A Visit by the SVD Superior General in Kenya-Tanzania Province

With Fr. Samy on arrival at JKIA Nairobi

On 12 February 2019, the Superior General of the Divine Word Missionaries SVD) Rev. Fr. Paulus Budi Kleden landed in Nairobi from Uganda, where he had gone to visit our confreres working with the refugees from South Sudan. The confreres left the mission in Yei Diocese after the fighters displaced the residents and occupied our mission house.

After visiting some of our houses in Nairobi, he crossed the border to Tanzania on the following morning 13 February 2019, where he visited the confreres working in the Archdiocese of Arusha. In his brief conversation with the confreres, Fr. General said that the trip to Ken-Tan province was his third outside Rome since he was elected into office last year.

Meeting the confreres in the district at the Holy Trinity Parish elect in Morombo, the Superior General shared briefly on the role of SVD in the Church and the in world today. He said that the Church is expecting a lot from us the Divine Word Missionaries especially in the Biblical Apostolate which is one of our 4 major Characteristics.

With Confreres on arrival in Arusha-Tanzania

He said that SVD confreres are now working in 82, down from 84 countries because we had to withdraw from South Sudan due to conflicts and from Venezuela due to visa related problems. He added that the number of the confreres working all over the world continues to be steady around 6000 (the last count was 5998). he also noted that the vocations in AFRAM zone (Africa and Madagascar) are increasing and are almost at par with the PANAM zone (Americas) at 8.1% and 9.1% respectively

Meeting with Confreres in Arusha

He added that the AFRAM zone needed to invest more on formation of confreres especially the initial formation. The formation programme, he added, needed to be a “formation for mission” and not just to produce priests to celebrate mass. The formadees need to be involved in the real mission situations during their training. This means that the provinces has to invest in the training of quality full time formators. Formation he said is among the three key priorities of the Generalate during this sexennial, the other two being, spiritual animation and the promoting lay partnership.

He also talked about “interculturality” as one of our major identities in the Church and in the world. He added that this has caught the attention of the other religious congregations. Just Recently, the SVD confreres were requested to facilitate a workshop on “interculturality”, organized by all the Female Religious Congregations in the world. The spirit of cultural tolerance and sharing is important for the human society. This has to be cultivated in our formation houses but even more to the confreres already working in the mission. He noted that it appeared that the formadees enjoy “Interculturality” but the confreres in the mission find it a challenge. It is the priority of the Church as a whole to promote harmony within the human family. He said that he is proud that this spirit of “interculturality” has become part of our history and heritage as a Society because it was not the case from the beginning.  There were rather mission territories for missionaries coming from different countries in Europe.

At St. Arnold School and Njiro SVD land in Arusha

About the limitation of personnel in our province, he said that every year the entire society is getting about 100 new confreres. These are supposed to be distributed among all the provinces in the world. He noted also that we have many confreres asking to be transferred from their first mission destinations every year because of various reasons. He urged the provincial leadership to ensure favourable atmosphere for confreres, so that they do not result to transferring because of minor issues. He advised that the Common Formation Centers in AFRAM zone be open to confreres outside AFRAM zone to train. This will facilitate in making of choices for their mission destination and as a result, more would be willing to remain in the province. The Generalate, he said, considers as a priority the choices of the confreres when assigning them for the first mission.  Fr. Seraphim, the provincial of Togo, who accompanied Fr. General from Nairobi, added that, he being a product of OTP, he realizes the need to send students for it, since it prepares the confreres better for the mission afterwards.

During the Mass with Friends of SVD in Arusha

After the meeting with the Confreres, Fr. general and the confreres had lunch together and then proceeded to visit the SVD land in Njiro where we are intending to establish Seminary. Later on, they gathered at Burka Parish for mass and dinner, together with the Friends of SVD from our three parishes in the City.

In his homily Fr. General reflected on the day’s Gospel (Mark 7:14-23) where Jesus says that “it is not what comes from outside that make us unclean but what comes from inside”.  He added that, “it is also not what comes from outside that make us holy but what comes from inside”.  Reflecting on the word of God is what nourishes us spiritually.  However, it is not only about coming together to pray, sing, and dance but also recognizing and helping those in need. He urged all to live as one people united in friendship. Our lay partners are very important to our mission.

Celebration with Friends of SVD in Arusha

He also thanked the members of the Lay group for their willingness to be part of Arnoldus family and indeed for their prayers and support especially towards those in formation.

After the Eucharist, all gathered in the parish hall for dinner. The friends of SVD presented a trophy and a carved Giraffe to mark the historical visit to Tanzania.

In Simanjiro Maasai Home with Confreres

Immediately after dinner, Fr. General together with someconfreres left for the mission in the Maasai land, 100 KM from Arusha City. On the following day, he met the parish leaders and visited some Maasai homes. On their way back to Arusha they got a flat tire and they had to wait for long to get help because the spare tire had low pressure and there was very little mobile network. Finally, Fr. Albert Fuchs arrived from Simanjiro and they were able to change the tire. They arrived in Arusha at around 3:00 p.m. and together with the confreres in Arusha had lunch in Joseph the Worker parish in Olasiti. Later the set on their journey back to Nairobi after 5:00 p.m.  Later Fr. General will visit our mission in Eldoret district before.

Fixing the tire on the way from Simanjiro

We were indeed blessed by this maiden visit by our Superior General. It gave all of us a deep feeling of togetherness as a society. The presence of the General made us feel united with all the other confreres working all over the world. May the Almighty God continue to strengthen him during his ministry as the leader of our Congregation.

In Olasiti Parish with Confreres

May the Word of God be proclaimed everywhere and to Everyone

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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