To celebrate the official beginning of 18 new SCCs in Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (Adams Arcade), Nairobi, Kenya (thus increasing from 21 SCCs to 39 SCCs), all the outstation masses were cancelled and there was one large, outdoor mass of over 1,000 people at the parish center on Pentecost Sunday, 11 May, 2008. A banner highlighted the theme of the day: “Holy Spirit Set Our Hearts on Fire.” The plan of the mass emphasized the meaning of Pentecost in the context of the challenges of the present tribalism and negative ethnicity in Kenya today. A new learning was the mutual enrichment of the values of unity and diversity, that is, a both/and approach rather than an either/or approach. Unity is an important value in the worldwide Catholic Church and in African society. Diversity is an important value in the inculturation of the Catholic Church to become a genuine World Church and in the rich cultural heritage of the African people that is reflected in their many languages, customs and traditions.
The Penitential Rite invited the congregation to privately name some of the evil things that happened during the 2008 post-election violence, ask for forgiveness from God and commit oneself to help heal these situations. The homily was in buzz groups of two people each sharing on the question: “What gift of the Holy Spirit is most important to me?” In a ritual that took almost one half hour members of the congregation spontaneously offered 25 Prayers of the Faithful in their heart languages (not necessarily their mother tongues) including: Gusii, Kamba, Kikuyu, Lingala, Luganda, Luhya (Bukusu, etc.), Luo, Rwanda, Swahili, Taita and Teso as well as English and French.
The Our Father was prayed twice. First, in different languages simultaneously to imitate the rich diversity of the first Pentecost and the rich cultural diversity of the languages spoken in Kenya. Second, everyone together in Swahili to model the unity in our church and in our country. The Exchange of Peace used the symbols of a single “clap” and then a handshake. The lively mass that focused on community (jumuiya in Swahili) was filled with singing and processions.
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.
P.O. Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya
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