Catholics in Uganda are unusually proud of their faith, feeling that the Ugandan Martyrs define them and make Catholicism something deeply rooted in their land.
The Uganda martyrs, killed during the first decade of Christian presence in Uganda, play a huge role in Ugandan Catholic life. The annual Feast of the Uganda Martyrs at Namugongo is among the largest annual religious gatherings in the world.
Only 1% of Ugandans describe themselves primarily as practitioners of traditional local religions, but such practices endure among many people who identify as Christian or Muslim.
Built on the foundation of traditional African and Catholic legacies, religious practice at home, and religious decoration of homes, is particularly important for Catholics in the area.
The Church in Uganda is home to many Catholic societies, and parishes are full of organizations that promote development and shared Christian life.
Pentecostals have attracted significant numbers of former Anglicans and Catholics. Catholic worship in Uganda, once particularly formal, but later having become inculturated, has struggled to keep up.
When a Ugandan Catholic dies, local custom dictates that the extended family and neighbors help share the costs of a funeral and burial to relieve the family of the financial burden.
Many churches feature images of the Uganda Martyrs, but aside from that the imagery of Catholicism in statues and pictures tends to be very European, usually in a 19th-century devotional style.
Originally a site of prayer for peace during Uganda’s devastating civil wars, Kiwamirembe welcomes pilgrims for overnight vigils, daily Masses and Good Friday Passion walks.
Following Vatican Council II, efforts were made to bring indigenous music into the liturgy, and this seems to have been quite successful, even as the liturgy itself is not indigenized.
Ugandan worship comprises a range of styles, incorporating more solemn and traditionally European Catholic, more celebratory and traditionally African, and Pentecostal characteristics. Often one can see all of these in a single liturgy.
Saints in Uganda, and especially the martyrs St. Charles Lwanga and companions, serve a three-fold function: as intermediaries, as protectors and as role models.
Ugandan Catholics are not particularly focused on a cycle of feast days, but celebrate the Feast of the Uganda Martyrs, Christmas, New Year's and Easter.
Mt. Sion Prayer Centre Bukalango is the hub of charismatic Catholic life in the Kampala area. The site is especially known for a weekly, six-hour service dedicated to releasing ancestral spirits.
Marriage is an enormously important social event in Ugandan traditional cultures. While rural norms governing marriage remain strong, up to a third of children in Kampala are born to single mothers.
Despite Ugandans reluctance to mix the sacred and profane, the Catholic dioceses of Uganda recently opened a bank in Kampala with branches in small towns everywhere.
Shrines and pilgrimage play an important role in Ugandan Catholic life. The annual pilgrimage to the Ugandan Martyrs Shrine is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world.
A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life highlights a number of aspects of Ugandan culture.