Friar Joseph BLAY, the Delegate General for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation [GPIC] visited Kenya this year with two goals in mind. The first was to present a seminar to our student-friars in Nairobi on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. The second was to visit the Village of Mary, Mother of God, the National Marian Shrine located in Subukia.
Friar Joseph arrived in Nairobi on January 29, 2018, and returned to Rome on Sunday, February 4, 2018. The Delegate General stayed at the Custodial Curia and parish friary in Nairobi South C.
The good news is that the formation house in Nairobi is full to the brim, with no room for any visitor whatsoever. There are fifty-two seminarians: twenty-two from Zambia, twelve from Ghana, eight from Kenya, nine from Tanzania, and one from Malawi. The Delegate General remembers twenty-four years ago when the common formation house of the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF) was just getting started. At that time, there were nine student-friars: two from Kenya, two from Ghana, and five from Poland. With their two formators, they formed a community of eleven friars.
On Tuesday, February 1, the Delegate General met with the fifty-two student friars after supper. Although the seminar lasted an hour and forty-five minutes, it was not long enough to exhaust the topic. After discovering that only a few friars had thoroughly read Laudato si’ the Delegate General spent more time to introducing the encyclical. He pointed out that the encyclical is the Pope’s thesis on the environment. According to the Delegate General the overall assertion of the social encyclical is this: “Should the pace of modern development continue as it is and nothing is done to repair the damage of human activities to the natural environment, the earth will not be able to sustain future generations.” Both the student-friars and the Delegate General agree that the next time, such a seminar should be given a full day or two.
On Thursday, February 1, the Delegate General and Friar Kazimierz SZULC, the Provincial Custos of the Provincial Custody of St. Francis of Assisi in Kenya traveled together to Subukia.
Over the next two days, Friar Joseph practically walked the entire length and breadth of the beautiful 240 acres comprising the National Marian Shrine, the Village of Mary, Mother of God. The Shrine is a source of spiritual delight for thousands of Catholics and others who visit the site. In addition, it is an ideal setting for an ecological village. The Shrine has a miraculous spring gushing from a mountain. The friars have channeled the spring to provide water for the pilgrims and for the friar’s domestic and agricultural use. They intend to devote twenty-five acres of the land to planting trees. Friar Joseph germinated some seeds to symbolize the beginning of this new project. There is also ample space for the friars to produce solar energy. The friars have forty cows and fifty-two sheep. They have a vegetable farm and a poultry farm. If the friars get funding for planting the trees and producing solar energy, the Subukia Shrine will be a working showpiece of Laudato si’.
The Delegate General’s visit coincided with the national pilgrimage of the Catholic Women Association of Kenya to the Shrine. The pilgrimage took place on Saturday, February 3, with over 10,000 pilgrims participating. Friar Joseph assisted in hearing confessions and returned later that evening to Nairobi with the Custos.
Friar Joseph BLAY, Delegate General for GPIC