How similar our Kenya of 2003 to the Ireland of Catherine McAuley! She would definitely want to be here if she were alive and the President Mwai Kibake would, no doubt, be the one chosen to carve the Christmas turkey or (should I say goat) in the Mukuru Children's Home.
Oppression of women, unemployment, homeless children, house girls badly treated and a health service beyond the reach of most are our daily diet whether on T.V. or newspaper. We are a young growing Provincial Mercy Congregation, working alongside some very dedicated women. Some of these, our co-workers, have shown a desire to know more about Mercy and this woman Catherine.
Why this interest? A priority for a Kenyan woman is that she gives birth to many children yet we have chosen not to use this gift and we leave our homes and family members. The women who are interested in being Associates do not desire to live religious life but wish to keep Mercy alive in Kenya. As one of them said "I want to share more than just the work with the Sisters"
They have sensed that a person who knew and lived the message of Christ has inspired our unusual decision. They know His life's message was that we could only serve God through living service of our neighbour, which they get a glimpse of in our work among them.
It was with a little fear that we looked at the possibility of having Associates here. We felt that beginning an Associates group would add to the confusion so we agreed that the time was not yet right. However the question of Associates did not go away as each time we had a chapter or assembly, some 'prophet' kept raising the question. Eventually in October 2002 we decided we would begin by "taking small steps not big strides" as Catherine would say. Sisters in Mutomo, Nairobi, Miguta and Ngarariga showed interest and invited women to come together to hear more about Associates.
In November, everyone who was interested was invited to Nairobi where Anne Reid shared her story and love for Catherine. She explained how her life has been changed as a result of becoming an Associate. It was with great enthusiasm that they all travelled back to their home place and the fire of the Associates was beginning to kindle.
Over the past few months we have been tending that delicate flame with our monthly meetings. We hope that by the end of 2003 our first group of Associates will make their commitment.
As we continue to work alongside this new Mercy branch, we are challenged to deepen our relationship with Christ through Catherine's guidance and live our Mercy charism to the full.