Kenya, December 14 to 20

Pastoral trip to Kenya and Uganda, December 14 to 22

Msgr. Ocáriz landed in Nairobi on Saturday, December 14, where he was met at the airrport by Msgr. Silvano Ochuodho, the Vicar for East Africa. As on other trips, Msgr. Ocáriz had the opportunity to see many people of the Prelature, cooperators, friends, and those involved in Opus Dei's means of Christian formation.

On Sunday the 15th, the Prelate went to Strathmore University to meet with a group of the Work's faithful, some of whom came from Tanzania.

One of those present asked him for advice on how to deal with the corruption he sometimes encounters in his work. Msgr. Ocáriz recalled that the country's Conference of Cathoilc Bishops had recently launched a campaign to encourage Catholics not to give in to corruption: “You, on your part, should fulfill your professional duties to the best of your ability and encourage others to do the same. If you encounter someone who seems corrupt, despise the corruption, but not the person. Don't look at him as someone worse than you; think of how to help him, for his sake and for the sake of the country.”

In the afternoon he visited Kianda School, where he was received with African greetings and dances. Some of the young women, wearing traditional garments and carrying gifts, greeted him in local dialects. The Prelate mentioned that this reception had made him think of the joy we should have in Advent, since it is a time of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth – a joy that we should spread to others, even in times of trial.

Mention was made during the get-together of several social development initiatives some of those present were helping out in. One woman spoke about the “Crisis Pregnancy Center” for young women in Kibra, a slum area of the city, and about the lives of babies and women who had been saved through their work there.

On December 16, the Prelate preached at Kianda School to a group of women of Opus Dei. “Each and every one of us can be God's co-worker. This is something that goes beyond our own abilities and talents, and requires overcoming internal and external obstacles. Let us do as St. Josemaría did: with great faith, let us look to the future with supernatural optimism.”

This optimism, he said, is based on God's love for us: “‘If God is for us, who is against us,’ says Scripture. God our Father has given us the means to win out in our personal struggle and to be fruitful in our apostolate. As our Founder often emphasized, the only path for us is prayer: we have to pray! If we pray constantly, we will be able to see with God's eyes, to see Him in every task and person.”

The rest of the day was spent working on matters of the governance of the Prelature in East Africa and meeting with other faithful of Opus Dei in small groups.

On Tuesday, March 17, Msgr. Ocáriz went to greet Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi. Later he chatted with a group of families from various cities of the country. He also greeted some young women receiving Christian formation at the Faida youth club.

He then visited Kibondeni College of Catering and Hospitality Management, a professional training center in the hospitality sector that was celebrating its 50th anniversary. To celebrate the anniversary, the Prelate, the college’s directors and some of the students went to a chapel and sang a hymn to Our Lady in Kiswahili.

On December 18, Msgr. Ocáriz visited Eastlands College of Technology, where he was welcomed by a group of students. Eastlands is a vocational training center located in one of the most deprived neighborhoods of Nairobi. On arriving, the Prelate was received by Godfrey Madig, chariman of the board of directors. He then met with the staff of the center, encouraging them to do their work as well as possible and to strive to overcome obstacles. He was shown a model of how the Eastlands College complex will look once it is completed, and visited some of the workshops with students from the center.

In the afternoon, the Prelate made his way to Kianda School for a get-together with young women from all over Kenya who take part in the Prelature's apostolic activities. He encouraged them to take advantage of the spiritual formation they receive and reminded them that “with Jesus, you can all bring people closer to God, like the apostles and saints.” He also asked the young women to pray for Pope Francis, reminding them that the previous day had been his birthday.

One of the yong women there presented the Prelate with a walking stick, explaining that every father in her community (Samburu) owns one. The walking stick is a symbol that the father is the head of the family and provides for and protects his family. The young woman took the opportunity to ask how to show their gratitude to their parents for all they do for them. Msgr. Ocáriz answered that an important way was to pray for them daily and to appreciate all the sacrifices they make for them. In response to a question from a young Sudanese woman, the Prelate spoke about the need to forgive: “A clear sign that one has forgiven is the determination to pray for those who have offended us.”

On the 19th, after meeting with the governing bodies of Strathmore University, Msgr. Ocáriz, as Chancellor, had a get-together with the staff and students. He was welcomed by the Strathmore choir. The Prelate recalled how the founder of Opus Dei had thought of the university many years before it was started. He encouraged professors and students to work in an interdisciplinary way, and stressed that the students should be aware of their responsibility to take good advantage of classes and to use their knowledge in service to society.

The dialogue with the Prelate was also centered on how to use academic research to promote the growth of the whole country in every sector of society. Afterwards, Msgr. Ocáriz blessed the image of St. Joseph in the shrine of the Holy Family and planted a tree commemorating his visit.

Finally, he met with a group of married couples working in family development programs. He encouraged them in their efforts to help other families to be more closely united, so that they in turn can provide stability to the society around them.

That day he had lunch with Archbishop Philip Anyolo, president of the Kenyan Bishops Conference.

Romana, n. 69, July-December 2019, p. 220-223.

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