Kinshasa (DR Congo). From 31 January to 3 February 2023, Pope Francis made part of his 40th apostolic journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to then continue on to South Sudan, until 5 February. “All reconciled in Jesus Christ” is the slogan chosen for the visit to this Country.

As planned, on 31 January the Holy Father arrived in Kinshasa, in the capital of the DR Congo where, in the garden of the “Palais de la Nation”, he met the President of the Republic, Félix Tshisekedi, and then the authorities, representatives of the civil society, and the diplomatic corps. “I have longed to be here and finally I come to bring you the closeness, affection, and consolation of the whole Church, and to learn from your example of patience, courage, and struggle,” were among the first words he spoke.

33 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians participated in these events of grace, 22 from Kinshasa and 11 from three different Dioceses, including the Provincial of Our Lady of Africa Province (AFC), Sr. Clarisse Ngoie. Sr. Joséphine Bela and Sr. Michaëlle Mwika recount their experience:

It should be remembered that the Holy Father’s visit to the DR Congo, scheduled for 3 to 7 July 2022, had been postponed, causing some discouragement among Christians, who however had not lost hope. Upon his arrival on January 31, the Congolese population was moved to see the Holy Father in their own land.

Men, women, children, and young people, Catholic and non-Catholic Christians, of all religious confessions, welcomed him with shouts of joy and dances, from the airport to the Palazzo del Popolo, where he was received by the President of the country. And from there to the Nunciature, where he was staying. The strong message of the Pope to the world was, “hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo; hands off Africa! Stop suffocating Africa. It is not a mine to be exploited or land to be plundered”.

On February 1, the Pope celebrated Holy Mass according to the Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire, in the presence of over a million faithful gathered at Ndolo Airport. The Gospel of the day (Jn 20: 19-23) narrated the apparition to the disciples, in which Jesus said, “Peace be with you!” Everyone was waiting for the Pope’s message and blessing.

The Holy Father said, “We can ask ourselves how can we safeguard and cultivate the peace of Jesus? He Himself indicates three sources of peace to us, three fonts to continue to nourish it.  They are forgiveness, community, and mission.” His homily on the word peace remained impressed in the heart of the Congolese people wounded by social injustice.

In the afternoon, the Pope received the visit of people affected by the war that has been raging in the east of the Country for 30 years.  He proposed to start anew from two ‘no’s’ and from two ‘yes’s’.  ‘No’ to violence and resignation; ‘yes’ to peace and to hope.

In the evening, at the Apostolic Nunciature, he met the representatives of some charitable works and, after listening to songs and testimonies, he said to them, “You are the forest that grows every day in silence and makes the air better, more breathable. Sure, the falling tree makes more noise, but God loves and cultivates the generosity that silently sprouts and bears fruit, and rests His gaze with joy on those who serve the needy”.

The great meeting with the young people of the Diocese of the DR Congo was held on February 2, with 65,000 participants. Pope Francis summarized his speech in five points representing the five fingers of the hand: “Prayer”, “Community”, “Honesty”, “Forgiveness” and “Service”.

It was a very special day, marked by the joy and creativity of inventing the songs after each exhortation of the Holy Father. The young people were happy, comforted by his message. They said no to violence and corruption. A girl from the Laura House of the FMA in Kinshasa, who is attending the last year of the course said, “I liked it when he proposed this exercise: look at your hands and ask yourself the question: what are my hands for? To destroy or to build? I felt within me a strength that pushed me to offer myself against the contrary at all costs for my Church and my Country”.

Another young man from Lubumbashi said, “The Pope is humble and simple. He has adapted to us in his language. I have heard that he is for everyone, without distinction of race or culture. He took time to be with us”.

In the afternoon, on the Day of Consecrated Life, the Pope met priests, deacons and seminarians, consecrated men and women in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Congo. He invited them to guard against three temptations: from spiritual mediocrity, from worldly comfort, and from superficiality, which today ruin consecrated life. Thanking them for their precious service and testimony, he wished them “to always be channels of the Lord’s consolation and joyful witnesses of the Gospel, prophecy of peace in the spirals of violence, disciples of Love ready to heal the wounds of the poor and the suffering”.

On Friday 3 February, before continuing his journey to South Sudan, he met the Bishops of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), urging them to be credible witnesses and spokespersons of the Lord’s love and closeness to his people, as good Shepherds, according to three directions:

“We are Shepherds and servants of God’s people, not administrators of things, not businessmen, shepherds! The administration of the bishop must be that of the shepherd: in front of the flock, in the midst of the flock, behind the flock. In front of the flock to show the way; in the midst of the flock to smell the flock, not to lose it; behind the flock to help those who go more slowly, and also to leave the flock alone for a while and see where it finds pasture”.

In concluding, he expressed his gratitude to them and to all who had prepared this Journey by saying, “You had the patience to wait a year, you are good! Thanks for this! You had to work twice because the visit was canceled the first time, but I know you are merciful to the Pope! (…) Mercy. Always forgive. (…) Forgive always, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And in this way, you will sow forgiveness for all of society”.



  1. Realmente gracias a PAPA Francisco, un testimonio de Luz y Sal para la Iglesia. Q la semilla puesta en Africa y Sudan den frutos de Paz y justicia seguimos Orando por la visita pastoral. Sor Aida


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