Malawian music taking Panamanian stages in WYD Panama


By Francesca Merlo


Amongst the pilgrims from all over the world visiting Panama for World Youth Day is the Alleluya Band Malawi, who have come bearing gifts and sharing their music.


Every year, for the past 7 years, Coss Chiwalo has represented Malawi at World Youth Days around the world. And every year he learns a lesson that he takes back to other young Catholics on the African continent.

A first for all
So far, says Coss, Panama 2019 has been “very fantastic”. What he is particularly happy about is the fact that Panama seems even further away from his hometown than Europe. He’s been to Italy numerous times but it is the “first time people of Panama will be able to experience our culture”, he says, the Malawian culture.

To love to learn
Lessons given and lessons learnt, it seems Coss loves to teach and loves to learn. Perhaps he has the love for teaching that every teacher should have: the kind that makes the student want to learn. And perhaps that is why one year ago, when Coss Chiwalo visited the Vatican with his African drum, Pope Francis asked Coss to teach him “how to play African drums”.

This personal encounter Coss had with the Pope, he says, is what makes him “always very happy, to be here with Pope Francesco”, he says, having picked up the Pope’s Italian name on one of his many trips to the Vatican.

Intangible memories
Blessings, another young Malawian travelling with Coss, also loves the lessons that come from human interactions. His greatest memory so far (and there is still a long way to go before reaching the end) is that he has “interacted with so many people”. He emphasises that it is, in fact, “very, very important to interract with people”. Travelling, knowing each other, and exchanging “ways of God, so that we can improve our spiritual lives”.

These pilgrims exchange thoughts and feelings, and not only the usual material memories, the gifts that the pilgrim tradition calls for. Their gift to this correspondent were two CDs of their own music, recognisable by both Blessing’s and Coss’ faces on the cover of one album, and the face of Pope Francis playing Coss’ African drum as he looks him in the eyes on the other. Perhaps this music is the best way to share both their beloved thoughts and feelings that come from human interraction and the tradition of their beloved country.

Alleluya Band Malawi
This music, so beautifully recorded by Alleluya Band Malawi, is yet another wonder that these young Malawians have brought to Panama. They perform it in the traditional dress that Coss says “attracts so much attention” in Panama’s Parco Bazzara on Wednesday evening.

Young Africans, wearing animal skins and carrying bows and arrows as they sing original African, Catholic hymns, is surely something new to the Panamanian stages and the thousands of pilgrims who have travelled from all around the world. Another day, another lesson.


Source Vatican News


Panama youth meeting offers pope respite from scandals

The festive five-day meeting with an expected 200,000 young people from around the world offers the 82-year-old pontiff a brief respite from a torrent of sex scandals that have jolted his papacy.

Groups of young pilgrims have been flocking into the small Central American country for days.

Wrapped in the flags of their nations, many resemble soccer fans on the eve of a major tournament, except this is one event in which they will be shouting for the same side.

At a Mass to open the festivities on Tuesday evening, tens of thousands of young pilgrims stood to chant, “this is the youth of the pope.”

Panama’s archbishop, Cardinal Jose Domingo Ulloa, told them the future of the church lay “in your vision of a better world”.

Ulloa said he prayed the gathering “will be a balm for the difficult situation in which many of them live without hope, especially the indigenous youth and youth of African descent, the youth who migrates after receiving almost no response from their countries of origin.”

Tens of thousands of young pilgrims attended the colorful open air mass, near the capital’s historic ramparts overlooking the Pacific end of the Panama Canal.

Defending migrant

Caravans of Central American migrants have travelled north through Mexico to the US border since October, roiling a debate over illegal immigrants and President Donald Trump’s plans to build a border wall. Francis previously criticised plans for the wall during a trip to Mexico.

He used the 2016 World Youth Day event in Poland to call on conservative governments in Central and Eastern Europe to soften their resistance to migrants seeking refuge from conflict in the Middle East.

“Many of the young people who are participating in the WYD are immigrants themselves,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said, adding that Francis could be expected to speak out on the issue.

The Vatican bills World Youth Day as a chance for the pope to reach out to young Catholics who he says “can change the world.”

It is the sort of colorful event the people-friendly Argentine revels in, a world away from the strains of sex scandals that have rocked his six-year papacy, most recently in the United States, where priests and bishops in several dioceses are under investigation for decades of sex abuse of minors.

The pope met with victims of clerical sex abuse during his last visit to South America, to Chile and Peru, a year ago. The Vatican says there are no formal plans to do so on this trip.

However, two abuse survivors from neighboring Costa Rica have asked to meet with Francis on the sidelines of the WYD.

Michael Rodriguez, 38, and Anthony Venegas, 33, told AFP they sent a letter to Francis requesting a meeting but received no reply.

“We managed to deliver a letter to the pope with the help of another person. We told him that we would love to have an audience with him, tell him face to face what we have experienced, give him conclusive proof,” said Rodriguez.

The pope is expected to land in Panama at 4:30 pm (2130 GMT) after a 13 hour flight from Rome.

He will celebrate two open-air masses in Panama City, but among the highlights of his five-day visit will be a trip to the Good Samaritan home for young HIV and AIDS patients on Saturday, after the closing mass.

He will also take a short helicopter trip outside the city to Pacora to visit a youth detention center and hear the confessions of inmates, including one serving time for murder.


Source Pulse Nigeria


World News: Pope Francis to Panama for World Youth Day

By Mario Schiavone

Pope Francis issued a video message addressed to all youths in preparation for the World Youth Day which will be held in Panama next Janurary. The theme of this year is based on Mary’s answer to God’s call: ‘I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”.

In his message the Pope said that “Her words are a brave and generous “yes”. It is the positive reply of one who understands the secret of vocation ‒ to go beyond oneself and place oneself at the service of others. Our lives only find meaning in service to God and to other people.

“There are many young people, both believers, and nonbelievers, who when they come to the end of a stage in their studies, feel a desire to do something for those who are suffering. This is a strength in young people, a strength that all of you possess. It is a strength that can change the world. It is a revolution that can overturn the powerful forces at work in our world. It is the “revolution” of service.

“To be at the service of others does not only mean to be ready for action. It means also to be in conversation with God with an attitude of listening, just like Mary. She listened to what the angel said to her and then she responded. It is by relating to God in the silence of our hearts that we discover our identity and the vocation to which God is calling us. It can be expressed in different ways: in marriage, in consecrated life, in the priesthood… All these are ways of following Jesus. The important thing is to discover what God wants from us and to be brave enough to say “yes”.

“Mary was a happy woman, and this is because she replied generously to God and opened her heart to God’s plan for her. When God has a proposition for us, like the one he had for Mary, it is not intended to extinguish our dreams, but to ignite our aspirations. Propositions like this are meant to make our lives fruitful and produce many smiles and happy hearts. To respond to God positively is to take a first step towards being happy and towards making many people happy.

“Dear young people, take courage, enter within yourselves and say to God: “What do you want from me?” Allow God to answer you. Then you will see how your life is transformed and filled with joy.

“With the upcoming World Youth Day in our sights, I invite you all to prepare for it by following and taking part in the initiatives that are happening. They will help you on your path towards this goal. May Our Lady be with you on this pilgrimage, and may her example encourage you to be brave and generous in your response.

In the meantime the Vatican published the programme of the Pontiff’s visit to Panama.

Wednesday 23th, from Rome, Pope Francis will arrive at Panama’s Tocumen International airport. Following an official welcome, he will travel to the Nunciature.

Thursday 24th there will be a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace followed by a meeting with state authorities and the diplomatic corps. Later in the day, the Pope will meet with the Bishops of Central America in the Church of St Francis of Assisi before opening World Youth Day at Cinta Costera.

Friday 25th Pope Francis will visit a youth center where there will be a penance service. In the afternoon he will attend a Youth Way of the Cross at the Cinta Costera area of Panama City.

Saturday 26th The Pope will preside over Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua where he will consecrate the altar of the Cathedral which has been newly restored. Following Mass, Pope Francis will lunch with young people. Later in the evening, he will participate at a vigil with young people at Metro Park.

Sunday 27th On this, the final day of his visit to Panama, the Pope will celebrate the concluding Mass of WYD at Metro Park. After the Eucharistic celebration, he will visit the house of the Good Samaritan followed by a meeting with WYD volunteers. Pope Francis will return to Rome that evening following a farewell ceremony at Panama International Airport.

Source – Newsbook