There is a resounding belief that the Pope’s message of peace in Myanmar will make a difference in the country among those who attended the Papal trip.
Robert Taylor, from England, attended the Kyaikkasan Grounds Mass and the Mass for youth at St Mary’s Cathedral. Travelling with his wife Rachel and three-year-old daughter Beth, he said it had been “fantastic”.
“I think it’s the perfect time for him to come and to have Mass with that many people in this country, I think it’s fantastic and a real sense of peace came during Mass,” he said.
“The Burmese are a very peaceful people, I think they are encouraged to be, everyone is very friendly and very kind, they go out of their way to help you out. Especially at the event yesterday at the Mass (Kyaikkasan Grounds), the Catholics there from across the world – a lot from Asia – were very kind and a lot could communicate in some way in English which was helpful.” Mr Taylor said they arrived at 6am and watched the sun rise.
“Where we were we had priests to one side and nuns behind us, they opened the gates at one stage because where the sisters where it was proper empty, so they opened the gates for the locals who had been walking for miles, and they all came running in all happy and filled the whole area up.”
From Kachin State over 1,000km away, James Sengdenmyo and his friends Khui Shin and Peter Bellman made the journey to attend both Masses over two days.
Mr Sengdenmyo said: “We’re very happy for him to visit Yangon, this is the first experience for me, I have never seen the Pope, this is the first time. We are very proud and happy. He will bring peace, he will pray for us.”
David Rafael Hla Shwe travelled with his wife Theresa and grandson George (1) to the Mass for youth, he said: “We are very very happy to be here, the whole of the Burmese are happy. He will bring peace to our country.”
Fr Carlo Velardo, an Italian missionary who has worked for 40 years in Thailand, travelled to Myanmar for the Papal trip.
Speaking about the importance of the Pontiff’s visit he said: “We have to remember who the Pope is, the Pope is a pastor, as a good pastor he wants to take care of his flock, and part of his flock are in Myanmar. Although it is a little flock in a big country, all the same it’s part of the universal church so it’s the duty of a pastor to go to see his flock wherever they are.
Fr Velardo added that this was especially important when people are in a situation that might be troublesome or even dangerous “the Pope comes here, as the gospel says, to confirm in the Faith those who are believers”.
“The people of Myanmar, the Catholics, they show they want to have peace in the country by works of mercy, the unity among themselves, the witness they give, and the things they do for others. The Catholic Church in Myanmar is very much involved in social work for uplifting the lives of the people here in every situation regardless of religion, ethnic population, even languages,” he added.