A Missionary Journey in Kenya

Receiving more than I give

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Canada Week 1 – St Walburg

On Saturday 20th April, 2013, Fr Eugene Warnke OMI drove me up to St Walburg, about 3 hours north of Saskatoon.  We passed the famous town of Battleford and decided we should visit on the way home.  We arrived in good time and were warmly greeted by Fr Richard Doll OMI, a veteran of 33 years in South Africa… having returned home 13 years ago.


It was a wee bit cold but the local people were typical country people: warm and interested in others, although a bit quiet during Mass!  After a quick supper, we went to Paradise Hill about 20km away for the Saturday evening Mass.  The 7pm Mass was followed by coffee and a 30min presentation on Kenya.  They usually gather for coffee, so we didn’t interrupt the schedule too much.  About 8:30pm we had a snow storm, and as we drove home at 9:30pm, we were a little cautious worried about ice on the roads.  We made it safely home and I was given strict instructions to sleep in until 8 or 9am! 


On the left is the old church – now a museum.  In the middle is a new presbytery (it took 3 years to build!), and the new church on the right, which has a new hall attached at the back.

Mass was at 11am, and was followed by soup and coffee.  My method is not to persecute people in the homily, but just tell one or two stories to link the gospel in.  Then talk for 30 minutes after Mass with a series of pictures on the slide show.  People were very interested and asked lots of questions.  One lady shared how they already sponsor some orphanage in Kenya, and another how her son (engineer) and daughter (Doctor) worked in Kenya for 1 year.  The C.W.L. promised to send a donation to the C.W.A. in Kenya.


The two boys are twins… the one on the left quickly pointed out to me that he was the “handsome one”. LOL   One of the difficult areas to get funding support for, is the formation of priests and brothers.  I am trying to encourage people to see this work as the formation of LEADERS in the local community… men who will be honest, committed and actively use current and future donations efficiently in Kenya.

On the return journey, we passed through Battleford… a famous Oblate location since 1931, where so many men were formed for religious and priestly life.  I understand in winter it was very cold!  There are 160 men in the Oblate cemetery there, so we went for a look… I didn’t stay to pray for fear I might be turned to stone!!  (The wind chill factor was high.)  The snow was very high.  Br Don Claerhaut OMI is the Local Superior and has spent a few years in Kenya and Zimbabwe helping to build whatever was needed at the time.


We then had a short happy hour, evening prayer and supper together.  It is a sad sign of the times that they have a house with 17 rooms and only 3 Oblates.  A few years ago, some young people started a fire and burned down the large original building – started in 1870? – where the young men were trained.

We arrived home in Saskatoon at 9:30pm… a full day, but not too stressful.  I then joined our retired Bishop Sylvain OMI to watch the news and follow the progress of the Boston bombings investigation.  That has been a big shock to everyone here.  Then, the next day we learn two people were arrested before they bombed the train between Toronto and New York.  Let’s pray for peace and tolerance.  Till next week, God Bless.


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