Marie Jeanne Elonga rscj and Anne Corry rscj
participated in the November 23 vigil for
South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo,
where there seems to be no end to conflict and suffering.
Long before the starting time of 5:30PM, a crowd of nearly one thousand religious men and women began gathering at the main altar in St Peter’s for this Vigil prayer. Most of their congregations have religious living in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC). Only days before, Pope Francis had cleared his calendar to join the vigil. Representatives from other faith traditions also joined the congregation.
This prayer vigil was a response to the desperation felt in these two countries where there seems to be no end to the conflict and suffering of their people. Marie Jeanne Elonga rscj and Anne Corry rscj participated in the vigil. Marie Jeanne had just returned to Rome from her province of RDC the day before. She said that our sisters would be praying throughout RDC at the very same time that the vigil was to take place in St Peter’s.
The prayers and songs were in Kiswahili, French, English, Italian, and Kikongo. Pope Francis gave a short homily which is available in English-Spanish-French-Italian-Portuguese-German. [Click here to read the homily.]
We all sang Salve Regina as the Pope prayed in front of the statue of the Madonna of Valme which had a prominent place in the sanctuary. The song for the final procession was ‘O Mfumu baka mono,’ the peace prayer of St Francis. Accompanied by organ music and drumming, the singing was whole hearted and a fitting way to end the vigil. Also profound were the African ululations resounding around the main altar of St Peter’s.
Left: Photo taken during the prayer vigil inside St. Peter's.
Right: Marie Jeanne with Abbé Théo from the diocese of Kisantu.
On their way out, Marie Jeanne and Anne said a prayer to St Madeleine Sophie who had witnessed the vigil from her well-known position high on the wall of St Peter’s. She would know the needs and concerns expressed in this vigil and is surely with our sisters.
Anne Corry rscj
International JPIC Coordinator