbishop Odama said the beatification exercise is always a great moment for the Catholic Church and Gulu Archdiocese.
“Initially, the declaration had been scheduled for November 22, but it was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. This will be the third blessed after Jildo Irwa and Daudi Okello, who are blessed martyrs in Gulu Archdiocese,” he said.
Msgr Mathew Odong, the Vicar General of Gulu Archdiocese, who is also the chairperson of the organising committee for the event, said 16 sub-committees have been formed to coordinate the event.
“Several committees have been formed and we are optimistic to have a successful ceremony. The beatification of Fr Ambrosoli is a great event for us. He is one missionary priest and doctor who dedicated his time to serving the poor and he inspired many people,” he said.
“Fr Ambrosoli served not only the people of Acholi but the greater Africa, he is one of the evangelists in the Acholi Sub-region,” Msgr Odong added.
Preparations for the beatification of Fr Ambrosoli were launched in March 2022, in Kitgum by the Gulu Archdiocese.
According to the Catholic Church, beatification implies a procedure of determining and proclaiming that a deceased person is one of “the blessed,” or has gained the second degree of holiness, usually a stage in the process of canonisation into sainthood.
In the past, beatification was done only in Rome (Vatican), however, the Church later revised the protocol to have the exercise performed where the persons considered to be blessed, served.
“Because Fr Ambrosoli served in the Gulu Archdiocese and was considered a native, that is why we are going to have the event conducted from here,” Msgr Odong said.
According to the organisers, pieces of Fr Ambrosoli’s remains (bones) will be placed and kept at Kalongo Catholic Parish for unveiling on November 20, during the beatification exercise.
The remains were brought back to the archdiocese five months ago from the Vatican, Italy.
About Fr Ambrosoli
Fr Ambrosoli was a Roman Catholic priest and a member of the Comboni Missionaries. He was born in 1923 in Ronago, a small town in the Province of Como, Italy. He is best known as a doctor, surgeon, philanthropist, and educator in the missions in Uganda. He was famed as the “saint doctor” or “great doctor” for being compassionate and loving care for the sick. Fr Ambrosoli came to Uganda in February 1956. While in Gulu, he moved to Kalongo and founded Kalongo (Dr Ambrosoli Memorial) Hospital, a facility that gained a reputation for excellence for almost 31 years, until 1987 when he died. Kalongo Hospital has more than 350 beds and serves nearly 60,000 people every year. Fr Ambrosoli also founded Alito and Morulem medical centres in 1972 for victims of leprosy. At the height of the Holy Spirit Movement War in the mid-1980s, he was relocated to Lira District where he died. His body was returned to Kalongo where he wanted to be buried.