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Priest To Pilgrims: Visits To Sacred Places Won’t Fulfill Your Desires

Maria Nyerere during the Mass

Rev. Fr. Thomas Biringi, from Geita Diocese in Tanzania, has told pilgrims that faith is essential in achieving their desires, rather than relying solely on the act of visiting sacred sites and walking.

Fr. Biringi made the remarks during a Mass at the Uganda Martyrs Minor Basilica in Namugongo, where pilgrims from both Uganda and Tanzania had gathered to honor Nyerere, who is being considered for sainthood.

He emphasized that their pilgrimage to sacred sites should not be regarded as a casual stroll with the assumption that their desires would be automatically fulfilled by the Lord.

Instead, he urged them to focus on bolstering their faith as a priority.

“Now we all gather here with the intention of seeking healing, whether be it from financial, physical, social, or any other kind of problems. This is why we embark on journeys to places like Namugongo and Kibeho in Rwanda. However, I want to assure you that without faith, all our efforts would be fruitless. Let me emphasize this once again; faith is absolutely crucial and should take priority over our desires,” the priest emphasized.

Rev. Fr. Biringi’s sermon greatly contributed to this year’s Martyrs Day theme, “Lord, increase our faith,” chosen by Jinja Diocese which will lead this year’s celebrations.

He reinforced his message by recounting the story of a blind man who experienced healing through his unwavering faith in Jesus. He further emphasized the significance of possessing faith, emphasizing its capacity to work miracles in one’s spiritual journey. He served as a reminder to the pilgrims that the fulfillment of their desires during the pilgrimage ultimately depends on the strength of their own faith.

Since 2009, Tanzanian pilgrims have been gathering at Namugongo for a special prayer dedicated to the beatification cause of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Nyerere, a devoted Catholic and former president of Tanzania passed away on October 14, 1999, at the age of 77. The prayer tradition was initiated after Pope Benedict XVI declared Nyerere a servant of God on May 13, 2005, marking the first step towards his beatification and canonization for sainthood. During these prayer gatherings, Nyerere’s family is actively involved, with Mama Maria Nyerere, his wife, leading the group alongside their children and grandchildren.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and her frail health, Mama Nyerere was unable to participate in the pilgrimage to Namugongo since 2019. This year, Mama Nyerere made a special early arrival and was received as a state visitor, receiving assistance from the Office of the President.

During her stay, she attended a Mass at Lubaga Cathedral on Wednesday evening to honor the late Kampala Archdiocesan Archbishop Kizito Lwanga, who passed away in 2021.

Charles Lwanga Nyerere, son to Nyerere, speaking on behalf of the family this year, expressed profound gratitude for the warm reception they received at the church. He had the privilege of offering a prayer to honor his late father and was deeply touched by the experience.

He extended an invitation to the faithful, encouraging them to join their family in persistent prayer whenever they visit Uganda. He emphasized the importance of continuing to pray fervently until the time when God graciously answers their heartfelt prayers.

Peace Mutuzo, the State Minister for Culture and Family, who represented President Museveni caused controversy when she proclaimed Nyerere as a saint.

She confidently declared, “We have assembled here to pay tribute to the revered Saint Nyerere.” The priests who were in attendance expressed their surprise through murmurs, aware that this statement was unfounded.

Despite their disbelief, the minister continued to assert this declaration repeatedly, even during the subsequent rendition in Kiswahili.

Later, one of the Master of Ceremonies emphasized that Nyerere had not yet been declared a saint, but rather the church was still in the process of praying for his beatification and eventual canonization.

He urged the media not to propagate this misinformation. He addressed the crowd, saying, “I kindly request your attention, dear attendees. Please be aware that Nyerere has not attained the status of a saint.” He went on to explain the stringent process required by the church for sainthood.

In order for an individual to be declared a saint, they must have performed miracles either during their lifetime or after death. Regarding Nyerere, the church was actively seeking an extraordinary miracle that could be attributed to his intercession. Furthermore, the occurrence of such a miracle would need to be supported by scientific evidence.

Meanwhile, while some members of the faithful and the church advocate for the canonization of Nyerere, there are opposing voices, particularly among Catholics in Uganda, who object to it.

Their argument is based on the belief that Nyerere is not qualified for sainthood due to his alleged involvement in a war that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.

The war occurred when the Tanzanian army entered Uganda to repel the invading Uganda Army from October 8th, 1978, to June 3rd, 1979 when the last soldiers loyal to Idi Amin were driven into Sudan at the border between the two countries.


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