To say that Pope Francis has had a busy 2019 is an understatement. Lolo Kiko was not just all over the place—he was literally all over the world, reminding the faithful of God’s unceasing love for us!
As the year comes to a close, we look back at Lolo Koko’s Pastoral Journeys.
January 22-27: Panama City, Panama.
The small nation in Central America, whose population is about 85 percent Catholic, played host to World Youth Day (WYD)—an event that happens every 2-3 years since it was first established and celebrated by Pope John Paul II in 1985. “You, dear young people, are not the future. No, you are the present,” said Pope Francis to the crowd during his Holy Mass homily at Campo San Juan Pablo II Metro Park. “You are not the future of God, you young people are the now of God.”
February 3-5: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The Holy Pontiff became the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula when he accepted an invitation to attend the International Interfaith Meeting on Human Fraternity.
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March 30-31, Morocco.
Pope Francis managed to squeeze in a lot of activities in his two-day trip to Morocco, upon the invitation of King Mohammed VI. Together with Ahmed el-Tayed, Grand Imam of al-Azhar, he signed a historic declaration of peace. He also met with migrants in a Catholic charity run by Caritas, spoke with students studying to be imams, preachers, and teachers at the Mohammed VI Institute, visited a social care center run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and celebrated two Masses for Morocco’s small but active Christian community.
May 5-7, Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
Though Orthodox leaders declined to take part in a joint service of prayers with Pope Francis, that’s not to say the Balkan nation wasn’t thrilled with his presence. “It is a great joy, a great spiritual experience, a feast of faith for the whole community as well as for the whole country,” said Sr. Elka Staneva of Rakovski, a Bulgarian town with a predominantly Catholic community. In North Macedonia, the Holy Father paid his respects to Skopje, the national capital and birthplace of St. Mother Teresa.
May 31-June 2, Romania.
“May you be witnesses of freedom and mercy,” said the Pope, who beatified seven Greek-Catholic bishops during a Divine Liturgy in the city of Blaj. An estimated 100,000 faithful attended the event. The trip, his 30th Apostolic Journey outside of the Vatican, celebrated the theme “Let’s walk together.”
September 4-10, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius.
“A pilgrim of hope, peace, and reconciliation” was the theme of the Santo Papa’s visit to Mozambique, a nation that has weathered a long-running civil war, back-to-back cyclones, and the threat of HIV and AIDS. In Madagascar, a whopping 1 million attended a Mass celebrated by Lolo Kiko at the Soamandrakizay Stadium in the capital of Antananarivo. In Mauritius, the Pope arrived on the feast day of the republic’s “Apostle of Mauritius,” Blessed Jacques Desire Laval. A visit to the French priest’s tomb was scheduled after a Mass at Port Louis.
November 20-26, Thailand and Japan.
Sr. Ana Rosa Sivori, Pope Francis’ cousin and childhood friend, served as his personal translator when he visited the country of mostly Buddhists. Meanwhile, Nagasaki and Hiroshima were on Lolo Kiko’s itinerary when he flew to Japan, a country he had hoped to be assigned to as a missionary in his younger years.