By Andrew Ssenyonga
ENTEBBE - As one of the ways to improve the face of the Uganda martyrs’ shrine, the Catholic Church has finalized plans to construct a three-star hotel at Namugongo.
This was disclosed by Kampala Archbishop Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga during celebrations to mark 135 years of the Catholic religion in Uganda at Kigungu in Entebbe on Monday.
The shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims every year to mark Uganda Martyrs’ Day on June 3.
The day honors young Christian converts who were murdered for their faith on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga (king of Buganda) in the late-1880s.
Lwanga pointed out that Christian visitors to Namugongo face difficulty in accessing accommodation and food at the shrine.
The planned structure will cost sh2.5bn, he said, and will have over 75 self-contained rooms, a modern library and a conference hall.
Other 25 existing units around the place will also be upgraded to a self-contained standard.
The church leader explained that an increasing Catholic population has led to higher demand for such facilities. He said the hotel would also be a tourism asset for the Catholic church.
“After 50 years, we realized that the 25 existing rooms could not accommodate the growing population, said Lwanga.
Thousands of pilgrims from all over East Africa throng Kigungu to join in on the celebrations.
(PHOTOGRAPHER: Wilfred Sanya)
Rev Fr. Ruddy Sajjalyabene led the procession ( and Rev Fr. Evert Van right behind) during the celebrations at Kigungu
Papal envoy to Uganda Michael Blume (waving), Archbishop of Kampala Diocese Cyprian Lwanga, Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala and Bishop Christopher Kakooza were part of the event.
Kigungu landing site has since become a prayer point for Faithful.
Christians turned up in numbers at the historical site.
Catholic missionaries Father Lourdel and Brother Ammans entered Uganda from this spot decades ago in efforts to introduce Christianity in a deeply traditional Ugandan society.
The papal envoy to Uganda, His Excellency Most Rev Michael Blume was the main celebrant at the event.
He called for the canonization of the two white catholic missionaries – Fr. Lourdel and Bro. Ammans – for their effort in spreading the gospel of the Lord.
“If they are not made saints then who can become one? Their coming to Uganda brought tremendous changes and development for the country,” said Blume.
The two were the first prominent white Catholic missionaries to arrive at Kigungu landing site on February 17, 1879, and were later joined by others.