Pope Francis in Africa: Becoming A Pilgrim Church

Millennial writer Meghan Clark has a new article at America. She writes:

From the moment his plane landed in Nairobi, Pope Francis was greeted by thousands of pilgrims everywhere he went. Men, women and children traveled from all over Kenya as well as from neighboring countries to participate in this historic papal visit. Personally, I had the privilege of attending the meeting with youth at Kasarani Stadium on Nov. 27. It is difficult to capture the experience in words—the overwhelming energy of the crowd, tens of thousands of young people of faith singing, dancing, cheering and praying. Joy poured out and was contagious as many Kenyan bishops and even President Kenyatta joined in celebratory dancing as we anticipated the pope’s arrival. When his popemobile entered the stadium, there was a combination of awe and intimacy that is difficult to articulate. For me, it was a glimpse at the pilgrim church and the acceptance of a deeply personal invitation to join Papa Francesco on this, his pilgrimage of hope….

In the prayer and waiting, the pilgrim finds the space to reflect upon why we were there and where we, as a people, are going. We were a people on pilgrimage but it was not really a pilgrimage to see the pope. It was instead an invitation, an opportunity to participate in his pilgrimage and witness of a pilgrim church….

For me, it is most fitting that this visit occurred as Christians begin Advent, the season of preparation for and anticipation of God becoming human, God entering into the chaos of humanity. The beauty of this visit culminated in Pope Francis’ inaugurating the year of mercy not from a position of triumph and power in Rome, but in the CAR, amidst the chaos of conflict, poverty and humility. At Kasarani, I watched as Pope Francis blessed countless seedlings that will be planted all over Kenya to commemorate his visit and as a concrete reflection upon “Laudato Si’.” I was lucky enough to bring one seedling back to Hekima to serve as a constant reminder of the hope and challenge of Pope Francis’ visit.

The full article can be read here.