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Papal Dream: Zimbabwe Pilgrim to Meet Pope Francis

Harare - Meeting the Pope is every true Catholic’s life dream but for the majority of Catholics it remains just a pipe dream.  This year,...

Harare - Meeting the Pope is every true Catholic’s life dream but for the majority of Catholics it remains just a pipe dream. 

This year, Zimbabwe is sending 250 pilgrims to Krakow, Poland for this year’s World Youth Day celebrations that run from July 16 to 31. 

Among those travelling is 15-year-old Josphat Choerera, whose life took a dramatic twist when he won a return air ticket to Poland at recent local World Youth Day celebrations.
Pope Francis 

At the Catholics Talent Show, Choerera of Masasa Parish thrilled the crowd with a polished dancehall performance. His act left the frenzied crowd clamouring for more and deservedly, he walked away with the grand prize – a return air ticket to Poland.

“When I left home I never expected that the good Lord had planned a date with destiny for me. I could not even afford US$5 to buy a World Youth Day T-shirt, but here I am. God has lifted me from grass to grace. He is awesome and I will forever glorify his name,” said Choerera shedding tears of joy.

Father Claudius Maganga, spiritual director of Catholic youths, said by exhibiting talent on the microphone, the teen deserved his chance to meet the Pope. World Youth Day was initiated by St John Paul II (Pope) when he invited youths to his Palm Sunday celebration at the Vatican in 1985, the UN-proclaimed Year of Youth.

Vatican officials were overwhelmed when a huge crowd of 250 000 youths surpassed the expected 60 000. So popular are these gatherings that a world record of the largest number of people gathering for a single religious event, with five million attendees, was set at the 1995 World Youth Day closing Mass in The Philippines.

That record was broken in 2015 when six million attended a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the same country. The event is held once every two to three years. However, local events are held annually in every diocese world over. The Archdiocese of Harare kicked off their event with a procession from the Cathedral to Roosevelt Girls High School.

Participants engaged in clean-up campaigns at health institutions and shopping complexes around the suburb of Eastlea and then went for the official opening mass, celebrated by Papal Nuncio (Vatican Representative) to Zimbabwe, Archbishop Marek Zalweski.

Archbishop Zalweski said, “Dear young friends, many of you cannot travel to Poland, but I tell you, your spiritual journey to Poland has already started when you decided to participate in this extraordinary event locally.

This local gathering is as much a part of the pilgrimage of faith as the international activity in Krakow this year. - Sunday Mail 

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