By Fr. Eli Zanei MCCJ
Sunday the 4th of February will be remembered in Angal Parish because of the big celebration that took place to thank Fr. Santambrogio and Fr. Audisio for the stability they brought to Angal in a centenary ago (August 1017) after leaving Omach and Orussi and creating the first parish for the Alur. The celebration should have been last year, but due to many pastoral commitments, it was held on 4th February. The preparation started in January 2017 with a pastoral program to renew the faith “RISEN CHRIST IS ALIVE AMONG US”, a theme of the centenary that included catechesis and visits to the villages of the parish. The celebration in the local communities helps to bring back to the Church lapsed members.
Last August, a Central Organizing Committee (COC) was formed to organize the practical preparations for the event with bimonthly meetings, involving catechists, local leaders and government officials like LC1 and LC3, in charge of schools under Angal, authorities of the district of Nebbi and the Alur community in Kampala. The Chairperson of the COC in Kampala was Catherine Akumu Marenjina. As the day of celebration was approaching, contributions and participation in various initiatives was growing. Among them was the marathana Angal-Nuaruvur and vice versa which was attended by the Bishop of Nebbi Catholic Diocese Rev. Sanctus Lino Wanok, the parish priest and many people including adults and children. The association business community of Nebbi, Parombo, Angal and Centenary Bank contributed financially for the event.
Another important activity was the participation in the transmission of Radio Maria with a detailed vision of the history of Angal Parish. The contribution of Comboni Missionaries who were parish priests and collaborators was high lightened from the day of its foundation up to date. Even the contribution of various Comboni Missionary Brothers for the growth of the mission in terms of necessary materials for the future of pastoral agents, was not forgotten. The outcome of one hundred years of evangelization is mostly due to the close collaboration between the missionaries and many catechists with a dedicated spirit of sacrifice which brought the Good News to all the corners of the parish.
The last week before the celebration, daily prayers and vigils were organized to praise the Lord for what He did, not only in Angal but also for the other parishes of Nebbi diocese. The faithful prayed for more blessings, especially for more missionary vocations “Ad Gentes”. We had the joy of welcoming the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, H.E. Michael August Blume, on Friday the 2nd of February with the first Eucharistic celebration in the main parish Church, followed by the visit and blessing of Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu (LSMIG). On Saturday, the day after, the Apostolic Nuncio celebrated Holy Mass at the missionary hospital of “St. Luke” visiting and blessing the sick in various departments and the Catechist Formation Center guided by the Evangelizing Sisters. In the afternoon, there was a blessing of the iron cross, 16 meters long, erected for the centenary in remembrance of the cross of Mons Geyer blessed on March 1910 at Omach. The youth with Alur traditional instruments and dances (aguara) accompanied the Nuncio to the cemetery of Angal where the tombs of many Comboni Missionaries who offered their life in West Nile rest in peace awaiting for the day of resurrection.
The Apostolic Nuncio visited the tomb of Br. Cagol who died in Omach in 1916, of the two priests killed in Pakwach during the war to unseat Amin in 1979: Fr. DAlmaso and Fr. Fiorante and of other witnesses of the Risen Lord, the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, H.E. Michael August Blume, was honored as well as the presence of J.B. Odama, Archbishop of Gulu, Bishop Giuseppe Franzelli of Lira, Bishop Lino Wanok of Nebbi and numerous diocesan and religious priests, Comboni Missionaries from Ombaci, Gulu, Lira; and Comboni Missionary sisters and Fr. Achiles the Provincial Superiors of the Comboni Fathers.
Distinguished guests from Rome were; the Vicar General of the Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Jeremias Dos Santos and Assistant General Bro. Alberto Lamana. The participation of numerous faithful from the chapels of Angal and other parishes, from Congo and Kampala was also overwhelming (at the moment Nebbi diocese has 19 parishes).
Last but not least, the celebration was honored, as well, by the Vice president Edward Ssekandi, Minister for North Uganda, Mps and local authorities from the district of Nebbi. The rough estimation of those who participated in the Centenary celebrations is around four thousand people. The location for the celebration was prepared with decorations that portray the spirit of praise and thanksgiving to God for His great love. It was prepared by the committee led by Mr. Joswa, teacher of Angal SSS and the nuns of Angal parish. The celebration was joyful and at the same time simple with common songs participated by all which transpired an atmosphere of prayer. There were fourteen couples who vowed Christian wedding welcoming the call of God to live in His love. There were also Jubilee celebrations for other couples who reached their 25th and 50th year and 5 catechists who served for 25 years.
During the homily, the Apostolic Nuncio recognized the important role of the Comboni Missionaries for bringing faith in this part of Uganda with their dedication to their mission with the people. He encouraged the faithful to continue this mission in the future with active participation. After the celebration, there were speeches for the occasion, among them was the message from the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, read by the Vice President Edward Ssekandi. The president recognized the role of the missionaries in the fields of education, health and gave a consistent financial contribution for the occasion. At 4.00 pm, lunch was served to all. We thank and admire the work done by the various committees who were in charge of preparing food, for their punctuality and the food which was enough and shared by all. The police forces guaranteed order and security to the occasion.
Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed through prayers and material support, to those who dedicated their time to make the occasion a success! May the Almighty God bless all according to your needs!
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