Being Christ to them

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When I was growing up as a little boy and a mass server in our village Church, I desired so much to be like the Italian Fr. Domenici, a Consolatta missionary who worked in our parish. What fascinated me most was his mastery of my mother tongue and above all the accent in which he pronounced his “carefully selected” words, so as to break the word for us on that only Sunday in a month that we got mass.  the parish had 21 chapels in the villages some as far as 20 kilometers away. The rest of the Sundays of the month, either the catechist or one of the church leaders would preach.

Later on, after I had completed my secondary school education in the minor seminary not far from home, the people in my church, now another chapel closer to my home, which was split from the main church, deemed me qualified to preach on some Sundays when the priest was not coming. I also had felt called and capable and was courageous enough to do so. I would prepare very well the readings and write down the main themes. I would also choose a phrase that summarised the message from the readings and tried to relate it to the reality we lived in the village. But preaching in the village is not an easy thing, one had to be very careful otherwise someone would complain later that you were targeting them in your preaching.

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It was while in the minor seminary that my desire to become a priest evolved and became clear, but not without the guidance of the spiritual directors who accompanied us in the seminary. One of the many things I learnt then was that: one had to have a clear MOTIVE for which he wanted to become a priest and no matter what happened, that motive had to remain alive. Later on, I would reflect and understand that this was, after all, what made the difference.

So in my many moments of introspection and retrospection along the many years of formation in the major seminary, 12 to be precise, that took place in Kenya, Tanzania Ghana and Spain, I came to realize that the motivation for which I wanted to become a priest was TO SHARE THE MANY GIFTS that God had endowed me with since my childhood, with the world, especially with the young people. Myles Monroe in His boo”Release your Potential” talks of God having created us so special that each one of us has something so unique that it is irrepetible in the history of the world. If we do not discover and exercise that, we will die with it and therefore the world will never come to benefit from it. As I read through the gospels, I always was fascinated by the many facets of the person of Jesus – the Jesus of Nazareth, a very talented and very motivated person. He was a Jack of all trades and a master of all and with a lot of energy to serve the people. I wanted to be like him, yes literally. Later on I would learn the meaning and the seriousness of that desire.

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This motivation has evolved a great deal since then and by the time I was ordained, I had developed a concrete philosophy and conviction about it, that has seen me widen significantly the spectrum of my contribution to bring God’s love to the people I serve and be Christ to them. If there is something that I have come to cherish and look up to as a missionary, is the conviction that whenever someone comes to me he or she need not encounter my personality alone but syncronized with that of Jesus, with all that means. This is why Catholic priests are called “Father”, to denote the “fatherhood” of God revealed by Christ. That the FACE and the ATTITUDE towards the people, no matter who they are or where they come from, may be that of the Jesushimself.

This could not have been put more vividly than it was done by my nieces and nephews in the refrain of the poem dedicated to me on my ordination to the priesthood, that: “It will not be for you, but always for others”. These words still ring in my ears and mind long after and keeps on shaping and inspiring my apostolate especially when the going becomes difficult, that it is not for me but always for others. I think this is a very important aspect of a missionary’s job description that need to encourage and motivate one to forge ahead despite the failures and challenges. Far away from home and with many limitations, surely one has to have a very good reason  and motivation for waking up every morning and going about his daily chores and meeting the people as the come, without counting the opportunity cost for his most fundamental choice.

Looking at it in a different angle, I realize that this is one of the greatest gifts that one can ever ask of the Lord, to take part in his mission and know that, He the Lord of the mission, is with him and guides him every day and in everything. The  modern world has trivialized many important things in life, but this one has a life of its own, because no matter how much they try to discredit its fundamentals, it does not seem to lose its relevancy. It has to be by all means the will and the doing of the Lord who wants to meet and bless his people in a very tangible and realistic way. No matter how severe the challenges get, one always finds that typical consolations, that “it is I who called you, do not worry about what you will say or do, just leave it to me and go about what I have asked of you”. With this kind of almost tangible confirmation and consolation, one finds strength to start a new and with a renewed spirit continues to be Christ to them.

 

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

 

St. Arnold Janssen

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St. Arnold Janssen, Founder

On every 15th day of the month of January, the Arnoldus family, that is: The Divine Word Missionaries, The Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration and the Friends of SVD – our lay partners, mark the feast of our founder, St. Arnold Janssen.

Though he did not leave his homeland to go for mission, he is perhaps one of the greatest missionaries, whose calling has contributed greatly to the missionary aspect of the Church. Born on November 5,  1837, St. Arnold was ordained a diocesan priest  for the diocese of Muenster in 1861. He was assigned to teach mathematics in a secondary school in Bocholt. Little by little, St. Arnold developed a deep concern for the universal mission of the Church, leading him to find three religious congregation within: Two missionary congregations to form missionaries and send them to the far mission lands and one contemplative congregation with the motive of praying for the missionary two.

Today, there are more than 10,000 priest, brothers and nuns working in more than 70 countries in all the 5 continents, together with thousands of lay partners, bringing the Word of God to the people. Here in Kenya-Tanzania province, our presence has been very significant in the life of the Church.

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On this year’s feast day, the confreres in Arusha disctrict marked the feast with their lay partners: Friends of Divine Word Missionaries, commonly know as Friends of SVD. The holy mass was led by Fr. Anthony Ammissah, the SVD Kenya-Tanzania provincial, who has been on visit to the district, and the homily was given by Fr. Rethinasamy Amaldoss, the Superior Delegatus who is also in charge of the lay partners in the province. The celebration took Place at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Olasiti, Arusha.

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We are humbled and grateful to God for calling us to serve him in this missionary family: the Arnoldus Family. May Almighty God continues to inspires us to be better missionaries and imitate Christ in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD.

Provincial’s Visit

 

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This weekend we the confreres in Arusha SVD district have been graced by the visit of our Provincial Superior Fr.  Tony Amissah.  Accompanying him is Fr.  Joseph, Fr. Samy and Fr. Marcelo. Fr.  Samy is on a special invitition to preach in St.  Joseph the Worker parish in Olasiti,  where he celebrated the masses today.

On Friday and Saturday they visited our Maasai Parishes in Orkesumet and Simanjiro.

We thank them all for spending some time with us.  Karibuni tena.

Fr.  Lawrence Muthee,  SVD

From Colombia to Kenya-Tanzania

Ordination of Fr. Yermith Florez, SVD

Yesterday, the 13th of January, A missionary destined to Kenya-Tanzania Was ordained in far land of Colombia. Fr. Yermith was in kenya a few years ago for his cross-culture experience, before going back to Colombia to complete his studies and formation to become a Divine Word Missionary Priest. Yermith chose to come back to the our province for his mission assignment after completing his formation.

We are most grateful to the Almighty God who has given us another shepherd to tend and feed his flock. Karibu sana Padre Yermith.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

Divine Word Missionaries: Who we are!

 

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God’s loving grace has gathered us from various peoples and continents into a religious missionary community dedicated to the Divine Word and named after him the Society of the Divine Word.

God so loved the world that he sent his only Son. The Word became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth to reveal the Father’s name and to proclaim the kingdom of his love. He made this love, which is limitless, visible in a sinful world by his unconditional devotion to all, especially those in need. Through his death and resurrection he opened the way to the Father for all who believe in him. By the outpouring of his Spirit the glorified Lord formed the new people of God as a sign of salvation for all. Christ continues his mission in his people: to bring the good news to all nations and proclaim the Father’s liberating and unifying love. The Holy Spirit repeatedly raises up communities which place themselves at the disposal of the church to help accomplish its missionary task.

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In response to the call of the Holy Spirit and the needs of peoples, Saint Arnold Janssen founded our Society as a missionary community. We see our special dedication to the Divine Word and his mission expressed in our name. His life is our life, his mission our mission. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we follow him, glorifying the Father and bringing the fullness of life to others. Wherever the church sends us, we are to proclaim the gospel so that all peoples may walk in the way of salvation, freed from the darkness of sin by the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. Missionary work is, therefore, the end and aim of our Society. All our activities, diverse though they be, are ultimately intended to help the church fulfill its missionary task.

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St. Arnold Janssen – Founder and St. Joseph Freinademetz – First missionary to China

We perform our missionary service one in mind and heart with the Divine Word who offers us a living example of loving dedication to the Father and selfless service of others. We follow the Lord on the path of the evangelical counsels and bind ourselves to his person and his service by the vows of consecrated chastity, evangelical poverty and apostolic obedience. In this way we join together to form a missionary religious community. We propose to make the goodness and kindness of God visible in our life and service. As a community of brothers from different nations and languages, we become a living symbol of the unity and diversity of the church. Our communion with the Lord and with one another is strengthened and deepened by celebrating the Eucharist, by attentively listening to the word of God and by praying together in the joy of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of formation and government in our Society is the growth and  strengthening of our vocation and the focusing of all our efforts on our one missionary goal.

 

A COMMUNITY SHARING IN THE MISSION OF THE DIVINE WORD ORIGIN AND PURPOSE OF OUR MISSIONARY SERVICE

Since God wills that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (see 1 Tm 2:4-5), he sent his Son as redeemer to form the one people of God from all nations through the power of the Spirit. Our missionary service helps gather the scattered children of the Lord (see Jn 11:52) and hasten the hour when all will worship the Father in spirit and truth (see Jn 4:23). In this way we promote true human progress, go to meet the Lord as he comes and prepare for his glorious second coming and the final fulfillment of all creation in Christ.

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As members of the Society of the Divine Word, we consider it our duty to proclaim the word of God to all, to bring new communities into being within the people of God, to foster their growth and to promote communion among them as well as with the whole church. We work first and foremost where the gospel has not been preached at all or only insufficiently and where the local church is not viable on its own. Other tasks must be oriented towards these primary aims. Whoever joins our Society must be ready to go wherever the superior sends him in order to fulfill our missionary mandate even if this entails leaving his own country, mother tongue and cultural milieu. Such readiness is an essential characteristic of our missionary vocation. Confreres always have the right to volunteer for missionary service in another country or culture.

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In the choice of our missionary activity priority will be given to those situations where the need is perceived to be particularly acute, where others are not available for the task of evangelization and where people show greater openness to the word of God.

Wherever we work, we always keep in mind that we are missionaries: we seek to keep alive the universal church’s awareness of its missionary responsibility, promote and prepare vocations for missionary service and support the missionary cause of the church both spiritually and materially.

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The Divine Word became incarnate in a particular historical situation. Jesus announced peace and salvation to all those of good will, showing special predilection for the poor. This example of Jesus determines the way in which we participate in his mission. Therefore we try to insert ourselves into the actual situation of those among whom we work. With open mind and deep respect for the religious traditions of peoples, we seek dialogue with all and present the good news of God’s love to them. We show a special preference for the poor and oppressed.

The charism of our Society is further characterized as follows: 14- we accomplish our missionary service in a fraternal community of laymen and clerics; – we give witness to the universality of the church and the unity of all people through the international character of our Society; – we have the openness of our founder, Arnold Janssen, always to discern anew the will of God, and be available, flexible and ready to venture into new situations. According to universal law (see can 588.2) we are considered a clerical society of papal right.

Since missionary activity is by its very nature the work and  revelation of the Holy Spirit, we place ourselves and our Society entirely under his guidance and direction. His light enables us to understand the gospel, to interpret the signs of the times and thus discern the will of God. His strength empowers us to become faithful co-workers and missionaries of the Divine Word.

If you feel that our mission is what resonates with your deepest desire to serve God in His people, please write to us.