By John Agaba
A group of 19 Ugandans which left for the biblical promised land, Canan for a holy tour has returned. The group comprising of Christians and Muslims left for Israel on July 13.
The group returned on Saturday. They had to brave the uncertainty currently surrounding the two holy countries, with Israel raining bombs on Palestine, to go on with their pilgrimage.
The group, led by Msgr. John Wynand Katende from the Inter-Religious Council Uganda, travelled by air from Entebbe to Egypt.
The pilgrims are also here for theinter religious dialogue
From Egypt, they took a bus en-route the Mount Sinai Peninsula. And then through the Taba border post, enter Israel.
“We climbed Mount Sinai to the point Moses received the Ten Commandments from God,” Msgr. Katende said.
“We crossed the Red Sea that Moses crossed with the Israelites — at the time of Moses, God created a path on the water for the Israelites to walk on. But today, the road passes under the water, and on top of the water is where the ships pass. From Mount Sinai, we went to Israel,” Msgr. Katende added.
Here, they visited many holy grounds, he said. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus; Nazareth, his home town; River Jordan, where Jesus was baptized by John; and Jerusalem where he was arrested by King Herod.
“We visited Jericho, the Sea of Galilee, and Mount Calvary where Jesus was crucified, and the Tomb, the holiest place for every Christian, where Jesus was buried and He rose from the dead on the third day,” the Rev Fr. Katende said.
“The Muslims were very happy to visit the Al'Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the second holiest place for Muslims after Mecca.
But because of the ongoing conflicts (between Israel and Palestine), we (the Christians) were not allowed inside the Mosque,” he said.
Msgr. Katende said the tour of the holy places was one among many initiatives co-ordinated under IRCU, whose number one objective is to create a harmonious co-existence between faiths in the country.
“We are trying to live together, peaceful, without conflicts. There were three Muslims and the rest Christians. The purpose of the visit was to renew our faiths,” Katende said.
“There are some beliefs as Christians and Muslims, we share. We all accept prophets, like Moses whom the Muslims call Musa; Isaiah. And we believe in Jesus, whom the Muslims call Prophet Isa. We belong to the Abrahamic faiths that include Judaism, Christianity and Islam.