February 11 is Annual World Day of the Sick, an observation started by Pope John Paul II as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses. The day coincides with the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes. People around the world take the time to pray for the sick and for those who work very hard to alleviate the sufferings of the sick on this day. Faith organizations mark this day especially to provide the sick with medicines, food, and spiritual guidance.
Pope John Paul II initiated the day in 1992 to encourage people to pray for those who suffer from illness and for their caregivers. The Pope himself had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year before, in 1991, and it is considered that his own illness was impetus for his designation of the day. Pope Benedict XVI also declared his decision to resign from his post as the Pope on this day in 2013. He cited his failing health as the reason behind his decision.
Masaka Diocese under its health department, Masaka Diocesan Medical Services (MDMS) has also continuously celebrated this day around the diocese, in different parishes through the health centers. For the year 2020, Kijjukizo Parish together with St. Elizabeth HC III took the lead in the preparations for the day. All stake holders of the Diocese came together to mark the day and it turned to be a very successful event.
The theme of the day for the year 2020 World Day of the Sick was chosen from Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). The theme was chosen to replenish who all those who were fatigued and tired with sickness. It was meant to offer spiritual empowerment to the sick to trust deeply in Jesus who is ever ready to journey with them. It was meant as well to encourage the health workers to continue offering themselves in service to the sick as their sacrifice to Christ. This year was dedicated to offer prayers in a special way to the midwives.
In his words to the people who had gathered at the district headquarters of Lyantonde on 10th Feb 2020, after activities of the day to mark world of the sick, Msgr. Dominic Ssengooba encouraged all people who take care of the sick to do it with love and dedication. He commented that some people, who take care of the sick, will only do it well when there is a material gain. He said that sometimes they make comments that demotivate the sick. He encouraged the health workers to serve with love and commitment if they are to receive reward from the Lord for the work they do. They activities done included a marathon to encourage health living, a general cleaning around Lyantonde town emphasize the importance of proper sanitation towards good health and blood donation to save lives.
The celebration of 11th Feb was led by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Serverus Jjumba, the ordinary of Masaka Diocese. As part of the celebration, a health camp was pitched to give free treatment to all disadvantaged people of Lyantonde and the surrounding areas. Among other things was donation of basic items like food and clothing to the needy people. In his words during the mass, the Bishop thanked the health workers and all those in the health sector for the tremendous work they do in fulfillment of the Christ’s mission of giving life to the full to everyone. On the theme of the day, the Bishop noted all people must know to be sick is not a choice but a natural event that can occur to anyone! He therefore encouraged the sick not to lose heart because of sickness but to be encouraged by Christ who endured pain on the Cross. He said that if lift our sicknesses to Christ, He shall make them light. To the health workers, he requested of them commitment to their work.
After mass, the Bishop together with the Muslim district Khadd visited the people who were in the medical camp, to encourage and pray for them. He later handed out some home basic items like Sugar, Rice, Soap etc. to needy and sick people. By the end of the day, approximately 800 were given free treatment and over 100 needy people given basic home supplies
A number of organizations and personnel joined Masaka Diocese to prepare and mark the day headed by the Diocesan Health coordinator, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Katabaazi, the parish priest of Kijjukizo, Rev. Fr. Venantius Kivumbi and St. Elizabeth health center In-charge Mr. Aloysious Tumusiime. Among the organizations that supported the event included: Salama Shield, O.C.E, RACOBAO, Rotary Club of Lyantonde, Centenary bank, Stanbic Bank, Rwenzori Bottling company, Lyantonde School of Nursing and Midwifery, Sky-blue Motel, Jovial World Motel, Lyantonde District Health Office and Lyantonde Local Government.
Special gratitude to all the health workers serving in Masaka Diocesan Health facilities, Lyantonde District Health facilities for offering their services willingly and free of charge. Sincere thanks to all people of good heart especially Lyantonde community and Kijjukizo parishioners who offered items for donation to the poor.
Namabaale Parish was appointed to lead preparations for world day of the sick 2021