By David McLaurin
St Patrick’s Day was rather a pleasure this year as I was invited, along with lots of other people, to the opening of St Patrick’s House of Theology in Langata, just round the corner from the prestigious Tangaza College. St Patrick is the new place of study for the Kiltegan Missionaries, or St Patrick’s Missionary Society, as they are properly called, whose students come from Kenya and Nigeria and many other countries.
The house is really very lovely and reminds one that not everything that is new must be ugly. It is in fact a series of houses around a circular courtyard with a round chapel in the mddle. This is just as it should be, with the church, and the Blessed Sacrament in particular, at the centre of things, just like an Oxford college dating from the Age of Faith. There is a very pleasant lawn and lots of nice plants, which, when they come to maturity, will give the place a charming bosky feel. Round the back was something of great interest, namely the lagoon. The water at St Patrick’s comes from a borehole, just as ours does, and the waste water passes through three lagoons, which are essentially ponds, which purifies it. It is then recycled and used on the garden and for growing vegetables. Thus no water is wasted and all water is used twice. The Kiltegans have in fact made a commitment to be environmentally friendly. An example to us all.
The Mass of inauguration was celebrated by His Grace the Archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Mwana ’Nzeki, whom I encountered for the first time. He spoke about the need for properly secure tabernacles; the need to celebrate the liturgy in accord with the mind and rules of the Church; and finally, he said, speaking with the wisdom of experience, when there was doubt about a candidate for the priesthood, that candidate should not go forward; all the doubtful candidates who had, he said, were now out, “with both legs”. All jolly forthright stuff. It reminded me of the late great Archbishop Sir Michael Gonzi, who was Archbishop of Malta when I was a child.
Also present was Bishop Paride Taban of Torit diocese in southern Sudan, who spoke after the lunch. He reminded us that the Sudan
was a project of the entire Catholic Church and now that there was peace in Sudan, and the bombs had stopped falling, we were all free to go and work there if we wished. He mentioned the fact that his friend the Archbishop of Nairobi had lent him several priests, and that the Kiltegans were there too. It seemed that these helpers were much needed, as southern Sudan has been more or less wrecked by decades of war. The bishop also spoke of something else: he said that Muslim fundamentalists have undertaken to build 1,000 mosques in southern Sudan, which is a Christian area, and that huge amounts of money were coming from abroad to finance this project, namely the creation of an Islamic state in the whole of Sudan. So, bearing this in mind, it was most important that Catholics everywhere should help the Sudanese Church. I happen to agree, and so I pass this message on to readers of The Catholic Herald.
The food, an appetising stew, followed by a delicious chocolate cake, prepared by Bernadette the cook, was very good, and the Kiltegan students were all very polite and welcoming, so all in all, along with inspiring and instructive words from two bishops, a very good time was had by all.