ASIA/MYANMAR - Pilgrims from all over Southeast Asia at the Pope’s Mass

Wednesday, 29 November 2017 prayer   pope   pope francis   pastoral visit   dialogue   local churches   christianity   evangelization   mission   youth  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - "We are happy to be close to Pope Francis during his apostolic journey in Burma and we pray intensely for this trip to be a special moment and the beginning of lasting peace and reconciliation for Burma": says to Agenzia Fides Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, announcing that "in order to meet the Pope, the Cambodian Church has organized a four day pilgrimage to Yangon: 126 Cambodians will participate in the Eucharist which the Holy Father presides in the city, including 10 seminarians, 3 Cambodian priests, 4 missionary priests and 10 nuns". The Cambodian delegation is one of the many that have arrived in Myanmar from other Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. More than 200,000 pilgrims are expected to attend the solemn Mass that Pope Bergoglio celebrates in the large Kyaikkasan Grounds. "There will be Buddhist and Muslim faithful", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mariano Soe Naing, spokesperson of Myanmar’s Bishops’ Conference. And the majority of those present are "faithful Burmese of various ethnicities, who have poured into the ancient capital from all over the country", notes the spokesperson of the Bishops.
Many of them belong to the Burmese Catholic Action: in the past few days, the Leader of the Interdiocesan Coordination of Catholic Action, Lei Lei Win, took care of organizing the reception of those who arrived in the capital to attend the celebration with the Pontiff. As Fides learns, the Catholic Action of Myanmar was formed in the 1960s thanks to the pastoral action of Pime missionaries and, in particular, of Mgr. Giovanbattista Gobbato, and currently includes representatives of five dioceses: Taunggyi, Pekhon, Loikaw, Taungngu and Yangon. One of the main activities promoted by the Burmese CA is an experience of human promotion: younger members of the association go to remote villages to carry out health education, education and animation activities for younger children. These are the so-called "zetaman", or "small evangelizers", characteristic figures of the Catholic Church in Myanmar: young volunteers who reach isolated villages, in arduous areas, in rural and mountainous areas, and arrive where priests and religious are not able to go. They share the life of the community for a few days, spend a lot of time with the children, where there is the presence of love and friendship. Then, if they are asked, they give testimony of their faith, they tell them who they are and how the encounter with Jesus changed their lives.
"The Holy Father’s visit - says Lei Lei Win - fills us with joy. It is a very important sign of closeness for a small community like ours. After the meeting with Pope Francis, our commitment to witness peace and harmonious coexistence with all the religions and ethnicities of our wonderful country will be strengthened even more". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 29/11/2017)



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