Local delegation headed to Kenya, will mark anniversary

| September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Archbishop Nienstedt among group to celebrate 10-year partnership with Diocese of Kitui

Lucy Johnson is excited — if nervous — about her upcoming trip to Kenya, Africa.

Johnson, a pharmacist at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, a mother of seven and grandmother of four, has been active for more than 25 years in the Council of Catholic Women at her parish, St. Francis de Sales in St. Paul.

KenyaAs the current president of the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, Johnson will be representing Twin Cities area Catholic women as one of 21 people from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who will leave next month to visit people in the Diocese of Kitui in south central Kenya.

The trip is part of the ongoing partnership of the archdiocese and the Church in the Kitui diocese.

“The whole focus is global solidarity,” Johnson said. “I’ve been to Thailand and Malaysia, but this is an opportunity to be there in their villages with the people, not as a tourist but to be, to be one with them.”

Since both the ACCW in the United States and the Catholic women’s groups in Kenya belong to the World Union of Catholic Women, Johnson sees the trip as a way to strengthen “the connectedness we have as Catholic women. We have the same purpose.”

Mike Haasl, who is the global solidarity coordinator at the Center for Mission in the archdiocese, was one of the leaders of a five-session orientation for the Twin Cities group headed to Kenya.

“The main reason for the visit is to get to know the Kenyans as people,” Haasl said.“Our image of them comes from [fundraising] commercials of children with flies on the faces and extended bellies, and that it must be horrible being in Kenya.”

The partnership that began between the dioceses in 2004 is “building real human person-to-person relationship, faith-based Catholic person to Catholic person,” he said.

By traveling to Kitui and going into villages and spending time in homes, “We see the people in their struggles, but also in their giftedness,” Haasl said. “We get a sense of their family life, their daily life, and we recognize their strengths, their capacity for leadership.

Follow the delegation through the Kitui, Kenya Partnership blog at CatholicHotdish.com

“We know we are all brothers and sisters and recognize we are all walking together.”

Archbishop John Nienstedt will make the trip to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the diocesan partnership.

He will bless a new mission house for the diocese and help Kitui Bishop Anthony Muheria confirm some 200 people.

“We’ll not only be looking back, but looking forward to what our partnership will be,” Haasl said.

Delegations from the archdiocese visited Kitui in 2005, 2008 and 2011. Groups from Kitui came to Minnesota in 2006, 2009 and 2012.

In the past, the visits have produced friendships between Minnesotans and Kenyans, but also an effective water preserving system for the arid African land, a curriculum for Minnesota students that taught about water conservation, and a school-to-school letter exchange between children in Kenya and children in Minnesota.

During the visit this year, delegates to the global partnership will carry letters from Minnesota students to the Kenyan students, and they’ll discuss barriers that are blocking student-to-student email, Haasl said.

Kitui, Kenya partnership Q & A

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Category: Local News