, 02 September, 2019 / 3:24 AM
In Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, the first stop of Pope Francis’ three-nation visit of Africa, a 1,030-person choir is rehearsing to animate the Public Papal Mass scheduled for Friday, September 6, ACI Africa learned at the venue where the Holy Father will celebrate the Mass.
“The choir is a big mix, some religious women and men, some priests, lay people of different ages and backgrounds,” the liturgy coordinator for the pastoral visit of Pope Francis in Mozambique, Fr. Rafaeli Simbini told ACI Africa Sunday at Zimpeto stadium in Maputo.
“The members are coming mainly from Maputo and Gaza regions,” Fr. Simbini added.
“We are rehearsing for the Friday Mass with 1,030 members of the choir and 226 dancers,” Sr. Clotilde Mandlata who is assisting in coordinating the liturgy in preparation for the Pope’s visit in Mozambique disclosed to ACI Africa through a translator.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Maputo from Rome on Wednesday, September 4 evening. No event has been planned for his arrival day apart from a welcome ceremony at Maputo International Airport.
On the following day, however, the Holy Father will be involved in a series of activities in Maputo, beginning with a courtesy call to the President of the republic, Filipe Nyusi followed by a meeting with civil society leaders and diplomatic corps.
He will then have an encounter with young people of different faiths. After lunch, which he will have at the Apostolic Nunciature, the Holy Family will have a session that will bring together bishops, priests, religious women and men, seminarians, catechists, and other pastoral animators.
Friday, his last full day in Mozambique, the Pontiff will stop at a Catholic-run HIV treatment center on his way to stadium in Maputo for his public Mass.
“Maputo is representative of Mozambique,” the liturgist for the Papal visit in Mozambique, Fr. Simbini said referring to the composition of choir members for the Papal Mass and the metropolitan nature of his country’s capital where people from various tribes and nationalities call home.
“Other choir members come from Gaza region,” Fr. Simbini added and clarified that Gaza neighbors Maputo.
Asked if linguistic diversity in Mozambique was factored in the choice of the Papal Mass songs, he said that other than Portuguese, songs selected for the Friday Mass are in a variety of native languages including “Nyungwe, Ronga, Changana, Makhuwa, Gitonga, Nyanja, and Chiwabo.”
“We have been around preparing for the visit of the Holy Father since February,” Fr. Simbini also said, clarifying that the choir started preparing in June.
He explained how the preparations for the visit of the Holy Father have provided an opportunity for people to practice sacrifice and generosity saying, “those involved in the liturgy including the choir members have always paid for themselves to come for practice on Saturdays and Sundays.”
“This has been a period of both blessings and challenges,” Fr. Simbini who is the Vicar General of Mozambique’s Xai Xai diocese said and continued, “This has been new for us. The last Papal visit, we were not here. It has been a moment for us to learn. We have had difficulty. But we have also had many moments of grace and blessings.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa