Speech by the President Senatus of Uganda at the Inauguration and thanksgiving of the Legion of Mary Centenary

  • My Lord Bishop Paul Ssemogerere, the main Celebrant
  • Rev. Fr. Joseph Balikuddembe, Parish Priest of Nsambya
  • Rev. Fr. Fredrick Tusingire, National Director of the Lay Apostolate Department at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat
  • Rev. Fr. Ronnie Mubiru, Assistant Spiritual Director of the Senatus of Uganda
  • All Spiritual Directors here present
  • Mr. Gervase Ndyanabo, the Chairman of the Laity in Uganda
  • Fellow Legionaries and all people of God gathered here and those listening and watching through the different media

Praise the Lord! Praise the lord! Praise the Lord.  This is the day the Lord has made for us to praise him, and to praise him in a very special way.  We are starting a year of joy, of celebration and of thanksgiving to God for what he has done amidst us. Legion of Mary has lived for 100 years in service to the Catholic Church.

Thank you, my Lord Bishop, for celebrating Mass for the Legion of Mary and the inspiring homily on this special occasion and our dear Spiritual Directors for co-celebrating.

We received a message from Sr. Mary Murphy, President of Concilium, the highest governing Council of Legion of Mary in the world. Allow me, my Lord Bishop, to deliver her message first.

(The message will be part of the Centenary Memorial Magazine)

My Lord Bishop,

I stand here together with my fellow officers (each introduces him/herself),

  • Rev. Fr. Ronnie Mubiru-Assistant Spiritual Director
  • Sr. Susan Mary Nsubuga-President
  • Br. Joseph Kirumira-Vice President
  • Sr. Vastina Makara-Secretary
  • Br. Nashaba Victor-1st Assistant Secretary
  • Br. Aloysious Kant Kaahwa-2nd Assistant Secretary
  • Sr. Helen Kisakye-Treasurer,

My Lord, I came with my fellow officers because in Legion of Mary we work as a team.

On behalf of the Senatus of Uganda, we convey our message of gratitude to God who has made it possible for the Legion of Mary apostolate to serve him and the Catholic Church for 100 years. We are grateful to God and to Mother Mary, our Queen for the numerous graces bestowed upon the apostolate during the first century. We congratulate the Catholic Church and Legion of Mary family world over upon reaching this Memorial Day.

Legion of Mary was started on 7th September 1921 by Frank Duff in Dublin, Ireland.  It is amazing to see this association which had the humblest beginnings become the largest lay apostolic movement in the world. We give glory to God.

In Uganda, Legion of Mary was introduced by Edel Quinn. She was welcomed in this very Parish, Nsambya on 22nd July 1938.  The apostolate has existed in Uganda for 83 years. The inauguration of the Centenary Celebrations is in the same Parish for purposes of following the footsteps of the Legion in this country. A special vote of thanks goes to Rev. Fr. Joseph Balikuddembe, the Parish Priest of Nsambya, for his warm welcome and assistance whenever we knock at his door.

Edel Quinn started the first Praesidium in Nkokonjeru in the present Lugazi Diocese. To date, Legion of Mary is found in almost all Dioceses of the Catholic Church in Uganda and has made steady growth in the Central and the Western parts of Uganda. It is found in Parishes, Schools, Institutions, Seminaries, Prisons, among the youth and the aged.

The Senatus of Uganda was inaugurated in 1962. It supervises 02 Regiae, 25 Comitia, 22 Curiae (Including 4 in Major Seminaries, 4 in other tertiary institutions and 3 in Prisons) and 14 directly attached Praesidia (Including 9 in Prisons) and South Sudan. We have approximately 400,000 members in Uganda.

Many activities have been held by the Senatus of Uganda like Spiritual Directors Conference both regional and National, National Reunions and the last one was in Tororo Archdiocese, visits made to different councils in and outside Uganda like to Zambia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Burundi, Tanzania among others and we made a visit to Legion of Mary headquarters in Dublin, Ireland in 2007.

My Lord Bishop, I am happy to report that numerous graces have been received through this apostolate.  Through membership many people of all walks of life enlist in this Church’s evangelizing mission, gain unceasing knowledge about the Catholic faith and gain many more graces. Countless people have received sacraments with the help of Legionaries.

Special thanks go to the Church Hierarchy for the continuous guidance, support and encouragement we receive from Bishops and Priests. Each council of Legion of Mary in this country has a Spiritual Director. Without Spiritual Directors, Legion of Mary would not survive.

My Lord, we are grateful to you for opening your doors wide to welcome the Legionaries whenever we need your support and counsel as the Chairman of the Lay Apostolate Commission, the ordinary of Kasana-Luweero Diocese and Apostolic Administrator of Kampala.

We are grateful to Concilium for the guidance to councils all over the world and to all Legionaries for the tremendous work done in the last 100 years.

My Lord Bishop, we shall need more support to revive Legion of Mary among the youth in Schools and Institutions especially after the long period of inactivity due to the CoVID-19 scourge.

Legion of Mary in Uganda is what it is due to the work and support rendered by the different people represented by some of the past presidents of Senatus of Uganda here present. It is on their shoulders that we stand.

Some of these people have gone before us like our Spiritual Director, Rev. Fr. Expedito Walakira. At this moment I call upon each one of us to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of our dear fellow Legionaries who passed on (their names were registered and placed at the altar during Mass).

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord……………………

My Lord, the apostolate has had different challenges. As we inaugurate the Centenary of the Legion, the world is in fear and at tension because of the Corona Virus which invaded the world. This has greatly affected the Church, thus the Legion of Mary apostolate. Amidst the challenges, Mother Mary is interceding for the world.

As we celebrate 100 years of the Legion of Mary, my Lord, we report that as you already know, we face a challenge of sects which come up refereeing themselves as Legion of Mary yet they are not. They have origins in Kenya. These hinder the spread of the Legion of Mary. We request the Church authority to continuously remind the Christians of these differences between us and those that claim to be members of Legion of Mary yet they are not.

As we celebrate 100 years of the Legion, the Senatus of Uganda has not yet acquired headquarters. We have an Office at Mengo-Kisenyi Parish and monthly meetings are held at Bunamwaya Kiwumulo. We are however hoping and praying that we are allocated space to put up a Central Office to cater for Legion of Mary activities in the whole country.

Despite all challenges, we are very strong and on behalf of the Legion of Mary in Uganda, we continue to pledge loyalty and collaboration with the Church Authority as we continue to serve God.  We pray that at the end of the celebrations, Legionaries will be full of enthusiasm to start yet another Century. Our main focus during and after the Centenary celebrations is to extend and to strengthen the Legion of Mary in the Northern and eastern Uganda.

Lastly, we thank all people who have participated in this great event. We thank the organizing Committee, the Choir, Media, friends of the Legion for all your input.  May the dear Lord reward you abundantly.

We thank the officers of the different Councils and Praesidia for keeping the candle of Legion of Mary burning.

Wish you happy celebrations.

God bless you all.