Pope Francis memorable visit to Uganda

Pope Francis visit to Uganda was first announced and cancelled in 2014. We felt sad. Several months later, the news changed.It was June 2015 when the confirmation came. Pope Francis would visit Uganda from 27-79th November 2015. Excitement: Bliss:

“The visit of Pope Francis to Uganda is a real sign pointing us to something…this great man, this busy man…”

retired Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala said. Wamala would be seeing three papal visits in his lifetime.

Quick Preparations
We had only 4 months to prepapare Namugongo Martyrs Shrine where the Pope would celebrate high mass. Preparations were hasty, sometimes worrisome. But the project manager Maroria Matoya assured us that all would well.

From June, the shrine was closed to the public for renovations. Christians were rallied to contribute to the reconstruction that would see sh 44 billion (about US $13.2million) spent on improving the shrine. “Yoyoota”(refurbish) Namugongo became the buzz word for a raffle draw that offered the Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga’s Mercedes as the grand prize to the lucky ticket buyer.

Vision Group sold Rosaries from the Vatican- at sh 100,000 (US $ 29) for items that ordinarily cost 10,000 (about 3 USD).
By Friday evening November 27th Namugongo was ready for the Papal mass.

Uganda’s “Habemus Papam”
At 5:15pm the Pope emerged from the white and green AliTalia aircraft to applause from dignitaries waiting on the Tarmac of Entebbe International Aiport.

Some people tuned in their TVs. Others lined the Entebbe Road streets to wait to wave to the Pope. He flashed his wide friendly smile, waving to the masses and respectively handing out both his hands to greet the president, bishops and other dignitaries.

State House
There were very little signs off exhaustion on Pope Francis from his previous visit to Kenya when he stood on a podium inside State House to address dignitaries inside State house. “My visit is also meant to draw attention to Africa’s promise, hopes, struggles and achievements,” he said.

Munyonyo martyrs shrine
That same night, he told teachers and catechists to “be wise”, thanking them for their work.

Namugongo Martyrs Shrine
Saturday morning was bright and beautiful. The Pope who still looked as fit as a fiddle was on the streets of Namugongo Road by 8:00 am. He even got off his little black KIA SOUL SCV1 car on to the pope mobile to have greater access to the cheering crowds. Multitudes turned up to see the Holy Father.
The sea of pilgrims who turned up at Namugongo Catholic shrine to celebrate the open air mass led by Pope Francis. Vision Group photo

The sea of pilgrims who turned up at Namugongo Catholic shrine to celebrate the open air mass led by Pope Francis. Vision Group photo

His message to them was fatherly: “Today we recall with gratitude the sacrifice of the Uganda Martyrs,” he said.

He visited the Anglican shrine and said mass at the Catholic shrine.

Kololo independence grounds

The Pope embraced the youth, many of whom had been waiting there since early morning.
The Pope arrives in Kololo to meet the youth Photo by www.pbs.org

The Pope arrives in Kololo to meet the youth
Photo by http://www.pbs.org

He sent a powerful message to them: and told them to “Overcome difficulties and transform the negative into positive and pray.

Nalukolongo home for the needy
The Holy Father was well received in this home. He embraced the elderly, sick, disabled and the orphaned and called for compassion to the disadvantaged.

“I appeal to all parishes and communities in Uganda – and the rest of Africa – not to forget the poor,” he said perhaps in reference to People like Mohammed Tamale, a crippled cobbler from Kawempe who crawled several meters on his amputated legs- beating security just to see the Holy Father in Nalukolongo.
Despite his physical disability, Tamale crawled to Nalukolongo to see the Pope. The Holy Fathewr’s aidee gave him a Rosary.

Despite his physical disability, Tamale crawled to Nalukolongo to see the Pope. The Holy Father’s aidee gave him a Rosary. Photo: Henry Nsubuga

“It was not easy to get here amid the tight security.But I had to come to see the Pope. I have heard that he is a kind man,”- Tamale

Lubaga Cathedral
He met Buganda monarch Ronald Mutebi and his wife Sylvia Nagginda before addressing the clergy. “Honour the memory of the Uganda Martyrs,” he advised the priests.

It was an eventful 2 days visit by the Holy Father to Uganda crowned by a hearty farewell under the light tenderness of an early morning Sunday Drizzle. Fond memories. Fond memories. Fond memories. Viva Papa.

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