Pope Francis this evening told catechists and teachers in Uganda that they are engaged in a “holy work,” crucial for bringing the Good News to every village of the country.
The Holy Father was welcomed to Munyonyo, site of the martyrdom of some of the Uganda Martyrs, with dancing and drums.
The national coordinator for catechists in Uganda told the Pope in his welcome speech that there are close to 15,000 catechists working in Uganda, coordinated by a committee of the Ugandan bishops’ conference.
“I wish before all else, to thank you for the sacrifices which you and your families make, and for the zeal and devotion with which you carry out your important task,” the Pontiff told them, speaking in Italian.
“You teach what Jesus taught, you instruct adults and help parents to raise their children in the faith, and you bring the joy and hope of eternal life to all.”
“Thank you especially for teaching our children and young people how to pray,” he said, departing from his prepared text to emphasize that it’s “so important to teach children how to pray!”
The Bishop of Rome acknowledged the many challenges faced by the catechists and the teachers, but exhorted them to be witnesses of holiness.
“Even when the task seems too much, the resources too few, the obstacles too great, it should never be forgotten that yours is a holy work,” he said, again emphasizing: “And I really want to underline this. Yours is a holy work.”
The Pope assured that the Holy Spirit is present in their efforts, adding: “The message you bring will take root all the more firmly in people’s hearts if you are not only a teacher but also a witness. And again I underline this, much more than a teacher, you should be a witness. Your example should speak to everyone of the beauty of prayer, the power of mercy and forgiveness, the joy of sharing in the Eucharist with all our brothers and sisters.”
Highlighting the testimony of the martyrs, some of whom were killed just yards from where the Pope was speaking, he said they “testified to the truth which sets men free; they were willing to shed their blood to be faithful to what they knew was good and beautiful and true.”
“We stand here today in Munyonyo at the place where King Mwanga determined to wipe out the followers of Christ,” the Pontiff reflected. “He failed in this, just as King Herod failed to kill Jesus. The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it.”
The Pope concluded with his customary request for prayer, adding: “I ask all of you catechists to pray for me and to ask little children to pray for me.”
On ZENIT’s Web page: