The Archdiocese of Mbarara Development Association (AMDA) handed over the ceremonial candle to Counsel John Magezi, chairman of Kampala Entebbe Jinja Fort Portal Diocese Association (KEJI-FODA), marking the transition for the 2024 MEPA Pilgrimage. The event took place on Sunday, November 12, 2023 at Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine Namugongo.
Thousands of Christians from the Mbarara Ecclesiastical Province participated in their annual pilgrimage to Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo, a tradition held in November each year. Mbarara Ecclesiastical Province Association (MEPA) is an association that unites the five Dioceses in Mbarara Province, namely: Fort Portal, Hoima, Kabale, Kasese and Mbarara.
This year’s event was organized by the Archdiocese of Mbarara Development Association (AMDA) and Mass was presided over by His Grace, Lambert Bainomugisha. In attendance was Rt. Rev. Callist Rubaramira, Bishop of Kabale Diocese and Rt. Rev. Francis Aquirinus Kibira, Bishop of Kasese Diocese. The Bishop of Fort Portal Rt. Rev. Robert Muhirwa is currently in India for medical treatment and was represented by Vicar General, Msgr. Isaiah Mayombo while Rt. Rev. Vincent Kirabo Amooti, Bishop of Hoima Diocese faced disruptions due to the flooding of River Kafu which affected the traffic on Hoima-Kampala route and was represented by the Hoima Diocese External Residents Association (HOIDERA) Chaplain Rev. Fr. Aiden Kasujja.
During the Holy Mass, Archbishop Lambert Bainomugisha emphasized the importance of living true Christian values, urging the faithful to embrace honesty and hard work. The Archbishop said that the Holy Uganda Martyrs, now saints, were common men & relatives to most of us; just that their sacrifice was not a common one…” Three of the Ugandan Martyrs (Andrew Kaggwa, Anatoli Kirigwajjo and Adolf Ludigo) were coming from Mbarara Province.
We have been taught over the centuries that the blood of Martyrs is the seed of Christianity. We have come here my brethren to be inspired by the faith Martyrs and the courageous of their examples – His Grace Lambert Bainomugisha.
MEPA Chairman Dr. Patrick Birungi expressed gratitude for the large turn up and called on Christians to pray for the departed souls of MEPA founders and the children of Kasese attacked by ADF Rebels. He sent condolences to the different Dioceses whose members breathed their last especially Mr. Pascal Rwakahanda, Mr. John Batenda, Mr. Apollo Nygamehe (Aponye), Msgr. Francis Ndamira, Bishop Albert Baharagate, Archbishop Paul Bakyenga and all others whom the Lord called to himself this year. May the Lord rest their souls in eternal peace.
The Christians in the Mbarara Province were represented by Kigezi Kampala Catholics Residents Association (KKCRA), Hoima Diocese External Residents Association (HOIDERA), Mbarara Development Association (AMDA) Kampala Entebbe Jinja Fort Portal Diocese Association (KEJI-FODA) and Kampala Kasese Catholic Community (KKACCO).
Speaking as Chief Guest and chief pilgrim, the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament and MP for Ruhinda North, Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa challenged Christians to renew their lives, asserting that a good Christian is a good Ugandan as the laws of the government and God align.
Other dignitaries present were Hon. Mary Grace Mugasa (State Minister for Public Service ) and her husband, Justice John Eudes Kitirima (Justice of High Court), Justice Asaf Ruhinda Ntengye, (Emeritus judge), Hon. Francis Mwijukye (MP Buhweju), Hon Olive Koyekyenga (Woman MP Buhweju), Hon. Basil Bataringaya (Kashari North), Hon. Annet Katusiime Mugisya (Woman MP Bushenyi), Hon. Rita Atukwasa (Mbarara City), Hon. Moses Kamuntu (Rubanda West), Hon Rosemary Nyakikongoro (Woman MP Sheema) Hon Hashaka Florence (Director Uganda Railways Cooperation) among others. Mr. Deo Kanyamihigo the oldest pilgrim at 97 years was also in attendance.
This year’s MEPA Mass not only celebrated religious unity but also addressed challenges and encouraged a renewed commitment to Christian values and civic responsibility and was celebrated under the theme “Growing Together in Faith, Inspired by the Martyrs.”
Holy Martyrs of Uganda, pray for us.