Consolata Shrine (Nairobi, Kenya)

I had been planning to go to Kenya for some time. I needed to do a few things both for the Vicariate of Ingwavuma (South Africa) and the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland). Finally I was able to find some time to do it. Kenya is the first missionary presence of the Consolata Missionaries and I knew I would have the support of my confreres in order to do everything... and quickly!.

Kenya had a difficult year. First there was fire at the airport (the busiest airport in east and central Africa) at the beginning of August affecting international arrivals and departures. Then, the terrorist attack at Westgate Mall. 

I was welcomed at the Consolata Shrine in Nairobi by Fr Daniel Bertea (from Argentina), Fr Francesco Viotto (from Italy) and Fr Lee (from South Korea)! The Shrine is not far from Westgate Mall.

I had been in Kenya before but it was the first time to spend time at the Shrine. I must say it was very impressive. Together with the well attended three daily masses (no less than 100 people at each one of them), there is perpetual adoration in a small side chapel and a "rosary walk" and "stations of the cross" outside making it a beautiful prayerful place... inside and outside the Shrine.

"The spiritual events that take place in this Prayer Garden are well articulated. When a pilgrim starts his or her journey to this Prayer Garden, he or she meets with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane kneeling and weeping for the looming challenges in front of him; the Stations of the Cross; the Eucharistic Celebrations (outside altar); and the praying of the Rosary around the icon of our Mother Consolata. All these moments bring the pilgrims closer to God. The place is peaceful and conducive to prayer and meditation" wrote Fr James Lengarin IMC who was parish priest at the Shrine.

"The desire for a grotto and for a "space" to pray out in nature has been in the parish for a long time. For many years, it was not unusual to see parishioners walking around the parking lot in the evenings praying the rosary" says Maryanne Wachira from the Strategic Committee.

The rosary is the "missionary" one so that everyone is invited to pray for the whole world, aware also that many people in the world are praying us too. Therefore each mystery is indicated in a different colour (green, red, white, blue and yellow indicating Africa, America, Europe, Oceania and Asia). The walk is done on ten big circles, one for each "Hail Mary".

I admired the idea of having such a place "in town" together with the ability of putting "so much" in such a small place without giving the feeling of being crowded.

Below is a link to some photos to help get an idea of the place. 

Three priests might not be enough for the number of activities they have. They seem to have no rest. Fr Daniel would go to the hospital even late at night to make sure he is close to the family of a baby in ICU, Fr Francesco would be available all the time for confessions (people even came to me at the end of the Masses) and Fr Lee would attend every meeting and go to the schools for the celebration of the Mass. This, just in the couple of days I was there. 

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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