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Pilgrims on the way - Mwangaza Tertianship 2017

By Jaime Tatay, SJ, (Spanish Province)

Source: AOR PROVINCE


The number of tertians in Nairobi has been growing steadily over the last few years. At the same time, the Mwangaza Tertianship Program, led by Fr. Leo Amani, SJ and Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ, has become more international, attracting Jesuits from all over the world. Coming from India, Italy, Kenya, Malta, Poland, Spain, Tanzania, Uganda, USA and Zimbabwe, the class of 2017 reflects the universality of the Society and the Church. The diversity is reflected not only in our national origins, but also in the diverse ministries in which we had been involved before our arrival to Kenya.


The program kick-started in early January when, as we began to prepare for the long retreat, we had the opportunity of reading, reflecting and sharing on the life of Saint Ignatius and our personal biographies. Getting to know who we are and where we come from - geographically, culturally and spiritually - did help us bond together, grow in confidence and pray for each other. Following the introductory weeks, we spent several days working on the text of the Spiritual Exercises.

The reflection, led by Bernie Owens on the rules for discernment, helped us to prepare and deepen our desires for the much-awaited experience of the long retreat. After the month-long, grace-filled Spiritual Exercises, we shared during three days the sorrows, joys and inner callings heard during the retreat. Then, we began to work on the Constitutions – for the great majority of us it was the second time, since the novitiate, that we read this foundational text of our Institute –and we had the privilege of listening to Brian O'Leary of the Irish Province, who is an expert on the Constitutions.

The Constitutions, we found out, are not just a juridical document, but a truly spiritual expression of our way of proceeding. Another highlight of our time here has been the visits to the different works of the Society of Jesus in Nairobi. Getting to know the many apostolates where Jesuits and lay collaborators are involved has been as enriching as the time spent together in Mwangaza. We also spend time with Jesuits from the nearby Pedro Arrupe Community, who talk for an hour about their Jesuit life and their current ministries. It is very consoling to meet the many interesting men working in this continent who are dedicating their lives for the sake of Jesus and the Church! Finally, I cannot forget to mention the interesting trip we took to Mombasa and Malindi before Easter following the footsteps of St. Francis Xavier.

In Malindi, we had the chance to celebrate the Eucharist in the "Portuguese Chapel", meet the local bishop, swim in the Indian Ocean and spend a joyful time together. The humidity, the heat and the long drive will be forgotten, yet the joy of the experience will remain. Easter was also a great opportunity for most of us to celebrate the Holy Week, for the first time, in an African context. The Karen parishes, Holy Family Basilica, Kangemi and Hekima were all filled to the brim during these days, a clear sign of the vitality, dynamism and energy of the Christian faith in Kenya. It was truly a consoling experience to share this days with the people of God.

Now, we will soon scatter as we will be sent to different places for our experiments (Dodoma, Kampala, Kangemi, Ongata Rongai, Jesuit Historical Institute, Nairobi Hospitals, etc.). It will be the last phase of the program before we meet again in Mwangaza at the end of June to evaluate and wrap-up the whole experience; and then, we will say our good-byes and head back to our respective provinces. New assignments have been already given for many of us in the last few weeks. They are signs of our missionary identity and remind us who we are: pilgrims on the way. So far, then, we can only give thanks for the warm welcome from the Jesuits in this corner of the world - a corner that we can truly call home, since, as we have been reminded, we are pilgrims and the whole world is our home.

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