Cardinal John NjueThe 7th of June 2009 will remain a memorable day for this Parish in the slums. The feast of Holy Trinity is always awaited by many parishioners because at least once a year the 69,000 baptised Catholics recorded in our parish registers trace their footsteps back to the main parish compound to celebrate Holy Mass in the open air. The small square in front of the main church becomes alive with all kinds of people that are part of the community of faith.  The first to come are children who arrive as early as 6.00 am. The reason is that they have to prepare themselves to dance during the Holy Mass. They have as well the privileged opportunity of getting a front place view of whatever is going on. These little people of God belong to special centres within the parish to give them a lease of life.

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.
In the Western Zone we have St. Martin de Porres with 18 Small Christian Communities. In the same direction we have Huruma Zone with 10 small Christian Communities. The Central Zone, where the main Church is situated, has 20 Small Christian Communities. The Eastern Zone comprises of St. John’s Church-Korogocho with 23 Small Christian Communities.

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:

  • Living a Christian life founded and maintained by the WORD of God and the Holy Eucharist.
  • Exercising Parish administration and evangelisation based on focused planning and team work.
  • Having well selected, elected and continuously formed Christian leaders.
  • Have consistent planned meetings from the Small Christian Communities, Parish Financial Committee to the Parish Pastoral Council.
  • Paying attention to the social gospel, based on the ministry of care and Christian charity (Social Services-Dispensary-Kariobangi Women Promotion Project-Library-Microcredit Huruma Self Help Group-Cheshire Home for seniors citizens, Hands of care and hope in Madoya and Korogocho, Huruma youth centre, -Watoto Wetu, Watoto wa Lwanga in St. Martin-Support to Students and Schools like Our Lady of Fatima and others-Projects in Korogocho: for the sick, for the rehabilitation of youth and adults, sports, slum rehabilitation…).
  • Creating a homely environment at our Church centres and respect for all the people of God. 
  • Planning and implementing seminars for all parish groups, services and ministries.
  • The catechumenate for children, youth and adults with convinced voluntary catechists.
  • Having in place Well-organized and focused youth ministry.
  • Encouraging personal Christian witness from the pastoral agents.

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.

Holy Trinity Kariobangi is a tremendous complex family of the people of God where both the Wheat and the Weed grow together. Challenges of poverty and misery are evident all over the place. All the same one can clearly see the Holy Spirit at work even when it would seem humanly speaking impossible. One can see the poor helping the poor, those with nothing sharing everything available; the smiling face of the terminally sick; the simplest trying to share the WORD of God with those willing to listen. Yes, the miracles of God witnessed every day where they are less expected. In this parish one can quickly conclude that “the harvest is abundant but the labourers are few, so ask the master of the harvest to send out labourers for his harvest” Luke 10:2.  Kariobangi could be likened to bus stop where people come to await means to desired destination. Majority of these people of God, are still not baptised, they are sick, poor, hungry, widowed, jobless and abandoned. When they find a welcoming Small Christian Community and a pastoral team of committed missionaries, their hearts begin to warm-up because they realise that they are accepted. After a few years they become the most convinced Catholics you can ever imagine. But then as their life gets better; many eventually move away from this floating stage and go to settle in better areas somewhere else. As a united pastoral team of Sister, Brothers, Priests, Lay missionaries and Laity; we thank God for the opportunity of making us the welcoming door of Jesus Christ in the city of Nairobi. 

This information is provided by Fr. Paulino Mondo. Parish Priest Holy Trinity Kariobangi
Date: 7-6-2009
Feast day of Holy Trinity, Kariobangi