Beatification.

With the efforts of Fr. Mario Marchetti of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ), Arnaldo Baritussio MCCJ and Joseph Okumu a diocesan priest of Gulu Archdiocese and other priests of the region of Northern Uganda, Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa were beatified under Pope John Paul II on the 20th of October, 2002. They have not yet been canonized but continue to be venerated by the Roman Catholic Church.

In addressing the Ugandan pilgrims in Rome on October 20, 2002, Pope John Paul II said, “These two young catechists are a shining examples of fidelity to Christ, commitment to Christian living and selfless dedication to the service of neighbour. With their hope firmly set on God and with a deep faith in Jesus’ promise to be with them always, they set out to bring the Good News of salvation to their fellow countrymen, fully accepting the difficulties and dangers that they knew awaited them. May their witnessing serve to strengthen you as you seek to bear true Christian witness in every aspect of your lives. Through their intercession may the Church be an ever more effective instrument of goodness and peace in Africa and in the world. God bless Uganda” (Vatican Documentation).

The martyrdom of these two young catechists from Uganda is very meaningful for the current events the country is going through. It is a matter, first of all, of two young lay catechists who together carried out and remained faithful to their assignment to spread vaticanthe Gospel by words and deeds. Furthermore, by courageously accepting to move to a place outside the influence of their own ethnic clan, they have become in their environment a sign of the catholicity and unity of the Church. Finally, having lived during a period of tribal fights, colonial interests and still flourishing domestic slavery, they represent the integrity of a Gospel that always protects and safeguards personal dignity and promotes peace among peoples, ethnic groups and cultures. For this, even today they are remembered in their land as Christ’s true ‘witnesses by blood’” (Vatican).