By John Zaw
Pope Francis arrived at the Yangon International Airport on Nov. 27 at the start of a four-day trip as preparations are almost complete for a flood of pilgrims to a Nov. 29 open-air Mass to be conducted by Pope Francis in the commercial city of Yangon.
There is to be a youth Mass at the city’s cathedral the following day.
Welcome banners have been strung up for the first ever visit by a pontiff to the strife torn nation.
More than 120,000 Catholics and members of other faiths, from both Myanmar and abroad, are expected to join main Mass.
Scheduled to be in attendance are six cardinals, dozens of bishops and more than 700 priests as well as 2,000 religious.
A choir group with 250 brothers and sisters is to sing gospel songs.
An organizing committee urged all parishes to provide their Sept. 24-Nov. 26 Sunday collections.
Individuals and congregations are also being asked to directly contribute.
Father Joseph Mg Win, who is involved in logistical organization, said both local people and businesses had been generous in making contributions.
Father Mg Win told ucanews.com that all contributions would be voluntary and a show of support for the papal visit.
As part of fund raising, the church’s 16 Myanmar dioceses are selling hundreds of thousands of t-shirts, hats, fans and flags bearing Pope Francis’ photo and/or the visit logo.
Some local donors will distribute snacks and drinking water to pilgrims.
Catholic churches in Japan and Korea also made donations.
The local government of Yangon cooperated on the provision of security, toilets and drinking water as well as electric power and transport for pilgrims for the Nov. 29 Mass.
More than 650 Caritas workers will act as ushers.
Myanmar’s 700,000 Catholics are served by 17 active bishops, more than 900 priests and 22,000 religious.