The House of Formation for seminarians in Nairobi, Kenya had served the Institute of Charity well for many years. Like many Roman Catholic congregations, the Rosminians were not setting records with vocations, so the cozy building was just fine. Members of the Institute of Charity are often referred to as “Rosminians” after the founder of the congregation, Blessed Antonio Rosmini.
But then something wonderful happened.
There seemed to be just one more student who had successfully completed the postulancy and the novitiate, and who was ready for seminary studies. Then another, and another until the tiny building was just too crowded and the Rosminians needed more space.
On-site expansion plans were quickly dashed. Adjacent land was too expensive, the neighbors were less than enthusiastic, and the government was, well, a government.
The Rosminians were not really disappointed. After all, this was surely Divine Providence. They looked north and they looked south, but they liked what they saw 15 km to the west. A rural parcel of land in Ngong Hills.
Land cost was right and so were the neighbors. It was an opportunity to practice their pastoral nature. For three years, not without struggle and setbacks, the Rosminians toiled and built their complex all the while practicing and preaching by example.
When the new International House of Formation was dedicated on April 29, 2000 over 600 neighbors walked from the surrounding villages to welcome the Rosminians.
During the offertory of the Mass, the villagers presented their gifts of vegetables and fruits, animals, and whatever they had of value to Most Reverend Colin Davies, Bishop of Ngong Hills and to Institute of Charity Father General, James Flynn, IC.
Though the Rosminians may not have all the furniture they need or enough books in the library, they are thankful – very thankful. They have vocations and they have their neighbors.
Editor Note: This article was written in 2000, when I met Father James Flynn, or Father Jim as he introduced himself at our first meeting. This Irishman was a most engaging conversationalist and we crossed paths again on a couple of other occasions in Rome and in Tampa.
On Saturday, November 20, 2021 Father Jim made his final journey home, to be with the Lord. May he rest in peace.
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