Saturday, November 4, 2023
“I am happy to be a missionary priest in Kenya and I am very grateful that, at the age of over 80, I have been entrusted with such an exciting pastoral ministry.” Father Antonio Guirao shares his feelings. [Comboni Missionaries]
A few months ago, I had the great joy of returning to Kenya, my mission country, after ten long years. Although I am still adjusting to the changes I have encountered and brushing up on English and Swahili, I have already been entrusted with the new mission of Rangau.
Located a few kilometres from Nairobi, the capital of the country, it belongs to the Diocese of Ngong. Here I form a community with a Kenyan Comboni Missionary who knows well the path that I am beginning to follow.
Between the two of us, we make a good team. We have rented a little house near the central chapel of Rangau. The new mission Rangau is an arid and quite dry area, especially in recent years when the rains have been scarce, and the pastures do not grow. We are in the Maasai area, although for decades people from other communities have settled in search of land to build their houses and have a field to cultivate.
Nairobi National Park is not far away and just a few years ago it was common to see wild animals migrating to the park. However, now they are hardly seen because people have fenced off their properties which makes it impossible for them to pass through.
This mission is not unknown to the Comboni Missionaries because we were in charge of the neighbouring parish of Ongata Rongai, also in the Ngong diocese, and some Comboni Missionaries, used to visit the Maasai in this area. Until a few months ago, Rangua was part of an area served by the missionaries of Don Orione, but the Bishop thought it better to divide it and asked the Comboni Missionaries to take over the part of Rangau.
The roads are made of stone and earth, and when it rains, they get muddy, and you cannot move. The percentage of Catholics is around 25 percent and around 600 people are baptized each year in the three centres of the mission we have taken over.
The central chapel is a small construction dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, but fortunately, we have a very large plot on which we hope to build the parish church. We have already started to make Harambee – which we would translate as “all for one” – so that people contribute according to their means.
The centre of Nompopong may be the poorest, but the people are hell-bent on building their chapel. They have managed to put up the walls and now we will help them complete the rest. Meanwhile, in Emakoko they already have a chapel, although quite rudimentary and without liturgical objects to celebrate mass, which we take every time we go there.
I am happy to be a missionary priest in Kenya and I am very grateful that, at the age of over 80, I have been entrusted with such an exciting pastoral ministry.