Kitui, Kenya partnership Q & A

| September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Julie Woodruff, a parishioner of St. Joseph in Red Wing, visited Kitui, Kenya, during a previous diocesan global solidarity partnership trip. She will co-lead the 2014 delegation with Mike Haasl. Woodruff answered questions from The Catholic Spirit about the partnership:

Q. What is the benefit to the archdiocese?

A. Our archdiocesan Global Solidarity Partnership with the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya, provides a wonderful opportunity for persons from all levels of our archdiocese to establish and maintain friendships with our brothers and sisters in Africa. It also provides an avenue for our archdiocese to “live out” the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, “A Call to Solidarity with Africa” (2001) and to strengthen the institutional relationship between the two dioceses.

The diocesan partnership offers many ways for us to share our faith, our culture and our resources. We come from different continents, but we are all members of one Catholic global family of faith. We share the same human need to belong, to be loved, to be listened to and to be treated with dignity and respect.

We are inspired by the Kenyans’ commitment to education, small Christian communities and family; their vibrant liturgies; their resilient nature in the midst of challenging circumstances; their willingness to help one another; and their desire to be fully present with one another. We can learn from their warm hospitality, their ability to find joy in ordinary things, their eagerness to share their faith, and their grateful attitude: “I get to go to Mass” not, “I have to go to Mass.”

Q. What’s the benefit to your parish?

A. Our parish is very active in charity and justice ministries. Many of our “Life Teen” teens have provided service on mission trips within the United States. The partnership between the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Kitui Diocese has provided our parishioners an opportunity to be active members of a global faith community.

Our parish has financially supported the Kitui Water Project. In 2011, I was a delegate to Kitui. In 2012, many parishioners opened their hearts, homes and workplaces to two Kenyan visitors. This year, three parishioners will be traveling with the archdiocesan delegation to Kitui. Our parish is also providing one of the 26 chalices that will be given to the parishes in the Kitui Diocese.

Several of our parishioners have commented that our using the chalice during liturgy, prior to giving it to the Kenyan people, has been very symbolic of our eucharistic bond with our friends in Kitui.

Q. What benefit do you personally take away from the partnership?

A. Being involved in the partnership has had a positive impact on my life. Having seen, firsthand, the challenges of extreme drought, HIV/AIDS, and food shortage in Kitui, I view life through a different, deeper lens — one that clarifies what is truly important in the big picture. I spend less energy fussing over trivial matters.

After witnessing the Kenyans’ cheerful spirit in the midst of scarce resources, I find myself re-examining my values and being more mindful when making choices about how I spend my time, energy and resources.

And, I am ever more grateful for access to clean water and health care, for good roads and for the freedom to worship.

Q. Is there someone in Kitui with whom you keep in contact? Who? Why?

A. I keep in contact with Joyce Mwikali Mukaiwa Mutui, head teacher at the Kitui School for the Deaf, and Sister Stellamaris Mwelu Muthama, an administrator at the Muthale Mission Hospital. Both of them stayed in our home during the 2012 Kitui delegation visit to our archdiocese.

Joyce and I relate to each other’s roles as a woman, wife, mother, teacher and parishioner. I am a registered nurse, so Sister Stella and I share about working in a faith-based health care setting.

Q. What are your expectations of this particular visit to Kenya?

A. I am looking forward to reconnecting with friends from Kitui, to making new friends, to participating in the 10-year anniversary celebration of the partnership, and to helping our new group of delegates experience the Kenyan culture.

I am open to whatever the Holy Spirit has in store for the partnership during our upcoming visit to Kitui.

I encourage anyone who is interested in participating in the diocesan partnership to contact the Center for Mission for more information.

Visit http://www.centerformission.org.

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