Delegations from Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand, as well as Buddhist and Muslim representatives, took part in the Solemn Mass presided over by Pope Francis in Myanmar (Burma), on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, at Yangon’s “Kyaikkasan Ground,” reported the Vatican agency Fides.
“To meet the Pope, the Church of Cambodia organized a four-day pilgrimage to Yangon, said Monsignor Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh. We will be 126 Cambodians who will take part in the Mass that the Holy Father will celebrate in the city, of which 10 are seminarians, three priests, four missionary priests and 10 women religious.”
“We are happy to be close to Pope Francis in the course of his Apostolic Journey to Burma and we pray intensely so that this voyage can be a special moment and the beginning of a period of durable peace and reconciliation for Burma,” he added.
Father Mariano Soe Naing, in charge of Communications for the Episcopal Conference of Myanmar, specified that the majority of the participants in the Mass were “Burmese faithful of all ethnic groups gathered in the ancient capital <and> arriving from the whole country.”
Many among them belong to Burmese Catholic Action, which was established in the 1960s thanks to the pastoral work of missionaries of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and, in particular, of Monsignor Giovanbattista Gobbato.
“The Holy Father’s visit fills us with joy. It’s a very important sign of closeness for a small community such as ours. Moreover, after the meeting with Pope Francis, our engagement is reinforced in favor of a testimony of peace and harmonious coexistence with all the religions and ethnic groups of our wonderful country,” said Lei Lei Win, in charge of Catholic Action’s Inter-Diocesan Coordination.
Burmese Catholic Action includes at present representatives of five dioceses of the country: Taunggyi, Pekhon, Loikaw, Taungngu and Yangon. Human promotion is one of its main activities: young volunteers go to isolated villages, in the heart of rural and mountainous areas, where priests and Religious aren’t present. They share the life of the community for a few days, carrying out activities of health education, instruction, and animation geared to the youngest. Then, if they are asked, they give witness to their faith, tell who they are and how the encounter with Christ changed their life.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester