VIDEO; Catholics mark Mini-World Youth Day
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The event saw 164 priests and 14 bishops, along with Cardinal Wilfred Napier, attend a mass at the Durban Exhibition Centre yesterday with 3 500 young people from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
This was linked to the church’s World Youth Day, which followers from Africa often couldn’t afford to travel to, said Father Donovan Wheatley, part of the organising committee. “They come here to have an experience of what World Youth Day would be like,” he said.
The programme includes a message from Pope Francis, religious learning, guest speakers talking about church issues and testimonies from people who attended World Youth Day.
The most recent Youth Day was attended by 2.5 million people in Krakow, Poland, last year. The next one will be in Panama in 2019.
A feature of Friday’s mass was a prayer where the youth made up a rosary from a chain of people, rather than a chain of beads.
“It brings the prayer alive,” said Wheatley.
Among the clerics was Zimbabwean Jesuit priest Father Ignatius Padya, whose parish in Harare’s Mount Pleasant was supported by members of the cabinets of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and former president Robert Mugabe - and the country’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Wheatley said the country’s people were hoping for a free and fair election, which would take time to prepare for.
“There needs to be registration, a change to a biometric system and the media must be opened up. Television is not open. We need private radio stations. There are parts of the constitution that allow oppression and need to be removed.
Most importantly, the country needed to stabilise, he said.
“People in the diaspora are excited. They want to come back but not to a country that is not stable.”
Among the youth who attended from Zimbabwe was a recent graduate from Gwebi Agricultural College, who hoped to see the revival of the country’s agriculture sector, and job creation.
“There is enough land for everyone,” he said, adding that he believed many evicted white farmers would return “to do what they were doing before”.THE INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY