President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has assured the Catholic Church of the government’s support towards the beatification ceremony of Fr Dr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli, a Roman Catholic priest under the Comboni Missionaries Society, who died 35 years ago.
The President made the assurance on Wednesday during a meeting with a delegation from Gulu Archdiocese led by Archbishop John Baptist Odama at State House, Entebbe who came to brief him about the upcoming ceremony that will be taking place for the first time in Uganda.
The Archbishop also officially extended an invitation to the President for the event scheduled for 20th November 2022 in Agago district in the Parish of Kalongo of the Archdiocese of Gulu, located 130 Km from the city of Gulu.
According to Archbishop Odama, the Archdiocese of Gulu has earmarked up to Shs 923 million as a budget to organize the beatification ceremony and about Shs 150 million to support Kalongo (Dr Ambrosoli Memorial) Hospital, a facility that gained a reputation for excellence for almost 31 years, until 1987 when he died.
“We shall manage. We shall have to do it because the people there may not manage all these Ugandans who come there and the foreigners from abroad. This is good news because these good works of people are now coming because of the peace we have in Uganda. So, I will be very happy to come to Kalongo,” Museveni assured.
The President also directed the Ministry of Works and Transport to work on the roads leading to the celebration venue.
“We are ready to do the two roads; the one from Corner Kilak to Patongo and Agago and the Kitgum-Kalongo-Patongo road. We shall definitely struggle with these,” Museveni added.
President Museveni further hailed the work of missionaries in Uganda, equating them to freedom fighters.
“These missionaries were really committed people. Although there was colonialism which we fought with, within it, there were people of conviction like Fr Lordel (Mapeera) who died at 37 years. These were people coming from comfort to danger but you would see something was driving them. As a freedom fighter I appreciate them,” Gen. Museveni said.
In the past, beatification was done only in Rome (Vatican), however, the Church later revised the protocol to have the exercise performed where the persons considered to be blessed, served and according to Archbishop Odama, Pope Francis issued a concession to the Archdiocese to conduct the event.
This will be celebrated under the theme, “In God Servant to The Suffering People’’ and will be the first time for Uganda to witness beatification at the origin of the blessed person.
Pope Francis who on November 28, 2019, granted the publication of the decree on the miracle obtained through the intercession of Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli, is expected to send a representative from Rome to represent him.
“The Pope himself was supposed to come for it but he decided that this stage of beatification could be done in the area where the one to be beatified worked,” Archbishop Odama said, adding that it will be a great honor to have H. E the President attending the event.
The Chief Justice of Uganda Alfonse Owiny-Dollo who was among those who accompanied Archbishop Odama informed the President that the upcoming event is a great opportunity for Uganda since it’s happening for the first time in his tenure as head of state and was happy that the government has accepted to take charge.
“Although our colonial masters were British, in terms of education, Health, and infrastructure in Northern Uganda, it was the Comboni missionaries and the person we’re talking about (Fr Dr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli) who combined both priesthood and medical work,” Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo said.
On the other hand, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Norbert Mao who hails from the Acholi sub-region thanked the President for mobilizing the government to fully embrace this international event and for accepting to attend in person.
“The event in Kalongo will be all over the world and it is an opportunity for you to send a strong message to the young people to emulate the sacrifice you referred to earlier of people leaving behind comfort to work for the future like you who chose the hard path just like Rev Fr Dr. Ambroselli,” Minister Mao said.
The meeting was also attended by among others; the Woman Member of Parliament for Agago district Hon. Beatrice Akori Okello, the Minister of state for works and transport Hon. Fred Byamukama, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development Mr. Agrey Kibenge, and Rev Fr. Charles Onen, the Member of Parliament for Laroo-Pece Division.
According to the Catholic Church, beatification implies a procedure of determining and proclaiming that a deceased person is one of “the blessed,” or has gained the second degree of holiness, usually a stage in the process of canonization into sainthood.
Upon beatification, Fr. Dr. Ambrosoli will become the third blessed person in Northern Uganda after Jildo Irwa and Daudi Okello.
Fr. Dr.Ambrosoli was a Roman Catholic priest and a member of the Comboni Missionaries. He was born in 1923 in Ronago, a small town in the Province of Como, Italy, and came to Uganda in February 1956. He is best known as a doctor, surgeon, philanthropist, and educator in the missions in Uganda.
The Priest also founded Alito and Morulem medical centers in 1972 for victims of leprosy. At the height of the Holy Spirit Movement War in the mid-1980s, he was relocated to Lira District where he died and his body was returned to Kalongo where he wanted to be buried.