Pray and reflect with Missio today and over the Easter Triduum.
‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done for you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet’. – John 13: 1-15
Kibera is the largest urban settlement in Kenya and used to be part of three parishes. Each parish used to take a portion of this area. Priests would visit to do pastoral work, visit the sick, celebrate the sacraments in the Small Christian Communities. But in the evening, they would go back to their parish.
This arrangement did not sit well with the people: Priests never connected with the hard realities of their life, nor did the people connect with the Priests. This feeling of being regarded as strangers among the people they served challenged the Priests to take action.
I know I am made in the image of God.
Yet sometimes I don’t act in a way
that is worthy of this;
when I fail to respect myself
or when I fail to acknowledge
the God-given dignity of others.
So, they came to live closer to the people and stayed with them in their situation. The Priests came be accepted and embraced by the community, by both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. They were able to learn the language of the community and so speak to them in a language that endears to the heart.
The Priests became alive to the intricacies of their lives. They opened themselves to God and allowed God to challenge them in the adventure of mission work among the urban poor. With the help of the elders and members of the community, a Church – a House of Prayer – was built and now stands at the centre of Kibera. It is a beacon of hope.
open my eyes and my heart,
that I may see your image
in all those around me.
Give me the courage to stand up
for the dignity of every person,
This story is an extract from Encounter on the peripheries – an update from Fr Bonaventure in Nairobi which features in the Spring edition of Mission Today. Read the full version and find out the incredible strides in love and community the missionaries and parishioners have made in Kibera here>>
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