Update from Shauri Moyo parish in Kenya
For many people living in a city like Nairobi, there isn’t much to be joyful about. Not unless you live in a nice house in a quiet suburb in the smarter parts of town.
Fr Francis Makuba is a Kenyan Mill Hill Missionary. He lives among and serves the people of Shauri Moyo, a very poor suburb in Nairobi. He leads the thriving St Joseph’s parish, which was started by the Mill Hill Missionaries some 37 years ago. And it’s an area that is far from smart.
‘Many people in the parish are without jobs and live from day to day, often in very basic conditions, without access to clean water, electricity and sanitation, sometimes without hope. The average age of people living in this area must be about 20,’ Fr Francis explains.
A light in the darkness
With poverty come the common ills of urban life; crime, gang violence, drugs and alcohol abuse, alongside the instability of family life and a high rate of teenage pregnancy. Growing up in this environment is ‘like walking through a minefield in the dark’.
But in the darkness, Fr Francis and his fellow Mill Hill Missionary, Fr John Baptist (left), are offering a guiding light to the young people of the parish. They provide them with the opportunity to meet together to discuss their problems and encourage each other in their faith. Because, as Pope Francis teaches, it’s through faith that we are enlightened by the ‘God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ’.
Feeling loved and noticed
Watching Fr Francis interact with the youth is a real lesson in youth ministry. Surrounded by dozens of energetic young people, he plays the part of the elder brother, being able to relate to them and generate much needed hope and joy. As their priest and Father he gives them spiritual guidance and pastoral support.
One young parishioner, Jemimah, says the programmes have helped her ‘acquire skills, have friends, feel loved and even noticed in society, and has helped me to escape bad companies.’
James, who shows all the signs of becoming a good missionary, related that ‘through this programme, we young Catholics come together to show our cooperation in spreading the Gospel.’
He knows first-hand how hard it can be to kindle the light of faith and hope in young people living in conditions so contrary to the Gospel. Fr Francis has the last word, ‘Ours is an Easter faith. Christ is the Light of the world. He has overcome the darkness. He will lead the way!’