THE SINGING CARDINAL WITH HIS PEOPLE DURING THE FEAST OF HOLY TRINITY AT KARIOBANGI
The parish according to official records started in 1973; but behind this there is a long history. Kariobangi can trace its beginning way back in 1961 when the Holy Ghost Missionaries started to approach the then remote area for prayer and follow up of the Catholics that had originally settled in the area from upcountry in search of work. It is recorded that some priests were already celebrating Mass in the area of Babadogo, which by now has become the autonomous Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In 1966 a Missionary Priest called Fr. Thomas Meagher CSSP started to celebrate Mass in the Social hall of Kariobangi village while visiting Catholic homes every Thursday. By 1969 the population of Catholics was already estimated to be one thousand faithful in a territory stretching from Babadogo, St. Benedict, Dandora, through Umoja, Donholm to Embakasi. In 1970 this present plot was purchased for the proper church and Father’s residence buildings
By 1975 the huge Church building had been over grown by the numbers of the faithful, thus the establishing of Out Stations like Babadogo, Umoja and Embakasi which successively became fully fledged Parishes. Donholm and Kariobangi South followed suit.
At the moment, Holy Trinity Catholic Mission - Kariobangi is happy to be called mother of several daughter parishes that are even growing faster than before.
Due to the population boom, the parish is divided into four Zones under three Mass Centres.
We estimate the population of the present parish area to be around 500,000 people, out of whom 67,000 should be baptized Catholics both from up country and indigenous Nairobians. Half the parish area or even more can be classified as slum. That is why on Holy Trinity Sunday the mode was exciting because word had gone around that His Eminence John Cardinal Njue would be coming to the feast. Some residents of Kariobangi have only seen him on Television; so they vowed to see this person whom they hear that one day he may be a candidate to the papacy. As he drove into the compound, some one was heard saying that he had come to pray with the “Pope”. In fact Kariobangi though is within the capital city, it remains unique. The congestion of the people makes it difficult for them to get to know each other by name. The feasts become a golden occasion of knowing each other. We started by sharing duties. In the month of March the liturgical and sports committees were formed. By May 2009, the preparations were in high gear. At the end of May we realised that if the Cardinal was coming, then we needed to prepare lunch for him and the Parish Priests, Sisters, Small Christian Community leaders, Parish Council members and others. This responsibility was given to Sr. Lydia Pardeller, supported by Sr. Ivanna Ennemoser and Sr. Rosemary. Unfortunately, Sr. Teresa Rafferty had to fly to Ireland to bury her brother priest who passed away.
The area within Greccio was beautifully decorated. Three tents accommodated the guests. This contributed so much to the joy of the celebration of the parish feast “The Holy Trinity.”
Nevertheless, the Lunch that was to cater for 25 people ended up feeding 50 people. On Sr. Lydia Pardeller’s table, there is always a place for three more people.
Normally the Cardinal never eats after 1.30 pm but this was not to be as he arrived in Greccio at 2.00 p.m. The Cardinal ate something and Sr. Lydia even packed some take-away in form of a beautiful cake baked in honour of his visit.
The Franciscan Missionary Sisters in Kariobangi are missionaries with a tremendous pastoral plan.
There is Sr. Teresa Rafferty with Education for life and behaviour change programmes. She and her efficient team visit schools to drive common sense into the youth by teaching them about God. While on this assignment, they encourage teachers to be responsible with their vocation of disseminating true knowledge.
Sr. Rosemary is busy in Jamaa Hospital healing the sick.
Sr. Lydia is giving basic primary education to over eight hundred children in the two main branches of Hands of Care and Hope in Madoya and in Korogocho in strongly constructed classrooms. H.I.V/AIDS + mothers in their centre receive skill training for income generation. Youth receive training in skills like Teacher Training courses, Hair Dressing, Welding, Electrical Engineering, and Driving Courses for both boys and girls. The newly constructed youth centre offers youth and adults’ education, opportunities for recreation.
Before the meal was served, there had been a three hours Holy Eucharist Celebration and not even the children dared to move away. On the way to Greccio Convent for Lunch, the Cardinal was met at the gate with a beautiful procession by the old men and women, the lepers, the blind and the deaf who make up the community that Sr. Ivanna Ennemoser is directly in charge of. This was a moving experience that shows how much good can be done, when the people of God are working as one.
In the spirit of the Holy Trinity like the one exhibited on Sunday; we try to maintain the growth and unity of the parish by:
Even as the Holy Trinity Feast concludes; the parish does its best to make sure that every person and any relevant group gets the attention they deserve. His Eminence John Cardinal Njue’s coming was a witness to this reality.