It has been one hundred years since the first catholic missionary set foot in Teso sub region at Ngora parish. To mark the occasion, Soroti catholic diocese has embarked on preparations for the centenary celebrations due on Saturday next week.
Already, several Christians have been taking part in a 70 kilometer pilgrimage walk from Budaka to Ngora, the route that was reportedly used by the first missionary. Other activities designed to precede the celebrations include pilgrimage of the cross that involves Christians carrying the cross through the various parishes in the diocese. Eucharistic week is also being planned to give Christians the opportunity to offer thanks giving prayers for the development of faith over the hundred years. The diocese is also organising football tournaments.
Asdonious Onanya, one of the Christians in the diocese who are anticipating the celebrations, mentions that the advance of faith in the region has helped to teach moral values to the community. Onanya, 58, says that he feels the impact of Christianity in his own family. Onanya, a wedded father four explains that his children are all well disciplined and obedient as a result of the Christian teaching that took root following the advance of faith.
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Elimu Leonard, a resident of Ngora parish says that the church has enabled people to practice love and forgiveness for one another, a practice, which he says has led to a spirit of unity in the community and dispelling any opportunity for hostility among the residents.
Rose Mary Ejabu, a Christian in the parish says that the presence of the church has made it easy to live amidst tough and challenging moments in life. She explained that life presents trial and temptations, which are naturally difficult to overcome without heavenly help.
But it is not only the growth of faith in the area that the Christians are celebrating. Several health and learning institutions have been established in the area by the church. As a result, many sick people have been treated and cured at the health centers and hospital from diseases, which could have killed them.
Fr Lawrence Ebeu, the chairperson of Soroti diocesan steering committee in charge of the preparation for the centenary celebration, says that many people some of whom are in positions of leadership have been educated at the many church founded learning institutions. Ebeu said it is important that the community appreciates God for the existence of the church and all the services it has rendered to the population.
Fr Ebeu explains that the first missionary was nearly killed by atheists but persevered to introduce Christianity in the area, a mission that has since developed into the establishment of so many churches. He however adds that despite the success, the journey has been challenging mainly in terms of what he described as limited financial support, which he says hinders the church from providing the desired services to the community.
He said it was important for the Christians to use the occasion to evaluate themselves and their contribution to effect change in the society.
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At the grounds of St Joseph catholic church where the celebration will be held, several activities ranging from renovations to erecting shades are underway in preparation for the event whose theme is “Courage, Rise and Go” which is picked from the bible in the book of Mark chapter 10 verse 49.