Getting Ready for the Chapter

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This year 2018, the Divine Word Missionaries in the world are holding its 18th General Chapter ssince the foundation of the Society in 1875 by St.  Arnold Janssen.

The chapter is a moment of renewal and recommitment to the mission.  It is a moment to evaluate our contribution to the betterment of the modern world as missionaries. The theme for this chapter is “The Love of Christ impels us”.

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Here in Kenya-Tanzania province,  we are holding our Provincial Chapter from 21-22nd February 2018 in view of the General Chapter theme. Our presence in these two EastAfrican countries has been significant for the last 34 years in Kenya and 18 years in Tanzania.

We work with the maginalized communities as well as communities in low income townships.  We see Jesus in the people we work with to bring about spiritual,  economical and social prosperity.  The mission of Christ is our mission and the world is our parish.

Fr.  Lawrence Muthee,  SVD

The Healing Ministry

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During this short season of the ordinary time in the liturgical calendar of the Church which is paving way for the lenten season, we have been listening to the Gospel of St. Mark the evangelist. Mark starts his Gospel by introducing Jesus as the Christ of God who has come to establish the rein of God, defeating the reign of darkness and evil. He begins: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1).

After Jesus is baptized by John, he begins his ministry of preaching the Kingdom of God, by calling for repetance and driving out the demons. This shows clearly that Jesus has inaugulated the reign of God and is indeed Himself the living expression of this reign. After the episodes on the the fall of the reign of Satan, Jesus then sets out to free people from their sicknesses, in fulfilment of the prophesy about the Messiah by Isaiah the prophet of hope who anounced that: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release to prisoners” (Is 61:1). Jesus set out to heal people of both their physical and spiritual sicknesses.

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Following the example of Jesus, we know very well that part of our mandate and annointing is to bring the healing God’s to the people. It in this spirit that on this Sunday on which falls the feast of our Lady of Laudes – Mary help of Christians and when we hear of the healing of the leper by our Lord, our  brothers and sisters in St. Juachim and Ann parish in Soweto, led by Fr. Provincial Anthony Ammisah and the Parish priest Fr. Leon Ipoma, celebrated the Lord’s healing, by laying of the hands on the sick and praying for them. The priest is the minister of healing in sharing of the ministry of Christ the supreme healer.

May the good Lord who went around healing the sick help us to understand the healing ministry as Christians and especially as the ministers of the Sacrament of healing. We want to appreciate the effort made by the Soweto fraternity to celebrate this ministry in this way.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD.

The Killer Disease destroying the Youth

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When I decided to join the seminary and become a priest, my primary motivation was to work with the young people, sharing with them the many talents I discovered I had since my childhood, but more importantly helping them to discern their potentials and use them to make their lives better. Little did I know that this ministry would become very important in my life and mission as a missionary.

In order to fruitfully work with the youth, there are a number of basic things one has to know about them: First, that the current society has a very negative attitude towards them and they know it, so one has to go against the wind in order to win their confidence. Second, that the youth need a lot of trust and confidentiality when they are sharing about the things that concern their personal lives. Third, that the youth need to be told things repeatedly for them to make sense of them, so patience is a key ingredient. Infact there is a refrain in Kiswahili that says: “Wazee ukumbuka lakini vijana ukumbushwa” (that the old remember but the youth are reminded). Fourth, that to be able to help the youth, one needs to be a compassionate listener. Fifth, that one cannot expect the youth to think and act like adults before they are ones, they have to be allowed to be their age, The one who wants to hels is the one to adapt to their environment, learn their language and try to be one among them.

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Having this in mind, I set out on a journey to discover the world of the young people being young also, so as to be of help to them. One of the things I discovered is what I would like to call “the killer disease of the youth” and that is really affecting many of our young people: SILENCE. With all the stereotyping and negative attitude propagated by the adults against the youth including their own parents, majority  of them seek refuge in the world of silence. They chose not to talk about their issues and struggle with them on their own. When they are overwhelmed by theirs struggles, the silence graduates to hopelessness and the monster called dipression is let out. The symptoms start showing in their performance in school, their health, attitudes, and little by little they stop putting any effort in anything. Among the many causes of this is the I have discovered, is instability and other problems in the family. These includes: separated parents,  absence of one parent, sick parents, among others. The prolonged state of hopelessness turns to self pity and anger towards life and everyone everthing else at large.

In my accompanyment encounters with of them in the schools and the in parish, the biggest task above all has been creating an environment of trust where the young people feel loved and cared for and are assured of utmost confindentiality so that they can open up and talk about their problems. The example of Jesus the compassionate listener has been my inspiration. Many passages in the Gospels depict personal conversations Jesus had with those who needed healing. Considering the fact that in his time there was a lot of social segregation, Jesus always took time to to listen and even argue with different groups of people, regardless their social status.

This is our Christian vocation. To listen to the people as Jesus did, especially those of us tasked with the responsibility of shepherding the people of God. Making the young people understand the unconditional love of God no matter the circumstances in which they were born or their current situation, is the best way to start in the journey towards healing. There are just too many young people out there in very debastating situations. This raises a lot of concern about the kind of the society that we will have when these young people will be adults.

What can be done: In order to salvage our young generation, I am convinced that, first of all, the society and especially the parents need to change the negative attitude towards them from that of prejudice about their age to that of understanding care. Parents need to let their children know confidence fro their early, by being mothers and dads and not suppliers of basic needs. We know that no parent would want to cause harm to their children but the problem is many of the things that the parents do or say to their children have negative results at the long run. Many youths intrepet the strictness and rigidness of their parents as hatred and a proof that they were not wanted in the first place, just because the parents have not time to listen to them or explain to them the WHY of things.

Today, after the age of 14, dialogue and openness in all matters is very important in the parent-child relationship. This is the time to tell them about their absent Fathers or mothers. Many have confessed to me that asking this question has always been a cause of quarrels and scolding by their parents. The best thing we can wish for our children is to live better lives that we are living. Hiding important facts to them does not help at all, but rather works negatively in their development. Providing basic needs and bribing them with gifts to compensate the lack personal relationship with the children is disastrous in the long run. In this case I always try to ask the youth to understand some of the reasons that make their parents adamant to talk about the sensitive issues like the absence of one of the parents. That it is not because of them (the youth) but their parents  may be have never been able to overcome what happened to them in their youth days.

After discovering all this, I have since tried to study more about the world of the youth and the things that affect them and how best they can overcome them. But above all the compassionate and understanding accompanyment in their journey of sef discovery has been the most effective of them. Many have opened up to a totally new chapter in life after they have got a chance to tell their stories. Many of them being the first time that they ever opened up to someone. I always tell them that I do not have answers or any special cure, but rathervthey are the only ones who can heal themselves by opening up to understand their past, and working in the present to shape their future. It is a mission not so easy but worthy every effort possible.

 

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

St. Joseph Freinandemetz, the Model of SVD Formation

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On 29th January the Society of Divine Word Worldwide celebrated the feast of their first SVD missionary to China St. Joseph Freinandemetz. In Ken- Tan Province the philosophy house in Otiende joined in the celebration of their patron saint.

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The celebration was held at Common Formation Centre Nairobi, Langata, for the first time since the inception of the formation house, due to the fire outbreak near the Otiende neighbourhood. Otiende formation house is the place where many Kenyan confreres have pass through among them a number priests and some brothers working in different parts of the world.

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The celebration commenced at 6 pm with the Holy Mass which was presided by the Provincial Superior Rev. Fr. Tony Ammisah, SVD and concelebrated by Fr. Geoffrey Kamau, SVD the Rector of the philosophy students and Fr. Rethinasamy Amaldoss SVD.

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In his homily, Fr. Tony mentioned three points that the philosophy students and all the SVD members can learn from St. Joseph Freinandemetz and the readings of the day. The first point is that a missionary vocation is by God grace that one is called to go and share his faith and life with people of other faith and culture. The missionary calling is not one’s effort, but it is a grace of God. St. Joseph Freinandemetz left his home land, his parents and everything that he loved and went to mission in China for the rest of his life.

In a letter that St. Joseph wrote to his nephew, he made aware his nephew that it is God who calls each person to become a missionary. It takes one to have great faith in God who calls and sustains the one that he calls. One need to be strong and firm in what he believes. Like St. Joseph Freinandemetz he believed in God and cooperate with the grace of God.

The second point is that St. Joseph Freinandemetz was a man of prayer. As Divine Word Missionaries to be effective and be able to carry out the mission of God, of which we are just co-workers. We need to spend quality time with God in prayer besides our community prayers and mass for us to be guided and nourished spiritually.

The third point is to use one’s personality in the mission of God. Everyone has a personality and behaviour, behaviour can be changed. Each one has a duty to work on behaviours that are not live giving and prevents us to be effective in our mission. St. John Freinandemetz used his personality so well in the mission, such that the Chinese person found him to be kind, loving and ever smiling and nicknamed him “fushu fu” as we celebrate our patron saint and the first missionary to china we emulate his good examples and use well our personality in the service of God’s people we are sent to minister to.

Finally, Fr. Tony encourage the philosophy students to be focused and work hard, for the journey may seem to be hard, but with prayer and perseverance they will sure finish their formation journey.

The celebration followed by a delicious dinner which was prepared by the Otiende community. It cannot go without mentioning the people who made the event to be colourful and memorable one. In attendance was the philosophy formation house students, CFC Langata fraters and formators, Katani community, Soweto community, Kayole community, PR Sisters and one sister from Apostolic Camel Sisters.

The feast of St. Joseph Freinandemetz was well celebrated and well participated.

St. Joseph Freinandemetz pray for us.

Rev.  Dec.  Anthony Musonda,  SVD

St. Joseph Freinademetz

The community of ST. JOSEPH FRIENADEMETZ HOUSE, NAIROBI is preparing itself to celebrate the feast of its Patron saint, ST. JOSEPH FRIENADEMETZ. Part of the spiritual preparations include novena to ST. JOSEPH FRIENADEMETZ, which is going on currently, singing practice for the solemn mass on the feast day on and meetings to plan for the liturgy of the day.

The community also will have a short recollection on Sunday, 28th January 2018 as an inner preparation to celebrate the life of our First Missionary to China. The feast will culminate on 29th January 2018 with a solemn eucharist to be led by FR. TONY AMISSAH, SVD, the provincial superior and a fellowship meal for all the confreres and guests who will celebrate this great day. May our great missionary ST. JOSEPH FRIENADEMETZ continue to inspire and intercede for the community of ST. JOSEPH FRIENADEMETZ HOUSE. Kindly remember the ST. JOSEPH FRIENADEMETZ HOUSE community on 29th January in a special way and pray for them.

Fr.  Rethinasamy Amaldoss, SVD