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Here’s how you can attend Pope Francis’ mass in Nairobi

The Catholic Church in Kenya will conduct a careful selection of the 1.5 million faithfuls who will attend the mass that will be held by Pope Francis at Uhuru Park when he the Pontiff visits the country next month, Nairobi News can reveal.

The lucky worshipers who will attend the once in a life time mass that will be held on November 26 are being selected from the 20,000 mass centres belonging to the Catholic Church across the country. These includes catholic schools, colleges, outposts and the 700 parishes.

Apart from being the largest denomination in the world, the Catholic Church is the largest denomination in Kenya and according to the spokesman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) David Omwoyo, Catholics in Kenya number about 14 million.

To qualify members of the Catholic Church have been told to apply early through their Parishes. For security and logistical reasons, those not cleared by the Parishes will not be allowed entry at Uhuru Park.

“We are expecting 1500 buses from Machakos alone, so the number will be huge. We would have loved each of the 14 million Catholics to attend but it is impossible,” said Mr Omwoyo.

POPE’S SECURITY TEAM

Preparations are in top gear and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has said the city will be safe and ready for the Pope by the time he arrives on November 25.

“The best efforts are being put in place to ensure that Nairobi is ready to host the Pope and ensure his visit is a success,” Dr Kidero said.

City Hall has been carrying out beautification in the city that was launched shortly before American President Barrack Obama came to Kenya in July.

As part of the preparations, a delegation of Kenyan government officials and heads of the Catholic Church left the country on Sunday for Rome to synchronize their preparations with the Vatican ahead of the Pope’s visit scheduled for next month.

The delegation, which also comprises of top Kenyan security officials who will work with the Pope’s Swiss Guard during his three day visit, will be in Rome up to Thursday for an exchange program that will involve studying the Vatican’s protocols.

The Pope’s advance party of security team has been in the country for the last two weeks to lay the ground for the Pontiff’s arrival.

MAIDEN TOUR OF AFRICA

Apart from being the Bishop of Rome – the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church – the Pope is also the Head of State of the Vatican City State, a walled enclave within Rome. His visit from November 25 to 27 will therefore be a state affair.

During his stay in Kenya, the Pope is expected to visit Kangemi slums in Nairobi to, “highlight the plight of poverty in informal settlements and listen to the experiences of slum residents and the different church agencies undertaking projects in the slums,” according to his itinerary.

Apart from holding mass at Uhuru Park and meeting the President, the Pope will also visit the UNEP headquarters in Gigiri. He will hold another meeting with youth from around the country and after that meet religious leaders from all sects to discuss tolerance and strategies for co-existence.

Pope Francis’ visit will be his maiden tour of Africa since he was made the 266th leader of the world’s largest denomination in February 2013.

The last Pope to visit Kenya was John Paul II in September 1995. During his reign, John Paul II, who served from 1978 to 2005, made pastoral visits to Africa a number of times. He came to Kenya three times – in 1980, 1985 and 1995.

Pope Benedict XVI came to Africa just once during his eight-year tenure when he visited Angola and Cameroon in 2009.

After Kenya, Pope Francis will visit Uganda and the Central Africa Republic.