Kitgum Vicariate is preparing to hold an historic mass wedding in celebration of the centenary year of Catholic existence in the northern Uganda district.
Preparations are underway for the event scheduled to take place on February 15th next year at Kitgum Mission Parish, the home of the Comboni Missionary Fathers who introduced the Catholic faith there.
Father Pampaloni Elia, the parish Priest of Kitgum Catholic Mission Parish, says couples are already being prepared to take the sacrament of the holy matrimony in the mass weddings.
Father Pampaloni says the Church wants to join the couples on February 15th, the day the Comboni Missionaries stepped foot in Kitgum district to spread the good news, heal the sick and introduce education among other services.
Father Pampaloni says the Papal Nuncio is expected to grace the event that will be celebrated under the theme “Fanning the Flame” and “Jesus Christ is our life”.
Father Pampaloni says the Sacrament is being emphasized because the Acholi community is hesitant to embrace weddings in post conflict northern Uganda due to associated exorbitant costs.
Celebration of the centenary year will also see 8 new priests ordained. The priests will are from various churches in the vicariate.
He says time has come for Comboni Missionaries to hand over the leadership, control and administration of all Catholic institutions to local parishioners in line with Bishop Daniel Comboni’s strong belief of “Save Africa with Africa”.
Faddy Gladies Canogura Okello, the Acting Chairperson of the Central Organizing Committee for the Centenary Celebrations, says 500 couples are expected to take part in the mass wedding. She says the other Sacraments forming parts of the celebrations are Baptism and Confirmations of new believers.
She says the centenary celebration is a defining moment of their faith.
Father Pampaloni says despite numerous challenges, there are many successes to celebrate. He cites schools, Chapels, training institutions and the famous St. Joseph’s Hospital whose foundations were laid by the Comboni Missionaries.
The white father says the church is currently sponsoring more than 100 students in different courses in universities and other higher institutions of learning. He also boasts of 1,000 women engaged in income generating activities among other achievements.
Comboni Missionaries stepped foot in Kitgum in February 1915 and introduced the Catholic faith under the instruction of Bishop Xavier Geyer who directly succeeded Bishop Daniel Comboni, the then Bishop of Khartoum.
Titus Oryema, the Kitgum district Vice Chairperson, says the Catholic Church has been one of the strongest development partners of Kitgum district in the last 100 years.