Visit to Kenya

Sr. M. Iona visits Kenya


In August Sr. M. Iona from Cape Town South Africa travelled to Kenya for three weeks to visit members of the growing movement. Her journey took her to Nairobi, Saba Saba, to to Kabibi  near Bungoma in the north west of Kenya, and Mugoiri for a girl’s seminar where 85 young people attended. During her visit she accompanied Sr. Philis one of our Kenyan sisters, who is spending three months working in Kenya and Pauline a young Kenyan and dedicated Schoenstatt member. This was not the first time Sr. M. Iona was in Kenya. She started travelling there in 2000 and over the years has seen the growth of the Schoenstatt movement.

Seminar for a group of Mothers

Saba Saba in the Diocese of Muranga is a town situated 60 km north of Nairobi. Sr. Iona was invited there by a Schoenstatt member to give a day’s seminar for a group of Mothers who are interested in the mother’s league. It was a joy to see 50 mothers attend the day workshops. They were led into the spiritually of Schoenstatt using the Schoenstatt Logo emphasizing the covenant to love with Fr. Kentenich, because if you get to know the founder you get to know Schoenstatt. During the presentation there was time for questions and the mothers wanted to know how can Schoenstatt influence their lives, how can it help them. Sr. M. Iona noted that there is an increase in single mothers over the years and this raises pastoral concerns. In Saba Saba she also met with the Parish priest who had come into contact with Schoenstatt in the seminary when Sr. M. Joanne visited them. For him this visit opened up to him the depth of Schoenstatt’s spirituality and he commented that he received a deeper perspective of Our Lady.

Experience with the Pilgrim Mother

The following day Sr. M. Iona set out on a seven-hour bus journey to Bungoma in the North West of Kenya just thirty-five kilometers from the Ugandan border. In 2015 the Pilgrim Mother began in the area and today there are over 300 people involved from various social classes. Sr. M. Iona witnessed the Pilgrim mother being passed from one house to the next. A group of about forty people gathered to accompany the Pilgrim Mother from one home to the next, they were dressed the Kenyan Schoenstatt uniform which they designed from the one made for 2014. It is custom that every organization has their own uniform to identify themselves – hence one for the Schoenstatt members.  Before receiving the Pilgrim Mother, the members of the home took time to prepare themselves for their important visitor. Both the house – a good spring cleaning – and their hearts – receiving the sacrament of confession – were cleaned before the visits. Sr. M. Iona was impressed to observe how the father and mother of the household knelt down to receive the Pilgrim mother – it was done with such reverence with the conviction that it was not just a picture visiting their home but indeed the Blessed Mother was to be a gust in their home.  The handing over of the pilgrim Mother ended in a festive meal.

Making in Schoenstatt understandable

The next event on the program for Sr. M. Iona was a three-day seminar in the parish of Kabibi in the diocese of Bungoma. It was a three-day seminar from 9am till 5 pm each day with 45 people of different ages attending.  The logistics of the seminar was prepared by the people themselves, the catering the venue, the program and their also had their own Schoenstatt uniforms. From the beginning Fr Kentenich used everyday experiences and symbolism to explain Schoenstatt’s spirituality. In conversation with the leaders of the movement in Kabibi Sr. M. Iona discovered that the people have a common way of building a fire – three stones are used to make the fire.  Using this she could explain the three points of contact, Our Lady, the Shrine and Father Kentenich. Each of the stones are necessary and have to be balanced to hold the pot just like the three points of contact are necessary and the people concluded that the fire wood symbolizes the capital of grace otherwise the fire of Schoenstatt won’t burn. Thus, the three days of the seminar were uses to discuss and reflect in depth the Shrine, Father Kentenich and his biblical image of Mary.


Confession a high light of the Girls Seminar

As mentioned 85 girls took part in the seminar. This came as pleasant surprise as only 45 were expected. Sr. Philis who was holding the seminar assisted by Sr. Iona managed admirably stretching resources e.g. food to keep everyone happy and satisfied. The highlight for Sr. Iona was the fact that more than 50 young people went to confession much to the surprise of the local priests. It has become a custom over the years to explain the meaning of confession to the young women so that it’s relevant for them. The seminar was concluded with each girtl making a home shrine which they took home with them.