Pilgrims from CAR, Angola Arriving in Kinshasa ahead of Papal Pastoral Visit to DR Congo

Fr. Patrick Lonkoy Bolengu, a Mill Hill Missionary Priest serving in St. Francis of Paola Parish of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa. Credit: Fr. Patrick Lonkoy Bolengu

The city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is bustling with life as pilgrims continue to stream in ahead of Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to the Central African nation next week.

Some of those arriving have come from neighboring countries including the Central African Republic (CAR) and Angola, a Catholic Priest ministering in DRC has told ACI Africa in an interview.

“So many people are coming from near and far to see and listen to the Holy Father. There are those who are crossing the border from Angola, Central African Republic and from our neighboring countries,” Fr. Patrick Lonkoy Bolengu said in the Friday, January 27 interview.

Fr. Bolengu added, “There is excitement everywhere. And it is not just about Catholics. Everyone is so eager to receive the Holy Father and to listen to his message.”

Pope Francis’ rescheduled trip to two African nations that had been previously postponed is set to begin with his arrival in DRC’s capital city, Kinshasa, on Tuesday, January 31, where he will spend three days before proceeding to South Sudan.


In Kinshasa, the Holy Father is scheduled to meet with the country’s authorities, victims of the conflict in the Eastern part of the country and representatives of charitable organizations, celebrate Holy Mass, meet with young people, Catholic Bishops, and Jesuits in DRC.

In the interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Bolengu, a member of the Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM), who works with teenage mothers outside Kinshasa said that he is already in the country’s capital waiting for the Holy Father’s visit.

The Director of Bakanja-Anuarite Formation Centre in St. Francis of Paola Parish of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa is on the list of Priests who have been selected to administer the sacrament Confession ahead of the Papal Mass on February 1.

“I am here with other Priests from across the country who will be listening to confessions on the day of Pope Francis’ arrival. This will be followed by the first Mass with the Holy Father on February 1,” he told ACI Africa on January 27.

“Many people would like to come to see the Holy Father. The girls at our Centre taking care of teenage mothers would like to come as well but they lack the means of transport. They will follow everything on TV,” Fr. Bolengu said.

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He expressed his excitement about the Holy Father's visit to DRC, saying, “Waiting for him gives us so much hope. We have so many challenges and wars and conflicts continue to ravage our country. We know that the message of the Holy Father will bring peace in our country.”

“There is so much violence in the Eastern part of DRC. I work at a place known as Plateau de Bateke, about 80 kilometers from Kinshasa and we don't experience as much war as the Eastern part of the country. But there are still tribal conflicts and displacements in Plateau de Bateke,” he said.

He expressed confidence that with Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to DRC, many people, especially those responsible for the suffering of the people in the Central African country, will have a change of heart.

“Most conflicts here are caused by our own people who are in the government,” Fr. Bolengu said, and added, “It is criminal seeing a few people enrich themselves on the country’s resources while the majority poor people remain poor. We hope that with the message of the Holy Father, those in power will have a change of heart.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.