Fr. Pat Neary, C.S.C., our correspondent in East Africa and our seminary rectory there, has sent in his latest blog post. It is a moving reflection on the reality of tribes in Africa and how Christian community, especially our religious community in Holy Cross, can be a sign of the coming of the kingdom we have been praying for this Advent season.
I think that Holy Cross has achieved something that is a model for what Kenya can be and what the world can be. When young men enter the Candidate Program in Jinja, Uganda, formators work hard to communicate that they now belong to one tribe, one family, and one community: Holy Cross. Men from similar tribes are cautioned about speaking to each other in their own tribal language, less a brother not of their tribe feel excluded. In our house there is only good-natured ribbing about tribal and national differences. There is a joke going around that Swahili was born in Tanzania, got sick in Kenya, died in Uganda, and was buried in Congo!
Holy Cross understands that tribal culture is meant to enrich human life, not divide it. After our ordination Mass in September, for example, our men put on a traditional Ugandan dance to the delight of the majority Kenyan crowd.
Each night in McCauley House, as we conclude supper, one religious is asked to offer a prayer in his local tongue. Our men in formation have become closest friends and brothers in Holy Cross. They truly strive to live these words found in the Holy Cross Constitutions:
As we await the Prince of Peace at Christmas, all of us Holy Cross men at McCauley House wish to be this kind of sign in Kenya. And after the work of the Hague is completed, we pray that there might be a newfound desire among Kenyans to truly become one people and nation, a land able to celebrate the beauty of its astounding cultural diversity and heritage.