Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with Young People
Kampala, Kololo Air Strip
Saturday 28 November 2015
Holy Father: Omukama Mulungi! (God is good!)
Young people: Obudde bwonna! (For ever and ever!)
Dear Young Friends,
I am happy to be here and to share these moments with you. I greet my brother bishops and the civil authorities present, and I thank Bishop Paul Ssemogerere for his words of welcome. The testimonies of Winnie and Emmanuel confirm my impression that the Church in Uganda is alive with young people who want a better future. Today, if you will allow me, I want to confirm you in your faith, encourage you in your love, and in a special way, strengthen you in your hope.
Christian hope is not simply optimism; it is much more. It is rooted in the new life we have received in Jesus Christ. Saint Paul tells us that hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love was poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit at our baptism (cf. Rom 5:5). This hope enables us to trust in Christ’s promises, to trust in the power of his love, his forgiveness, his friendship. That love opens the door to new life. Whenever you experience a problem, a setback, a failure, you must anchor your heart in that love, for it has the power to turn death into life and to banish every evil.
So this afternoon I would invite you, first of all, to pray for this gift to grow within you, and for the grace to become messengers of hope. There are so many people around us who experience deep anxiety and even despair. Jesus lifts these clouds, if we allow him to.
I would also like to share with you a few thoughts about some of the obstacles which you may encounter on our journey of hope. All of you want a better future, employment, health and prosperity. This is good. You want to share your gifts, your aspirations and your enthusiasm with others, for the good of the nation and of the Church. This too is very good. But when you see poverty, when you experience lack of opportunity, when you experience failure in your lives, sometimes a feeling of despair can grow. You can be tempted to lose hope.
Have you ever seen a little child who stops in front of a dirty puddle on the path ahead of him? A puddle he cannot leap over or go around? He may try but then he stumbles and gets soaked. Then, after many attempts, he calls out to his father, who takes his hand and swings him over to the other side. We are like that child. Life presents us with many dirty puddles. But we don’t have to overcome all those problems and hurdles on our own. God is there to take our hand, if only we call on him.
What I am saying is that all of us have to be like that little child, even the Pope! For it is only when we are small and humble that we are not afraid to call out to our Father. If you have experienced his help, you know what I am speaking about. We need to learn to put our hope in him, knowing that he is always there for us. He gives us confidence and courage. But – and this is important – it would be wrong not to share this beautiful experience with others. It would be wrong for us not to become messengers of hope for others.
There is one particular puddle which can be frightening to young people who want to grow in their friendship with Christ. It is the fear of failing in our commitment to love, and above all, failing in that great and lofty ideal which is Christian marriage. You may be afraid of failing to be a good wife and mother, failing to be a good husband and father. If you are looking at that puddle, you may even see your weaknesses and fears reflected back to you. Please, don’t give in to them! Sometimes these fears come from the devil who does not want you to be happy. No! Call out to God, extend your hearts to him and he will lift you in his arms and show you how to love. I ask young couples in particular to trust that God wants to bless their love and their lives with his grace in the sacrament of marriage. God’s gift of love is at the heart of Christian marriage, not the costly parties which often obscure the deep spiritual meaning of this day of joyful celebration with family and friends.
Finally, one puddle that we all have to face is the fear of being different, of going against the grain in a society which puts increasing pressure on us to embrace models of gratification and consumption alien to the deepest values of African culture. Think about it! What would the Uganda martyrs say about the misuse of our modern means of communication, where young people are exposed to images and distorted views of sexuality that degrade human dignity, leading to sadness and emptiness? What would be the Uganda martyrs’ reaction to the growth of greed and corruption in our midst? Surely they would appeal to you to be model Christians, confident that your love of Christ, your fidelity to the Gospel, and your wise use of your God-given gifts can only enrich, purify and elevate the life of this country. They continue to show you the way. Do not be afraid to let the light of your faith shine in your families, your schools and your places of work. Do not be afraid to enter into dialogue humbly with others who may see things differently.
Dear young friends, when I look at your faces I am filled with hope: hope for you, hope for your country, and hope for the Church. I ask you to pray that the hope which you have received from the Holy Spirit will continue to inspire your efforts to grow in wisdom, generosity and goodness. Don’t forget to be messengers of that hope! And don’t forget that God will help you to cross whatever puddles you meet along the way!
Hope in Christ and he will enable you to find true happiness. And if you find it hard to pray, if you find it hard to hope, do not be afraid to turn to Mary, for she is our Mother, the Mother of Hope. Finally, please, do not forget to pray for me! God bless you all!
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Visit to the House of Charity
Saturday 28 November 2015
Thank you for your warm welcome. I wanted very much to visit this House of Charity, which Cardinal Nsubuga founded here in Nalukolongo. This is a place which has always been associated with the Church’s outreach to the poor, the handicapped, the sick. Here, in early times, slave children were ransomed and women received religious instruction. I greet the Good Samaritan Sisters who carry on this fine tradition, and I thank them for their years of quiet and joyful service in this apostolate.
I also greet the representatives of the many other apostolic groups who serve the needs of our brothers and sisters in Uganda. Above all, I greet the residents of this home and others like it, and all who benefit from these works of Christian charity. For this is a home. Here you can find love and care; here you can feel the presence of Jesus, our brother, who loves each of us with God’s own love.
Today, from this Home, I appeal to all parishes and communities in Uganda – and the rest of Africa – not to forget the poor. The Gospel commands us to go out to the peripheries of society, and to find Christ in the suffering and those in need. The Lord tells us, in no uncertain terms, that is what he will judge us on! How sad it is when our societies allow the elderly to be rejected or neglected! How wrong it is when the young are exploited by the modern-day slavery of human trafficking! If we look closely at the world around us, it seems that, in many places, selfishness and indifference are spreading. How many of our brothers and sisters are victims of today’s throwaway culture, which breeds contempt above all towards the unborn, the young and the elderly!
As Christians, we cannot simply stand by. Something must change! Our families need to become ever more evident signs of God’s patient and merciful love, not only for our children and elders, but for all those in need. Our parishes must not close their doors, or their ears, to the cry of the poor. This is the royal road of Christian discipleship. In this way we bear witness to the Lord who came not to be served, but to serve. In this way we show that people count more than things, that who we are is more important than what we possess. For in those whom we serve, Christ daily reveals himself and prepares the welcome which we hope one day to receive in his eternal kingdom.
Dear friends, by simple gestures, by simple prayerful actions which honour Christ in the least of his brothers and sisters, we can bring the power of his love into our world, and truly change it. I thank you once more for your generosity and love. I will remember you in my prayers and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I commend all of you to the loving protection of Mary, our Mother, and I give you my blessing.
Omukama Abakuume! (God protect you!)
Mons. Robert Muhiirwa Welcome to Pope Francis in Uganda
Your Holiness, Pope Francis
On behalf of the Health Commission of the Uganda Episcopal Conference and indeed the whole community of the Catholic Church in Uganda I humbly welcome you to this home of the disabled and the elderly, locally also known as the Bakateyamba’s Home. This place symbolises the many works of the Catholic Church to the poor and the vulnerable. It is also important because it was here that the Catholic catechism in Uganda was first conducted.
The home is managed by the Good Samaritan Sisters, founded by the first Ugandan Cardinal, late Emanuel Cardinal Kiwanuka Nsubuga. From its small beginning in 1978, it currently has 102 inhabitants of the disabled and the elderly. The home cares for people without discrimination and currently has 45 male and 57 female inhabitants. Sixty four of these are Catholics, 35 are Protestants and three are Moslems. They have come from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi as well as South Sudan. There are people who have already lived with disability in this home for as long as 20-28 years. The youngest person is 11 years while the oldest is 107 years of age.
In this audience you also have doctors and nurses from the 19 dioceses representing the 288 health facilities of the Catholic Church across the country, but also other health workers from health facilities of the government and other organisations. Some are from other homes taking care of people with disability, Babies and children’s homes, and organisations caring for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
The list (not to be read):
• Katalemwa Cheshire Home for disabled people
• Nsambya Babies Home
• Nkankobe Children’s Home
• Missionaries of the Poor (All homes)
• Sisters of Charity (of Calcutta)
• Children from Sanyu Babies Home, Namirembe
• Lash Rehabilitation Community Centre
• Daughters of Charity Kiwanga
• Reach out Mbuya – taking care of people living with HIV/AIDS
• TASO – Children living positively with HIV
• Autistic children from Komo Centre
• Sickle cell anemia children
Besides general medical care and care of the disabled in homes, there is also increasing challenge and need for palliative care that as a church we need to be more involved in.
Your Holiness, the people here are eager to hear your word and receive your blessing.
May that blessing also be upon those who support these people in their work so that they may continue with that act of love and humility to serve the Lord in the healing ministry.
POPE FRANCIS VISIT SCHEDULE IN UGANDA
The youth meeting with his Holiness, Pope Francis in Kololo will be a mini World Youth Day for the young people of Uganda. We are expected to host one hundred and ten thousand (110,000) people in Kololo airstrip out of which ten thousand (10,000) are accredited. The following are the proposed activities of the day.
A) ACTIVITIES BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF THE HOLY FATHER:
1. Assembly of the Ushers
All ushers and protocol members (Youth Task Force) will assemble at Kololo between 5.30 and 6.00am. This will allow the task force to organize and seat the young people in the various places allocated to them.
2. Arrival of delegates/youth
The young people will be allowed to access Kololo from 6:00am. This will help to create order and prepare the youth for Mass. In addition, the Youth Chaplains are encouraged to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance for those who would like to prepare themselves spiritually for the Holy Mass. This will be from 6:00am to 7.00am.
The ten thousand (10,000) young people accredited will sit according to the four (4) Ecclesiastical Provinces. Each Province will have a different colour for clear demarcation to avoid overcrowding.
3. Holy Mass in Kololo
The preparation for the Youth Mass will begin from 7.30am and the actual Mass begins by 8.00am. The Mass is expected to last till 9.00am. It will be presided over by one of the Youth Chaplains. The readings will be the same as for the Mass in Namugongo led by the Holy Father. The Mass will be animated by Trinity Choir, Nsambya – Kampala.
4. Interlude by the Praise and Worship Team
Praise and worship songs will be on-going and this helps to put the young people in the mood of the event. The songs will be led by the Praise and Worship Team from YES Centre, Kampala. There will also be entertainment songs by the accredited youth groups.
5. Arrival of the invited guests
All invited guests will be allowed to take their seats between 6:30am and 7:00am. These include:
a) The official youth and children representatives from the Dioceses and Youth Movements (male and female leaders);
b) The Diocesan Youth Chaplains (63 Priest and 2 Deacons);
c) Youth representatives from the interreligious denominations (20);
d) Some members of the Lay Apostolate Commission (those who are not members of the Organizing Committee for Kololo event (3);
e) The youth Members of Parliament (5);
f) Few selected partners from institutions and companies (20);
g) Diplomats (50) and Government representatives (about 50).
h) Others include; the deaf dumb (200), refugee youth, some young people living with HIV and those with other forms of disability.
6. Those to sit with the Holy Father
These include; the official youth and children representatives from the Dioceses and Youth Movements (male and female leaders). They will all put on traditional/cultural wear and they are 60 in total (i.e. 50 young people and 10 children); the Bishop Chairman of Lay Apostolate Commission and the Archbishop of Kampala.
7. Holy Mass in Namugongo
The Mass from Namugongo will be beamed on giant screens for the youth in Kololo. This will start at 9.00am. The screens and the Public Address System have already been planned for and all is set.
There will be catechists on the theme of the Papal Visit: “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). A summary of the 2015 and 2016 World Youth Day messages will be presented to the young people. The talks will focus on the theme of each message. Inspirational messages will be delivered to the young people. Speakers shall be provided.
9. Entertainment by the youth and children groups
This will take place after Kololo Mass as the young people wait for the arrival of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The entertainment groups have been identified from the young people coming from the 4 Ecclesiastical Provinces. The pieces of entertainment are centered on the theme of the Papal Visit. Decency is emphasized.
B) ARRIVAL OF THE HOLY FATHER:
10. Arrival of the Holy Father and his entourage
The Holy Father – Pope Francis is estimated to be with the youth for 75 minutes. On arrival, the Pontiff shall to drive through the protected path ways among the crowd and wave to the young people as he passes by to go to the podium.
On the way to the Podium, the Holy Father will be received by the Bishop Chairman of Lay Apostolate Commission (LAC), 19 Diocesan Youth Chaplains and 3 members of LAC. Each youth is encouraged to have at least a flag (either the Vatican or Ugandan). The youth will chant common songs or words to welcome the Holy Father.
The Uganda National and the Vatican anthems (no, it’s pastoral) will be played by the choir/band of the Minor Seminaries of Kisubi and Nyenga.
12. Opening prayer
This is adopted from the Message of the Holy Father for World Youth Day, 2016:
THE PRAYER OF SAINT FAUSTINA
“Help me, O Lord,
…that my eyes may be merciful, so that I will never be suspicious or judge by appearances, but always look for what is beautiful in my neighbours’ souls and be of help to them;
… that my ears may be merciful, so that I will be attentive to my neighbours’ needs, and not indifferent to their pains and complaints;
… that my tongue may be merciful, so that I will never speak badly of others, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all;
… that my hands may be merciful and full of good deeds;
… that my feet may be merciful, so that I will hasten to help my neighbour, despite my own fatigue and weariness;
… that my heart may be merciful, so that I myself will share in all the sufferings of my neighbour” (Diary, 163).
There will be two young people male and female to share their witnesses. Each will be given two minutes. The official welcome speech and a brief remark on youth ministry will be presented by the Bishop Chairman LAC. This will be followed by the presentation of a symbolic gift from the youth of Uganda to the Holy Father. Then His Holiness will be invited to address the youth.
14. Presentation of the symbolic gift
This will be presented by the selected children – male and female immediately after the brief remark by the Chairman LAC. The gift will be a symbolic gesture of St. Charles Lwanga (Patron of the youth in Uganda) baptizing St. Kizito the youngest Martyr (Patron of the Children). A T-shirt for the youth event in Kololo will also be presented to the Holy Father.
15. Address by the Holy Father
His Holiness will be invited to address the youth. He concludes his speech with the final blessing and then leaves Kololo at 4.30pm.
16. Departure of the youth
The young people will be entertained up to 5:00pm and then leave for their various destinations at leisure. The youth groups will continue to perform up to 6.00pm.
DRAFT PROGRAM FOR THE PASTORAL MEETING OF POPE FRANCIS WITH THE YOUTH OF UGANDA SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY 28TH NOVEMBER AT KOLOLO AIRSTRIP
TIME EVENT DURATION RESPONSIBLE
6.00am Security check and entrance 90min. Security/Ushers
7.30am Preparation for youth Mass 30min NYAO
8.00am Mass 60min NYAO
9.00am Welcome remarks and preparation for Papal Mass 30min Youth Task force
9:30am Papal Mass beamed live from Namugongo
Punctuated with youth catechesis 180min Media Center
12.30pm Lunch snacks saved 60min Youth Task force
1.30pm Praise and Worship by Trinity Choir 30min Youth groups
2.00pm Entertainment by youth groups 30min Youth groups
2.30pm Youth catechesis on the theme 15min NYAO
2.45pm Entertainment by children groups 15min Animators
3.00pm Praise and worship team preparing to receive the Holy Father 15min Youth groups
• Holy Father arrives at Kololo Airstrip
• National anthems (Uganda and Vatican)
• Short prayer (selected child)
• Welcome dance by Mugwanya Preparatory school, Kabojja
• Speech from the two youth – witnesses
• Dance by Bishop Cypriano, Biina
• Presentation of the gift
• Welcome speech and invitation of the Holy Father by Bishop Chairman LAC
• Holy Father addresses the Youth
• Final blessing by the Holy Father
Concluding Hymn/chant or dance by the youth as the Holy Father bids farewell to youth. 15min
Rt. Rev. Paul S.
Saluto di mons. Paul Ssemogerere, presidente della Commissione per l’Apostolato dei Laici della Conferenza Episcopale dell’Uganda
Your Holiness Pope Francis,
The young people gathered here warmly welcome you to Uganda – The Pearl of Africa and the land of the Martyrs.
Your visit to Uganda and the meeting with the young people today is a special occasion for spiritual renewal, growth and a deeper commitment of the youth to the Vocation and Mission of the Church.
The Youth Ministry is one of the arms of the Lay Apostolate Commission of Uganda Episcopal Conference. It is tasked with the main objective of mobilizing, coordinating, training and promoting active and effective Youth Apostolate/Ministry in Uganda.
With the above mandate, the ministry functions through the different existing youth Movements, Associations, Clubs and other programs which include: Young Christian Students (YCS) Movement, Legion of Mary, Young Christian Workers (YCW) Movement, Xaveri Movement, Catholic Agricultural Rural Youth Movement (CARYM), Uganda Catholic Scouts Fraternity, Crusaders, Pontifical Mission Societies, Focolare, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Workers Movement, Uganda St Jude Thaddeus, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Youth Alive, Mary Muke Solidarity Fund, Female Youth Program, among others.
The National Youth Office collaborates directly with the Diocesan Youth Offices, which exists in the 19 Catholic Dioceses of Uganda namely; Arua, Fort Portal, Gulu, Hoima, Jinja, Kabale, Kampala, Kasana-Luweero, Kasese, Kiyinda-Miyana, Kotido, Lira, Lugazi, Masaka, Mbarara, Moroto, Nebbi, Soroti and Tororo.
It is also linked to the Pontifical Council for the Laity – Youth Section of the Holy See. In collaborating with the PCL and Dioceses, the National Office expresses the Church’s focus for the ministry with adolescents and young adults while encouraging local creativity in developing the programs, activities, and strategies to reach the young people.
The young people of Uganda are very enthusiastic, energetic and have continued to be witnesses of their faith. This faith is expressed with joy, love and spirit of selflessness. The thematic areas of their activities include: Leadership formation; On-going moral formation based on Gospel values and the Social Teachings of the Church; Marriage and Family Apostolate; Discipleship; New Evangelization; Behaviour Change Program – Education for Life; Sports Ministry; Entrepreneurship; Self-reliance; Catechesis; Youth and the Environment; Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program; Vocational Training; Livelihood and Food Security; Social Transformation; Youth and ICT.
Challenged by the contemporary social and intercultural realities, escalation of violence, identity crisis, moral decay, religious pluralism, consumerism and materialism, HIV/AIDS, early marriage and pregnancy, technological isolation, indifference to the Church, cohabitation, alcoholism and drugs, among others the youth are seen as the future of the Church.
It is important to note that the young members of our society and the Church have enormous work pressure and with it abundant choice for leisure, relaxation and social activities, which distracts them from participating in church activities. This therefore calls for an action and commitment from the young generation since they are the hope and future of the Church.
We are indebted to the Pontifical Council for the Laity for their continuous support to enable the youth from Uganda to participate in the World Youth Days since its inception to-date.
We continue to prayer through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John Paul II and St. Charles Lwanga our Patron for reinvigoration of our faith.
Your Holiness, we are grateful to you for accepting to meet the youth of Uganda.
Testimonianza di Emmanuel Odokonyero, Uganda
It was on 11th May 2003 at 11.00pm when the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels attacked Sacred Heart Minor Seminary, Lacor. They broke the window and pushed a child inside to open the door to the “O” Level dormitory where they abducted 41 students, me inclusive.
We left the school premises at 2.00am and walked until 4.00am where we met the bigger group of abducted people. Due to the fear of the helicopter, they separated us into small groups so that we could not escape.
In captivity, we faced several challenges and these include; starvation, poor shelter, beating and burning people’s backs with hot panga to make sign of the cross – which burns in the long run developed wounds; others had swollen legs, while some of our friends were murdered. I was tortured and they tied my hands behind my back and I failed to breathe. I wanted to ask to be killed than to suffer such a pain. They then untied me and warned me not to escape.
By God’s grace, I managed to escape on 11th August 2003 from Namokora Sub-county, Kitgum District when we were forced to cross the road. It was not in my powers but the Merciful God who guided me through these trying movements.
My heart is full of sorrow and pity for those who lost their lives in captivity. I ask all of you gathered here today, to pray for the remaining eleven seminarians and all those in captivity that the Almighty God strengthens, protect and leads them back to us.
To those who tortured us, am glad my heart has found love, forgiveness, peace and joy. They are all forgiven because Jesus Christ broke the power of death by suffering on the Cross.
Despite all these challenges faced in captivity, when I escaped I did not give up. With the support of kind people, I went back to school and graduated with a Degree in Business Administration.
Dear young people, amidst temptations and other challenges in our lives, let us remain strong in our faith by believing and putting our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Testimonianza di Winnie Nansumba, Uganda
I am Nansumba Winnie, born and living with HIV. Am 24 years old and graduated from Ndejje University. I lost both parents before I was barely Seven years old. In 1999 I was enrolled in Mild May Uganda where I was started on Septrin. Four years later, I got measles and pneumonia which left me with only 5 CD4 counts and therefore was put on ARVs. During that time drugs were very expensive, but with the support of my aunt and MildMay Uganda, I was able to get the drugs every month.
As a young woman, I always found it hard to fall in love because I thought I didn’t have a right to love and be loved. I was always afraid of explaining my life. Thank God I developed a positive attitude towards this over time.
Remembering the words of the late Philly Bongole Lutaya a famous Ugandan musician; “let us stand together and fight AIDS;” he became my role model and I realized that I can be like him and use my story to teach, inspire and create positive change.
Dear young people, our bodies are God’s temple and we have to take care of them! God wants us to have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). The fullness of life cannot be experienced when we are oppressed, enslaved and living in a situation of sin. We must respect our life and that of others. Living our life to the fullest keeps us united with God and hence away from STDs/STIs.
As young people let’s work together regardless of our status we need to adopt new practices and behaviours that will help each one of us play their role in the fight against HIV. We are not fighting a lost battle our elders have done their part and developments have been seen. It’s now our time to play our part. Young people living with HIV need car, love and support instead of sympathy, pity and rejection.
A word is enough for a wise person. HIV is real but it can be prevented and managed. Take charge of your life because God loves you and he wants you to continue bear witness amidst all the challenges faced by young people.
When you are seated in a crowd, just know you are the only one who is HIV negative and your neighbor is not. So it’s your own initiative to know your neighbours status if need be. Let us continue to grow responsibly, witnessing to the love of Jesus C