By Juliet Lukwago
Eighty eight- year old retired Catholic catechist, Bernard Tibyagye of St Andrea Kaggwa, Kitabi Parish in Bushenyi, in Mbarara Archdiocese has made his third pilgrimage to Namugongo Uganda Martyrs Shrines on foot.
Tibyagye, who served as catechist in the Catholic Church for 45 years, led a group of 17 pilgrims who included youth and elderly men and women from his home parish.
The group started their journey on May 11, 2014 at 5pm with their first stop over at Kashaka trading center, some 47kilometres from their base. They arrived at Namugongo on Saturday, May 24.
The distance from Kitabi to Namugongo is 340km, which is a 4-hour journey by bus .
“Although some people take it to be a very tiresome journey, for me I have managed to accomplish what I set out to do. Together with my group, we moved during day and early in the evenings as we have been doing on the previous two occasions, of course with the intercession of the Uganda Martyrs,” Tibyagye, who appeared strong, told The New Vision at Catholic Shrine Namugongo on Saturday.
Tibyagye is welcomed by Kampala Archbisop Cyprian Lwanga. Photo/Juliet Lukwago
He said they made stopovers at Kashaka, Biharwe Catholic Parish in the Archdiocese of Mbarara and Ssanga Parish near Mbarara Municipality from where proceeded to Kijjukizo-Lyantonde Parish.
He said from Kijjukizo, they went to Kyazanga Catholic Parish, Masaka-Kimannya Parish, Ggoli Catholic Parish, Mpigi Parish, Bakateyamba Home Nalukolongo and from there to Namugongo where they arrived on Saturday, May 24.
“Wherever we passed, priests and well-wishers gave us food and water. We came with small jerrycans of water,” he said adding, “To do pilgrimage is one of the sacrifices.” He explained that they moved as a team and are still together.
He said he feels very happy and well after the journey. He noted that wherever they passed people would ask them to pray for them.
“Imagine the Uganda Martyrs, they used to move from Mityana to Nalukolongo, what about us who move only once a year.”
“We walked while reciting prayers including Rosary, praying for others and souls in purgatory, and praising God for the gift of life he has given us to manage to walk, because we left many other people who wanted to join us behind due to sickness.” He cited his wife Terezia Matobane who was not able to come
“Since I came to Namugongo, I never feel any sickness at all; I sleep here on the verandah of the Basilica and it’s my wish because I have to thank God for whatever his doing for me and my family. The only word I can say as youth used to say that in Uganda Martyrs name “malako” and they have given strength. The martyrs have provides for us, I thank them.”
He said he came with special petitions for the country, family, souls in purgatory, religious and political leaders and other people in need of prayers.
He recalled that in 1969, during Pope Paul VI’s visit he got chance to come to Namugongo. “It was not my wish but as Catechist they paid for me to come and represent others from my home parish,” he said.
Tibagye has 16 children including a nun and a catechist. The group expects to travel back to Bushenyi by bus on June 5.
88-year old retired catechist walks 340km to Namugongo