By Stephen Ssenkaaba
Namugongo Catholic Martyrs Shrine will unveil a daycare and nursery school as a monument to commemorate 75 years since the establishment of Namugongo parish.
The school which is currently under construction will be blessed by Kampala Archdiocese Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations at Namugongo Martyrs shrine on Sunday March 2.
Speaking to the New Vision last week, the shrine rector and Namugongo parish priest, Rev Fr. Dr. Emmanuel Kimbowa said the monument is an important symbol of the Catholic Church’s commitment to evangelise and impart good Christian values through education.
“We believe that education is not just to make money or to provide academic knowledge; it is also a tool of evangelization, a channel through which good Christian values can be imparted to our people,” Kimbowa said.
The nursery and day care is situated a short distance away from the Catholic Shrine. It is estimated to cost over sh200m.
The celebrations will be held under the theme: "United we grow in Faith like the Uganda Martyrs" in the spirit of calling on the diverse community of parishioners and well-wishers to work together for the growth of the parish.
“We are taking an example of the Uganda Martyrs who despite coming from different ethnicities and family backgrounds all united and died for a common cause- and who through their decision to emulate Christ have inspire us on,” Fr. Kimbowa said. He added that:
“As Namugongo grows and expands, it is attracting people from different walks of life all of whom are working together to develop the parish and the Martyrs shrine, following in the footsteps of the Uganda Martyrs and Jesus Christ our Lord. This theme is to remind us to forget our differences and work together.”
During the celebrations, the parish will also recognize different people that worked very hard to build Namugongo from a small church in 1935 to a Catholic Shrine of international repute 75 years later.
The celebrations will be the climax to a series of platinum jubilee celebration activities which started last year and included meetings, retreats, prayers and celebrations of unity among the lay church leaders, various Christian communities and sub parishes.
Namugongo parish was founded by the Mill Hill Missionaries in 1935. According to Francis Muwonge, the shrine administrative secretary, its first parish priest was a Dutch called Rev. Fr. Van Rooyen. He started his work there in March 1935.
The parish was dedicated to Mother Mary; Queen of the Martyrs. It started small in Kyaliwajjala, where Vienna College is currently located- in a modest little grass thatched sub-parish church under Nsambya parish.
Francis Muwonge, Namugongo shrine administrative secretary, writes that the church later moved to its current location when Fr. Watters, a young Dutch Mill Hill Father, bought eight acres of land at its current location.
“This marked the beginning of advocating for a Parish at the spot where St. Charles Lwanga gave up his life for Christ,” He writes.