Memories of visit by Pope John Paul II, 20 years ago

November 20, 2015 2:24 pm

, POPE-JOHN-PAUL-IINAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 20 – History is about to repeat itself as Kenya prepares to receive Pope Francis in the country on Wednesday.

It was in September 1995, when Kenya last hosted Pope John Paul II.

Upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Pope John Paul II was received by former President Daniel arap Moi who was accompanied by the late Professor George Saitoti.

Pope John Paul II arrived aboard a Kenya Airways plane, the Nyayo Star.

He arrived to a colourful and cheerful airport filled with sounds of jubilation from every corner.

Pope John Paul II did not only express his joy of visiting Kenya but won the hearts of many after he addressed the mammoth crowd in Kiswahili.

After leaving the airport, thousands of people lined up along Mombasa Road to catch a glimpse of him.

He was driven in a navy blue Mercedes Benz.

He attended a series of meetings which included a meet at the Resurrection Garden in Karen where diverse religious leaders delivered their speeches.

His message to the people of Kenya focused on respect for the entire human race especially the poor.

The Pope who placed a lot of hope in Kenya for the African continent also urged for unity across the country.

The peak of his visit was an outdoor mass celebration held at Uhuru Park which was filled to capacity.

The altar was unique.

It had traditional decorations including a makuti roof which represented the African culture.

During the holy mass, the Pope was bestowed and recognised as an elder.

He also wore locally made vestments.

Twenty years later, Kenya is again privileged to host the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

On Wednesday at 5pm, the plane carrying Pope Francis is expected to land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

While in Kenya, it is expected that Pope Francis will address issues of corruption, equality and environment.

St Joseph’s the Worker Catholic Church in Kangemi has prepared vestments it hopes Pope Francis will wear during his visit in the country like Pope John Paul II did.

Similar to Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis is also expected to send a strong message of peace and unity.

It will be his first apostolic visit to Africa.

After arrival, the Pope will head to State House Nairobi where he will hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta for 30 minutes before meeting other government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

On Thursday, the Pope will wake up to yet another busy day with his first meeting with inter-religious group at the Apostolic Nunciature.

At 10, he will head to the University of Nairobi for Holy Mass.

Later he will meet with the clergy at St Mary’s School before visiting the UN Headquarters in Gigiri.

On Friday morning, the Pope will hold a one hour session with 1,200 representatives from 11 slums in Nairobi who will converge at St Joseph’s the Worker Catholic Church in Kangemi.

The Holy Father will then proceed to Kasarani Stadium where he will meet thousands of youths from different parts of the country before holding talks with Kenyan bishops.

Nyeri Archbishop Peter Kairo says in Nyeri alone, more than 10 buses will transport youth to Kasarani. “We have been mobilising the youth, they will come in big numbers to get the message from the pope especially on peace.”

Maralal Bishop Virgilo Pante expects the Pope to also call for reconciliation especially in his area of service which is prone to perennial conflict associated to cattle rustling.

“We are pastoralists and sometimes we fight each other for stealing our cows, goats and camels. We are expecting a message of reconciliation and dialogue from the pope to improve our relationships among people,” Bishop Pante said.

In Embu County, Bishop Paul Kariuki says over 500 youths in his diocese will be travelling to Kasarani.

At 3pm, Kenyans will bid Pope Francis farewell as he heads to Uganda and then to Central African Republic.


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