More goodbyes to the 'parish priest of the world '

 MADRID "John Paul II was an extraordinary gift to the Church and to humanity " Archbishop Francisco Perez Gonzalez, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Spain said in a tribute to the late Pope entitled 'John Paul II, missionary of the 20th century'. His words touched hearts and won the hearts of humanity. His journeys brought the breath of hope to the countries he visited, his Liturgical Celebrations were a hymn of praise to God and his writings expressed his profound and faithful love of Christ and his Church". "To see him was to see Christ working in him", said the Archbishop recalling that young people were the Holy Father's greatest love and for them he was a father and a friend. John Paul II was a perfect example of "a contemplative man of God in action" and an example of how to see the human person, not for what he has, but for what he is, and how to be willing to do only the will of God and how to be strong in faith, firm in hope and generous in charity. "We can say - the Archbishop concluded - he was the great missionary of the 20th century projected into the 21st century." BUKAVU, CONGO "Goodbye John Paul II, parish priest of the world", said Italian missionary Fr Luigi Lo Stocco, director of Radio Maria Malia wa Amani in Bukavu, in the east of Democratic Congo, in a tribute to the late Pope sent to Fides. "Goodbyes always make the heart sad. In Africa we are used to death. Death is everywhere and many die unknown. Death is part of life but it leaves us helpless and filled with fear" the missionary wrote. "To say goodbye to Pope John Paul II touches us all very deeply. John Paul II this great parish priest of the world had become one of us, a member of the family, the tribe, the country. He was never a foreigner even though he 'came from afar' he embraced our cultures, our expectations, our concerns." Fr Luigi recalled that young people in particular will miss the Pope: "John Paul II, the Pope of young people, the Pope of so many World Youth Days, the Pope who drew millions of young people from all over the world. The Pope who touched the hearts of young people, spoke their language, although he never failed to teach them, without compromise, the truth of the faith and the encounter with Christ." "I and the other Christians in Bukavu and all over our lovely country which you visited twice in your long pontificate, are filled with sadness and emptiness now that you have gone." Fr Luigi wrote. "Seeing the leaders of the world kneeling to pay you homage I cannot fail to think of our Congo and those who govern it. Congo is our dearest possession. It is the land of our forefathers, the land of all Congolese men and women. After 35 years here I too can say these things" said Fr Luigi. "Dear John Paul II, go in peace, go with the serenity which covered your face in death. And continue to help us there where you are in the glory of Paradise. Continue your work of 'seeing' . 'thinking' and intervening for this Africa you loved so much, that she may find again her being, her dignity and her place in the world." BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI "The Holy Father's visit to Burundi in 1990 had a lasting impact on the country and on the life of the people", Mgr Jean-Louis Nahimana, vicar general of the archdiocese of Bujumbura and parish priest of the cathedral in the capital told a local Catholic news agency DIA in an interview. "Personally what struck me most was his pastoral concern ! which brought together the entire people of God all over the world" the priest said. The news of the death of Pope John Paul II, given ample space by the national media in Burundi, caused deep grief among the people. When the news was announced Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura spoke to the Catholics of the nation on Radio Isanganiro and Radio Publique Africane, encouraging the faithful to pray for the Pope in unity with the universal Church during the nine official days of mourning. Bujumbura archdiocese has a population of 1 million of whom 117,000 are Catholics gathered in 26 parishes looked after by 78 diocesan priests, 47 religious priests, 69 Brothers and 158 women religious. BRASILIA, BRASIL "In 2003, the year of 160th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Society for Holy Childhood, the Holy Father John Paul II did not fail to send a special Message to Holy Childhood for the occasion. After tracing briefly the history and purpose of the society and its presence in most countries in the world, the Pope outlined the Society's purpose: "to offer children in all the dioceses of the world a programme that consists of prayer, sacrifice and concrete acts of solidarity: in this way they can become evangelisers of their peers" " He praised children's 'acts of concrete solidarity' encouraging them: 'Dear young missionaries, I know with what great care and generosity you live this apostolic activity. In so many ways you try to share the lot of the children who are forced to work as children and you help relieve the distress of the children who are in need. You show solidarity for the troubles and tragedies of children involved in the wars of adults and who are often victims of the violence of adults. Pray every day that the gift of faith which you have received may be granted to the millions of your small friends who do not yet know Jesus/" Speaking before the Angelus prayer on 6 January 2005, the Pope recalled children victims of the seaquake in Asia, children suffering from hunger, disease, war and terrorism, children kidnapped, disappeared, exploited for ignoble trafficking and he thanked those who work to protect children, especially the Pontifical Society for Holy Childhood. His special mention of Holy Childhood remains as a precious gift. "Holy Childhood in Brazil feels strengthened by his words which it strives every day to put into practice giving attention to formation of animators, production of handbooks, organisation of meetings for formation at various levels," said Fr Daniele Lagni, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Brazil and Fr Savio Corinaldesi, national secretary of Holy Childhood. They said: "Holy Childhood in Brazil is profoundly grateful to God for having placed this man on our path." Source: Fides

Share this story