Kampala | RedPepper – Government has, on Wednesday evening, announced it will accord an official burial to the late Metropolitan Archbishop Jonah Lwanga
The late Metropolitan Archbishop Lwanga breathed his last aged 76 on Sunday evening, September 2,
The Minister for Information and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, said during a mass in memory of Archbishop Lwanga at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church that President Museveni condoled with the orthodox fraternity for the death of “our friend Jonah Lwanga.”
“The President also sent us to convey a message that government shall accord an official burial to Archbishop,” Dr Baryomunsi said.
The minister told the faithful that the burial day and when the remains would be returned from Athens, Greece, where the Orthodox leader died would be announced after a meeting between the family, church leaders and government officials.
“We feel the pain. As believers this is the journey we have to take, we have lost a senior colleague, a fellow leader. Government is with you in these difficult times when we have lost the dear one,” Baryomunsi said.
Lwanga’s official burial will be the second of a church leader after one in April of the late Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
With an official burial, it means government will cater for all expenses and accord a gun salute to the deceased leader of the Orthodox Church.
Dr Baryomunsi told mourners that the President and his Cabinet were saddened by news of the passing on of the Archbishop because he had been one of the strongest spiritual leaders.
“Government enjoys good relationship with all faith and NRM cherishes the freedom of worship. We will continue with our good relations,” Dr Baryomunsi said.
The minister was flanked by lawmakers Theodore Ssekikubo (NRM, Lwemiyaga) and Ms Helen Nakimuli (Kalangala Woman).
Dr Baryomunsi explained that life on earth is just a journey, time comes when we have to go and meet the creator but that the question is how we handle journey while on Earth.
“Whichever length, how we use that time when we are still on earth, is what matters. Archbishop has used his time well. He dedicated his life to work of God, we salute him for committing to serve God,” Mr Baryomunsi said.
Archbishop Makarios (born Andreas Tillyrides) of Nairobi has been appointed the caretaker and overseer of the burial of the late Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga.
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Gulu Orthodox Bishop Silvester Kisitu said he returned home from Greece unusually with sadness, a contrast of the earlier journeys back home.
“I just returned to Uganda. Every time, we return with joy not today with the passing of our Archbishop,” Kisitu said.
He described Lwanga as a trustworthy clergy who since his youthful days preached social justice.
“He is travelling to the heavens, yet for us here we miss him. We will always cherish his service as a great advocate of peace and justice. Rest in the blossom of happiness,” Kisitu said.
It was a busy day at the Orthodox Church with face-lifts taking place around the church building while other men buzzed small slashing machines to clear the grass.
At the entrance were young men armed with temperature guns, a sanitiser and a record book to take in names of every mourner who entered the church compound.
In front of the main church, entrance organisers erected a tent where the late Archbishop’s portrait was placed, besides red, yellow, white and pink flowers. Many mourners saluted or bowed in front of the portrait whenever they arrived.
Kisitu also conveyed the Patriarch’s message that he was feeling saddened at the loss of a very senior archbishop.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, who was flanked by MPs including Mityana Woman MP Joyce Bagala described Lwanga as a man “who said it straight and who was very reliable.”
“He spoke truth and reason to power, never preached water and drunk wine, he stood by his word on justice and freedoms,” Mpuuga said.
He appreciated Lwanga saying the country needed his dependable leadership.
Mr Mpuuga later told Daily Monitor that the head of the Orthodox Church was never afraid of coming out to offer guidance to the nation.
“We ask the almighty God to receive his soul with grace and let perpetual light shine upon him in the afterlife,” he said.