By Juliet Lukwago
The Catholic Church has finalised plans to reconstruct the Namugongo Martyrs pilgrimage site.
The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, said an open-air pavilion and hostels will be constructed while the lake trough and the island altar will be renovated.
Other facilities will include a new house for visiting clergy and museum where the history of each of the Uganda Martyrs and their portraits will be displayed.
All walkways will be paved and roads tarmacked. The plan, which Saturday Vision has seen, includes two dormitories, one for females and the other for males, washrooms and a restaurant.
The Archbishop added that the dirty water in the lake would be drained and the basin worked on to create a permanent trough of clean water. The water will be protected by a perimeter wall to restrain people from contaminating it.
Lwanga said some changes would also be made. For instance, a new altar will be erected at the extreme end of the lake, where the new pavilion will be built. It will be larger in order to give the pilgrims a better view, from the pavilion and terraces.
“We shall even have a police station, which will accommodate about 10 policemen and their families. The station will be named St. Ponsiano Ngondwe, who is the patron of the Police and army,” he said.
The project will be completed by October, just in time for celebrations to mark 50 years since the 22 Catholic Martyrs were canonised by Pope Paul VI and declared saints at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome on October 18, 1964.
Lwanga disclosed that Pope Francis has already received his invitation to visit Uganda for the martyrs golden jubilee celebrations. Asked about the source of the funds for the project, Lwanga said it would come from well-wishers, both abroad and locally.
“If we all contributed a minimum of sh1,000 per month, from January to October, we can raise that money locally,” he said. To improve its maintenance and to make the venue an all year round pilgrimage centre, the shrine will be detached from parish activities and will be managed by a private entity.