The Society of the Divine Word Missionaries is celebrating 143 Years since it was founded on 08-09- 1875. Here in Kenya-Tanzania province we anticipated the celebration by two days. This was because this year the feast falls on a weekend and it is difficult for the confreres working in the parishes. All the confreres gathered in the Common Formation Center (CFC) Nairobi. During the feast we also celebrated two of our confreres who are celebration their Silver Jubilee this year, namely: Fr. Joseph Djabaré and Fr. Rethinasamy Amaldoss.
Fr. Samy, as he is commonly known, arrived as a missionary in Kenya-Tanzania Province, then only a small Region in 1993. Here is a brief history of the province for those 25 years from his own experience.
On 23rd July 1993 at around 5.30 pm, an Air India flight from Mumbai (called Bombay then) landed at JKIA, Nairobi and there came out an young, handsome and innocent looking young man called Samy and here he is standing in front of you saying thanks and singing songs of thanksgiving. Yes dear friends, indeed it is time to thank the Almighty for all His innumerable blessings in my life. God’s blessings are so many and cannot be counted or numbered all through these 25 years.
It’s difficult to imagine that 25 years have passed just like that in my life and stay here in Kenya and Tanzania. But it is good to recall that these 25 years have been 25 years of blessings and joy. Certainly God has been good, gracious and generous to me during these 25 years of my priesthood and through me to so many others who have accompanied me in my priestly journey.
To be honest my first two weeks in Kenya were not great personally to put it mildly. I felt home sick and like out of place being in a new place, new country, new culture, among new people etc. It was some sort of cultural shock, if I can say so. But God did not let me go back to India. He held my hand and said, My son, you shall hang on here. This is where I brought you. Do not worry. Do not be anxious. I shall be with you. You just keep going. And so I just kept going. And the safari has continued till this day. May God be glorified now and for ever.
Looking back, I have a feeling of fulfillment and joy. I thank God for every thing I have come across, every experience I have experienced, every challenge or fall or a weakness that has made me to realize that I am only human. This sort of personal understanding and analysis of myself has also made me to accept others, be they confreres or lay people, rather easily and to live with them. I have enjoyed living in different communities, parishes and institutions during the 25 years of my life as a servant in God’s vineyard specially in Kenya – Tanzania province.
I also thank God for the gift of this Kenya – Tanzania province as it has become part of my life as I feel the province and me have grown together. It was a small region when I came in 1993. There were only four communities in the entire region, Gigiri Regional House, Garba Tulla mission, Kayole parish and Langas parish, Eldoret. We used to have our regional meetings and assemblies in the TV cum Sitting room of our house in Gigiri those days. CFC was inaugurated in 1994. And other missions and communities sprang later.
When I came to Kenya in July 1993, Fr. Justus, the first Kenyan SVD priest, was just joining the Society as a postulant. Today we can thank God for many Kenyan SVDs, both priests and brothers and for those young men in different stages of formation. (Some of them are here with us today). It is a refreshing and an encouraging sign that we have Tanzanians in Philosophy level, Theology level and more vocations are on the way in Tanzania.
I like to look at the growth of the province since I came into the province and since it was started, from a spiritual perspective. God has been with us and has directed us to be where we are today. Let us all thank God for His presence in our province. From the beginning of the province until around 2005 or so practically all the missions and communities were receiving subsidies from the Generalate. Today there are only few missions which depend on little subsidy from Rome. We as a province have come a long way. Today our province is one of the few provinces in the entire AFRAM zone that contributes, though the amount may be small, to the Generalate for the world wide mission work through the mission envelope collections. Let us thank God for it and take pride in it.
We can say that we have come from far and the distance ahead is also far. We have many plans and dreams as a province as we continue the journey. After a long time in the history of our province, we are focusing on our priorities like building a new philosophy house in Arusha, new provincialate to name a few not forgetting the fresh impetus being given to the four Characteristic dimensions of our Society. The coordinators of the four Characteristic dimensions are empowered and encouraged by the leadership of the province which is an encouraging sign of a growing province. There were many confreres who have come, worked and left the province over the years I have been here and a few before I came to the province. If they were all here in the province still, our province would have grown in leaps and bounds. As they say, that situation is behind us. Let us look to the future with hope and faith in the Divine Word who has called us to be here. Let us pool our resources be it man power, financial and spiritual for the good of the province and forge ahead.
We at Jambokentan would like to Congratulate our jubilants.