Apostolic Carmel African Mission Celebrates its Silver Jubilee
Kenya-Africa: The mission of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation in the African Continent was in response to the invitation of His Grace Archbishop Nicodemus Kirima of Nyeri Archdiocese in Kenya, by Sr. Mariella, the Superior General of the Apostolic Carmel in 1991, to run a Residential Secondary School for the Natives. The pioneering band of Missionaries from India and Sri Lanka under the leadership of Sr. Aloysius (after retirement as Principal of St. Agnes College, Mangaluru) arrived in Kenya in November 1991 and their life of single-minded zeal and commitment amidst all the challenges encountered and the hard life of initial years, laid a firm foundation of the A.C. mission in Kenya.
The invitation of His Eminence Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, Archdiocese of Nairobi, Capital City of Kenya gave a further boost to the mission to reach out to the Native Kenyans in Nairobi from where it spread to other dioceses with Apostolic Carmel Schools shining as stars to serve our beautiful African Children. As the pages of history turn to twenty five years of zestful and joyful service, the East Africa Region of the Apostolic Carmel has spread across Kenya and Tanzania and the Sisters serve in five dioceses in Kenya and in the diocese of Arusha, Tanzania, in its eight convents with three Secondary Schools, Seven Primary Schools, one Day Care Service Centre for children of slum dwellers and one Medical Clinic-cum-Social Service Centre.
The Apostolic Carmel Lay Associates (ACA) and the Carmel Blossoms, the Association for little children to live the simple spirit of Carmel, have deepened Christian life among the Kenyans.The twenty eight daughters of the soil, the young Kenyan Apostolic Carmel Sisters are truly the jewels that adorn the Garden of Carmel in the African Region. Apostolic Carmel education has made a mark in Kenya and the Apostolic Carmel Secondary School, Buru Buru, Nairobi has proudly taken the Hundredth Rank out of the country’s five thousand secondary schools.
The Silver Jubilee Celebrations that took place in November 2016 truly marked the jubilant expression of gratitude to God with Most Rev. Bishop Norman Kingoo, Bishop of Bungoma, Kenya as the main celebrant along with several priests from across Kenyaat the Silver Jubilee Thanksgiving Eucharist. The presence of over fifteen Apostolic Carmel Sisters including Sr. Susheela, Superior General, two Provincial Superiors and the pioneer of the mission Sr. Aloysius, who traveled from India and Sri Lanka as well as the active participation of sisters from different religious congregations in Kenya, and the jubilant choir of our Staff members provided the right note for the celebration. The large attendance of the people from all the places the Apostolic Carmel served and the attendance of a host of friends and well-wishers truly added colour.
The cultural programme that followed with a play on the life of the Foundress, Venerable Mother Veronica brought back memories of this great dynamic English Anglican lady converted to Catholicism and burned with great desire when she touched the shores of India and acclaimed, ‘As for myself I was not afraid of anything. I was ardent and full of zeal to begin my work among the people whom St. Francis Xavier had evangelized’. The presentation of Kenyan culture was in full display. The Bishop of Bungoma who released the Silver Jubilee Souvenir appreciated the Apostolic Carmel and commented that they inserted themselves into the culture of the people with openness and caring and while they educated the children the children not only learnt academics from the sisters but also from the manner of their dealings and functioning and imbibed the values the sisters lived.
On the part of the sisters they too learnt from the people of the place to live in this continent and developed a great bond with them. Sr. Susheela, the Superior general who herself was the first Regional Superior couldn’t but acknowledge the role of the pioneers in this mission emphasizing that the secret of the flourishing of the mission is the total commitment of the pioneer group of sisters against all odds for if the pioneers were not strong, dynamic and worked with the right vision the mission would not have survived. The Silver Jubilee Celebration was aptly appended by the Final Profession of two Kenyan sisters and the First Profession of three sisters.
Submitted by: Sr. Lydia A.C. the General Councillor for Education, AC – Bengaluru
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