do not be afraid! “
Kenyans are happy. They are waiting with impatience the coming of Pope Francis who is visiting the African continent for the very first time. A delegation from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) visited Kenya, the first country he will be visiting before travelling to Uganda and later the Central African Republic. This week, we will share with you some of the fruits of these encounters, an overview of this country faced with many challenges which include inter-religious dialogue, corruption and terrorism.
As Kenyans prepare to receive the Holy Father into the country, Waumini News Today interviewed some of the faithful on what issues they would like him to address. Below are some of the appeals, wishes and encouragement to Pope Francis.
Felix: “The family is under threat, kindly promote a strong family, quoting Catholic Men Association’s slogan “good family, good Church, good Church, good society.”
Pascal: “Deliver a message of peace, encourage religious tolerance and mutual acceptance.”
There are an estimated 7.5 million baptized Catholics in Kenya representing 33% of the population. Over 80% of the Kenyan population is Christian.
Roselyn: “Pray for the families and the youth to be able to understand and practice the social teachings of the Catholic Church.”
David: “Remember the young families who are struggling to understand themselves amidst all sorts of pressure, some of them feel disconnected and neglected with no place in the Church movements.”
Linus: “Address the ills in the Church and governments and help us understand “The Year of Mercy.” We request that you visit us more often and that the Beatification of the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga be conducted in Kenya.”
Florence: “Receive greetings and much appreciation for accepting to visit Kenya. When you come, kindly address the issues of corruption, tribalism, terrorism and encourage our political leaders to preach peace and unity instead of divisive politics. Pray for the leaders to be peaceful and geared towards development of the Nation.”
Anthony: Pray for vocations, consecrated men and women to remain true to their calling.
These messages from Catholics in Kenya show the high expectations and hopes they have that Pope Francis’ visit to the country will be a unifying factor to their nation which has experienced terror attacks, corruption, negative ethnicity and divisive politics in the recent past. They have expressed their wish for the strengthening of Catholic families.
In preparation for his visit, Catholic youth organized daily gatherings to pray the Rosary – a gift from the Kenyan youth to the Holy Father for his many intentions and especially for peace in the world. According to Fr. Charles Odira, the National Coordinator of the Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate, the exercise began on Thursday October 15th and ended on November 15th. “All the rosaries prayed by the youth from across the country will be aggregated and a plaque made which will be presented to Pope Francis during his meeting with the youth at Kasarani Sports Complex in Nairobi,” he said.
Among the Holy Father’s scheduled activities is a meeting with Kenyan youth from across the country which will include youth who are members of other religious backgrounds, and not necessarily Catholics.
With thanks to Teresa Engländer for text and photos, ACN International
Adapted by ACN Canada
Stay with us all week as we continue our overview of the challenges facing the Church in Kenya with regard to its pastoral work.