Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The universality of the Catholic faith: Rwandan Catholics on pilgrimage to Uganda


Rwandan Catechists visit Uganda on pilgrimage to the site of their patron saint.

96 Rwandan Catechists, accompanied by Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali and President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda, have made a pilgrimage to the sites of the Martyrs in Uganda.

Fr. Fidele Mutabazi - Kigali, Rwanda.

The pilgrimage was from 17 May to 20 May 2023 as part of preparations for the Catechists’ Day, which, in Rwanda, will be celebrated this Sunday, 21 May 2023.

Saint Andrew Kaggwa was martyred on 26 May 1886 at Munyonyo, Kampala, Uganda. He is the patron of catechists, teachers and families.

The pilgrimage by the 96 Rwandan catechists to the martyrs’ sites brought together catechists from all the dioceses of Rwanda. Sr. Uwamariya Genevieve, Rwanda’s Director of the National Catechetical Office, said apart from learning more about their patron, Saint Andrew Kaggwa, who zealously served as a catechist, the pilgrimage was an opportunity for the catechists to learn about the witness of one’s faith -sometimes even to the point of losing one’s life.

In the footsteps of the Martyrs

On the first day of the pilgrimage, the Catechists visited the sites of the Martyrs who were killed at the King’s palace on orders of Mwanga II, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda. This included Denis Ssebuggwawo, who is acknowledged as the first of the Martyrs of Uganda. The Catechists then continued the Way of the Cross that the Martyrs followed to the main shrine of Namugongo.

Before visiting the sites where other martyrs such as Pontian Ngondwe, Jean-Marie Muzei, Mathias Mulumba and others were killed, the Rwandese Catechists spent time at the Minor Basilica of Munyonyo. It is the site of the patron saint, Andrew Kaggwa, who was killed in the courtyard where he used to teach catechism to converts.

Cardinal Kambanda celebrated the Eucharist for the Catechists in the Basilica of Munyonyo as part of their pilgrimage journey.

In his homily, the Cardinal praised the courage of the Ugandan Martyrs for the supreme Christ-like sacrifice of giving their lives for those they loved. Cardinal Kambanda further reminded the Catechists that martyrdom is but a divine grace. He recounted the history of the Ugandan Martyrs. He urged the Catechists to learn from the martyrs’ courage and love for Christ.

Handing on the faith and witnessing to the Gospel

The Cardinal also took time to explain in detail the life of Andrew Kaggwa, which he seemed to know very well. He challenged the Catechists to live up to the faith they professed and teach to others.

In closing speeches, the Catechists expressed their satisfaction with the pilgrimage and thanked Cardinal Kambanda for accompanying them.

Rwanda has historical links with Uganda because the missionaries who came to Rwanda, such as Bishop John Joseph Hirth, first visited Uganda before continuing to Tanzania and Rwanda. Hirth is sometimes referred to as the founder of the Church in Rwanda.

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