What is it like to prepare for his new ministry of preparing students in the Internal Seminary of Novitiate in Kenya? Fr. Jack TImlin shares his impressions from his first visit to Kenya where he will soon begin ministry.
“Habari. Karibu. Habari gani. Asanti.” (Kiswahili) “Hello. Welcome. What’s the news? Thank you”
These were words I heard often as I experienced the hospitality of our Vincentian Confreres of the Province of the West, Region of Kenya. I also experienced joy, enthusiasm, and a deep commitment to serve the poor in collaboration with the Daughters of Charity and the Poor themselves.
I was blessed to visit the Vincentian Region of Kenya from February 11 – 22, 2018 in preparation for going to Kenya in August 2018 to minister in the Internal Seminary.
The Region of Kenya of the Province of the West has four candidates for the Internal Seminary (Novitiate) for 2018 -2019. Their names are Alex Otieno, Allan Kamugisha, Dennis Simba, and Anthony Muthoka. They and the other Seminarians (Initiates, Philosophy, Theology) at De Paul Centre were a good example to me of men who are enthusiastic in preparation for a Vocation as both a Vincentian and a Priest; as are the men in our Formation Programs in the United States.
I was impressed with the kindness and commitment of their formators,
Fr. Gary Mueller, C.M. (Regional Superior), Fr. Tom Esselman, C.M. (Director of Formation and Third Philosophy), Fr. Lennox Lusabe, C.M. (Theology and Transitional Deacons), Fr. Ignatius Mukanzi, C.M. (First and Second Philosophy), and Fr. Fred Wandera, C.M. (Initiate Students).
A little explanation: Initiate Students are those candidates entering the Seminary to begin study of Philosophy. Before they begin their studies, they have a six-month period of initiation into the life of a Seminarian at De Paul Centre (from learning how to pray Morning and Evening Prayer with the Seminary Community to learning good study habits). All in all, the spirit of the De Paul Centre is life giving.
Add to the formal part of formation the aspect of informal formation in good example. Brother Jim Dunlevy, C.M. has an impressive Carpentry / Furniture making shop on the property of De Paul Centre. [See sight and sound feature of his carpentry school.] From Monday through Saturday, one can hear the buzz of power saws, the sound of hammers or smell the lacer being applied to made furniture as Brother Jim trains young men from the surrounding community to be carpenters and furniture makers; thereby providing an opportunity for employment in a region where there is high unemployment. Jim doesn’t have to say a word. His dedication to these young men and to his craft speak volumes. [See sight and sound feature on his carpentry school.]
However, there was an added bonus to my visit which I never expected. The Confreres arranged for me to visit the school where the Seminarians study Theology, Tangaza University College, and the former Mary Immaculate Seminary Library. I was interested to find out how many books I signed – out to confirm, as he often tells me, whether or not I still did owe Dick Kehoe a Church History Paper. I am mute now on the answer to that question.
The Confreres also arranged for me to experience some of their Pastoral and Vincentian Family Works in Thigio Parish (Holy Cross Church), Kamulu Parish (St. Vincent de Paul Church), Matisi Parish (St. Kizito Church – St. Kizito was one of the Ugandan Martyrs), and the Kibera Slum, Nairobi (St. Vincent’s Nursery and Rescue Center). I also had an opportunity to visit Project Dream. I was moved by the generosity of the Confreres, the Daughters of Charity, the Vincentian Family, and members of the various parishes in their service to God’s People.
We may be in different parts of the world (Kenya and the United States); but one reality rang true for me as I reflected on my visit to Kenya. The spirit of St. Vincent and the Charism, our Mission to follow Christ evangelizing the Poor, is in fleshed in all of you, my brothers, in this Province, and in our brothers in the Region of Kenya; and it is alive!
I am most grateful to our Province and the Province of the West for providing me this opportunity to minister in Kenya.
See especially the recent story of a 68 year grandmother who is currently volunteering in Kenya.