Fort Portal Christians Prepare for Foot Pilgrimage to Namugongo
According to Jubilee Radio Fortportal, Christians from Fort-Portal diocese are set to begin their walking pilgrimage to Namugongo on the 23rd May 2022. This was recently confirmed by Rev. Fr. Titus Winyi the chairperson of the Pilgrims Committee for the Martyrs Preparations.
According to Fr. Winyi, about 600 Christians have shown interest and have already registered for the foot pilgrimage. Preparation for the pilgrimage in form of novenas has already commenced. Adolf Kamara, the Chairperson Uganda Martyrs Guild Fort Portal Diocese (Abakaiso), appealed to Christians of the diocese to participate in the pilgrimage in large numbers as way of physically supporting their diocese as it leads the important national celebration.
Wunsch Anthony Rubuya, the coordinator of the pilgrims and who also doubles as a member of the Security and Protocol Committee of the Namugongo pilgrimage preparation committee, encouraged people to join the foot pilgrimage given its many spiritual blessings.
According to Wunsch, a group of pilgrims annually come from Zaire to Kasese, and then proceed to Virika before setting off to Namugongo. Different groups from Fort Portal diocese from areas such as Bundibugyo also come and join the pilgrims at Virika Cathedral to set off for the journey.
The other pilgrims expected along the way include those in the areas of Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa. Those from Kitagwenda and Kamwenge join the others at Kibuye (at the border of Fort Portal and Kiyinda Mityana dioceses) from where they proceed to their 9 respective stations.
Ordinarily the journey from Fort Portal to Namugongo takes 9 days.
The pilgrimage resting Stations from Fort Portal include-Virika,Kayihura,Rwibale,Kibuye,Mubende NTC,Kiganda Parish,Kiyinda Mityana cathedral parish,Nswanjere Seminary,Busega Parish
From Busega, the pilgrims proceed to Namugongo at least three days early before the grand celebrations and a special place is reserved for their accommodation.
As regards their welfare in terms of meals, drinks, medication among others, the pilgrims often cater for themselves with the exemption of a few medical and relief items donated by well-wishers to support their pilgrimage cause. The greatest challenge faced by the pilgrims on this over 300Km trek is the swelling of legs and cardiovascular diseases thus a team of physicians is always carefully selected to cater for such emergencies.
Beatrice Kabanyoro, a nursing officer at Kagote Health Center III, has trekked for at least 6 years to Namugongo and is willing to trek again and witness her diocese lead. Using her testimony, Kabanyoro, encourages Christians willing to trek, to start praying over what they want and be assured of positive outcomes. Being a health worker, Kabanyoro advises people with weak health not to risk in an exercise that requires a lot of energy and good health. HIV/patients, diabetic people, people on medication among others according to Kabanyoro, are exempted from the long foot pilgrimage.Spiritually, the pilgrims are assured of daily Mass before setting off daily since among the pilgrims are usually some priests.
The Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo has in recent years grown into an acclaimed international pilgrimage site that gathers people from around the world. According to recorded statistics, a total of 2,500,000 Christians made the pilgrimage to Namugongo in 2019, 4,500,000 in 2018, 4,000,000 in 2017 and 3,500,000 in 2016.