By Paul Samasumo - Maputo
Between 16 and 19 September 1988, Pope John Paul II visited Mozambique.
Sister Olga Massango, at the time a young religious, was involved in the local organizing and preparatory committee because of her language skills. She speaks Portuguese, French, Spanish and English.
This time, for Pope Francis’ visit, she was once again on the local organizing and preparatory committee. I asked her to share her experience of being in two commissions preparing for two different Popes.
She explains how in 1988, when Pope Saint John Paul II came to Mozambique, the country was in full civil war. The government was Marxist. At that time the Holy See had to closely supervise local preparations. According to Sister Olga, this time, the local preparatory committee knows what to do and did not have to be closely followed by the Holy See.
Just like Pope Saint John Paul II, his successor Pope Francis, is here to encourage peace and coexistence in Mozambique. Sister Olga says that the visit of Pope Francis is also necessary because peace in Mozambique is still fragile. If Mozambique succeeds in obtaining stable peace, the country, she says, will be a good witness for other African countries such as South Sudan.
Sister Olga also shares her expectations for the Pope’s meeting on Thursday afternoon with Mozambican religious and priests, and expresses her hope that Pope Francis will encourage the sisters above all, never to abandon the work of evangelization, even when they work in professions such as teaching or nursing.
Finally, regarding the meeting with young people, Sister Olga emphasized the importance of youth for ecology.