LOS ANGELES: The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has invited the faithful in North America to begin traveling to Uganda to pay homage to the Uganda Martyrs every time the country celebrates their day on June 3 in order to feel what their faith means for mankind.
Tayebwa was speaking on Sunday as Chief Guest at the inauguration of the Uganda Martyrs Shrine at St. Genevieve parish in Panorama City of Los Angeles in California, United States of America. The Deputy Speaker was accompanied by his wife Anita Rukundo and Vietnam’s Consul to Uganda, King Ceasor Mulenga to the historical mass whose main celebrant was Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu Diocese.
The Shrine was constructed by the Uganda Catholic Community living in the California State and will attract pilgrims from all over North America to celebrate the Uganda Martyrs day every year.
“Today I have seen that you have managed to put a mark of our country in one of the great churches in America. It is very important. It is like putting a star on the streets of Los Angeles on the walk of fame. Our martyrs are now intact in the land of opportunities,” Tayebwa said.
An extremely happy Tayebwa then asked the Ugandan Community in the US to preach to the Americans the significance of the Uganda Martyrs to the religion by informing them of how Namugango has both Catholic, Anglican and Muslim shrines.
“We have to translate this into something different now. We need pilgrims to come from America to Namugongo directly. I don’t know whether they will walk and you need to inform them we have the Anglican shrine, catholic shrine and the Muslim. So everyone is catered for. Now we need pilgrims to come from here and go to Uganda and we shall recognize them. You saw the Nigerians,” he added.
Tayebwa who said he has been meeting Pope Francis in the Vatican every August as part of the 20 African law makers that discuss the matters of faith revealed that the Uganda martyrs have always come up in debates for the value their death adds to the Catholic faith.
He commended the Uganda Catholic Community in the US for their commitment to Christ by deciding to establish a shrine where many believers will converge to pray to the Uganda Martyrs to intercede for them for their problems to be solved.
“The national motto of Uganda which says For God and My Country shows the faith of the people who died for religion in our country. This is going to improve the tourism of our country but also it is a good way for you people to organise yourselves because we have a rallying point of the Uganda Martyrs,” he stressed.
The Deputy Speaker who will head to Canada after engagements in the US revealed that he will in August also meet with the President of Hungary, János Áder and a former Chief of Staff in Donald Trump’s administration to discuss religious rights in the world.
While preaching, Archbishop Odama said that it is a “blessing” to the faithful in America to have the Uganda Martyrs Shrine established near them, hence a need to strengthen their faith by following the teachings of Jesus.
He said that like Uganda Martyrs who died in unity in Christ despite coming from different corners of Uganda, so should be the Christians in the communities they live in and wherever they work from.
“They were not afraid to challenge those who were going the wrong way and were leading human kind in the wrong direction. They said ‘sorry even if you are a King, as long as you don’t know, you are not in a right position’. They challenged the king and the king got angry because he was challenged by his subjects. He decided to prosecute them and kill them. Did they get afraid? No” Odama said.
Odama who used the example of the young martyr St Kizito who defied his uncle and executor Mukajanga by insisting to go for the gifts of God instead of earthly inheritance, encouraged the Christians to emulate such values by saying no to the evils of the world.
“The values of this world cannot be compared with the values that Jesus promotes. They were with one mind, one heart and courage, determined to live Christian life in an environment which was challenging them seriously. You and I have to face the realities of today, for example violence. How about immorality? How about corruption? How about Robbery? How about land grabbing and the issue of selling human beings into slavery? How do we people who profess Jesus Christ deal with this? We should provide a better world which is fitting for human beings,” the Archbishop noted.
The Deputy Head of Mission at the Uganda’s embassy in Washington, Mary Santa Laker Kinyera commended the Catholic Community in Los Angeles for the achievement of inaugurating the Uganda Martyrs Shrine because it will bind them together with people from other parts of the world who live in America.
“Today’s inauguration of the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in St Genevieve is a very special and historic day for us as Uganda. This shrine is the first ever Uganda martyrs shrine to be built outside Uganda, making it truly special. The shrine will not only be a place for pilgrimage and renewal of our catholic Christian faith, but also a place that brings and binds Uganda’s unique history together to this part of the world,” she said in a written message read at the function by Ann Babinaga.
Kinyera also commended Olive Woneka the former Ugandan Ambassador to the United States who came up with the idea of having the shrine in California in 2016.
The function was also attended by Henrietta Wamala the President of Ugandans in North America Association (UNAA) who said that the establishment of the martyrs’ shrine in Los Angeles will be key in the promotion of Uganda in the US through faith.
Wamala said that the Ugandans have been converging in Massachusetts State’s capital, Boston to celebrate the Uganda Martyrs Day every June 3 but have not been having a symbol to represent the Uganda Martyrs.
By Alex Esagala