Dear Family and Friends,
Happy New Year! There is hopeful excitement and anticipation as we begin a new year and a new decade. I find this moment of new beginnings as an opportunity to seriously look at myself and set new goals for the coming year. So, I enter 2020 and this new decade filled with hope and optimism for the future. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families in 2020.
January 2020 marks six months since leaving the USA and moving to Nairobi Kenya. In July 2019, I was assigned as the Rector and Superior of DePaul Centre in Nairobi Kenya. DePaul Centre is where the Vincentian Fathers and Brothers in Kenya educate and train our seminarians. There are 25 seminarians that are studying to be either Vincentian priests or brothers. The seminary staff consists of 4 priests and several lay people working in various roles on campus. In addition to the seminary, DePaul Centre has a Woodworking Training Program. The DePaul Centre campus is a beautiful setting with several acres, gardens and seven buildings. The buildings are only 20 years old and very well built.
I must admit that it has been a very fast and interesting six months. These months have been about meeting people and learning and discovering life here in Kenya. In September I began taking Kiswahili classes and learning the language. Although most people speak English very well, it is a cultural advantage to know Kiswahili. I have actually enjoyed learning the language, and I am beginning to converse with people at a very rudimentary level. I have been so impressed by the warm and loving welcome I have received from the Kenya people. The Kenya culture is very friendly. Everyone says hello and greets people with a handshake or an embrace. I am impressed by the fact that no is excluded or passed over. I must admit that I have instantly fallen in love with the Kenyan people and the Kenyan culture. Although I miss the United States and miss many people, I am very happy in Kenya and with my new life and my new ministry. I thank God for this amazing opportunity to be here in Kenya.
I have been asked by my Vincentian Superiors to fulfil to a twofold mandate at DePaul Centre in Nairobi. First, I am to help develop DePaul Centre as an educational institution serving the Church of Kenya. DePaul Centre has the capacity and potential to offer more programs. Second, I have been asked to develop the leadership among our younger Kenyan priests and to succeed me in leadership.
In regards to my ministry, the last six months has been focused upon specifying DePaul Centre’s vision, mission and values. We have been involved in reorganizing and changing various things and systems at DePaul Centre to better serve our mission. Students and staff have met the new challenges and changes with unbelievable enthusiasm. In my humble estimation, the progress made in a relatively short is very exciting and impressive. This fills me with great satisfaction and joy.
The goal for the next four to five months is complete our three year strategic plan (2020-2023) called in Kiswahili, “Maono ya Matumaini kwa Utume na Huduma” – translated, “Vision of Hope for Mission and Service”. The plan will help us realize our vision and to better service our mission. And, the plan enables us to do our mandate for developing DePaul Centre and Kenyan leadership. The program develop will improve our seminary education programs and allow us to offer continuing education programs to priests and religious in Kenya.
One of our major development goals is to acquire fitness equipment for our young Seminarians and young Sisters who live next door to DePaul Centre. The Seminarians and Sisters have no opportunities to workout and take care of their health. We have no facilities or equipment for them to learn the necessary skills for self care. Since arriving at DePaul Centre, I notice a lot students needing medical care because of sports related injuries while playing soccer and stomach problems due to anxiety. I want to teach the Seminarians and Sisters a healthy lifestyle. DePaul Centre needs a fitness facility. Moreover, a fitness facility can be made available to public for future revenue for DePaul Centre. It is estimated that it will take approximately $75,000 USD to appropriately equip a Fitness Centre. We are planning to raise $25,000 USD each year for the next three years. When we begin our fundraising campaign for the DePaul Centre fitness facility, I am hoping we can count on you to help us raise this money.
This is a little bit of what is happening in my new life in Kenya. I want to thank you for all your love, prayer and support for me. I hold you in my heart and in my prayers.
All the best,
Fr. Pat McDevitt, C.M.