From Novice to Priest: Ordinations in the Dominican Vicariate of East Africa

May 17, 2013

One of the great joys I have had as a Dominican Friar was being novice master for our East African Dominican Vicariate.  Our mission (Nyumba ya Mtakatifu Martino de Porres, “St. Martin de Porres Priory”) is close to Lake Victoria in Western Kenya in a town called Kisumu. Ourcurrent student master, Fr. Andrew Hofer OP, was there at the same time. He served as our Regent of Studies for our vicariate and he taught Theology to our student friars and many other religious in Nairobi at the Catholic University of East Africa and Tangaza College. During our time in Kenya, we had young men in our novitiate from the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Southern Sudan, Angola, Mozambique & Zimbabwe (at the time other OP vicariates would send their men to us). Three of these friars (Bros. John Baptist Ssemugabi OP, Leo Simon Itabara Mwenda OP, Thomas Nicholas Odhiambo OP), for whom I was novice master, will be ordained to the priesthood and transitional diaconate on Saturday, May 18 at St. Theresa’s Cathedral (Kibuye) in downtown Kisumu, Kenya.  I made a quick call to them this morning and wished them every blessing.

(click image to enlarge)

Each of these young men are very talented. From the moment they entered the novitiate, years ago, they wanted to give everything to the Lord and to preach the Gospel for the salvation of souls. I wrote about our vicariate’s ordinations last year when another two of my former novices were ordained, Fr. Cleophas OP and Fr. Gideon OP. This has proven well when they preached during a Eucharistic-centered retreat that we have been doing in our vicariate called “UZIMA” which is the same retreat as YOUTH 2000 internationally. This retreat has been led by our friars in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda about 15 times for thousands and thousands of young people.  A number of young men and women who attended these retreats are now priests, brothers and sisters in religious life in East Africa. The Lord planted deep seeds of conversion in their hearts. For some amazing photos click here. YOUTH 2000 was taken to East Africa with the huge support and translating expertise of a great missionary priest from Poland, Fr. Wojciech Adam Kościelniak (his FB page) as well as generous parishioners from our parish, St. Gertrude in Cincinnati, where our novitiate is located.

This was one of my favorite songs that all the youth
“sang like there was no tomorrow” in perfect harmony (my rough translation below).
~rough translation Nimeonja Pendo Lako
(fixed by my good friend, Fr. Wojciech)
*check out his excellent blog: Kiabakari Snippets
Nimeonja pendo lako, nimejua u mwema
I have tasted your love, I have known your kindness
Nitakushukuru nitawainua wote wakusifu wewe
I will thank you, I will lift up everyone to praise you
Nitawaongoza vyema waimbe kwa furaha
I will lead well everyone to you with joy
Nitakushukuru nitawainua wote wakusifu wewe
I will thank you, I will lift up everyone to praise you
Ukarimu wako (Bwana) na huruma yako (wewe)
Your generosity, oh Lord, and Your mercy
Msamaha wako (Bwana) na upole wako (wewe)
Your forgiveness Lord and your gentleness
Umenitendea wema usiopimika
You have done unmeasurable goodness to me
Nitakushukuru nitawainua wote wakusifu wewe
I will thank you, I will lift up everyone to praise you

If you want to see the Swahili words with the song:


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