Congo had the happiness and grace of receiving a recent visit from Pope Francis, who stayed in Kinshasa from January 31 to February 3. Brother Daniel Skala, CFX, General Superior, supported three Congolese Brothers to participate in the pilgrimage: Brothers François Musongo, Ghislain Mukonkole, and Vital-André Mwenge. Click here or the image above to read a summary of their experience.
With all the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Lubumbashi, the Brothers left the city on January 28. In Kinshasa, each pilgrim had to go to his place of accommodation. This allowed the Brothers to rest and acclimatize with the city before the long-awaited arrival of Pope Francis. Their trip and stay were supported by the Congregation, for which the Brothers were especially grateful.
Three ecclesial meetings were organized during the visit of the Holy Father, in particular the mass celebrated at NDOLO airport on February 1; the meeting with young people at the Martyrs stadium the following day, and the prayer meeting with priests, consecrated persons and seminarians, in Notre-Dame du Congo Cathedral. Our Congregation was present at each of these three meetings.
During Holy Mass, the Holy Father encouraged the Catholic faithful in their faith in Christ, beyond their suffering. He reassured them that God, who hears their cry, will comfort them. With young people, the Pope had a more friendly discourse. While acknowledging that they are the future of the country and that they have their place in the construction of a better Congo, he called on them to fight against anti-values, among which he dwelt on corruption, encouraging young people to be honest.
Brother Ghislain, with his fellow diocesan youth chaplains, was attentive to the address of the Pope, to relay the message among the young people of Kilwa-Kasenga.
With regard to the prayer meeting with consecrated persons, the Holy Father, who recognized the difficult socio-political context in which the latter are called to live their consecration and to announce the Gospel by witnessing to the love of Christ in the midst of their people, he exhorted them to fight against three great temptations: the temptation of spiritual mediocrity, worldliness and superficiality.
The meditation on the five luminous mysteries preceded the Pope’s entry into the Cathedral. This prayer of the rosary was led by the representatives of the conferences of Major Superiors of the different ecclesiastical provinces of the Country. The Brothers’ ecclesiastical province (Lubumbashi), represented by Reverend Sister Astrid Mand, SDS, Vice-president and Brother Vital-André Mwenge, C.F.X., Secretary, received the charge of leading the fifth mystery. The Brothers sang the prayer and song while the Holy Father made his procession entering the cathedral. What Grace!
The impressions of all pilgrims in general, and of the three Brothers in particular, can be summed up in these terms:
– Thanksgiving and gratitude: experiencing such an event, more closely, is historic and gratifying. Indeed, to be in front of the Pope, less than five meters away and this, for an hour, as was the case on February 2, there is something to give thanks to God.
– Satisfaction: on the security and organizational level, the various meetings went well, apart from a few small flaws inherent in human nature: no accidents, no major incidents.
– Questioning: the various messages from the Holy Father revealed to us our condition as sinners, our limits in the experience of our consecration; therefore, a call to conversion.
The Brothers returned to Lubumbashi on February 5 in the evening, full of grace and joy. All the pilgrims were so happy to have been on this trip.
Brothers François, Ghislain Vital expressed their sincere thanks to Brother Daniel Skala, Superior General, who authorized the trip and payment of the related expenses. They thanked Brother Joseph Ngoy, Regional Coordinator, who was their interpreter with the Superior General. They also thanked all the Brothers who, from near or far, have supported them during their pilgrimage, whose graces go to the whole Xaverian family.
I am delighted to hear of the pilgrimage and your respect for Pope Francis, a modern-day living saint. His proclaiming the Good News to the whole world and calling us to change our hearts is indeed the voice of Jesus today. I hope we can all respond wholeheartedly!