A new church in a missionary parish
The missionary parish of St. Charles Lwanga lies within the apostolic vicariate of Isiolo, in north-east Kenya. The area is majority Muslim and Catholics make up a minority of only 5% or so of the population.
The parish was established here in 2005 – the same year that the then apostolic vicar, Bishop Luigi Locati was murdered during a period of local inter-tribal unrest. There are constant tensions in the region between farmers and herders. And at the same time, there is also a certain degree of hostility and rejection coming from certain Muslims towards the Christians.
Despite the tension, the parish of St. Charles Lwanga is a very lively one. Every Sunday there are over 700 Catholic faithful attending Holy Mass, most are children or young people. The number of people seeking baptism is growing year after year. The parish priests have come up with a number of creative ways to convey the faith so that it might take root it in the hearts of the people.
For example, every Sunday there is a competition for the best retelling of a Bible story. Every day, from Friday to Sunday, there are catechetical sessions as well as workshops which are organized to address some of the cultural customs, traditions and preconceptions that are harmful to the people‘s development, and in contrast with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
During the week, the priests also pay visits to the families, wherever they happen to be along with their herds of livestock. It is important for these Catholics to know their faith well and to stand firm in it since as a religious minority they are faced with considerable resistance and hostility. Moreover, some of the Muslims have attempted to draw Christians away from their faith by offering various kinds of material incentives. For example, they promise to give a camel to anyone who will renounce the Christian faith.
The parish has four outstations, and one of them, that of St Peter in Chechelesi, is developing so dynamically that it has been decided it should be established as an independent parish. In this township in which many former nomadic peoples have settled, it has been a great dream to be able to build their own church here.
They have organized Harambees – big fundraising gatherings in effect – but have not managed to raise a great deal given that 90% of the people in this drought affected region are extremely poor and live on less than a dollar a day, it is hardly surprising.
But thanks to the generosity of ACN‘s benefactors, it has been possible to make their dream a reality! The new church has been consecrated by the bishop, and the event was marked with great joy and with a great celebration.
Initially, Aid to the Church in Need benefactors helped with a donation of 43,500 CAD, and followed this up with a further 29,000 CAD to complete the work. Needless to say, the people of the new parish of Saint Peter in Chechelesi are overjoyed to have a church of their own, where they can now worship God.
To donate to a similar project – please visit our secure donation page on line – or call us!
We love hearing from you. We do what we do, thanks to you!