The pontiff’s apostolic journey to Myanmar has ended. More than 6,000 people took part in the Mass for young people. Kids from various ethnic groups expressed their joy. From our correspondent
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Young people have emerged "reinvigorated, stronger in their faith" after meeting with Pope Francis, said Jiosep Porlwin, a 29-year-old who led a group of young people from Taunggy, the capital of the eastern state of Shan, who took part in this morning’s Mass that ended the pope's historic visit to Myanmar.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Jiosep noted that "The announcement of this visit was a wonderful surprise for all of us, and as soon as we became aware of it, we began preparing for the pope's arrival. For four months, we young people in the diocese met each Sunday to pray and sing hymns of thanksgiving."
"Pope Francis’s presence in the country has given us fantastic moments, which we will never forget. Yesterday's Mass at Kyaikkasan Grounds brought together all ethnic groups. For us it was a very significant moment. I am happy the pope found time to dedicate to us young people as well. I still can’t believe it!”
More than six thousand people were present at the service this morning at St Mary's Cathedral. Only 1,200 youths were allowed into the church. They had received their assigned place days ago. Outside, more than 2,000 were in the garden of the compound and followed the Mass on the large screens set up by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar (CBCM). Beyond the compound, thousands of people followed the celebration on the road.
At the time of communion, priests came out to distribute the Eucharist to the faithful under the eyes of the security forces who were struggling to handle the traffic.
At the end of the Mass, when they left St Mary's Cathedral, young people created a colourful parade of traditional clothes. Everyone proudly wore the distinctive garments of their own region, evidence of the variety of ethnic groups that make up the Myanmar society.
Dressed in a Kachin dress, 17-year-old Ja Seng Ra (pictured), from Monsi (Diocese of Bhamo), spoke about her joy meeting Pope Francis. "His closeness will encourage us to overcome the difficulties that afflict our land", something that she already knows.
Coming to Yangon was an uphill endeavour. "I come from a very poor family,” she explained. “We are four siblings. To pay for everybody’s trip, I worked hard for weeks,” she said, adding that she was moved, tears in her eyes, when she shook hands with the pontiff.
By her side was La Htaw Zau Doi Aung, the village leader who accompanied the young people from Bhamo to Yangon. "These kids are witnesses to an event that will change the country. The blessing of the pope will bring benefits," he noted.
"Change is in the air," said Tin Aung Myint, the head of the delegation of young people from the Diocese of Mandalay (pictured). "The work we have put in organising such an important event in such a short period of time shows what we as Catholics can do. The pope has empowered us, and we young people are ready to work for the good of the country."