Saints in the Catholic Church play two major roles:
"Example of Christian holiness" and "Companions in prayer". Whereas we easily relate to different saints through their intercessory power, we often ignore their role as models in living a Christian life following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. (The Latin word patronus from which originates the word patron means a model, a pattern, from which an artist, for example a painter or a tailor would use to produce other articles of exactly the same appearance). This explains why many of us do not know the life story of our Christian patron saints!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that:
"By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practised heroic virtues and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness with her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors. The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church's history. " (Article 828)
In his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Africae Munus, Pope Benedict XVI says:
"I encourage the Pastors of the local Churches to recognize among servants of the Gospel in Africa those who could be canonized according to the norms of the Church, not only in order to increase the number of African saints, but also to obtain new intercessors in heaven to accompany the Church on her pilgrim journey and to plead before God for the African continent." (Africae Munus # 114)
oday, the Church in general is in need of a profound renewal and that is the reason why a new Vatican Office for the New Evangelisation was recently created. The Church in Uganda too needs this renewal. Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala (Archbishop Emeritus of Kampala), in his message to the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) at the occasion of entrusting to them the mission to open up a new parish of Mapeera-Nabulagala, told them that: "The return of the sons of Cardinal Lavigerie to continue to share with the diocesan clergy pastoral activities, and re-starting there where Mapeera and Brother Amans sowed the first seeds of faith, is a real land-mark in our drive for the new Evangelization." (2nd November 2006).
It is our hope and prayer that by revisiting the lives of Mapeera and Amans in the process of seeking their beatification and canonization, we will be renewed and empowered so that we may engage ourselves wholeheartedly in this drive for the New Evangelization.
These were the two pioneer catholic missionaries in Uganda (1879). They were French nationals and they belonged to the Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), founded in Algiers in 1868, by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie. Fr. Simeon Lourdel (Mapeera) died in Uganda in 1890 at Nabunnya (Lubaga) and Bro. Amans Delmas died in Tanzania in 1895 at Bagamoyo. Their remains are now buried at Mapeera-Nabulagala Catholic Parish (Kampala), a place where they started their evangelizing mission in Uganda in 1879.