11/30/2017, 10.38

Dhaka: Dress rehearsals, accreditations and costumes: The final preparations ahead of Pope’s arrival

Anna Chiara Filice

Francis lands in a few hours. Workmen, sound engineers and police busy at Suhrawardy Udyan Park. Billboards with the image of the pontiff are erected. The archbishop's garden is readied and the rickshaw that will carry the Pope polished. From our envoy on the gorund.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The passes for entrance to Mass are being distributed, the choir and sound engineers are busy with rehearsals and the stage has been set: Everything is almost ready for the arrival of Pope Francis, who will be in Dhaka in a few hours. Catholics of Bangladesh, aided by so many Muslims, are busy with their final preparations, not without the typical confusion and frustration that characterize the capital. Ranjon Rozario, executive assistant to Caritas Bangladesh's director, assures AsiaNews: "90% of the work is done. Everything will be all ready for the great Mass that Pope Francis will celebrate here on December 1st. "

There is great ferment in the places that the pontiff will visit. At Suhrawardy Udyan Park, where Francis will ordain 16 priests, workmen, sound engineers and concelebrants are going through every step of the celebration. Rozario explains that "between 90 and 100,000 people are expected. The faithful will be able to access the area through six recognizable entrances that have been numbered and color coded." Some Catholics refer to this: "There is great confusion, some members of the same associations have been given passes with different colors. We still do not know how we'll get in. "

Meanwhile, the altar is ready, the cross of Jesus Christ has been erected, the roof made of bamboo and interlaced leaves has been completed. There are also policemen who are mounting video surveillance cameras. There are about 70 workers at work, continues Rozario. This site was chosen for a very specific reason: when Pope John Paul II visited Bangladesh in 1986, Mass was celebrated at the Arena Stadium, which accommodates up to 6,000 people. The local church instead wanted the park because it is an open space. In this way it wanted to convey the idea of ​​opening ". The choice of the roof, he adds, "is not random. It is made of bamboo cane and leaves. It wants to represent our country, and remembers the typical homes of our villages, which are rural and poor. And we know that the Church of Bangladesh is a rural Church. "

Some events will take place in the archbishop's garden. Here the preparations are  well ahead of schedule: the roof has been mounted and covered with tendons, from the cornices of the seat hang the lights, the driveway leading to the garden is decorated with "Harmony", "Peace" and "Love". Only the seating is missing, but some men are busy unloading them from the trucks. There is also a polished rickshaw (typical local transport) waiting for Francis, which he will be invited to climb upon, as his predecessor did in 1986. Banners bearing images of the Pontiff - alongside Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina - are in their place, as promised a few days ago to AsiaNews by one of the organizers.

The only thing missing is the Pope. "We are looking forward to him coming. We are very happy, he is a great person," say some policemen met at the Church of the Holy Cross, among the stages of this pastoral journey. The only element that is dampening somewhat this atmosphere of joy and fibrillation, is the news of the disappearance of a priest in Bonpara, in the diocese of Dinajpur, reported by all the local newspapers.

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