Dozens of Central Africa Province Jesuits to Meet Pope Francis in Private Audience

Fr. Rigobert Kyungu Musenge. Credit: ACI Africa

Out of some 400 members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in the Central Africa Province , “only 85 selected members” are scheduled to meet Pope Francis in a private audience on Thursday, February 2 in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Provincial Superior has told ACI Africa.

Pope Francis arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday, January 31 afternoon, the first stop of his Apostolic journey to DRC and South Sudan.

After the official welcome of the Holy Father in DRC at Ndjili international airport in Kinshasa, a 15-minute welcome ceremony was conducted at the "Palais de la Nation" in Kinshasa as had been outlined in the program and itinerary that the Vatican unveiled.

In a Tuesday, January 31 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Rigobert Kyungu Musenge highlighted preparations for the February 2 meeting and what could be the focus of their discussions with the Holy Father.

“The official program says we are meeting the Holy Father at 6.30 p.m. local time. He's not coming to our place for security reasons, but we're going to the Apostolic Nunciature to meet him,” Fr. Musenge said.


The Jesuit Priest added, “In the Central Africa Province comprising the DRC and Angola we have more than 400 members. Unfortunately, only 85 selected members will take part in the private audience with the Pope.”

“This meeting is very important for us because Pope Francis is a Jesuit and we have the opportunity to talk with him as members of the same Congregation,” the Congolese Jesuit Priest said.

He continued, “We will ask some questions and the Pope will answer; and if he has more to tell us, he will tell us; we will be all ears.” 

Having previously encountered Pope Francis, Fr. Musenge who is also the President of the Conference of Major Superiors in DRC (COSUMA) shared, “Personally I'm not as surprised as other people because I lived in Rome where I had the opportunity to meet the Pope nine times; this will be the 10th time to meet him personally, to shake his hand.”

Fr. Musenge further said, “It is a great privilege and a grace for me because I'm going to welcome him in several capacities, first as a Congolese Christian, as a Jesuit and as the Provincial Superior.”

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He continued, “During our private audience with the Holy Father, I will have the privilege  to present a speech and introduce all the Jesuits present.”

In the January 31 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Musenge urged the Jesuits selected to take part in the private audience with Pope Francis to “prepare themselves spiritually to live this fraternal moment.”

“Pope Francis is preaching the Gospel of joy and we are really filled with joy each time we meet or see him. It is our desire to live joyfully with our fellow brothers and sisters,” the Congolese Jesuit Priest said.

This joy, however, Fr. Musenge said, “is accompanied by a great desire for peace. You know, the Congolese people have been hit by violence causing suffering among the population.”

“We need peace to return, but it seems that the world is turning a deaf ear,” he said, and added, “The Pope is like the last resort of the Congolese. They think that finally there is someone who will hear us and make our voice heard throughout the world so that peace can return.”


Fr. Musenge further said, “Listening to the Pope will be very important, and if we can put into practice what he asks of us, we will surely gain inner peace.”

“We want to thank Pope Francis for all his efforts for peace in DR Congo and ask him to work more for this peace,” he said during the January 31 interview with ACI Africa.

Besides meeting the Jesuits in Kinshasa, Pope Francis is scheduled to interact with victims of the conflict in the Eastern part of the country and representatives of charitable organizations, celebrate Holy Mass, meet with young people, and Catholic Bishops before embarking on the second leg of his two-African-nation trip.

He is set to leave for South Sudan on Friday, February 3 where he is to engage in an ecumenical visit alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.