The Lay Camillian Family is flourishing in Kenya

by Paolo Guarise

20170204_113122After forty years of Camillian ministry in Kenya, the Order of the Ministers of the Sick and the Great Family of St. Camillus are happy to have gathered in – this year – an abundant harvest: in just one day twenty-one people joined the Lay Camillian Family. This took place on 4 February 2017, at the time of the liturgical feast day of the conversion of St. Camillus.

To wait forty years is rather a long time. Perhaps more than just person would have grown tired and put the oars back in the boat. But such was not the case. Once again patience and tenacity prevailed and paid off.

The ceremony of affiliation took place in Nairobi at the community of Bolech House. Fr. Francis Maina, a chaplain at Nairobi Hospital, presided over the celebration of the Eucharist. Fr. John Mosoti, the spiritual assistant of the LCF (Lay Camillian Family), concelebrated with him and during the celebration performed the task of master of ceremonies. Fr. Paolo Guarise also concelebrated and to him was entrusted the task of proclaiming and commenting on the Word of God.

Anita Ennis, the Vice-President of the International Central Committee of the LCF, who had come directly from Ireland where she lives and where she practises the profession of ‘community nurse’, received the twenty-one candidates (twenty women and a man) into the Lay Camillian Family. Anita spent five days in Nairobi and personally met the candidates and visited the places of their Camillian apostolate.

The twenty-one new affiliates come almost entirely from the urban parish of Umoja and its branch churches. They visit sick people in private homes and in the two city hospitals – Mbagathi Hospital (Nairobi County) and Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital (Nairobi Eastleigh). This activity involving providing care to the sick and the marginalised at the parish area of Umoja goes back to fifteen years ago and began with the parish group Huduma ya afya which in Swahili means ‘service of health’. After learning about St. Camillus the patron saint of the sick, they wanted a Camillian to come to speak to them about this saint and his charism. One thing leads on to another. Fifteen years on the seed that was planted has borne fruit, after taking root in Kenyan soil.

The person chiefly responsible for this initiative has been Fr. John Mosoti who is the spiritual assistant of this thriving group of Christians. Over this period he has followed them from close at hand, intensifying spiritual accompanying and catechistic formation over the last two years – the ‘novitiate’, so to speak, of the aspirants to the Camillian family. Not all of the aspirants, however, passed the entrance examination. For some of them, this formation and accompanying must continue in the hope of qualifying for the next ceremony of affiliation. In addition to Fr. Francis and Fr. Paolo, Fr. Mosoti was helped in the preparation of candidates by Fr. Kizito Mochere, by Fr. Frederich Mukhabana, and by the Camillian sisters, Sr. Nancy and Sr. Regina.

The Camillians of Kenya want this positive experience to move rapidly to other places in Kenya where the Camillian ministry is exercised, in particular Tabaka and Karungu. St. Camillus, who as early as the year 1592 founded in Rome the Congregation of Secular Men, will certainly lend us a hand.