Pope Francis is now in Mexico but echoes of his visit to Africa remain. Ugandans are still celebrating and savouring that visit.
Following the historic visit of Pope Francis to Africa, in November 2015, Ugandans recently hosted a colourful celebration to acknowledge the contribution of various persons and organisations. The invitation to the celebration was extended to the papal organising committee, government officials and sponsors who contributed towards making the event a great success.
The thanksgiving and get-together event, held at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat premises, attracted over 400 invited guests. The event was characterised by jubilant songs, traditional and folk dances. The guest of honour was the country’s Prime Minister, Honourable Ruhakana Rugunda. Also present were the Archbishop of Gulu and Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Archbishop John Baptist Odama; Bishop Joseph Franzelli of Lira Diocese; Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa of Masaka; Catholic secretariat staff and several public and private dignitaries.
Archbishop Odama informed the guests that the Holy Father, Pope Francis had written to him expressing gratitude to all Ugandans for their warm welcome during his visit.
“The whole event was a success which gave the Pope great joy. The crowds that received and accompanied him everywhere he went were a sign that people are yearning for Christ. It would not have been possible without the fervent hard work put in by everyone involved thus we are gathered here to celebrate that,” said Archbishop Odama adding, “The visit also left us with a very important lesson that the Church and the state can be partners in promoting the common good.” The Archbishop thus asked the Prime Minister to convey the Church’s sincere appreciation to the office of the Republican President and his government for the help and cooperation rendered during the pontifical visit.
Archbishop Odama told the guests that the Pope’s visit made all Ugandans proud. He urged Ugandans to maintain unity, hard work and a spirit of consultation. “The presence of the various leaders from different political parties and religions, the unprecedented handshake of the two presidential candidates in 15 years was proof that the Pope’s visit knew no religion nor political background but was a demonstration that Uganda only shares oneness,” the Archbishop emphasised.
At the thanksgiving celebration, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Honourable Rugunda Ruhakana also addressed guests. He said that many memorable events have taken place in the nation since and because of the papal visit. “The Holy Father ignited national cohesion in practice. We are used to political opponents hitting at each. It is not a common sight to see the warmth of the handshaking that we witnessed at the Namugongo shrine thus we should follow the Pope’s example of unity,” said Rugunda adding that, “Unity, solidarity and ecumenism were examples the Holy Father showed to Ugandans.”
(Uganda Episcopal Conference)