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‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’. Luke 23:46
Issue 1, April 2011, Highlights:
By: Bill Worth
In the meantime two Spiritan Deacons were put forward as candidates for the priesthood by their Provincial Superior Father Martin Keane CSSp. And finally the Provincial of the Camilian Fathers asked for his candidate to be ordained a priest that same day. Ten ordinations at once! Little did Bishop Saunders know that the joyous occasion of the ordinations would be before a prayerful and excited crowd of some thousands. This most memorable celebration was held on a beautiful day in the grounds of St Peter’s Minor Seminary near the city of Kakamega.
Arriving in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, Bishop Saunders was met by Deacon Edward who had once worked in Beagle Bay as a student for the priesthood on his pastoral placement. Also there to meet him was the Provincial Father Martin CSSp and Father David CSSp. The pace of Nairobi is fast and the traffic is ballistic – at least by Kimberley standards. Bishop Saunders was amazed at the fearless pursuit of progress that possessed every driver on the road!
Over the next few days the Bishop was introduced to many Spiritans and to the many works of their apostolate. He stayed in the Provincial House of the Holy Ghost Fathers, set alongside a major Catholic Archdiocesan high school (St Mary’s) that had been started by the Spiritan missionaries some years before. He saw a couple of rugby games on the school fields that reflected the talent for fast determined Rugby that Kenyans display regularly on the international stage. And he celebrated a Sunday Mass in the parish Church of St Austin.
“I am so grateful to the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans) for their endless generosity and overwhelming hospitality,” the Bishop said. “I felt so at home there among them and I saw so much worth contemplating. I saw the Church at work, right at the sharp end of Christian endeavours, proclaiming the Gospel and witnessing to the love of Christ at work among the marginalized and dispossessed. An enthusiasm for the Apostolate combined with a fervent faith among an active laity with an abundance of vocations to the priesthood and religious life are hallmarks of the Church’s efforts in East Africa. The work of the Spiritans and other Congregations together with the Diocesan Clergy has created a vibrant indigenous Church that brings much glory to God. Mukuru slum, a vast area of boundless poverty, was also the home of hope in the shape of schools and a dispensary run by dedicated priests, sisters and lay people. Tangaza College, a highly regarded centre of learning embracing philosophy, education, communication, theology and the social sciences, was the result of the tireless efforts of a large number of Religious Congregations bound together in a vibrant response to the needs of the people in a very interesting part of Africa.”
In Kakamega, to the north west of Nairobi, the Local Ordinary, Bishop Philip Sulumeti could not have been more welcoming of Father Martin Keane CSSp and Bishop Saunders who traveled from Nairobi for the ordinations. The Bishop recalled, “Again the hospitality was simply outstanding. The Bishop’s kindnesses to me were the epitome of a Christian welcome. For years, almost forty in fact, the Bishop has toiled in the Diocese teaching the faith, proclaiming the Gospel and establishing parishes and schools. Building on the work of the Mill Hill Fathers, who were the first Missionaries in the area, Bishop Sulumeti now has an impressive indigenous clergy and with their collaboration in ministry he has forged a Church that is ever expanding. The Bishop has involved himself in the difficult work of reconciliation between disagreeing groups of people of various political alignment and he speaks out fearlessly against official corruption. His leadership of the Local Church has resulted in a faith expression in the area that cannot help but leave you standing in awe and gratitude.”
The ordinations were attended by thousands of people including one hundred and sixty priests. The singing was superb, Bishop Saunders noted. “There were two choirs, a very impressive bevy of musicians and a congregation of people for whom singing was a way of life. Children and students danced and I remembered the scriptures, how it was that David sang and danced for joy for the Lord. It was a most privileged time for me and I am so grateful to Bishop Philip for his welcome, his assistance and his blessing on my being there. For Father Eddie Khaemba and the other nine ordained that day, I shall recall the date annually, 26th February, to remember them in prayer and to ask God’s continued blessings upon the work of their apostolate and that of the Bishop of Kakamega, the Rt Rev. Philip Sulumeti.” Commenting on his impressions generally Bishop Saunders said that ‘… the Church in Africa brings many gifts to the universal Church. Surely one of them must be a wonderful sense of joy for the Lord. And what a gift it is!”