The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Catholic Church in First Overnight Prayers

As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Uganda martyrs becoming saints this year, it ushered in 2014 with overnight prayers.

The prayers led by Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, were held at Nsambya Catholic parish grounds under the theme, 'Cast unto the deep.'

Lwanga revealed President Museveni had written to the new pontiff, Francis, inviting him for the golden jubilee celebrations scheduled for Martyrs day, June 3. On October 18, 1964, the 22 (now 24 with the addition of Daudi Okello and Gildo Irwa) Catholic martyrs were proclaimed saints by Pope Paul VI in St Peter's basilica, Rome.

New Year's Eve overnight prayers started with mass at 10pm where Lwanga appealed to the thousands of congregants to protect the family institution by rejecting homosexuality.

"Families are in turmoil because we are copying western lifestyles that we shouldn't," Lwanga said.

He promised to release a family prayer book this year for families to stay grounded in faith. He also urged the Christians to stay on guard against the flourishing false religions conning people of their money and lives.

Earlier, Fr Athanas Musajjakawa urged congregants to root themselves in God's word despite any challenges they face. Among the congregants was Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, Andrew Felix Kaweesi and comedian, Patriko Mujuuka. At 11:40pm, the congregants lit candles to symbolize a new beginning as they waited for the dawn of the New Year.

Then a single burst of red shot into the sky. The loud crackling of the beautiful fireworks sent the congregation, some who had fallen asleep into excitement, before more bursts of yellow, green, blue, and purple rent the air.

And as the last firework shot out, the congregation switched to a song of praise, welcoming 2014. Overnight prayers were also held at Kiwamirembe, Namugongo, Busega and Ggogoonya Catholic shrines.

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