The Vincentian Community in Kenya began in the 1980s when the American Province of the Vincentians came to Kenya. They started in the North where there are three Fathers still working there in the Seminary at Nyeri. From there they built their own Seminary in Nairobi. They have now got eight Kenyans ordained and there are 32 in various stages of preparation. Among that number are four from Uganda, one of whom is ordained and three in preparations.
Within the Province, there are Americans, Ugandans and three Irishmen. Fr. Rod Crowley came here in 2004 and works as Parish Priest in Kamulu, about an hour’s journey from Nairobi. He was closely followed in 2005 by Fr Harry Slowey who is the Director of the Postulants in the Seminary in Nairobi. Fr. Eamon Raftery came in 2009 and began working in the parish at Thigio, only 40 minutes from Nairobi. It is Fr. Harry’s first mission journey, whereas Frs. Rod and Eamon had worked in the Vincentian Mission in Nigeria for years.
A WORD FROM KENYA
When I was in Dunstable last year, and I told a parishioner, John Sheridan , that I was going back to Africa, he said he was not surprised. He said a priest he knew in Cameroon had done the same. Why? Whats the attraction?
It’s their placidness, serenity and happy-go-lucky nature. Maybe it comes from being poor. Around Holy Cross Parish in Thigio where I was for Christmas, the rains came but too late to save the crops. Now they have planted again and wait in hope. Their cheerfulness comes from their dependence on God. He knows what He is doing. Not easy to see meaning in it all, but the connection is there, the meaning is there, if you see things Gods way.
When the Parish dinner for the children came around, there was a patient wait by all of them till their turn arrived to get their portion. Even when they could see that the food was dwindling, they still waited. Another day I was coming back from the village with my plastic covered loaf, when a small child ran up and demanded it. He was just about 2 years old. His hands were so small that I thought; “If I give him a few slices and his small hands will drop them in the muck, he will still eat it and maybe get sick”. He had to get the plastic-covered loaf and it would not matter if he dropped it.
When you take that placid spirit to the Sunday Mass, you see why two hours is enjoyed by all. Its total involvement, from start to finish. The priest and altar servers are led in by the Dancers, to the accompaniment of the Choir, while the priest blesses all with Holy Water , to remind them of their Baptism. At the ‘Glory to God’, all wave to God and the Angles, while clapping their approval of God’s ways.
Then the Scripture is carried in by those Reading the Word, led again by the Dancers and Choir. The Book is passed to the Priest , who shows it to the People, before handing it back. Similarly the Collection is carried up in the same fashion, accompanied by their gifts of potatoes, eggs, cabbages, rice and I could go on but including also those Tithes.
When they join the Angels again for the singing of ‘Holy Holy and Hosanna’, heaven has to hear.
Jan Vanier said ;”That celebration is a sign that beyond all the sufferings, purifications and deaths there is the eternal wedding feast, the great celebration of life with God. It is a sign that there is a personal meeting which will fulfill us, that our thirst for the infinite will be quenched and that the wound of our loneliness will be healed.“
As a missionary, I am supposed to teach them to pray! They don’t need instruction. They are an encouragement to me. God is real for them. True prayer involves becoming poor. Who will lift up the world to God and plead for mercy? When God looks down on us, what does He see worth saving? He sees His Son in the faces of those who continue to cry out in this valley of tears. St Vincent learnt that without ever leaving France!
Finally to cheer you up; There was a man, a birdwatcher. He went to watch birds. He took along with him a pair of binoculars and his book of birds. On top of a tree were two woodpeckers.
So the birdwatcher was reading about them. So one of the woodpeckers flew down from the tree and perched on his shoulder in order to see what he was reading. He read it and then flew back to the other woodpecker and said;”Hey. Guess what, we’re woodpeckers.”