The village and church as a family

Kangaita village is on the slopes of Mount Kenya, bordering the forest, a few Kilometres from Nanyuki town. The Catholic Church in the village is known as St. Paul. It is comprised of 15-20 families. This Sunday, July 15, 2012, the mass at the church is being led by a woman catechist assisted by an alter girl. I find this exciting and liberating. Today is a liturgy of the word, the mass without a Priest. The process and message of the mass is directly related to the lives of the villagers. I feel sense of oneness floating all over in the church.

The church announcements at the end of the mass are not written down. They are spoken out loudly by the chairman of the church, straight from memory. A faithful reports some information and another follows. Church announcements are a community affair, oral, known by memory. The church is a gathering of the Christian family. There are no inhibitions here. All announcements are important as are all in attendance. I find this out of the box and refreshing.

The weekly meeting of the Jumuiya – Small Christian Community- will be held this Sunday at the home of Mariamu, an old woman who has been blinded by diabetes. Her home is adjacent to Likii river. The church has only one Jumuiya known as St Mary’s. All in the church belong to the Jumuiya. The Jumuiya is the church.

We troop to Mariamu’s home. She is kept company and assisted by her grand- daughter.  We sit in a circle outside her hut. A small transistor radio is hung from a tree in the compound. It is tuned to Coro FM. They are listening to the radio programme known as Tabarira ya Ukumio – Kuina ni Kuhoya keeri (Praise and Worship programme – Singing is praying again).I am baffled. I have not been able to listen to this programme before as I am mostly in church at that time. I have even often wondered who actually listens to the programme while most of the faithful are presumably in church at the time the programme is aired. Here goes my answer. It is listened to by Mariamu and her daughter, and countless other faithful who in one way or another are unable to go to church, or had gone for the early morning church service. I feel guilty for being judgmental to a worthwhile programme.

The radio is switched off. The meeting of the Jumuiya begins. The meeting of the Jumuiya, just like the mass earlier at the church, is a simple process whose message is reflective of the existing realities and lives of the villagers. The process is made up of five steps. Opening prayers, reading the Gospel of the next Sunday, Bible sharing and reflection, contributions to the home and closing with the prayers of the faithful.

I am asked by the presiding Catechist to facilitate the Bible sharing and reflection session. This will be easy. The Parish monthly Magazine known as ON OUR WAY has published guidelines to assist Jumuiyas in the sharing and reflection of the monthly message in line with the Sunday readings of the Gospel. This month’s topic is on the plight of children and the evils they are subjected to by adults. Evils such as tribalism, discrimination, child labour, denial of education, family breakdown, molestation and many other evils. It is a lively reflection. The meeting has become a  platform on justice and peace issues. I don’t want the discussion to end. But it has to. One hour is over since the meeting begun. The meeting of this Jumuiya lasts about one hour.

Discussions end. Contributions to the family of old Mariamu are recorded in a book. Most of the contributions are in form of food crops. We close with prayers of the faithful, mainly words of comfort and hope to old Mariamu, her grand-daughter, her family and to all the faithful. Meeting ends. I feel refreshed. It is the beginning of another experience.

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1 Response to The village and church as a family

  1. kudos tot he jumuiya. i especially like the part where they share what little they have with each other. this reminds me of the first community of believers where they used to live a life of sharing.

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