Thousands turn up for First Papal Mass in Africa

Pope Francis celebrated a historic Mass in Kenya on November 26, a day declared a national public holiday on his first visit as a pontiff to Africa.

The Mass was held at the University of Nairobi grounds and brought together faithful from all the dioceses in Kenya, archbishops and bishops from AMECEA region and Congo, thousands of priests, men and women religious.

In his homily the Holy Father noted that Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children and called on Kenyans to offer more support to the families saying “the health of any society depends on the health of its families.”

“For their sake, and for the good of society, our faith in God’s word calls us to support families in their mission in society, to accept children as a blessing for our world, and to defend the dignity of each man and woman, for all of us are brothers and sisters in the one human family,” he said.

The pontiff further appealed to young people of Kenya to work towards shaping a just society which is inclusive and respectful of human dignity.

“May you always be concerned for the needs of the poor, and reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God,” he said.

Thousands of enthusiastic Kenyans filled streets in Nairobi from as early as 3am despite heavy downpour to be part of the historic event.

“I come from Laisamis Parish in Marsabit Diocese; I am very excited to see the Pope. My heart is filled with love and peace even though I have been rained on,” said Magdalene who attended the Papal Mass.

The Mass was also attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Former President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leaders.

Earlier The Pope met with inter-religious and ecumenical leaders at the Nunciature and later met with Catholic clergy at St Mary’s School, Nairobi. He also addressed environmental issues at the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi.

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